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We Test It: Evernote Smart Notebooks by Moleskine

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Each month, Field Test columnist and contributing editor Jenna Schnuer tries out gadgets and services designed to simplify life on the road.

There are only a few apps to which I'm absolutely devoted and atop that list sits Evernote. It's my go-to for everything from taking (and storing) notes for articles and books, to jotting down gift ideas for my nieces. I keep my to-do lists for personal and work on Evernote and the app is front and center on both of my computers, my phone and my iPad. I'm more than just a little attached.

On the paper side of life, I have a similar love for Moleskine notebooks. (Yes, I'm a bit of a writer cliché on that front but so are most of my friends.) They're so pretty. The notebooks. Not my friends. Some of my friends. Anyway, whatever.

So how to make the two work together? The two companies teamed up last year to introduce an Evernote-specific line of notebooks. Well, I started eyeballing them—but just eyeballing them. Regular Moleskine notebooks are already a pricey $18.95 and even devotees like myself search them out on sale. Was the bump up to $29.95 for the Evernote Smart Notebook worth it? Would that really make the paper-to-digital flow that much better?

The product's promise: The notebook pages feature special dotted lines (choice of ruled or grid) that, when photographed using the camera in the Evernote smartphone app, optimize the image and increase the quality of search on your handwritten notes. "Cleaner page captures mean it can be easier for us to do the handwriting recognition on the backend," says a spokeswoman. Also, the notebooks come with "smart stickers" that, during the photo-to-Evernote process, automatically tell Evernote where it should file the notes. You can assign each of the six category stickers to a specific notebook. Each notebook comes with two or three months of premium Evernote membership, a $5 per month value. Already a premium subscriber? You'll receive points good for extending your subscription or other services.

Our reality: I'm going back to regular Moleskines. Before the launch of the Evernote Smart Notebook, I'd snapped photos of regular Moleskine notebook pages for use with Evernote (either by scanning or by taking a smartphone photo). The handwriting recognition already worked well enough. Not perfect. But well enough. No big complaints. When using the Smart Notebooks, I didn't see much of a difference in the quality of the results on searching my handwritten notes photographed from a regular Moleskine notebook page (or, even, any old blank page) than using the Evernote version.

And the stickers? I have loads more notebooks than there are available Smart Stickers. I'll never just have an "ideas" notebook; I have a "culture ideas," "Alaska ideas," "book ideas," and on and on. Unfortunately, there's no plan to add more sticker types, according to a spokeswoman.

It's not a bad product, it's just … fine. That said, the Evernote version doesn't offer enough of a bump up in utility in order to justify the price. In the meantime, I can cobble together fine all on my own. Evernote and Moleskine are still my magic brands, however, and I'm still hopeful that Evernote's new alliance with Post-it® Notes is going to change my life. Hey, it could happen…

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