26 October 2012

The Evernote Smart Notebook by Moleskine: An Honest Overview

I recently witnessed a graphic designer friend of mine purchasing what I personally deemed to be one of the most ridiculously overpriced ways of digitising paper format information. Introducing the Evernote Smart Notebook, created in collaboration between Evernote and Moleskine.

Don’t get me wrong, Evernote is a brilliant note taking platform. I use it on a daily basis to sync notes via the cloud to all of my devices which saves emailing individual pictures and corresponding notes using separate programmes. But as you’ll notice from my tone, I’m not a great believer in the benefits that Moleskine’s Smart Notebook provide.

This new “innovative” notebook is available to buy in both small (A6-A7 size) and medium (A5-A6 size) from $24.95 on Moleskine’s website - the innovation being that you can use a smartphone loaded with Evernote’s application to take a photo of your handwritten notes and illustrations. Sounds like something I was doing 5 years back with my Nokia N95 and a £1 notepad from my local high street. But wait! There’s more.

The pages within the book aren’t your regular ruled lines. They are dotted ruled lines, which according to Evernote accurately skews your work once the app has read the dot pattern so that you eliminate the problematic slanted shot of a page. The other version of the notebook also contains pages with dotted lines but as a grid pattern - more suitable for graphic designers.

Another supposed benefit of this book & app combo is the removal of shadows from the photos you take of the notebook, however, as a photographer myself I’m not convinced by this. First of all Evernote advises that “using your flash ensures that you’ll get the highest quality image” (http://blog.evernote.com/2012/08/24/the-new-evernote-smart-notebook-by-moleskine/) in which case you won’t get a shadow - you can even try this now by taking a snap of a word on a piece of paper with your smartphone. Secondly, the automatic removal of shadow, if true, is an amazing innovation as in my experience this is quite a lengthy Photoshop process, which has lead to me just re-taking photos. Hmm?

Last but not least is my favourite selling point: stickers! Yes that’s right you get stickers which allow quick tagging of your pages. All you have to do is stick one on the appropriate pages and your notes are categorised into the corresponding notebooks that you’ve registered each of the stickers to. But what do you do when your stickers run out is my question? Costly methinks when you could do this manually via the app.

So what are my final thoughts on the Evernote Smart Notebook? Well the upside is that you get 3 months of Evernote’s premium service which gives you a whopping 1GB upload allowance per month as well as a few other service related features. The downside is I don’t understand who this notebook is targeted at. Serious graphic designers and illustrators will have their methods of digitising their creative work using tablets, scanners, and a range of software suites. So who?

Give us your thoughts on Evernote’s Smart Notebook. A new age designer’s essential or a flash in the pan waste of money?

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