Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes, 5s.
In just the last 8 months, I’ve gone through 1,050 pages of lined paper and 320 pages of graph paper. Most of this is from going through practice problems and long mathematical proofs that I will never use again, but want to be able to refer to later.
As an economics PhD student, buying a tablet isn’t really in my budget, and using a computer for taking notes isn’t a real option (try drawing a supply and demand model in Word!). I’ve fallen into an almost entirely paper-based system. And all that paper has to go somewhere: on a daily basis I lug two or three binders of notes to and from campus (plus textbooks, laptop, a lunch, and sometimes even a cello on top).
The moment Chris told me about the Rocketbook notebooks I knew this was going to be a game changer. They make notebooks that can be reused, and can be linked to Dropbox, Google Drive, or your email. With the Rocketbook app, you can instantly scan and send a note to where you want. You fill in a little circle at the bottom of each page of the notebook, scan the page with the app, and then the app sends a sharp PDF or JPG copy of your note where you specified. It seemed too good to be true.
I tried two of Rocketbook’s notebooks: the Everlast, and the Wave. To me, there are two clear advantages to them both:
- You can scan the notebook pages to send your notes to the cloud service of your choice (like Evernote, Dropbox, Google Drive, your email, etc.) You can do multi-page documents, too;
- They’re reusable (YAY!). You can erase the pages of each notebook—you erase the pages of the Everlast with a damp paper towel, and the pages of the Wave by…wait for it…microwaving the notebook.
I’ve spent countless hours turning less than perfect iPhone pictures of notes and assignments into PDFs that I wanted to store—this app does that for me in seconds with a much nicer product in the end. Here’s what I thought of each!
The Rocketbook Everlast
This is the better of the two. This notebook claims it can be used an infinite number of times. I’ve already used some of the pages more than a dozen times, wiping them clean with a paper towel after scanning them, and the pages look basically good as new. There are some very faint markings from past uses on them, so “infinite” probably shouldn’t be taken literally, but these marks barely noticeable so I don’t foresee this being an issue for a very long time (at least for the rest of my PhD… which sometimes feels like infinity).
If I’m honest, it was not love at first use. The paper is slippery to allow you to wipe the notebook clean after you use it, but that means it takes the ink some time to dry. This can be blamed on the default pen it comes with—the 0.7mm Pilot FriXion capped pen. It takes a while to warm up so you have to doodle a bit before it’s ready to write smoothly, and when it does write, it bleeds, making my writing too thick. There are two grid heights that the notebook nudges you towards: The full height is way too big for my writing and leaves the page feeling really spaced out. The half grid height is a more comfortable space, but really isn’t suited for the thick default pen so my writing ended up looking messy. These problems completely disappeared when I switched to the FriXion 0.5mm clicker pen, which seems to bleed less, dry faster, and take no time to warm up. I’m not sure why Rocketbook has decided to make the 0.7mm FriXion capped pen the default, but if you’re serious about these notebooks, do not stick to the default pen.1
Now that I’ve gotten over my initial issues with the book, I love it. It’s thin, light, easy to wipe clean once I’ve sent all my notes where they need to go, and it comes in a nice 8.5 x 11 inch letter size. I like writing on a full-sized sheet of paper so I can see more of a problem in one place, and this size converts to a PDF much better than the other 6 x 8 inch notebook, which awkwardly gets blown up to fit a letter-sized page when it’s scanned.
The Rocketbook Wave
This notebook has its advantages. The paper isn’t made of the same synthetic material so ink dries immediately. It’s also kind of fun to microwave a notebook to find that your ink has disappeared. But the ink doesn’t entirely disappear when you microwave it, so this novelty fades pretty quickly. It has more pages, but it can still only be used 5 times (which, even if it’s true, is definitely lower than the Everlast). The sizes are also more awkward – 8.5 x 9.5 inches or 6 x 8.6 inches. I didn’t try the 8.5 x 9.5 inch book, but I can’t really think of many practical uses for an almost square notebook. And the 6 x 8.6 inch faces the same awkwardness that the small Everlast did when being scanned.
If you’re picking between the two, and you think you can survive the rest of your life without microwaving a notebook, I’d definitely recommend the Rocketbook Everlast. It’s a better size, and can basically be used forever.
Once you get used to it, you may never want to use paper again!
Fun fact… they’re not lying when they say that the notebooks only work with the Pilot FriXion pens. No need to test this on your own! ↩