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Moleskine Evernote Smart Notebook Review

Apparently I am not the only one who was curious about the Moleskine Evernote smart notebook, since several friends who saw my Instagram and/or Twitter posts about it have asked me what I think.

My review is primarily a review of its potential for use in my French study system, but I include a couple observations about general use.

OK, let’s go!

First, a little honesty… I waited to start using the notebook because I thought I would have to carve out a considerable chunk of time to learn how to use it. Not so.

That’s a big plus: It’s easy to figure out.

Here’s what I did:

Step 1. I determined what tags I wanted to assign as “stickers”. There are only 6 different kinds of stickers, so my list dwindled down to: vocabulary, grammar, notes, questions, verbs and practice.

Step 2. I changed the smart sticker designations on my Evernote phone app by going to Settings > General > Camera > Moleskine. Then select the icon you want to change and you then have the option of selecting an existing tag or adding a new one. I changed all the stickers.

Evernote Phone Smart Stickers

Step 3. I wrote my first page of notes, as pictured.

Evernote Francais Test Note

Step 4. I added a sticker to denote that my note was about verbs.

Evernote Verbs Sticker

Step 5. I opened the Evernote app on my phone.

Step 6. I selected “New Note”

Step 7. I selected the photo icon and chose “document”. I snapped a picture.

Step 8. Voilà. I have a note in my general Evernote notebook that is automatically organized according to my “verbs” category.

Evernote Organized Verbs Note

Very cool and easy to use, and the handwriting recognition seems to do OK. I mean, I can’t get too carried away with my illegible cursive, but print in dark ink seems to get through the recognition software just fine.

Overall, I think this will be a notebook that is definitely part of my French learning system. However, the limitation of the stickers is a bummer, since there are only 6 categories and I can see how the icons themselves might be confusing if you change the tags that correspond to them. My tags, for example, aren’t really obvious, although they make some sense to me (e.g. the airplane to signify verbs). To make the smart sticker system even better, I would give them some more generic icons and have more variety. This, unfortunately, does not seem to be on the horizon for my sticker collection, so it looks like for now I’ll just be sticking with a French study system that is only divided into 6 categories.

Upshot: If you like the idea of the your handwritten notes automatically getting organized according to a maximum of 6 different categories (tags), then the Smart Notebook is worth it. Also, if you want to try out Evernote Premium, this notebook comes with three months free (I have Premium, and for me it is worth it just to have access to all my notes on my phone and tablet when I’m offline).

If you really must have more tags to be able to choose from, then the smart notebook might not have enough features for you to justify getting this particular notebook instead of another Moleskine (or other brand if you’re not partial to this one).

This system will work for me for French, but in general Evernote notebook I have so many categories, many of which that do not overlap at all (or would be just too confusing to lump together), so I’m not convinced that it would work well as a everything notebook.

If you have a fail-safe notetaking system and/or you’ve tried the Evernote Moleskine notebook, I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below.

Meanwhile, I’m going to see if my notes taken in orange ink will convert as easily as my blue-inked notes…

Written by

Tammy Bjelland
Language lover, teacher & coach.

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