Manual note-taking is more effective than tapping away at a laptop, and now syncs with tech. Source: Smart Writing Set – Moleskine

Smart pads and pens are cheaper (and better) than your laptop

THE LATEST research carried out in the US has pointed out what many people already know, that taking notes on a laptop just isn’t as effective as writing things down on paper. People attending lectures or meetings who tap away on a keyboard don’t retain as much information as those who revert to traditional aide memoirs.

Aside from the obvious distractions a laptop or tablet offers, the taking of handwritten notes requires a process of creative paraphrasing that increases understanding and all-around cognitive efficiency.

And while modern tech can consist of delightfully designed hardware, there is a certain pleasure to be gained from using a notebook and pen, perhaps made from fine materials that please both the eye and the sense of touch.

Some of the most attractive notebooks on sale today are offered by Moleskine, whose offerings have been gracing desks for ten years and which, according to the company, are “bringing back to life the legendary notebook used by artists and thinkers over the past two centuries, such as Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway, and Bruce Chatwin.”

Last year the company launched its Smart Writing Set, which allowed users to jot down their own inspirational thoughts into a special notebook and transfer them into an iOS or Android app.

Now, the company is collaborating with Microsoft to allow notes to be transferred directly into Windows 10. Text and/or sketched graphics can be pushed to Evernote, Adobe apps, Microsoft’s own Notes app, and even uploaded to iCloud or Google Drive.

Images and charts can be copied into PowerPoint, OneNote, and Word, too, thus forming a neat bridge between modern business applications and the old-fashioned (yet highly effective) way of capturing thoughts and musings.

While the Microsoft application is free, the Paper Tablet notebook and Pen+ combination costs US$199.

This particular type of niche technology is not unique, of course, with offerings from Montblanc and Livescribe – the former’s Italian leather notebooks are particular objects of desire.


Montblanc’s Augmented Paper range. Source: Montblanc

But the Microsoft involvement means that the less-than-perfect mobile apps users have been forced to use up until now don’t have to be used at all, offering serious relief for those who live and die by their note-taking. Moleskine’s Notes app for Windows 10 presents a standard and effective user interface, by contrast.

Additionally, in a nod towards the buzz-phrase of collaborative working, well-funded teams of up to six users can link their smartpens & pads and brainstorm in a feature called (in a hysterical mangling of language) “Collaborative Ideation”.