Okay, this is such a cool product. We think smart notebooks are the flexible & sustainable 21st Century stationery option that are a must have for every student, teacher, doctor, or anyone who needs to write notes.
If you’ve explored L&L’s website in the past, it should be pretty obvious to you by now that we are total stationery nerds. Beautiful journals make a frequent appearance in our gift guides, and we just can’t get enough neat notebooks!
We especially love when our nerdy obsession for stationery meets modern technology and sustainability. That’s why we couldn’t wait to share our top picks for the best smart reusable notebooks. We hope you are as excited as we are about these 21st-century stationery options!
What Is a Smart Notebook?
So, what exactly does a smart notebook do?
Imagine your journal entries, a sketch, grocery lists, and written notes automatically transferring from the page right onto your digital device. Smart notebooks will render your handwriting or drawings from the page into a digital format that you can then view on your laptop, smartphone, or tablet.
Smart notebooks are the ideal stationery accessory that bridges the digital with the analog. We’ve all heard that physical handwriting can develop stronger conceptual understandings and offers an array of mental benefits. But living in the modern world can make it difficult to maintain those benefits while adapting to technological advancements. With the smart notebook, say “hello” to the best of both worlds!
Most smart notebooks tend to operate with different technologies in place. Many brands require a special pen that automatically renders your notes and drawings to the cloud. Others let the smart reusable notebook pages with built-in tracking do most of the work. Typically, your notes can be easily accessible through the brand’s accompanying app, smart notebook software, or cloud storage.
Some also even allow you to erase your notes (much like a smartboard or interactive whiteboard) to keep reusing the same pages! Simply wipe with a special cloth and a little water, and like magic the page is blank and ready to reuse.
When you transition to using a smart notebook, you get all the benefits of a traditional notebook while being environmentally responsible. No more wasting paper! The notebooks are usually classically designed as leather or faux-leather bound journals, making them stylish and sustainable!
Reusable Smart Notebooks – Our Top Picks
After researching and testing some of the most popular reusable notebooks on the market, we’ve compiled an extensive list of what we consider to be the most noteworthy. The following is a review of our top 7 favorite reusable smart notebooks!
- Letter Size dimensions: 8.5 in x 11 in / 32 pages
- Executive Size dimensions: 6 in x 8.8 in / 36 pages
- Dot grid and lined pattern on each page
- Moistened cloth to erase
- Use only Pilot FriXion ink
- Infinitely reusable
- Infinitely Reusable
- Relatively inexpensive
- Dot grids don’t show up on scanned document for a cleaner look
- Must use with the Pilot Frixion pen
- You only get 36 pages
- Ink needs to dry for 15 seconds, or it will smudge
Rocketbook might be the most recognizable manufacturer of smart notebooks. The Core (formally known as the Rocketbook Everlast) notebook comes with 36 reusable pages that let you start fresh by wiping clean with its microfiber cloth! Just use the accompanying Pilot Frixion pen to bond the ink onto the pages.
You can connect it to your device using the Rocketbook app, available for both iOS and Android. Using the app, your handwritten notes will seamlessly save as a file on your preferred cloud storage service like Google Drive, Dropbox, Evernote, OneNote, iMessage, and more!
We love how easy it is to use the scanning system. All you have to do is assign the icons at the page’s footer to a specific destination and take a photo in the app. It’s that easy!
- Letter Size dimensions: 8.5 in x 11 in / 42 pages
- Executive Size dimensions: 6 in x 8.8 in / 42 pages
- Unlimited uses
- Moistened cloth to erase
- Uses Pilot FriXion pen, marker, or highlighter (pen is included)
- Infinitely Reusable
- 7-page templates
- Comes with both dotted and lined pages
- Must use with the Pilot Frixion pens
- Cover can get easily scratched
- Less flexibility in ordering pages
The Rocketbook Fusion has just about everything the Core has, but taken to the next level! With 42 reusable pages, the Fusion offers seven different page templates that include calendars, to-do lists, and other notetaking layouts. It also comes with both dotted and lined pages.
Much like the Core, the Fusion’s reusable pages come with a microfiber cloth that allows you to wipe clean any of your notes written with the Pilot Frixion pen. They also come in two sizes, executive and letter-sized.
We recommend getting the pack of colorful Frixion pens to do some good old-fashioned color-coding! (Yes, if you hadn’t already picked up on it, we are stationary nerds who enjoy things like color-coding.)
- 7.05 x 5.12 x 0.71 inches
- 40 lined pages
- 500 uses
- Use with any erasable pen
- Compatible with various brands of pens
- Use pages 500 times
- Pages challenging to clean fully
- Recommended apps aren’t very user-friendly
HOMESTECS’s smart notebook is one of the most affordable on the market. It comes complete with two erasable pens and sticky tabs and can be used up to 500 times. You get more variety with this one as it comes in three different sizes, with the biggest being letter-sized.
You can use the pens that come with the notebook – or pens from other brands – to erase all 40 lined pages. Use the HOMESTEC compatible app to capture your doodles, notes, and lists, and save them in your preferred cloud service. Use the CamScanner or Newyes Note apps to change the images in your notebook into PDFs!
What’s fun about this smart notebook is that to erase your notes easily, all you have to do is use the compatible pen eraser or your hairdryer!
4. Remarkable 2
- 187 x 246 x 4.7 mm
- 10.3” monochrome digital paper display (no colors)
- 1872 x 1404 resolution (226 DPI)
- Rechargeable (Li-ion) battery
- USB-C charging
- Extremely thin display
- Pleasant writing experience
- Great battery life
- Limited cloud syncing capabilities
- Doesn’t replicate a notebook
The Remarkable 2 is marketed as more of a paper e-ink tablet than a reusable notebook, but it functions pretty much the same. You can’t quite call it a tablet for the simple fact that you can’t use apps or browse the internet. Instead of having pages, the Remarkable 2 is a 4.7 millimeters thin paper-like display. Writing on the screen feels almost exactly like writing on notebook paper!
The tablet allows you to browse and edit saved files and notes you’ve written. We love that they also include various document templates that include: checklists, ruled pages, dot grids, and even sheet music!
There’s also a Pocket-like Chrome extension that lets you send articles for reading as text documents or PDFs. Think Kindle but better! It also has a pretty impressive battery life that enables you to go up to two weeks without recharging (based on a usage of 2 hours per day).
5. Boogie Board
- 8.5″ X 11” Semi-Transparent Writing Surface
- Blackboard™ Pen
- Exact-Erase, Instant Clear Button and Erase Lock
- Magnetic Pen Holder
- LCD writing surface that feels like paper
- Battery lasts up to 5 years; no charging required
- Stable surface with non-slip feet
- Scanner prone to issues
- Precise erase function sometimes glitches
- Display not bright enough at times
The Boogie Board is another smart notebook that functions as an LCD tablet with a natural writing process. It’s super fun to use and great for kids to enjoy as well! It can be used as not only a notebook but also a whiteboard, blackboard, calendar, and more.
It uses a pressure-sensitive pen and users can remove notes easily with the eraser end. The Boogie Board has a semi-transparent surface excellent for copying and tracing paper templates that include a lined sheet, a dot grid, and a planner! It comes in a letter-size and notebook size.
It’s compatible with the iOS and Android Blackboard app, so you can capture, save and send your notes to your personal device. We love that this tablet is battery-operated and can last up to five years, so you don’t have to worry about charging it!
- Bamboo Folio Large 13.3 x 10.6 x 0.7 in
- Bamboo Folio Small 10.1 x 7.9 x 0.7 in
- Bamboo Slate Large 13 x 10 x 0.3 in
- Bamboo Slate Small 9.8 x 7.3 x 0.3 in
- Micro USB cable
- Quick start guide
- Accurate tracking
- Great app capabilities
- Paper can easily become misaligned
- Converting writing to text requires a paid subscription
Well-known as a tablet manufacturer, Wacom’s Bamboo Smartpad is the real deal when it comes to smart notebooks. The tablet comes with a regular paper notepad, a pen, and a clipboard-style holder for the notepad that tracks the pen strokes. The holder uses electromagnetic tracking and pressure sensitivity to record your writing movements. And we have to say, it does so with remarkable accuracy!
Wacom’s Inkspace app lets you transform your notes and drawings into shareable digital files for your iOS and Android devices. Pair it with your device using Bluetooth technology!
- A5(5.8 x 8.3 inch), 100 pages
- B5 (6.9 x 9.8 inch), 60 pages
- 1 Pilot FriXion Pens
- Water-resistant pages
- 500 times reusable pages
- Notes easily removable by cloth, hairdryer, or microwave
- Software capabilities limited
- Slow in detecting pages
The Elfinbook provides the classic pen and paper notebook experience built for the digital age. It’s endlessly reusable and allows you to easily transfer your drawing and notes to your preferred cloud service using the Elfinbook app.
Similar to the HOMESTEC, the Elfinbook book lets you easily remove your handwriting or drawings with the damp cloth or your hairdryer. In addition, you can also remove your notes by putting it in the microwave! How fun is that? Its water-resistant, synthetic smart-paper can be reused up to 500 times, and we just love how smooth the writing experience is!
We also love that you can take the pages out and easily rearrange the order if needed. It comes with one lined page and one blank page per sheet – perfect for taking notes or drawing sketches!
Smart Notebook Buyer’s Guide
When deciding on the best reusable smart notebook for you, there are lots of factors you might want to take into consideration. You want to think about individual specifications that align best with your needs so you can optimize your reusable note-taking experience. Let’s dig deeper into some features to consider.
Many reusable notebooks come in different sizes. Some models might even have various sizes available to choose from. Maybe you want a larger notepad that’s letter-sized or perhaps something smaller and travel-sized.
Think about what you plan to use the notebook for to help you determine what size you will need. For daily to-do lists or shopping lists, a small pocket- or purse-sized smart notebook might be perfect. For students or office use, larger books for notetaking might be preferred.
The type of pens, markers, and other writing implements compatible with our reusable notepad will vary. Some notebooks include their own patented technology that makes your notes reusable. In this case, you will only be able to use a specific manufacturer’s pens and markers. Others may allow you to use an assortment of pens made by other manufacturers, leaving you with more options and fewer restrictions.
What’s great is that most reusable notepads will come with their own pens. However, if the pen runs dry or if you’re interested in more variety such as markers, highlighters, and different colors, you’ll often have to ensure the same manufacturer makes them. Whether it’s the Pilot Frixion or the Neo Smartpen, ensure you find out what writing utensils are compatible with the notepad you choose and which ones aren’t.
I recommend having a backup pen just in case. You don’t want to be in the middle of a classroom lesson with a pen that runs dry, right when the teacher is about to clarify an important point!
Almost all the best reusable notebooks have either a compatible app that you can pair with your personal device or options of sending your files to your preferred cloud system. You’ll want to ensure that the app is available for your device, i.e., iOS or Android, and that the app has a good reputation for its functionality.
Most of the best reusable notepads can launch your drawings or notes to cloud storage services like Google Drive, Dropbox, Evernote, OneNote, iMessage, etc.
The ability to easily clean off your reusable notebook might be the most important feature. After all, why else would it be called reusable? Many smart notebooks have different capabilities when it comes to reusing the pages. Some require microfiber cloths, while others allow you to use a hairdryer or microwaves. For others, the special pens might come with their own erasers instead.
You want to ensure that the specifications and features are compatible with your notetaking lifestyle. Many offer an array of fun and useful templates that can take your notes to a whole other level!
Maybe you’re into planners, to-do lists, or calendars to help keep you organized. Perhaps you have a preference over lined sheets and dotted grids. Or maybe you’re an artist who needs blank pages to act as your canvas! Look into the types of pages and unique features offered in different notebooks when making your decision.
Many smart notebooks try to replicate the feeling of handwriting in a classic leather-bound journal, while others might be more like tablets that offer a display that looks and feels like you’re writing on real paper. Consider the cover design that appeals most to you.
Put Pen to Digital Paper
Smart notebooks are a great way to bridge the digital with the analog note-taking experience. Watch your notes, doodles, and lists digitally come to life and last forever. Feel good about note-taking knowing you’re doing so in a way that’s environmentally friendly and sustainable! You heard it here — stop buying paper and start using electronic notes instead. 😉
Out of our list above, we’d say the Rocketbook Fusion and the Wacom are the best ones to consider. We love the Rocketbook’s seven different templates and classic leatherbound journal appeal. The Wacom stands out due to the remarkable accuracy of the electromagnetic tracking and pressure sensitivity, and is super appealing for those who enjoy the mix of a tablet notebook experience!
Consider the various features, specifications, design, and compatibility when looking for the smart notebook that’s right for you. We just hope that you find something worthwhile to record in the pages of your new notebook!