An Expensive Notepad

Michael's Site About Martial Arts Aikido Jinenkan Tatsumaki Dojo Projects Security My Toolkit GitHub Links Software A £35 Notepad? By MichaelAugust 16, 2020

Something caught my eye when browsing something on a computer supplies store: They described it as a 'digital notebook' that enables you to save to save notes to cloud services and email. But it looked just like a normal notepad, and it was £35. Still, I was curious to see how it would work, plus I can write much faster than type using a touchscreen, and I worry about losing my notes before getting a chance to make backups. I ended up buying a Rocketbook Fusion, which includes quite a few page layouts and templates.

As it turned out, RocketBook provides a few nice features that Office Lens doesn't. The application can 'bundle' pages marked with the same category - that is, the application will collate and upload the collection of pages as a single PDF, meaning one could upload a snapshot of the notebook. It can also upload/send the PDFs to any of multiple prespecified locations.

The main difference is a RocketBook here consists of pages made of some synthetic plastic material, with special markings that enable the application to process the optical information. The symbols at the foot of each page can be marked to determine how the scans are organised and sent. A QR code on the page is used by the application to handle the alignment, rendering and contrast of the scans.

All pretty good in theory. What's it like in practice?

Writing and Rewriting The Rocketbook appears to be extremely well made. The material is very pleasant to write on, which is rare for most notepads anyway. The ink doesn't smudge easily, even though the pages are easily wiped back to a pristine condition, just like a whiteboard, with a damp cloth.

There are a couple of things to be careful of: Firstly, don't use just any random gel pen. Make sure you use the FriXion pens. Some pens, like Pilot's B2P, will permanently mark the pages. Secondly, always use a damp cloth to wipe the ink, as anything dry, such as an eraser, would also leave a permanent mark.

Scanning The user can also decide between multiple predefined upload folders and email addresses, whereas with Office Lens the user only gets a choice between OneNote and OneDrive.

The uploaded scans came out perfectly - actually better than what I typically get with Office Lens. And sure enough, Rocketbook application identified my markings and sent the scans to the correct locations.

So, although £35 is pretty damn expensive for a notepad, a cloth and a gel pen, this is a smart idea that's perfectly executed.