A smart notebook is an incredibly useful asset, whether you’re in grade school, off to college, or in a professional work setting. There are digital note taking apps you can use, but sometimes, nothing beats the feeling of handwriting your thoughts. Plus, many smart notebooks come with a companion app so you can get the best of both worlds with digital and handwritten notes.
What to Look For in a Smart Notebook
If you do a quick search for “smart notebooks,” you’ll see Rocketbook dominating the industry right now. But there are other smart notebooks worthy of your attention, and the number of brands in competition continues to grow. No matter which brand you go for, here’s what you should pay attention to when buying a smart notebook:
- Reusability: Right now, Rocketbook is the only smart notebook brand that offers reusable journals and planners. Because of what the Rocketbook journal pages are made of, you can write with Pilot FriXion pens, erase, and reuse like it’s never been written on. You can also go a reusable route with a tablet journal, but this is much pricier.
- Page Size: Smart journals come in many different sizes. You can find larger journals that are the size of printer paper, around 8.5 by 11 inches. Then, mid-size notebooks that can easily fit inside a bag are the most common option, typically 9 by 6-7 inches. Or, you can sometimes find mini smart notebooks that are pocket-sized.
- Page Style: Many smart notebooks will feature one page style, either lined pages or dotted pages. But sometimes, you can find a variety of pages within one journal, like with the Rocketbook Fusion Plus. In addition to lined and dotted pages, you might find a weekly or monthly calendar page, a project planning page, or a list page. Think about how you intend to use your smart journal, and which pages would be best designed to help you carry out your tasks.
- Compatibility: If you want to use your smart journal with an app, make sure it’s compatible with your smartphone’s operating system and that it can provide all the features you want it to. Furthermore, think about where you currently store your digital notes or where you’d want to store them once you get a smart journal, like Google Drive or Evernote. Then, make sure the smart notebook you’re looking at is able to send documents there.
- ✓ Many different page styles
- ✓ Reusable and durable build
- ✓ User-friendly companion
- ✗ Requires Pilot FriXion writing tools
The Rocketbook line of smart notebooks is famously one of the best. All of Rocketbook’s journals are reusable, as long as you use Pilot FriXion pens, markers, or highlighters with them. Once you write something down, you need to wait about 15 seconds for the Pilot FriXion ink to dry and bond to Rocketbook’s specialized pages. Then, it’ll need to be wiped away with a damp cloth when you’re ready to reuse the page.
Rocketbook’s Fusion Plus notebook comes with 60 total pages—30 sheets front and back—and there’s practically a page for every need. You’ll find pages for planning weeks, months, lists, and projects, as well as pages that are lined, dotted, blank, or have graphing lines. In total, there are 11 unique page styles. You can get a Fusion Plus journal in a large Executive size or a slightly smaller Letter size.
Once you’re finished writing in the Fusion Plus, you can scan the page with your smartphone to blast your handwritten notes to either the Rocketbook app (Android/iOS). Or you can send pages directly to your cloud service of choice, like Google Drive, Dropbox, Evernote, Slack, iCloud, and more. Then, you can clean off the page so it’s ready to go the next time you need it.
Rocketbook Fusion Plus
Rocketbook’s Fusion Plus is the best the company has to offer, with regular lined and dotted pages, monthly and weekly calendars, planning pages, and more.
Best Budget: THINKERS Smart Notebook
- ✓ Can be used with any pen
- ✓ Made from eco-friendly materials
- ✗ Not reusable
- ✗ No Android app
The THINKERS Smart Notebook actually isn’t too smart by itself. Instead, all the smart features come from the THINKERS app, which is only available right now for iOS devices. There could be an Android app in the future, but it likely won’t happen anytime soon.
Through the app, you can capture, organize, and share your handwritten notes. The app even features advanced handwriting recognition that turns titles, tags, and text on the journal pages into searchable digital text. Beyond organizing your text on the notebook page when you initially write stuff down, you can further organize with personalized folders in the app.
The notebook features a flexible leather cover and 256 individually numbered pages, each with 120 gsm paper and a 5mm dot-grid design. To be more environmentally conscious, the cover is made of recycled bonded leather and the paper inside is printed with plant-oil based colors. Because the journal contains non-reusable paper, you can use any type of pen, pencil, or other writing utensil you want.
THINKERS Smart Notebook
Only iOS users can take advantage of the THINKERS smart app capabilities, but the notebook has a nice, flexible leather cover, and there could be an Android app in the future.
Best Premium: Moleskine Smart Writing Set
- ✓ Smart pen captures each stroke
- ✓ Robust app features
- ✓ Moleskine premium build quality
- ✗ Pen needs recharging to function
- ✗ Pricey investment
- ✗ Need to buy refills of notebooks/pen ink
The Moleskine brand is pretty famous for creating quality notebooks, bags, and more. The company brings this attention to quality to its Smart Writing Set, which includes a Smart Notebook with N-coded paper, a redesigned digital Smart Pen, a magnetic charging cable for the Pen, and one pen tip ink refill.
Moleskine’s Smart Pen is the most expensive part of this set, but it’s easily the most impressive. Because the journal is designed with N-code technology, the Smart Pen is able to capture every stroke and store a digital copy of your notes in real time. The Moleskine Notes app (Android/iOS) is able to recognize 30 different languages and then translate them within the app if you desire. In addition to translating your notes, you can also edit, delete, transcribe, color, share, search, and organize.
If you want to share your notes with others, you can send them out in multiple image and text formats to an email address or various cloud services. To email pages quickly, you simply tap the envelope icon at the top of the page. You can also record video or audio while writing notes or sketching something to show your thinking process.
Moleskine Smart Writing Set
Moleskine’s Smart Writing Set is a fantastic option, with a rechargeable Smart Pen, a Smart Notebook with N-coded paper, and a mobile app full of awesome features.
Best Small: Rocketbook Mini
- ✓ Pocket-friendly size
- ✓ Reusable and durable build
- ✓ User-friendly companion app
- ✗ Requires Pilot FriXion pens
The Rocketbook Mini may be small, but it’s mighty. At 3.5 inches by 5.5 inches, Rocketbook’s Mini 32-page dotted grid notebook can fit right inside your pocket or bag, perfect for note-taking on the go.
When you buy a Mini notebook, you’ll also get a microfiber cloth and one Pilot FriXion pen so you can start writing immediately. With any Pilot FriXion utensil—pens, markers, highlighters—you simply wait about 15 seconds for the ink to bond to Rocketbook’s specialized pages, and it’s there to stay until you wipe it away.
As with any Rocketbook smart journal, you can write and plan to your heart’s content, scan the notes into the Rocketbook app (Android/iOS) to organize, wipe your writing away with a damp cloth, and reuse the pages over and over again.
With smart tags, you can send your notes to the app or directly to the cloud service of your choice, including Google Drive, Dropbox, Evernote, Slack, and more. Once your notes are scanned into the Rocketbook app, you can take advantage of the sophisticated AI technology that allows you to use features like smart titles, smart search, and email transcription to help name and search your notes.
The Rocketbook Mini can do everything Rocketbook’s larger notebooks can do—just in a much smaller size!
- ✓ Paper-like screen
- ✓ Array of digital features
- ✓ Reusable (as long as it’s charged)
- ✗ Needs to be charged to work
- ✗ Subscription required for unlimited cloud storage
If you’re not attached to the feeling of writing on actual paper and you have the money to spend, check out the reMarkable 2 Tablet. Even though it’s not actually paper, it’ll feel like paper, much like the Kindle Paperwhite.
You can take handwritten notes directly on the reMarkable 2, either with your finger or with the included special high-friction Marker utensil. Or, if you want to edit a document rather than take notes from scratch, you can make notes directly on a PDF or other digital document you pull up.
The reMarkable 2 Tablet measures 7.4 x 9.7 x 0.2 inches and weighs less than a pound. So if you take the tablet around with you to school or work, it’s not going to add a ton of bulk to your bag. Inside, there’s a 1.2 GHz dual-core ARM processor, one GB of LPDDR3 SDRAM, and eight GB of internal storage. Then, the 10.3-inch multi-point capacitive touchscreen display has a 1872 x 1404 resolution.
When you purchase the reMarkable 2, you’ll get a one-year free subscription to its Connect program, which automatically syncs your notes and documents with reMarkable’s unlimited cloud storage service. After the free trial, Connect costs $2.99 per month. If you wanted to skip a Connect subscription, you would only be able to see files used and synced online within the last 50 days.
The reMarkable 2 is a paper-like tablet that lets you handwrite your notes or sketch your thoughts, and then send them off to digital storage instantly.