Is there anything better than being able to jot down notes old-school in your notebook? Yes, it’s being able to organize those same notes digitally! When traditional shakes hands with technology, this is what it looks like. That’s why we’re here to show you the best digital notepads and paper tablets to do your pen writing. Learn about the how’s and which’s right here!
What’s a screen-based digital notepad?
The reason it’s called a notepad or electronic notebook is that you can scribble or draw with the same comfort as a paper notebook. But unlike paper that your dog can chew, this one gets to sit in the safety of an electronic file. A screen-based pad means the notepad is similar to a large smartphone where you doodle with a stylus. These are then saved and sent to a safe cloud or storage.
What’s a paper-based digital notebook?
Here is where the magic truly lies. You can take any paper and run your special pen over it to draw your sketch. But while you do this, your drawing is captured and transported to your connected device. This saves you the trouble of taking care of a screen beside your smartphone. Another device can sure be hard to take care of. The paper-based notebook is more suited to artists and creative people.
Best value pick – Boogie Board Blackboard
You’ve got features galore with this one. This notepad comes with a Stylus and impeccable erasing features. We were a fan of the pre-installed templates in terms of ease of usage. The erasing is also somewhat of a wonder. You can Instant Erase the whole screen with one touch. The other option is to use the stylus as an eraser and make use of the Exact-erase for more specificity. The app is pretty user-friendly and is compatible with both iOS and Android. We liked the feel of writing comparatively more than other notepads. And that’s why this qualifies as our best value pick!
Best luxury pick – Apple iPad Air
There’s no denying that Apple designs are irreplaceable. This is true in the digital notebook market too. The iPad design is seamlessly designed to suit the writer or reader. It’s great for any artist or comic artist. Even if you want to be entertained, the iPad gives you that and much more. It has ample storage of 256 GB, and the M1 chip is the unique selling point of any Apple product. What we enjoyed was that the battery did last as long as it should. It can last up to a normal working day or more, so you never have to recharge at work. Stereo landscape speakers ensure that your casual break time watching cat videos is at its best.
Best cheap – Rocketbook Smart
We loved this eco-friendly notebook! It included a Pilot Frixion Pen and a microfiber cloth to wipe away your slate as you’re done. We came for the beautiful colors but stayed for the awesome features. Neptune Teal, Atomic Red, and Daydream are our favorites. It comes in two sizes – letters and executives. It has 32 pages which we felt was more than enough for our notes and scribbles. We wouldn’t call this the best cheap pick at this price- we’d call it a bargain!
Runner-up Value pick – THINKERS
A smart notepad, if there ever was any! A premium leather cover for your smart office look or serious professor/student look. What sets this notebook apart is the unique handwriting recognition feature. We loved that this feature could lead to a quick and easy search option to find whatever you need in your notebook at any time. The writing experience was smooth because of the Layflat design. This feature is even better than a real notebook because you can’t ruin the spine and keep your handwriting smooth at once. It could use an upgrade in the app department since it’s only compatible with iOS. But at this price, it’s a value buy!
Runner-up Luxury pick – Wacom DTK1660K0A
When it comes to sketching- there’s nothing better than this one. The graphics are what sell this model. The Cintiq 15.6 inch is more than enough for a budding artist. The anti-glare, scratch-resistant screen does help. If you’re worried about battery issues, the pen never needs charging. It charges through contact with the screen! The foldable legs were a feature we didn’t think was a big deal. This small detail shone through and won our hearts. And what’s more? Six months of Clip Studio Paint EX free! If that’s not luxury, we don’t know what is!
Runner-up Cheap pick – HOMESTEC Reusable Smart Notebook
This one claims to be a big shot in the eco-friendly department, and we couldn’t agree more! The letter size notebook is perfect for doodlers and creative people who prefer a handy notebook to a laptop. We especially liked the set of 2 erasable pens included in the package. It was a great start-off for someone new to the digital notepad groove. We were skeptical when we saw the low price. But then our personal experience and the high customer ratings proved us wrong. It’s not true that cheap is always bad quality!
What to look for?
It can be confusing to choose from the array of options in the digital market. Let’s boil it down to a couple of factors you should consider. Do so before you go shopping for the best digital notepads and paper tables to do your pen writing.
Screen-based, reusable, or paper-based?
Are you looking for a notebook feel but digital features? Or do you wish to have a screen a little larger than your smartphone to doodle on? Or is it absolutely nothing at all that you want to carry? If you click on the first question: a reusable notebook is the one for you. The ink dries super quickly and quickly uploads to your devices. With a screen-based device like an iPad Air or Sony Digital Paper tablet, you’ll have something light and convenient on your hands. It’s designed for less glare and for you to experience digital paper in your hands. Maybe you don’t wish for any of that and simply wish to wave a stylus wand. Your work appears on the nearest system that’s available on paper-based tablets! The choice is yours to make.
Dot-grid or Lined?
There are dot-grid-based reusable notebooks, and then there are lined. We believe creative personnel prefers dotted pages to the squared ones. This is because the dots appear to help them in symmetrical drawings but don’t seem too obtrusive. Lined electronic writing pads may work better if you’re planning on taking notes more than sketching or doodling.
The iPad Air will have no compatibility with android devices, and that’s a blow to someone who only ever uses android. There are digital notepads in the market that have apps compatible with both iOS and Android. On the other hand, maybe you are someone who wants a device other than iOS but has Mac devices to connect to. Several smart notebooks are designed for the Apple interface and everyday Apple users.
There are plenty of sizes available in the market. The most common one is the Letter which has the dimension of 8.5″x 11″. There are also larger sizes. For instance, Rocketbook has a larger Executive size that measures 6″x 8.8″. It is great for someone looking to draw or sketch. Smaller sizes are suited to those almost always on-the-go and scribbling notes throughout the day.
Features are everything in the digital market! We especially love a good search feature that makes our note-finding easier. This is only possible if the scanning is good. Even better is a handwriting recognition feature! Some smart notepads have a lay-flat design that comforts your arm and hand while writing. Not to forget the any-pen-or-pencil feature where you can doodle stress-free. The sensitive notebook recognizes and keeps up!
It’s an up-and-coming niche of the digital gadgets sphere. We like to believe some brands have established themselves in the market. These include Wacom and Rocketbook. You’ll also find great ones from Moleskin and Boogie Board, and the list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Apple. Some brands like Amazon’s Kindle and Wacom offer high-tech technology like e-ink that makes writing paper smooth.
Brand value is not everyone’s cup of tea. If you find a nice product from an unconventional brand that you feel strongly about, go for it!
Cost is a pointer and usually one at the top. While you can get a decent reusable notebook for under $50, a great screen-based notepad will cost you more. An iPad or a Wacom drawing tablet will cost you upwards of $300 and will escalate to $500-600. It depends on the features and size. It includes other factors listed above. But if you’re starting in the smart notebook arena, may we suggest starting small. Begin with a reusable notebook that can be bought for under $40, and work your way up if you like the experience.
Why do you need a paper-based digital notebook tablet where you can write with a pen?
People love screens. But some of us wish we could go back to the good old days of scribbling notes when we had a good idea or doodling when we felt like it. How many ideas have we lost because we were too lazy? We didn’t care to fetch our laptop or tablet, turn it on, and follow the right app! The idea vanishes. But here, a notebook tablet is dedicated to the task of jotting and drawing. Press a button, pick up any old pen or pencil and get going without a moment’s thought. It’s quick and affordable, too. We also love the Royole RoWrite Smart Writing Digital pad if you’re looking for extra recommendations. All Moleskine products are trending and a safe bet in the digital notepad niche.
With that thought, why not take a look at all the pros and cons of a digital notebook?
Pros of a Digital notepad
There are many, but we shall begin with the most obvious!
1. “The dog ate my homework.”
You can never use it again because it physically can’t happen! All your notes are digitally stored. There’s no way you’re losing them or having wild creatures eat them in the middle of the night. It is a huge step up from having to misplace files and remaking new ones.
2. Quick search
You never have to flip back to recall notes again. Just use the search feature! The handwriting recognition feature is a great one to make your life easier. Just pop the word in and head straight to the location.
3. Let the creativity flow
It’s sad when you get a creative block. What’s more difficult is when you get a creative thought. The moment passes as you’re fetching and opening your laptop and then typing down your thought. It is one small button with a digital notebook, and you’ve got your notebook right in front of you!
4. Versatility trumps all
When you write notes on paper, it’s all you can do. But with digital notes, you can incorporate an array of resources. You can revisit your notes and add links to relevant podcasts and blogs. You can incorporate images and write about them or around them. An amateur artist can paste a picture of the real object into the notebook and sketch right underneath it.
Since there’s no end to the internet, your notes are open to endless possibilities. Now that’s something you couldn’t do back in the day with your spiral notepad!
5. Save the environment
You do the math. It takes 24 trees to make 200,000 sheets of paper. And that’s probably what a large multinational company office consumes in a month. It’s no surprise that we are running out of ozone and trees. One of the ways to save some trees is to get yourself a digital notepad. You may think it insignificant, but you would be making a huge change with all the paper-saving. What’s best? You would even inspire others around you to do the same, creating a rewarding ripple effect!
6. Save that storage
Have you got boxes and boxes full of notes from college and high school? Imagine if you had a digital notepad back in the day? You could have saved so much paper and storage space. Use that extra space for the kids’ science projects or the lawn equipment when choosing a digital notepad. Better yet, create a small nook for a moment of peace.
7. Share that stuff!
Sharing notes was an uphill task in the past. But it’s so much easier when you’ve just got a hit a few buttons. Whether it is one person or many, you can email or text. Most tablets will come with a dedicated app to help you navigate the sharing and uploading aspects.
We must say that we are sorry that the romantic paper note-sharing of the past has to come to an end.
Gone are the days of heavy backpacks! Let it go, whether it was a bulky laptop or huge spiral notebooks for different classes. Just take your tablet in one hand and the Starbucks in the other and march into the office like a pro.
Creative personnel will be even happier when they have to carry something this light to unique locations. Imagine sitting atop a mountain or on the beach. The paper-light notebook makes it easy to record these moments with a sketch or a doodle.
Great as they are, they certainly have some cons too.
The higher the features, the greater the cost. It’s not easy being eco-friendly, but the cost should be recovered within a few months. However, you’d better stick to paper notebooks till you can afford the investment.
One technical difficulty, and you’re off your game! That too with no paper in sight. It won’t be a pretty sight to be borrowing leaves of paper mid-meeting or mid-class.
We’re here to respond to all your burning questions. Here are all the FAQs for the best digital notepads for pen writing. Read on below!
A digital notepad is the electronic version of a notebook. It’s designed to feel like a normal notepad but without all the paper baggage. For instance, you can have the advantage of never losing sheets or notes. Everything is backed up to your digital devices or hard drive.
You wonder, “why not just use a laptop for notes?”. It’s because it’s bulky. Digital Notepads are designed to be light and airy, and highly portable. You won’t miss dragging that old PC and charger in your bag after buying one of these.
You can use them to write or doodle. It’s even great for scribbling or taking class notes.
Digital notepads aren’t as expensive as a huge laptop. Some reusable notebooks are less than $50. And since you can use them again and again, we’d say you’d cover the cost of 20-30 notebooks in one buy. They’re even better if you’re an artist. You need to erase and redo all the time.
What’s better than a digital notepad with an erase all or selectively erase an area with the click of a button?
Maybe you’re someone who loves the old-school notepads but has trouble managing all the leaflets. This is worth the investment for you.
We’d say there are many contenders for that spot. But it comes down to the top 2: the Boogie Board Backboard and the Rocketbook Fusion smart notebook. Maybe you’re looking for something of value at a slightly higher price. You can consider the Moleskine Pen+ Ellipse Smart Writing set. The Apple iPad Air tops them all, but we prefer to keep our options for Android open too.
Of course, the ‘best’ also depends on your requirements regarding the size and type. Remember to consider the purpose of digital notepads.
If you want less clutter and more time in your life, they are great for you. And by clutter, we mean both physical and digital.
They are also great for entrepreneurs and creative people who should never have to wait for the laptop to turn on. They’re great when they have a quick idea. Overall, you’d be reducing a lot of storage space for notebooks and filling it with other stuff. You will also be carrying less weight if you only use your laptop to take notes to class.
It seems the reMarkable Paper tablet and Sony DPT-CP1/B are great tablets that give the feel of paper. The Sony tablet has an amazing display and resolution because that’s what Sony is all about. Both tablets were designed to deliver paper notebook satisfaction but with the advantage of quick cloud storage.