Computers have taken over the term "notebook," but one of the most popular pen-and-paper notebook makers is trying to take the word back by giving people the best of both worlds with its new smart notebook.
Moleskine, the Italian manufacturer whose products can be found in the messenger bag of a hipster near you, launched a new lineup of products that aim to modernize its offerings. The Smart Writing Set allow users to continue writing in an analogue fashion while preserving their chicken scratch in digital format.The modernization starts with the pen. Moleskine's updated version of the writing utensil is called the Pen+, a flat-sided aluminum instrument equipped with a sensor in the tip that tracks each drop of ink. If it looks and sounds familiar, it's because the Pen+ is a rebranded Neo Smartpen N2, a Kickstarter success from 2014.
What takes that markup from the page to a digital format is the built-in bluetooth connectivity. The Pen+ communicates with a connected iOS or Android device to take the written word and convert it into a digital format.It's not just the pen doing work in the Smart Writing Set; the paper plays a role as well. The notebook itself is called the Paper Tablet, and it consists of specially textured paper that the Pen+ recognizes as the right material to capture from.
While the notebook from Moleskine is plenty portable on its own, it's not quite as convenient as a smartphone, which most people have on their body at all times. So when you need your notes and your Moleskine is at home, it's all accessible through the Notes app for iOS and Neo Notes for Android.
The apps catch whatever is scribbled into the notebook as it happens when connected. If the bluetooth link between pen and phone isn't active or available, the Pen+ stores whatever is written on its internal memory until paired again. The Pen+ can hold up to 1,000 pages of written word on its own.
Once the handwritten notes and scribbles are digitized, users have control like they would over text in a word document. Colors can be changed and, most importantly, the text can be searched so it's easy to find just about anything that you wrote down. The notes can also be exported to iCloud, Google Drive, Evernote, and Adobe.
Moleskine's Smart Writing Set goes for $199, with replacement notebooks priced at $29.95. It's a steep price for something that could be accomplished in a similar fashion with a normal notebook and pen plus a scanning app on a smartphone, but for those who want the additional convenience of automatic transcription of everything they write, it might be worth the cost.
H/T The Verge