I use Evernote daily for my professional and personal life. As a matter of fact all the blogs that I write, I research and draft on the app. I do however love paper notebooks. There is something about putting pen to paper that I find so satisfying. Some say that analog tools are dead but I have always found Evernote to bridge that gap. It allowed me to scan all my paper notes and archive them in the app while indexing them, thus making them searchable.
Since I live in the UK, when it comes to an easily accessible high quality paper notebook, Oxford is the most obvious option. They are sold pretty much everywhere and they rock 90gsm ultra-smooth paper. Therefore, when I saw the new Evernote-friendly Oxford notebooks on the shelves of my neighbourhood WHSmith I couldn’t help but feel that it was a match made in heaven!
DIFFERENCES WITH ORIGINAL
Let us first start by describing the differences the Evernote version has with the original. Firstly, the line defining the margin is coloured a light blue instead of the red of the original. While not a major difference it does not stand out as much. This is because the blue is rather pale and it looks very similar to the horizontal lines on the page. Secondly, and most noticeably, the Evernote version has computer readable codes on the corners. Their orientation changes to define which corner it is as well as two additional lines at the bottom ones to define the orientation of the paper. While I thought that would be a bit distracting when writing on the paper originally, I found that it is easy to get used to and now I barely notice that it is there. Finally, the last difference which was present at the versions available at my local store is that the Evernote version has 200 pages instead of 140 and it features four removable tabs.
HOW IT WORKS
In order to use this notebook you need to do some preparatory steps. You need to download an app called Scribzee from the Apple Store. Next, you need to create an account using your email address. Finally, you need to link your Evernote account to the Scribzee app. When the set-up is complete you can scan your pages from within the Scribzee app and they automatically appear as a new note on your Evernote default notebook.
Let’s go to the interesting part now. Keep in mind that my critique of the notebook is based on its comparison with the normal Evernote scanning capabilities through an iPhone 6s. The main advantages of using the Oxford notebook along with Scribzee and Evernote is the ease of scanning. While Evernote is quite good in determining the corners of a page when it is placed in a dark background, it struggles when such such conditions are not in place. With the Oxford notebook, you can scan even on top of another notebook as the camera detects the readable codes instead of the edges. This makes the alignment of the pages quite easy with no need of readjustment for crisp edges.
The code is also quite tolerant to some ink. Even if you accidentally write on the code it will still detect it. If you overdo it however you will have to open Evernote and scan it from there as it will not accept your page.
When it comes to the disadvantages of this notebook, the list is quite large. Firstly, I have to say that at the moment of writing this, there seems to be a problem which does not let users connect their Evernote account to Scribzee. While this will undoubtably be resolved it goes to show that the interoperability between the two systems is not great and may be reflective of other problems to come in the future. Secondly, if you compare the scans from the Scribzee app to those of Evernote, they are much lower resolution for some reason which is very noticeable when you zoom in to a particular area of the page. I do not understand why this should be since they are both using the same camera with the exact same photo sensor.
Thirdly, the scans themselves do not include the entire page. As one can see, the readable code is not printed at the very edges of the paper. This translates to a cropped scan of the paper when using the Scribzee app. While this might not be an issue if you do most of your writing in the middle of the page, it is a problem for those who want to take advantage of every last inch of their paper.
Finally, the last problem is one of practicality. If you want to scan a page inside a note you are currently using, with the Evernote scanner, you just click scan while inside the note and the scan will be automatically attached to the note. With the Sbribzee app however, all scans are created as new notes in your Evernote default folder which means you need to manually move each one to the note and location you wish them to be.
I have also included macro shots of each of the inks which you can see by clicking the particular link here:
Pilot Blue Fountain Pen Ink in Pilot Decimo Medium
Waterman Serenity Blue Fountain Pen Ink in Lamy 2000 Medium
Pilot Parallel 3.8mm with Aurora Black
Aurora Black on Montblanc 149 Broad
Stabilo Point 88
Stabilo Pen 68
Sharpie (front of page)
Sharpie (back of page)
Zebra Sarasa 0.5
Pilot Frixion 0.7
In conclusion, I am a bit disappointed with the new scannable Oxford notebook. My expectations were high and I think the idea is a fantastic one but the execution was not there. I have to say however that this is still a fantastic, well-priced and high quality notebook which I will continue to use on a daily basis. I will simply stick to the Evernote scanner rather than Scribzee.
Notebook: Oxford A4 Scannable notebook
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