The 3 best smart notebooks

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by Carina Finn and Anne Loreto Cruz

Whether you're penning your next novel or simply taking notes during a team meeting, a smart notebook can be a game changer for those who prefer to write by hand but still want easy to access digital copies. The best smart notebooks have durable, bleed-free pages, as well as intuitive software to make uploading and accessing digital pages simple.

For many people, what makes the perfect notebook is highly specific to their preferences and needs, and smart notebooks are no exception. One of the choices to make is which page design you like to write on; dotted pages are great for sketching or bullet journaling, a grid design is ideal for precise diagrams, and lined pages are always handy for writing or note-taking. If you’re looking to invest in a smart notebook for sustainability purposes, it’s a good idea to get one that can be erased and reused several times. Some reusable notebooks can be wiped clean with just a little water, and others can be erased by popping them in the microwave.

The number of pages is also something to consider. If you’ll be uploading and erasing pages after each writing session, it makes more sense to go for a slimmer notebook that takes up less space — but if your notebook isn’t reusable, you may want a higher page count. Some smart notebooks need to be used with a smart pen, but others are compatible with specific ballpoint pens that are relatively inexpensive to replace. If you do end up springing for a smart pen to go with your smart notebook, you’ll also have access to data-driven features like looking up notes and drawings by tags or dates.

Ready to take your note-taking into the future? Here are the three best smart notebooks that you can buy on Amazon.

1. A smart notebook with over 35,000 ratings on Amazon

  • Page design: dotted
  • Page count: 36
  • Pen included: yes

This wildly popular smart notebook looks and feels like a traditional paper notebook, but it can be reused over and over again. When paired with Pilot FriXion pens, the pages can be wiped clean with a small amount of water and a cloth, then reused after they dry — and for minor mistakes, the FriXion pens come with a small eraser. The dotted pattern pages are great for people who enjoy bullet journaling or sketching, but Rocketbook also makes lined and graph paper versions for a more traditional writing.

When it’s time to scan and upload your pages, you can use Rocketbook’s free app, which is compatible with iOS and Android. Rocketbook’s pages also have symbols on the bottom that you can use to indicate where the page will be uploaded to make organization even easier. This notebook comes with one Pilot FriXion pen, so you can start writing and uploading right away.

One reviewer wrote: “This notebook is better than I expected. I have already had other co-workers order it after they tried it. As an IT professional I use many devices but for quick notes on the go that I can immediately upload and share with others this is the solution. Side notes, the Rocketbook application works perfectly on both iPhone and Android. Also make sure you get the correct type of pens required for the notebook, they are also nice and can be used on regular paper and come with a handy eraser on the end.”

2. A high-tech Moleskine notebook for handwriting purists

  • Page design: lined
  • Page count: 176
  • Pen included: no

This Moleskine notebook is meant to be used alongside the brand's own smart pen. Together, the pen and encoded notebook pages can transform your handwritten notes into digital files that can be uploaded and saved in real time with the Moleskine Notes app (which is compatible with iOS and Android). The pages aren’t reusable, but the app is great for transcribing your handwriting into text so you can easily search and organize your notes.

This notebook is perfect for those who want to invest in Moleskine’s whole digital ecosystem to transcribe and save digital notes, or those who prefer the look and feel of the brand's hardback notebooks but want the benefits of a smart notebook. The smart pen, which is sold separately, glides smoothly across the page without ink bleeding through to the other side, and the paper feels soft against your fingertips when flipping through pages.

One reviewer wrote: “This is Moleskine, so the paper is a dream to write on — smooth, no bleed / show through from one side of the page to the other. Lovely.”

3. A reusable option you can erase in the microwave

  • Page design: dotted
  • Page count: 80
  • Pen included: yes

If you like the appeal of a reusable smart notebook but don’t want to take the time to wipe and erase each page by hand, the Rocketbook Wave is the perfect solution. Just like the Rocketbook Core notebook, these notebooks work with Pilot FriXion erasable pens, and you can easily upload your notes or drawings with the iOS- and Android-compatible Rocketbook app. However, the pages of the Rocketbook Wave can be quickly erased by microwave.

The pages of the Rocketbook wave can be erased and reused up to five times, but some reviewers noted that they’ve gotten even more uses out them. The notebook includes one Pilot FriXion pen, but you can purchase extra pens in different colors separately.

One reviewer wrote: “I work multiple jobs and I am always away from a computer. This book has definitively minimized the amount of things I need to carry and I love that you can scan it to different locations and it can be erased. I have already recommended this to about 10 of my friends. It is perfect for minimizing your life and helping with organization. Would love to try the highlighters and markers to see if they work just as good as pens for this book. HIGHLY RECOMMEND”

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