Evernote Smart Notebook By Moleskine Review: The Digital Vault For Scribbles

Writing something down in a paper notebook is so satisfying. But digital backup is so reassuring. Wouldn't it be great to have both? That's the idea behind the Evernote Smart Notebook by Moleskine. So does taking a bunch of pictures of your pages really work?

What Is It?

A Moleskine notebook lined with dotted rules or graphs, designed to aid text recognition when photographed by a smartphone running Evernote's scanner-like page camera app.

Who's It For?

Someone who takes a lot of notes, doesn't want to lose them, and wouldn't mind being able to sort them using a search engine.

Design

Like any Moleskine notebook, it's sturdy and well made. This uses a set of colourful stickers to tag pages so they upload to specific Evernote folders. The front cover is embossed with the Evernote elephant and various other ClipArt-y things.

Using It

Write on a page, then take a photo with your smartphone. The Evernote app helps you frame the notebook page inside the borders of a simulated Moleskine.

The Best Part

Writing in a Moleskine notebook is always nice, and it's even nicer to know all your scribblings can survive theft, fire or sudden inundation.

Tragic Flaw

The stickers are useful — you can use them to organise pages into different Evernote notebooks — but they only work with iOS. So the only exclusive feature the Smart Notebook offers only works with iDevices.

This Is Weird...

Notes written on unlined paper uploaded just as cleanly as the Smart Notebook pages.

Test Notes

  • Tested my handwriting in the Evernote Smart Notebook, a college-ruled spiral notebook, and on unlined printer paper, using the same text each time. I uploaded all three samples from both the iOS app and the Android app, and searched specific phrases to check the documents' accuracy.
  • Text-recognition worked only with printed words, and failed with my cursive. Then again, my cursive is abysmal.
  • College-ruled paper is not a viable substitute for the Evernote Moleskine.
  • The text-recognition is equally good on both iOS and Android.
  • The stickers work great (iOS only). The first time you use one, it creates a notebook with a default name (which you can change). The app collects all sticker-wearing notes together for quick organisation.
  • Text recognition doesn't seem to work for non-English words.
  • Each notebook has a code for three months of Evernote Premium on the last page. Use it! Otherwise, you'll blow right through your free upload allowance of 60MB.

Should You Buy It?

Evernote Smart Notebooks work well, but the underlying Evernote service is good enough that you don't really need the special notebook to get the most out of it. But this is still a good buy if you need a new Moleskine anyway. The Smart Notebook's biggest value is that it includes a three-month subscription to Evernote Premium, which usually runs $US5 a month on its own.

Beyond that, you get a notebook designed to make digitisation as easy as possible. The stickers are a nice bonus if you're on iOS. If you're on Android, you could make the case that you're better off taking notes on unlined paper and just uploading them using Evernote's excellent page camera.

Evernote Smart Notebook by Moleskine • Price: $29.95 RRP (small), $39.95 RRP (large) • Size: 9cm x 14cm (small), 13cm x 21cm (large)

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