Classic notebook design. Brainy pen includes on-board memory, an infrared camera, and takes standard ink refills. Automatic page detection. Broad array of file format and sharing options.

The Moleskine Wise Writing Set is a killer, feature-rich notebook and clever pen for lightly bringing your analog notes to a digital world.

Moleskine is essentially synonymous with notebooks, and the Moleskine Clever Writing Set ($199) brings the classic journal brand stiffly into the twenty-first century. The Brainy Writing Set is an analog-to-digital note-taking solution that consists of a Paper Tablet notebook, a Pen+ brainy pen, and the free Moleskine Notes app. Similar to the Wacom Bamboo Spark . Moleskine’s solution permits you to take physical notes on real paper with an ink-equipped pen and sync them to your phone or tablet. You can edit notes, transcribe handwritten words into digital text, and share files with yourself and others through a multiplicity of apps and cloud services. The set boasts several advantages over the Spark, however, such as writing color options, automatic page detection, and a pen that takes standard ink refills. It’s certainly a bit pricey, but all of these features add up to our Editors’ Choice for digital note-taking devices.

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Design and Setup
The Paper Tablet looks a lot like your standard Moleskine notebook, the type you expect to see an artist hunched over, scrawling their latest idea in the corner seat of a café. It’s a hardcover journal that measures 8.50 by Five.25 inches (HW), with an elastic strap to keep it closed. The design differs from a standard notebook in that the pages stick out about half an inch beyond the cover and have curved edges, which Moleskine says is meant to mimic the design of a tablet. Inwards, the pages are covered in a dotted grid pattern embedded with technology that recognizes the wise pen’s position on the page.

Unlike the Bamboo Spark, which has a wise panel that can use any type of paper, the pages in the Paper Tablet are all rigidly corded, and you can’t exchange in a regular sheet of paper and expect it to work the same. You get 173 usable pages in the notebook (counting the front and back pages), so you won’t run out of room quickly, but you will need to purchase a fresh Paper Tablet ($29.95) when you do. The Spark is similar in size at 8.Two by Five.8 inches, but Wacom has some alternatives available as well. The Wacom Bamboo Slate is a clipboard-style device (we reviewed the larger 12.9-by-10-inch version, but it also comes in a smaller size). The Wacom Bamboo Folio is its more professional-looking counterpart, similar in size to the big Slate (13.Trio by Ten.Five inches), but with a sturdy cover and different material.

As for the Pen+, it’s a nicely built aluminum writing instrument with three plane sides and a peak that resembles a fountain pen. It takes standard ink cartridges, which makes refilling it elementary and inexpensive. There’s an LED status indicator for charging and syncing, a Power button, and a cap with a metal clip. It also has a micro USB power port, and comes with a micro USB cord for charging. That’s another difference from the Bamboo Spark, since here it’s the pen that needs to be charged, not the writing surface. The pen should last for Five hours of continuous writing, tho’ it seemed to hold up longer than that in my tests.

The Moleskine Notes app is attractive effortless to use. It’s available for both Android and iOS devices, and displays all of the notes you take in the Paper Tablet. Once downloaded, you can sync the Pen+ by following some on-screen instructions that only take a few seconds to finish. After some quick tutorial screens, you’re ready to go.

Features and Testing
The Pen+ uses an infrared camera near the peak that tracks what you write. On-board memory holds up to 1,000 note pages, which permits you to digitize your notes later when your phone or tablet isn’t handy. You can see the pen’s remaining memory and battery at any time by pressing an icon in the top-right corner of the app.

As you write in the Paper Tablet with the Pen+, your scribbles show up on a digital page in the app in almost real time, as opposed to the Spark, Folio, and Slate, which only stream once you sync. While the Pen+ writes in black ink on the page, the app greatly expands your possibilities. Through the app, you can switch pen thickness and select digital ink color on the fly. There’s a utter color wheel of options, which is a major benefit over the black-only Spark, particularly for artists. There is a 2nd Bamboo app available that permits color editing, but it’s not almost as streamlined of a system. Pen tracking is accurate, with a good sense of how much pressure you’re exerting on the page.

Another benefit to the Clever Writing Set is that it can recognize when you’re writing on separate pages, thanks to the use of the clever paper in the Paper Tablet. If you write on one page then switch to another, they will automatically be entered as separate files in the app. Writing in the same spot on a fresh page in the Spark will just make that fresh writing emerge on top of the old writing in the app. You’ll need to save each note and embark a fresh one by hand every time you want a clean page, which isn’t a big hassle, but certainly isn’t as convenient as the Moleskine notebook recognizing where you write automatically.

Moleskine’s app has a bevy of useful sharing and editing features, including the capability to transcribe handwritten text into digital text, so you can copy and send it through email or other apps. Like the Spark, the accuracy of this feature is exceptional—it infrequently misinterpreted my writing, which isn’t exactly the neatest. You can also label notes with tags to make them lightly searchable, and record voice notes that can be played back later. There’s also an edit function for highlighting or writing on your digital notes.

There’s no shortage of ways to send notes to yourself or someone else. When you’re finished taking notes, you can export the file in numerous formats through various services, which the app makes very elementary. You can choose to export writing as text, send it as a PDF or pic, or upload it to cloud services like Dropbox or Evernote. There’s also an email icon in the top corner of every Paper Tablet page—tapping it with the Pen+ activates a prompt to instantly email the page to someone.

The Moleskine Clever Writing Set is an exceptional note-taking solution, combining the familiar tactile feel of writing in a notebook with convenient modern technology. The Wacom Bamboo Spark, Folio, and Slate suggest similar practices, sending notes from the page to your device, but Moleskine has a few key advantages. The capability to switch input colors, a more advanced pen that uses standard ink refills, automatic page detection, and Moleskine’s classic styling are all reasons I choose it to Wacom’s devices. Some of these features are app-related, and can theoretically be added to the Bamboo app, but the state of Moleskine’s app, Pen+, and Paper Tablet at release is fantastic. The Clever Writing Set is my preferred method of analog-to-digital note-taking, and an Editors’ Choice.

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Moleskine Brainy Writing Set

Classic notebook design. Brainy pen includes on-board memory, an infrared camera, and takes standard ink refills. Automatic page detection. Broad array of file format and sharing options.

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