Moleskine’s newest notebook lets you doodle straight to the cloud

Dead trees have never been more expensive

Handwritten or typed notes? There are so many good reasons to type things up these days including searchable notes and backing them up to cloud services. If you lose your paper notebook then your work is gone forever. On the other hand, it’s a paper notebook. Sometimes scribbling with pen on paper is more convenient and satisfying than typing all the time. A few companies have tried to create the best of both worlds and now a big player in notepads is stepping forward.

Moleskine notebooks are loved by many note-takers and artists. In 2012 they took a step into the digital world by partnering with Evernote to create a notebook that could store your notes in the cloud. It worked the way that many similar products do, which is to use specially designed pages that allow smartphone cameras to easily capture content on the page.

The Italian company has just announced a new notebook that simplifies the process further meaning you don’t need to take photos of your pages. The Moleskine Smart Writing Set consists of a “paper tablet” and the Moleskine Pen+. The paper tablet is a notebook that kind of looks like a tablet because of its shape, but it’s unmistakably a Moleskine notebook. Once open it resembles an notebook filled with pages rather than batteries and processors but it’s smarter than you might think.

When you write on the pages using the Pen+, your words or doodles are sent to your smartphone or tablet. Other products have done this in the past but with mixed results. Pens that track their movements with an accelerometer haven’t been very impressive. Moleskine’s Pen+ uses an infrared camera that can read the position of the pen on the paper tablet.

It’s important to note that it isn’t just a smart pen on ordinary paper; the paper tablet itself is pretty smart. It gives location information to the pen’s camera and this also informs the app about which page is being written on. This is a brilliant feature and probably a major selling-point for the Smart Writing Set.

Say you’re taking notes on page 3 and that page is being written and saved on your phone. You then move to page 4 and start a new page and the app instantly starts recording your work on a new page. Most importantly, you flick back to page 3 again to make a change and the app recognises this too. You can jump between pages and it won’t confuse the system. This video shows these features in action:

The app itself can keep your work in different notebooks; it can transcribe your work into searchable text; it can record audio as you write so it will capture lectures and meetings, and it can share your notes to Evernote or other services. You can email your notes by clicking menu items but there’s also an email logo at the top of every page in the paper tablet. If you tick the logo, your notes will automatically prepared into an email ready to send on your phone or tablet.

The idea of an ink pen on paper that can send notes to the cloud isn’t new but these features might make Moleskine’s entry worth considering if you’re wanting the best of the dead trees and the cloud. However, it’s expensive so you’ll have to ask yourself if the price justifies not having to take a photo of your standard notebook. Or if you already have a pen-compatible tablet like an iPad Pro or Surface Pro, it might be worth getting used to writing on a digital display instead.

The Moleskine Smart Writing Set is available from the official website for £199. It’s pricey for a notebook but looks like it could one of the best solutions if you’re looking for this type of product. You’re paying for the pen mostly; if you need to replace the paper tablet it costs £23.95.

Main image © Moleskine