The 5 Best Smart Notebooks (Our Review 2019)
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In today’s increasingly paperless society littered with smartphones and tablets, smart notebooks may seem like a hard sell. But in fact, they represent an innovative merger of the old and the new. Hardly any tablet or smartpen can match the feeling of pencil on paper, but then it’s always great to have your notes in digital format as well.
That’s exactly what smart notebooks provide, plus you don’t need to change your notetaking or studying habits. And the productivity increases because you can quickly upload the notes to cloud services and have them available on multiple smart devices.
Keep reading to find out more about some of the best smart notebooks you can order today. There’s also a buyer’s guide at the end to help you make an educated choice.
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Best Smart Notebooks Reviews
The launch of the Rocketbook took the Indiegogo community by storm with the backing of more than 42,000 people and over $2.7 million raised. Some would argue that the comical promotional video did the trick. But once you get down to the features, this smart notebook exceeds expectations.
The pages are made of polyester composite, but they act and feel like real paper. Each page features small guide dots and has a QR code and a set of icons for easier note sharing. How does it all work?
Write your notes using any pen from the Pilot FriXion line and the moment the ink dries it’d bond to the page, so there’s no chance of accidental smudges. When you want to share the notes, make sure to cross out the correct symbol at the bottom and the Rocketbook app automatically sends the notes to the designated service.
For example, the bell icon links to Dropbox, diamond to Google Drive, horseshoe to Evernote, and so on. It’s important to note that you assign symbols to a specific cloud-based folder. And as you scan the pages, the Rocketbook app also enhances the images for more vibrant notes. At the same time, the pages end up in the designated cloud folder.
After scanning, just grab a wet cloth and wipe the pages clean to get your notebook ready for the next draft. The Executive size in this review measures 6 x 8.8 inches, which gives you more than enough note-taking real estate and fits any backpack or messenger bag.
The Elfinbook 2 is designed to satisfy the need of the most demanding note-takers at a budget-friendly price. This makes it an excellent choice for students, professionals, designers, and aspiring writers.
The notebook has 100 pages (there’s a model with fewer pages as well), and each page is made of fine-grain paper. This ensures smooth writing/drafting experience and allows you to easily clean the pages. According to the manufacturer, a damp cloth works fine but it’s best to use a hot wipe or a hairdryer.
Unlike some other smart notebooks, the Elfinbook 2 is easy to disassemble. You can carefully take out the pages, lay them out for scanning, and put them back when you finish. With this smart notebook, you also get one blank and one lined page per sheet which is useful for writing and sketching.
There is a proprietary app for scanning the pages (works with iOS and Android devices). In addition, the Elfinbook app features OCR which allows you to turn scanned PDFs into Word files in one tap. If you’re already using the CamScanner app, you should know that it’s Elfinbook compatible.
When it comes to writing utensils, this notebook works best with the Pilot FriXion pens and it’s not advisable to use other gel pens. This smart notebook can be erased 500 times so this is like having a 50,000-page notebook with smart features.
Looking for a smart notebook that can work with any erasable highlighter, pen, or maker? The Newyes might just be perfect for you. The B5 size smart notebook in this review comes with 60 pages and a Newyes pen that’s specially designed to work with the notebook.
It features 30 dotted and wide ruled pages, which means you can easily use it for writing, drafting, or sketching. What’s more, the Newyes works great in portrait and landscape orientation and comes in two sizes, B5 and A5. The B5 in this review measures 6.9” x 9.83” and 0.4lbs.
Unfortunately, the manufacturer doesn’t offer its own app for this smart notebook, so you need to use CamScanner. This wouldn’t prevent you from quickly uploading the scans to Dropbox, iCloud, Google Drive, etc.
By now, it’s not hard to guess how to erase the notes. You can use a damp napkin, paper, or cloth, plus the Newyes pen has an eraser tip to make some changes as you go along. And if a hairdryer happens to be at hand, just aim it at your notes and see them disappear.
Judging by the manufacturer’s website, this smart notebook comes in three colors. And there’s also a fancy brown faux leather version.
The Sunyum has all the features you may expect from a smart notebook. It sports 100 wire-bound pages that can be erased with a damp cloth, paper, and, of course, a hairdryer. There is no proprietary app and the manufacturer doesn’t recommend any one app, but the notebook works with CamScanner. So, what are the things that make the Sunyum special?
At first glance, it’s obvious Sunyum designed the notebook to be aesthetically appealing and utilitarian. This model has an overlapping executive-style cover with PU leather finish and it comes in three colors (brown, grey, and blue) and its own box. There is also a magnetic clip with a stylish ornament.
On the inside, the top cover features ID/credit card pockets and there’s a pen holder on the left. You get one blue and two black pens in the package. They are erasable-gel and each one has an eraser tip.
As for other features, the pages can be erased up to 500 times and the notebook only comes in the A5 format (7 x 9.1 inches).
This is the notebook that opened a new chapter and started the trend of smart notebooks. It comes from Rocketbook, now a well-known manufacturer in the smart notebook industry, and it has all the features you need for better productivity.
The Waive has 80 pages with a dotted pattern on each one. The pages are made of durable acid-free paper and the cover features polypropylene binding which is tough enough to withstand microwave erasing. Pop the notebook inside your microwave with a cup of water and when the Rocketbook logo turns white, your notebook has been erased.
In addition, the Wave comes with Rocketbook’s app that utilizes machine vision to scan the pages and upload them to the cloud. Like its younger brother the Rocketbook Everlast, the Wave has symbols at the bottom of each page. Just cross out the symbol you assigned to a cloud service and your notes instantly end up in the right folder.
You can choose two sizes, Executive (6” x 8.8”) and Standard (8.5” x 9.5”), and there’s also a special pen station. Regardless of the size and pen station, the Waive ships with one Pilot FriXion pen.
Judging by the build quality and smart features, this is among the best notebooks you can get. But it is in the upper price range and it only comes in one color. These are small compromises to make for top quality, though.
Smart notebooks should be built to last, and some manufacturers even go out on a limb and say it’s the last notebook you’ll ever need. In reality, it might not be the last notebook you’ll ever need, but there are features that make some smart notebooks more durable.
You need to look up the cover, binding, and pages materials. In general, smart notebooks come with plastic or reinforced cardboard covers and there are models with faux leather covers. For all intended purposes, plastic works best, though faux leather and cardboard can withstand some wear and tear as well.
You can’t go wrong with a wire binding and there are models like the Elfinbook 2 which feature durable plastic binding. Either way, the page material is the one that makes the real difference. Most models feature fine-grain paper specially designed for wet wiping.
But if you want something that can really withstand heavy use, you might want to go with polyester composite pages.
Pen recommendations vary based on the smart notebook. However, most popular brands advise against using anything other than the Pilot FriXion. That said, the FriXion line of pens are gel pens loaded with thermo-sensitive ink, which makes it easier to erase.
Smart notebooks usually come at standard A5 (5.8” x 8.3”) and B5 (6.9” x 9.8”) sizes. Some manufacturers also offer the so-called executive size which is just a fraction larger than A5 at 6” x 8.8”. In addition, you can also get a mini smart notebook from Rocketbook which is about half the size of the executive model.
With this in mind, the final choice here boils down to your preferences and note-taking needs. For most people, A5 is just the right fit because you get more than enough writing/drafting real estate without being too big for storage.
Number of Pages
The number of pages starts as low as 36 and goes up to 100. Since you are buying a smart notebook, the pages can be wiped 500 times or more so the number of pages is not that important. It’s better to focus on the notebook quality and page material.
For example, the Rocketbook Everlast has only 36 pages but it’s arguably among the most durable, so you might not need more pages.
Keeping your smart notebook clean is really simple, all you need is a damp cloth and your notes are gone in a few quick swipes. However, there are creative ways to remove your notes. As indicated, most smart notebooks can be cleaned with heat sources, such as a hairdryer or a microwave.
Yes, you’ve read it right, some smart notebooks are microwave-ready. But remember that you’ll also need a water source and follow the manufacturer's instructions to the T. And if there’s no suggestion that a model is microwave-ready, you may not want to push it.
Smart Notebook App
Aside from materials and durability, the app is one of the most important features. And a quality smart notebook comes with its own app that allows for smarter scanning and uploads to cloud services like Google Drive, Dropbox, Evernote, etc. In addition, some apps have a built-in PDF to Word converter, which can be a lifesaver if you need to edit the documents.
On the other hand, CamScanner is an app that should work with any smart notebook and it offers similar features to many proprietary apps. But you’d have to account for in-app purchases to get all the features, so it’s still best to get a smart notebook that comes with an app.
In the end, among all the best smart notebooks, the Rocketbook Everlast Executive came out on top for its durability, appealing design, and premium materials. Plus, the intelligent features make scanning and sharing notes a walk in the park. However, it also comes at a premium price.
So, if you are shopping for something more affordable, feel free to go with the Elfinbook 2. This smart notebook is exceptionally durable and comes with its own app, and you can take out the individual pages.