Evernote Scannable Oxford Notebook Review – A Match Made in Heaven?

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.

ADVANTAGES

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.

Two lines on top right corner
Three lines on top right corner
DISADVANTAGES

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.

(left) Evernote scan (right) Scribzee scan

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.

Evernote scan
Scribzee scan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

INK TEST

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
Bic Blue
Sharpie (front of page) 
Sharpie (back of page)
Zebra Sarasa 0.5
Pilot Frixion 0.7

FINAL THOUGHTS

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.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Items mentioned*:

Notebook: Oxford A4 Scannable notebook

Pens: 

Pilot Fountain Pen Capless DecimoLamy 2000 Medium
Pilot Parallel 3.8mm 

Montblanc 149
Stabilo Point 88
Stabilo Pen 68
Bic
Sharpie
Zebra Sarasa 0.5
Pilot Frixion 0.7

Inks:

Pilot Namiki Blue
Waterman Serenity Blue
Aurora Black

Photography equipment:

Camera: Nikon D3300
Main Lens: Nikon AF-S DX Micro-NIKKOR 40mm f/2.8G
Secondary Lens: Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-55mm

 

* Please keep in mind that buying through any of the links on this website helps support StationeryBlogger.com, and keeps the site going. I appreciate all your support and thank you for visiting.

Review of the Pilot Decimo – Fountain-pens as souvenirs?

During the summer of 2016 I went on a trip to Japan. Prior to setting of to my destination I was aware about the rich tradition the country had on stationery and in particular fountain-pens. I had therefore planned to start a new tradition of my own where I would purchase a locally produced writing instrument as a souvenir to mark my travels starting in Japan.

I was not certain about which pen to choose but I was always attracted to the utility of a retractable nib pen. Even though initially the Pilot Vanishing Point did not catch my eye in terms of beauty, it slowly grew on me. It thus became my pen of choice when I finally visited the iconic Itoya stationery shop in Ginza, Tokyo.

SIZE AND DESIGN

The pen I purchased was the Pilot Vanishing Point (Capless in Japan) Decimo in the blue trim with silver furniture. Compared to the normal VP, the Decimo is slightly thinner and lighter. Naturally the clip is also thinner making it easy to grip and I have found to often use it as a marker in order to grip the pen consistently comfortably without looking.

Another visual difference to the larger brother is that the two metal rings that connect the two sections of the barrel for refilling are not the same size. The one towards the nib is slightly smaller than the one on the back. While this is not a deal-breaker for me, I would have preferred for the rings to have been more proportionally sized as it does stand out a bit. The overall size is comfortable to use even though I would not mind the slightly heavier feeling of the classic.

NIB

One of the biggest selling points of the pen in my opinion is the nib. It is an 18K gold nib and writes like a dream. I chose the medium size which does write thinner than a European medium but its wonderfully calibrated wetness makes it the perfect daily writer size. Thankfully, if I wish to keep my current nib, if I purchase the larger size, the two sections are interchangeable. The nib is slightly soft however and taking into account its small footprint I feel that I have to treat it with a lot of care when I write to not spring the tines or damage it in any other way. Maybe this is just in my head but it keeps me from fully engaging with this pen as the daily workhorse it is designed to be.

FILLING SYSTEM

The decimo is a cartridge-converter pen. While it does not come with a converter in the box, I was able to easily purchase a CON-40 in a local stationary shop while in Japan. The converter however in my opinion is mediocre at best. It  holds a tiny amount of ink and I find it extremely difficult to get a full fill as the piston stops almost an entire centimetre shy of the actual opening point. That one centimetre is a substantial amount of ink considering the small capacity and size of the converter. While I do sometimes try to flip the nib section upside-down to release the air and get a larger fill, it is far too messy and time consuming so I mostly stick to cartridges. Thankfully, the ink selection of the Pilot proprietary cartridges is good in terms of variety and quality but I do prefer using bottled ink.

WRITING SAMPLE

FINAL THOUGHTS

While the pen does suffer from some negatives I think that the one-handed ease of use of the buttery smooth retractable nib make this pen an excellent purchase. For me, thanks to my new-born tradition, every time I write with the pen I day-dream about my trip to Japan making this pen have a special place in my heart.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Items mentioned*:

Pen: Pilot Fountain Pen Capless DecimoInk: Pilot Namiki Blue
Paper: Rhodia Orange Dot Pad
Converter: Pilot CON-40

Photography equipment:

Camera: Nikon D3300
Lens: Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-55mm

Other blogs about this topic:
Goulet Pens Blog Decimo Review
The Pen Addict Decimo Review
The Well Appointed Desk Decimo Review

 

* Please keep in mind that buying through any of the links on this website helps support StationeryBlogger.com, and keeps the site going. I appreciate all your support and thank you for visiting.

Lamy 2000 Fountain Pen Review

The Lamy 2000 is probably my favourite pen of all time. I know, it is a big statement but my admiration for this pen is well founded. I first purchased this pen back in 2014 when I began my first year studying law at university. I can honestly say that since then it has been almost everyday on me, taking notes and writing exams.

DESIGN

The pen looks and feels phenomenal. Its bauhaus inspired design makes it easy to look at with no extra bling. This makes it the perfect everyday pen when you do not want the entire room thinking you are trying to make a statement with your choice of writing instrument. In addition, the texture of the fibreglass-infused plastic gives a textured feel. Perfect for those with sleek hands constantly suffering from sticky-pen syndrome. The attention to detail and excellence of craftsmanship is evident from the fact that the brushed microscopic lines transition perfectly between the piston-knob and hand-section seams.

SIZE

Another great win for the pen is its size, measuring at 140mm caped. What is particularly outstanding however, is its centre of balance when posted. You can literally find the middle of the pen by simply balancing it on the tip of your finger. This is because the cap fits really deeply into the back of the barrel. That means that it will not only post securely but it will not stick out too much when writing. Moreover, the hand-section extends to cover a fair amount of the nib meaning that there are literally unlimited ways to hold the pen ensuring a comfortable grip.

NIB

The nib is fantastic to write with. I currently have the medium size but I have tried both the extra-fine and fine. They are all smooth, wet and always perform upon demand. I have had some issues in the past which I will go into more detail in the section below but I am more than happy overall.

 

CUSTOMER SERVICE

One of the biggest selling points however is the customer service of Lamy. A few years ago, after owning the pen for a few years, for some reason the extra-fine nib that I had started writing very dry. I had no idea why but I contacted Lamy with my problem and they immediately requested that I send the pen back for repair free of charge. A few weeks later, they had fixed the problem and also replaced my cap as the clip had become a bit wobbly. Moreover, a year ago, after owning the pen for three years, I emailed them asking whether they sold replacement nibs as I had outgrown my extra-fine size and wanted to change to a medium. They offered to replace it for free. I believe that this is how customer service should be and more companies should be striving towards such a high standard.

OVERALL

I believe that the Lamy 2000 is one of the best choices for a fountain pen out there. Whether you are a student or a seasoned professional the iconic look of the pen and quality are bound to make you smile every time you pick it up. As for negatives, I am struggling to think of any. Maybe if you like your fountain pens to be glossy and blingy you would not like this pen but it would be hard to argue it does not deserve a spot in everyone’s collection.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Items mentioned*:

Pen: Lamy 2000
Ink: Pilot Iroshizuku Asa-Gao
Paper: Rhodia Orange Dot Pad

Photography equipment:

Camera: Nikon D3300
Lens: Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-55mm

 

* Please keep in mind that buying through any of the links on this website helps support StationeryBlogger.com, and keeps the site going. I appreciate all your support and thank you for visiting.

Bellroy Note Sleeve Notebook Hack

I am a big fan of Bellroy products. I purchased my first wallet from them two years ago when I picked up the black Bellroy Note Sleeve and it has not left my pocket since. It is almost perfect! The leather and construction are top quality and the layout is so smart that you can throw everything you have at it and it will still be thin enough to fit nicely in your front pocket. It does however lack one important feature —space for a notepad.

This is obviously expected as it is a detail left unnoticed by pretty much all small-wallet makers, but this did not prevent me from trying to make it work.

WHERE TO PLACE THE NOTEBOOK?

In my opinion there are two ways of incorporating a notebook into a small wallet. You either find a wallet small enough to fit entirely inside one of the pockets, or you fit only the cover such as in a passport holder. Since the Note Sleeve is such a small wallet, the first choice would mean that the notebook would have to be absolutely tiny making it extremely hard to use it in any practical way. I therefore chose to go with the second method.

BUT WHICH NOTEBOOK?

The choice of notebook is very important. At the start I used to make my own staple-bound notebooks which I cut specifically to fit the inside pocket of the Bellroy wallet. The problem was however that they took too long to make, they did not look very nice and they were still quite small. In the end I decided to go with the Moleskine Extra Small Volant Notebook.

It is slightly taller and wider than a credit card, measuring at 6.7 x 1 x 10.5 cm and so I had to cut the front cover to the dimensions of a credit card to fit inside the wallet’s left side pocket. In the end, the cover fit securely inside the wallet’s pocket also leaving enough space for cards.

FINAL THOUGHTS

In conclusion, I am very happy with this transformation. It addressed all the issues of the Bellroy Note Sleeve, making it my perfect pocket companion. The only issues that I can think of are that firstly, the notebook slightly protrudes from the wallet on the top and bottom. For me this is not a big problem as it does not offend me visually and it gives me some extra writing real-estate. If it is does bother you however you could trim the top and the bottom to address this issue. Secondly, the cuts with the knife are not as perfect as those cut from the factory. Maybe in the future I will invest in some better cutting equipment but for now I still never leave home without it.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Items mentioned*:
Wallet: Bellroy Note Sleeve Leather Wallet, Black
Noteb0ok: Moleskine Extra Small Volant Notebook

Tools:
Knife: Precision Caving Knife
Corner Cutter (Optional): BCP Corner Cutter R5

Photography equipment:
Camera: Nikon D3300
Lens: Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-55mm

Other blogs about this topic:
Toolsandtoys.net wallet review
Thegadgeteer wallet review
Rushfaster wallet review

* Please keep in mind that buying through any of the links on this website helps support StationeryBlogger.com, and keeps the site going. I appreciate all your support and thank you for visiting.

Semikolon B5 Notebook

I was always a user of planners. While a filofax is my choice when it comes to planning for the future, I find that it offers little help when it comes to tracking the past with a view to maximise personal growth. This is why I decided I wanted to start a journal. A place where I can talk about what happened on a particular day, the things I learned and the mistakes I made so that I remember them and not repeat them in the future.

I am usually a fan of soft cover notebooks but for my journal I wanted something out of the ordinary. In the end, I decided to go with the Semikolon Classic B5 with blank paper in the sun colour cover which I purchased from Fred Aldous for around £20. I chose this size as I thought A4 would be way too big and A5 way too small. B5 is the perfect half-way house measuring at 18.5 x 30.5 cm.

COVER

When I ripped the plastic wrapper I immediately noticed the linen texture of the hard cover. It is very pleasant to hold and it gives the notebook a premium feel.

PAPER

On the inside, the paper is thick (100 g/m2) and is textured. The texturing however comes in a tiny parallel pattern which apart from making the notebook look and feel premium, it doubles as lines. The result is that you have the freedom of blank paper without the crooked handwriting.

 

INK TEST

As you can see, the paper performs quite well. There is no feathering or bleed-through in all inks including the sharpie. There is however some show-through in most which is strange considering the thickness of this paper.

THOUGHTS

Overall, I find the Semikolon B5 a great choice for anyone looking for a new notebook to write or sketch. My only problems with it are that while the paper is fountain pen friendly, it lacks the smoothness of the likes of Rhodia or Clairefontaine.