So, what’s better: a digital notebook or a real notebook? Actually, it’s neither; it’s a real notebook you can easily digitise
The iPad is a great notebook for sketching and scribbling down ideas, so long as you add the right app. Tap!’s favourite is Noteshelf, which feels great, lets you create custom paper templates and has lots of clever features that help it behave in a way that’s similar to – if not better than – a paper notebook. But just because we love the iPad doesn’t mean we don’t also love the tactile pleasure of a good real notebook, and happily, with these two here, you can blur the line between physical and virtual; both pair with an app to let you digitise pages.
The notebook on the left above is the result of a collaboration between Evernote, the company that makes the organisation platform many swear by, and Moleskine, which makes a wide range of hard-backed notebooks beloved of artists, writers and hipsters. The notebook itself is predictably lovely, since it’s just a standard Moleskine with a pretty, organisation-y design debossed onto the front cover.
Snap a page with the Evernote app, and it’s uploaded to your Evernote database, ready to be filed, tagged, shared and so on. Evernote can even read your handwriting, making it possible to search your handwritten notes. Well, we can’t guarantee it can read your handwriting, but it coped well with ours during testing.
You get a code in the back of the book for a three-month membership to Evernote Premium (worth £12), which, among other things, increases the monthly amount you can upload to 1GB and lets you take notebooks offline – great for travelling.All that’s fine as far as it goes. But the Whitelines system is much smarter – and you can upload straight to Evernote from its app too, so you can still take advantage of handwriting detection and so on. It’s clever for two reaso
ns. One is the ‘whitelines’ idea; rather than having a white page with lines printed in black, Whitelines pages are printed so that it appears like there are white lines drawn on a light grey page. This makes your writing and drawing really stand out, is restful to look at and means written characters, say, are more distinguishable from the background – which also means OCR (optical character recognition) systems can understand them better.
The other reason is smarter still. The LINK notebooks can sense where the page is. So, even if you’re photographing in a rush, it can snap it to being perfectly straight. What’s more, it automatically removes the background so all you get is your notes and drawings on a clean white background. And it does all that quickly and automatically – it even presses the shutter automatically when you hover over a page and it senses a good lock. The app itself is much less rich than Evernote, but offers basic sorting and sharing. Sadly the only Whitelines products currently LINK enabled are squared and lined A4 and A5 soft-cover wire-bound ones.
Evernote Smart Notebook is so much less clever than the Whitelines system that, even though its products are much harder to find and limited to paper-backed notebooks, we’re now committed Whitelines fans.
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