Moleskine's Comprehensive Smart Writing Set
A notebook, pen and dedicated app that take analog to digital with ease
At a conference on productivity—which touched on everything from the importance of tech-free alone time to the educational and emotional benefits of writing by hand (as outlined in a series of studies on the subject)—Moleskine unveiled their latest analog-to-digital wonder. The Smart Writing Set (composed of three unique and integral components) makes it possible to write by hand and have everything from notes to doodles appear simultaneously (or later) in your phone. All written text can then be transcribed from handwriting to font, and then exported to Google Drive, Evernote, iCloud or sent as a PDF. Further, the searchability of all digitized notes is an advancement upon everything Moleskine was done in the sector previously.
Arguably the most important part of the set, the Pen+ is a Bluetooth-enabled aluminum instrument that holds replaceable ballpoint ink cartridges. It's slim and easy to use, and also carries a sensor (a version of Neo smartpen technology) that connects to iDevices and Androids. That said, the Pen+ doesn't need to be connected to the app or to another device; it can hold roughly 1,000 pages of notes in its internal memory.
But it's a rather fascinating experience to witness your writing appear in both the analog notebook and the app inside your phone. Additionally, the pen can activate a voice memo feature and record someone speaking, as you are writing. The voice note is then affixed to the same note page the user is writing within, when it's complete. Then Pen+ does need to be charged, but battery life lasts a handful of days, depending on use.
At present, the Pen+ doesn't work with all Moleskine notebooks. Rather, the writing set comes with a notebook the brand calls the Paper Tablet. It's similar in size to the traditional large Moleskine, but has an extended round edging—resulting in a tablet-like appearance. The paper within is thick and easy to scrawl upon, and there's an almost invisible grid on every page that the Pen+ reads. (This allows the writing implement to know where it is on the paper and how it should appear in digital form.) A relatively obvious point worth making: when using the Pen+ in the Paper Tablet, it is no different than writing with a pen on paper—and that's just how it should be.
The final element of the trifecta is the free Moleskine Notes App, which is where the writing and doodles are captured and stored. Within, everything from editing to transcription can take place. Users can change the color of text, insert other content, add tags and search. Again, it's the ease of use here—from tracking to exporting—that makes this of value. There are a lot of alternative technologies offering a similar service, but the speed and accuracy of Moleskin's system really sets it apart. And, for anyone who takes notes by hand, this means there's life after the paper pages are filled.
The Smart Writing Set is available in store or online for $199. Replacement Paper Tablets retail for $30.
Images by Cool Hunting