Notebooks are a way of life for many, and those people certainly couldn't imagine ever being without their prized notebooks, whether to jot down a quick idea, or to scribble a drawing in a spare moment. Whatever you use your notebooks for, it's likely you have big stacks of notebooks, and no idea what to do with them. A smart notebook can save you a lot of space by keeping everything stored digitally.
There are a lot of reasons to store your notes digitally. Having a search function is a big one, but there are also notebooks which can convert your handwriting into text, or upload your notes to a cloud storage platform, so you can access them from any other smart device or computer. Smart notebooks come in a variety of forms, from physical notebooks with scanning apps to tablets with e-ink displays and styluses, and picking the right one for you is an important task.
Here are some of the best smart notebooks you can buy today, so you can go beyond just using a note-taking app on your phone.
Amazon Kindle Scribe
Best smart notebook
- Slim and lightweight design
- E-ink screen looks fantastic
- Tried-and-true Kindle reading
- Superb writing experience
- Weeks of battery life
- Very competitive pricing
- Few formatting tools for writing
- Limited Kindle app integration
Sleek, minimalist, and multifunctional — the Amazon Kindle Scribe is unlike any Kindle that came before it. You can read e-books, just like all the other e-ink Kindle products, but you can also write on the screen using the included Basic Pen. Best of all, the writing experience feels exactly like putting a regular pen on normal paper.
When it's not in use, the Basic Pen magnetically attaches to the side of the Kindle Scribe, and because the included Pen is passive, you don’t need to charge a battery inside it, meaning it’s always ready for use. You can upgrade to a Premium Pen, which is also battery-free and has an eraser function and a shortcut button to access different writing functions. Anything you write on the Scribe can be viewed in the Kindle app on another device.
The Kindle Scribe’s battery should last for around a month before it needs recharging, even with daily use. That’s good for a device with a 10.2-inch screen and an adjustable LED backlight. Despite the size, the Kindle Scribe is easy to hold, mostly due to the thin and lightweight design, along with the enlarged bezel down one side.
It’s an expensive device, but it is versatile, and the overall quality of the writing and reading experience is high enough that it justifies the cost.
Kobo Ellipsa 2E
Best smart notebook runner-up
- Bright and clear display
- In-book annotations
- Big list of supported files
- Google Drive and Dropbox integration
- Weeks of battery life
- Stylus needs separate charging
- Sluggish performance in areas
- Dodgy exporting
The Kindle Scribe isn't the only game in town for a big ol' smart notebook, and Kobo has been in this game for longer than Amazon. The Kobo Elipsa 2E is an e-book reader to be proud of, but it's also a solid alternative to Amazon's Kindle Scribe — and well worth considering even if you're already tied into Amazon's ecosystem.
It's similar to the Kindle Scribe in a lot of ways. The Elipsa 2E has the same sized 10.2-inch display, the battery lasts weeks, and even the design is similar. But there's enough which sets them apart, and some ways the Kobo notebook improves on the Scribe. The stylus, the Kobo Stylus 2, has an eraser and button, and comes with the Elipsa 2E — though you will need to charge it separately. It also integrates seamlessly with Dropbox and Google Drive, giving you an easy way to get files to your notebook. It also exports notebooks, though the process isn't exactly as painless as using its import system.
You have options for writing in notebooks, too. You can write in a basic notebook, where your scribbles stay as scribbles, or you can jump up to the advanced notebook. What's advanced about it? It'll take your handwriting and convert it to text, and the translation is actually remarkably good. You can also bring in math equations, drawings, and diagrams, if needed. It's a versatile and incredibly useful toolbox, and a very, very good alternative for the best smart notebook.
One by Wacom Drawing Tablet
Best smart notebook for drawing
- Great for detailed artwork or editing
- Software free trial included
- Stylus included
- Needs computer to work
Here's something a little different. While not exactly a smart notebook, it lets you draw precisely on your computer, saving you from the horrors of crude mouse-driven drawings. Optimized for Chromebook but also compatible with Mac (OS X 10.10 or above) and PC (Windows 7 or above), it displays your drawings on whichever computer you're using it with. It's therefore great for more detailed sketches, artwork, or for editing and annotating images. Designed primarily for students and teachers, it comes with a three-month trial of EdTech software, such as Kami App, ExplainEverything, Pear Deck, Limnu, and Collaboard. It also comes with its own pen, which is lightweight yet highly responsive. It's not one for taking notes on the move, but it's a good and cheap option if you also love to draw.
Boogie Board Basics Writing Tablet
Best affordable smart notebook
- Included stylus
- Easy erasure
- Slim and lightweight
- Replaceable batteries mean no easy recharging
The Boogie Board Basics is a reusable writing pad with an LCD screen and included stylus. Just write on the screen with the included stylus — or use a pen, or your finger — then, when you're ready to erase your notes, just push the button and the board clears. There's no need to use a special eraser or wipe the screen. The Boogie Board Basics is incredibly slim and light, making it ideal for taking to the office or for note-taking at college. It also has a replaceable battery, so there are no cables to carry with you and you don't need to remember to charge it.
Best smart notebook for planning
- Tailored to your personal "brain type"
- Attractive style
- Easily managed with app
- Can be expensive
The Evo Planner is something a bit different. It's a personalized 90-day planner and journal that's tailored to your unique brain type. Take the Brain Type Assessment and find out if you're an Oracle, Alchemist, Explorer, or Architect, then pick up the right journal for you. With daily, weekly, and monthly pages, including a full-color agenda, you can increase your self-awareness, productivity, and gratitude by journaling and managing your schedule in the Evo Planner. Scan your notes and daily and weekly agenda pages with the EVO app for Android or iOS. The app can help identify patterns, such as whether you're more productive and happier when you exercise, allowing you to gain key insights into your personality and productivity, and forge better habits over time. The Evo Planner is made from eco-friendly materials, and it looks great, too, with copper-gilded pages.
Moleskine Dropbox Smart Notebook
Best smart notebook for durability
- Durable hardcover
- Transfers notes in real time
- Uploads to Dropbox
- Doesn't include Pen+
If you're looking for something a bit more durable, you'll love this hardcover notebook from Moleskine, with traditionally-ruled pages and Ncoded technology that allows the Moleskine Pen+ and Moleskine Notes app to detect exactly where the pen is, so it can transfer notes in real time while you work. The notebook is specifically designed to encourage uploading pages to Dropbox, although this isn't necessary, and the Notes app still supports all kinds of cloud storage options if you prefer to use a different service. Moleskine also makes a slightly smaller Evernote over Dropbox.if you prefer to use
The catch is that the notebook doesn't actually come with the Moleskine Pen+, which means you will either have to purchase it separately or use the notebook as a replacement for an earlier version that you've already filled up.
Boogie Board Blackboard
Best big smart notebook
- Large size
- Replicates clipboard
- Instant erasure
- Process can be complex
Are you more of a clipboard note-taker or artist? The Boogie Board seeks to replicate the feel of an 8.5-inch-by-11-inch clipboard and comes with four template pages for specific kinds of work (ruled, dotted, free-form, etc.). You instantly can erase anything you write with the touch of a button, and when you are ready, capture content with the Blackboard app.
The process is a little more cumbersome than some of our options — there's no pen tracking here. However, there is the added benefit of uploading digital images to the back of the Blackboard, like a sketching template, map, outline you found online, and so on, which gives this notebook a lot of additional usability, especially when it comes to creative options. It runs on a five-year battery that will eventually need to be replaced.
Rocketbook Smart Reusable Notebook
Best cloud-friendly smart notebook
- Large notepad
- Good price
- Works with a bunch of cloud services
- Has to be washed and dried between uses
With all their fine attributes, let's not forget that smart notebooks can also save paper and trees while letting you write in style. The Rocketbook's 8.5 x 11-inch 42-page notebook offers seven different page styles for notes, sketches, plans, lists, goals, and sharing ideas via dot-grid and lined pages. When you're ready to share, you can use the free Rocketbook app for iOS and Android to transmit your scribbles to cloud services like Google Drive, Dropbox, Evernote, Box, OneNote, Slack, and iCloud. Theworks with any Pilot Frixion pen, marker, or highlighter and pages must be dry so the ink can bond to specialized pages — just add a drop of water and wipe clean with a damp cloth to start over. It comes in eight bright colors and two sizes.
Moleskine Pen+ Ellipse Smart Writing Set
Best real smart notebook
- Everything you need
- USB recharging
- Write now, sync later
This updated version of the complete Moleskine writing set promises to be a treat for anyone who loves writing by hand. It comes with a paper notebook and digital smart pen, USB recharging cable, one pen-tip ink refill, and a manual. The paper tablet features encoded paper in a dotted layout to work with the pen and allow the pen to capture each stroke and recognize exactly where it is in the Paper Tablet. The Moleskine Notes app transfers words and drawings from page to screen in real time, so you can digitize text, edit, organize, and share content. Its companion app for iOS and Android digitizes your notes and transfers them to your device, allowing you to notate, share, search, edit, and organize notes. But unlike Moleskine's previous smart writing set, your pen doesn't need to be connected to the app at all times; you can simply jot down notes and sync your pen with the app at a later time — great for those times you can't connect to your phone, like in a meeting.
You can use the's app to record audio to sync with your notes. You can save all output in PDF, or upload to Google or Evernote. The app recognizes 15 languages and lets you organize, archive, search, and use tags to sort your notes. Save your notes in PDF, image, vector, or text file format.
Rocketbook Wave Cloud-Connected Reusable Smart Notebook
Best hybrid smart notebook
- Well sized
- Microwave to erase
- Comes with pen
- Requires subscription
- Pages only reuseable five times
If you’re looking for a larger size notebook, the 80-page spiral-bound Rocketbook Wave Notebook is an excellent option. It comes in a generous standard size of 9.5 x 8.5 inches. Like other smart notebooks, it sends your handwritten notes to the cloud. Rocketbook does require a subscription, which you must purchase separately before you can use the cloud-based storage. As for its overall function, the soft-cover Rocketbook Wave Notebook has some intriguing smart tech. To clear the pages of any previous notes, you just pop the notebook into the microwave. Pages are reusable up to five times.
Meanwhile, your handwritten notes get sent to the cloud for preservation. You can transfer notes to digital form in the Rocketbook Wave app, then save them via the cloud services. Smart tagging makes it easy to track pages — there’s a QR code at the bottom of each page. The package comes with a Pilot Frixion pen made for the Rocketbook. This innovative writing utensil uses temperature-sensitive compound ink that you can see as you’re writing but will turn clear when exposed to heat. In this case, that heat comes when you microwave the Rocketbook to “erase” the page and start again.
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