There’s no denying that we live in an almost completely paperless world, filled to the brim with smart phones, tablets, and other internet-enabled devices that have made traditional notebooks and notepads look like cave paintings in comparison.
At the same time, however, it’s impossible to deny that traditional pen and paper is a lot more flexible and liberating than digital devices.
Sure, digital stylus options exist to work with our smart phones and our tablets to mimic some of the flexibility pen and paper offers. But the overall writing experience on a traditional screen still leaves a lot to be desired, and it isn’t anywhere near as “mainstream” as grabbing a pen or pencil and scribbling notes or doodles down with total freedom.
Enter the smart notebook.
A revolutionary new product that perfectly merges the old and the new, creating something that offers the best of all worlds. Smart notebook technology today gives you the freedom and liberation of traditional pen and paper with all the benefits that digital devices have to offer.
While these products used to be pretty niche even just a few short years ago, they are getting more and more mainstream by the minute. Dozens of different smart notebook manufacturers exist today, all of them promising the moon and the stars.
This guide is designed to help you make the right decision when buying the best Smart notebook on the market today.
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How to Buy the Best Smart Notebook
Before we dive into our picks for the best smart notebooks on the market today, it’s important to understand what to look for when you’re shopping for one.
It should go without saying that you want to get your hands on a smart notebook that offers plenty of reusability, but there are still some older models out there that aren’t as reusable as today’s cutting-edge technology is.
You want to find an option that includes a paper like writing experience that can be wiped clear, completely refreshing the page that you were working on after you have recorded the notes digitally so that you can get back in action.
You also want to make sure that the smart notebook you are working with has plenty of pages (at least 60 or so) that are reusable. This lets you use the notebook the same way that you would a traditional option, writing your notes in the heat of the moment and scribbling down everything you need to record – going back and digitizing your notes and reusing the pages as necessary.
Also look for smart notebooks that allow you to easily wipe the pages clean on the go. You shouldn’t need special wipes, special materials, or special cleaning agents to get a perfectly blank page back up and running when you need it most.
The whole reason that smart notebooks exist in the first place is because people really, deep down hate trying to write on a traditional screen.
Our touchscreen devices are amazing marbles of modern engineering. They have made our lives incredibly convenient in ways we never would have thought possible before.
At the same time, however, they are super slick and made of ridiculously strong glass and just don’t have the tactile feedback you get when you’re scribbling away on paper. Without that tactile feedback trying to write notes can be very disorienting.
Combine that with the ridiculously small screens of even large format tablets and it’s easy to see why people are falling head over heels in love with everything smart notebook technology has to offer.
It’s a good idea to look for a smart notebook that offers you the ability to use a blank piece of paper in any and every way you see fit.
You should be able to write notes in your own handwriting and cursive, draw or doodle as necessary, markup text however you want or just sketch away – all of which will be recorded in perfect fidelity by the top smart notebook options on the market today.
Built-in OCR technology (usually provided through a companion application, something we will touch on in a moment) is another big bonus.
The best smart notebooks out there right now are going to include a variety of different connectivity options that allow you to really extend the usability and functionality of the notebook you are using.
Some options include Bluetooth and Wi-Fi technology, others sync with popular applications (something we will discuss in just a moment), and others still automatically upload your notes directly to a cloud storage solution designed expressly for this purpose.
On the other hand, some of the most versatile smart notebooks are completely “dumb” aside from the fact that they connect with a companion application that adds all of the smart technology and connectivity options through a dedicated mobile device (like your smart phone or tablet).
Almost every quality smart notebook includes a companion application (designed for use with Android and iOS devices), further extending the overall utility and functionality of the notebook itself.
These applications should be easy to use, easily accessible, 100% free of charge to take advantage of after you’ve purchased the smart notebook, and provide you with the extra technology and features you are looking for to extend the usability of your notebook altogether.
Many of these software solutions include OCR technology, cloud storage, digital searching, digital archiving, and more. The more features you have access to the better value you inevitably get out of your investment.
Top 5 Smart Notebooks
Here are our picks for the best smart notebooks:
1. Rocketbook Wave Smart Notebook
One of the first smart notebooks to go mainstream, this is the model that helped launch an entire industry – and remains one of the best and most flexible smart notebook options money can buy.
You get 80 pages of dotted grid paper to work with, paper that’s made out of durable, acid-free paper materials with a poly propylene binding. This allows you to “microwave” your notebook to erase everything that you have written, completely refreshing the notebook in no time at all in letting you reuse it an almost infinite amount of times.
The dedicated companion application works with Android and iOS devices. Uses machine learning to scan your pages, upload your data to the cloud, and give you instant access to all of your notes wherever you may be as long as you have an online connection.
2. NEWYES Reusable Smart Notebook
One of the more versatile smart notebook options you’ll have access to today, a smart notebook that works wonders with erasable highlighters, pens, and markers so that you have complete and total control over how your notes look – just like you would with traditional paper – this is a top-tier option.
You get 30 pages (half of them feature a dotted grid, the other half is wide ruled) which should give you plenty of room to write, draw, and doodle before you have to refresh or wipe your notebook to be used again.
Right out of the box you get the specialty branded pen designed to work with this notebook. The company also sells highlighters and markers designed to work with this notebook as well, and you’ll have to use them if you want to continue reusing the notebook time and time again.
The only real downside here is that there is not yet a dedicated mobile application for this notebook. You’ll have to use a third-party solution and workout a workflow that sends your notes to the cloud, but that shouldn’t be too much of a tall task.
3. Moleskine Evernote Smart Notebook
This smart notebook is the end result of a collaboration between maybe the most popular traditional notebook brand on the planet in Moleskine and one of the most popular online only digital notetaking software solutions in Evernote.
You get the best of both worlds for sure.
Similar in almost every respect to a traditional Moleskine notebook (complete with the same world-class acid-free paper, beautiful construction, and elegant design) you’ll be able to use this notebook the same way you would a traditional solution – though everything can be quickly digitized with the Evernote mobile device application.
Unlike the other options we have highlighted you aren’t going to be able to reuse this notebook, however.
The smart features are really just designed to get your notes onto the cloud, into Evernote, and to make them searchable through that digital notetaking backend – but really you could do much of the same with the Evernote mobile application and any other pen and paper you like to use.
At the end of the day, however, we are talking about a Moleskine notebook here and they are always a joy to right in.
4. Letter Size College Ruled Reusable Wirebound Smart Notebook
Those that don’t want to spend a pile of money on a smart notebook, but still want to take advantage of all the benefits this technology have to offer (without limitation) are going to fall head over heels in love with everything this particular option has to offer.
Not only do you get 40 pages of reusable grid notebook paper with this option, but you also get to erasable pens, a set of reusable label tapes, and access to the free CamScanner note application that lets you get your notes directly into your favorite cloud storage solution or notetaking application.
Best of all, all you have to do to reuse the pages in this notebook (after you have scanned and uploaded them to the internet, of course) is wipe each individual page with a damp cloth. After that the pages refreshed back to brand-new condition, with each page individually able to be reused 500 times with no signs of wear and tear along the way.
5. WOBEECO Reusable Smart Notebook
If you know that you take a lot of notes at a single stretch, and just aren’t going to be able to make a 20 page or 40 page reusable notebook work, then this just might be the perfect option for you.
With this notebook you get 80 reusable pages of grid notebook paper, all of which can be easily erased with nothing more than a damp cloth or paper towel up to 500 times before they need to be replaced.
The digital link from the erasable pen (included with your purchase) needs only 15 seconds to “set”, at which point it will not bleed, it will not run, and it will not leak. It’ll look just as good as brand-new – just like traditional ink on archival paper – until you gently erase it with that damp cloth or paper towel, at which point it will disappear entirely with no ghosting.
The Best Smart Notebook
While there are other top options on the market today for sure (including all of the ones we highlighted above), no smart notebook is better than the one that helped to start the industry off completely – and that’s the Wave smart notebook from the folks at Rocketbook.
Incredibly easy to use, about as advanced as it gets, and featuring maybe the most complete and accessible mobile application of the bunch, this is as premium a smart notebook as you’ll find on the market today and a notebook definitely worth your hard earned money.