Review of Evernote Smart Notebook by Moleskine

The Evernote Smart Notebook by Moleskine is the perfect marriage of old school and new school technologies.

I had been wondering for quite some time if Moleskine and Evernote would ever get together and make a product like this. So I was more than pleasantly surprised when Evernote announced their new Smart Notebook back in August. Without even barely thinking about it, I immediately pre-ordered three of them!

It’s now October, and I finally got my hands on the new notebook!

Two Imperfect Technologies

Physical notebooks are not perfect. First, they are not digital, which means I can’t share and easily edit or append it. Second, there is only one copy, and that copy can be ruined. As in burned, lost, destroyed, etc…

Digital notebooks aren’t perfect either. First, using a stylus on a touch screen is hardly an ideal experience (yet). It’s usually too slow and doesn’t come close to mimicking the tactile experience of writing something down with pen or pencil. Second, storing and categorizing thoughts is a completely different experience when done digitally. Our minds can easily remember where we drew a sketch or jotted down notes in a physical notebook, but the user experience of digital notebooks provides a completely different paradigm of search and retrieval (both good and bad).

It would seem that combining both technologies into a symbiotic relationship would make the most sense, and indeed it does.

Perfecting Notetaking

The entire idea of the Smart Notebook is to keep the experience of using a Moleskine, while allowing those notes to be accessible at any time via Evernote.

The Evernote iOS app has been updated to support scanning pages from the Smart Notebook, and the service is supposed to recognize special stickers for organization and also perform OCR on the written text.

The stickers, which come with each notebook, can be used to automatically associate the note with a notebook folder and/or tag. Each sticker type can be customized however you want.

I set out to see if this was all too good to be true.

I filled out a page in the Moleskine notebook to give it a test drive and included a few of the stickers that came with the notebook. I also did my best to write legibly (although this is how I normally write anyways, in all caps). Then I used my iOS Evernote app on my iPhone 5 to take a picture and save the note.

I then opened Evernote on my Macbook Pro to review how it processed the image. The first thing I noticed is that it tagged the note perfectly based on the stickers I used.

The second thing I noticed was how accurate the OCR was. I did a search for the word “some” and it matched every word! This is truly amazing, because my writing style is not OCR friendly.

The next thing I checked was how customizable the smart stickers are. To customize the smart stickers, you have to go to the Settings in the iOS app. The options were as expected, providing me with the ability to adjust which notebook and tag I wanted the sticker to represent.

Overall, I’m very happy with the notebook. Although I haven’t used it on a daily basis yet, it’s definitely something I recommend people purchase and try out for themselves. The Evernote Smart Notebook by Moleskine is not a gimmick, it’s the real thing, and it intelligently marries the best of both worlds into one.

Pros

  • OCR is phenomenal
  • Stickers recognition works perfectly
  • Best of old school and new school technology
  • Provides redundancy for ideas (paper and digital backup)

Cons

  • Page view option doesn’t remain on when I take a picture in the iOS app. I have to turn it on every single time…annoying
  • Stickers are cute, but not ideal and may run out. I wish I could make (draw) my own icons that would be detected by Evernote.

Where to buy: Moleskine Store

A Moleskine notebook made exclusively for the Evernote service.
Evernote Smart Notebook by Moleskine
Date Published: 10/07/2011
The Evernote Smart Notebook by Moleskine is the perfect marriage of old school and new school technologies.
4 / 5 stars