CamNote A5 Notebook and a small giveaway

*Disclaimer*  CamNote graciously provides me a sample of this A5 notebook for review.  All opinions expressed here are entirely mine and I receive no monetary compensation from the company.  Thank you CamNote!

I have always enjoy note-taking experience, not only because it gives me chances to play with pen and paper, but the process itself also helps me with information retainment.  On occasion I have tried taking notes with a laptop but the overall result is by no means the same.  I find that I focus more on the mechanical component of note-taking (key strokes, formatting, spelling, and so on) and less on the content itself.  It often takes me longer to reorganize notes that are born digital than analog.  With technological advancement, note-taking has taken on new meanings.  Many notebook manufacturers such as Whitelines and Moleskine have made notebooks and collaborated/authored applications that make hand-written notes sharable and capable of being edited electronically.

I am lucky to try out one of these notebooks by CamNote, a London-based company, and the overall experience  is favorable.  This post will try to cover both the notebook itself and the technology that is related to it and its length is meant to give a comprehensive look at this product.

Notebook

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1.  Front cover of the notebook is made with a semi-rigid cover with a matte surface.  2.  Ink testing page.  The paper takes all the media I use very well.  No feathering at all including Noodler’s Ahab fountain pen.  3.  Backside of the ink testing page. No bleednthrough and very minimal showthrough.  4.  For those who prefer to take notes in pencil, the paper accommodates well to the pencil writing, and you can only see the imprint left by the writing on the erased part

The A5 notebook that is being reviewed here comes with 100 double-side pages with 100 gsm density.  It is a spiral bound along the long side.  Personally I do not prefer spiral bound notebook out of the reason of difficult in page turning.  To ensure that the notebook will lay flat while images are captured, it makes the best sense to have the notebook be bound with spiral.  Such binding also ensures portability.  I did experience some difficulty closing the cover when pages are caught in where the wire meets, but the situation can be resolved if you turn the spiral a bit.  The page format is between an American college and wide ruled, which accommodate all sizes of writing.  The faint turquoise line provides guidance to writing but not dark enough for the camera to capture the lines

The paper quality of this notebook surpasses my expectation in that it takes all types of media well, including fountain pen ink.  As seen in the ink testing page above, there is no feathering or bleedthrough, even with a wet writing flex fountain pen.  Even if you use this notebook as an old-fashion one, you will come to appreciate the paper’s excellent quality.  No bleeding through means both sides of a page, which essentially is a win-win situation in that it is both ecological and economical.  The minimal show-through allows clean image capture so the shadow of the backside page will not appear on the capture.  Some paper do not take pencil writing well for one reason or the other, but CamNote is a good  news to those who favor notes written in pencil.  Very little resistance is felt while writing in pencil and it is easy to erase the writing off the pages as well.  
CamNote App

All the technology part is carried out on iOS or OS devices.  Apologies to readers who use PCs or Android platforms!  CamNote app though does accomodate both iOS and Android platforms, though I cannot attest how the latter one works.

For a non-tech savvy person, CamNote’s app is very straight forward.  After downloading the app from the App Store, the handwritten notes are digitized by the camera function within the app.  The trick is to enclose all four corners of the page within the frame.  Do not worry about cropping the image so that your notes look presentable because you will have a chance to beautify and enhance the image after the picture is taken.  The way that this app operates is very similar to Instagram, so if you are familiar with similar apps, you are in good hands.

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The app allows users to share the digitized notes in  several ways, as seen above.  To share a given set of notes, select “edit” in the main screen, choose the note you want to share, and click the arrow sign at the bottom (circled in the image above), a separate menu will appear with four sharing options.  

DropBox/Email

The first time you choose to upload notes from CamNote to DropBox, the app will ask for permission to create a folder within Dropbox (the left image of the picture below).  Once the authorization is granted, all the uploaded note will be in a folder titled “Apps”.

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The notes will be uploaded in jpg format in Dropbox which in my opinion is good for the purpose of reviewing but not editing.  It is the same if you choose e-mail option.  

Google Drive for iPhone/iPad

If editing is more important, Google Drive will be a good option, since the note will be saved in a document format.  The experience of using Google Drive on an iPhone and an iPad varies, in that you can see where you are typing without the screen involuntarily going toward the bottom of the page on iPad, but not iPhone.  My speculation is this is more  of a Google glitch than a CamNote one.  Regardless of this small hiccup, this option will allow collaborative work (you can comment and reply to comments from your peers) and further annotate the note.  

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Evernote

CamNote file interacts similarly and yet a bit differently in Evernote when compare to other sharing methods that have been mentioned thus far.  Evernote, too, open the file in jpg format, but it allows you to add sound recording or pictures that are relevant to the note you are reading.  These options are great for brainstorming, collaborative projects, or when you are on-the-go and cannot type at length.  In addition, Evernote has the text editing capability similar to Google Drive.

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Just like DropBox, Evernote will ask for your permission for CamNote to access your Evernote account

Here is something interesting.  There are two ways to share the note within Evernote itself.  One is to share the whole set of notes, including any text, audio, or pictorial add-ons (options shown below).  The text editing function in Evernote is comparable to a basic word processing program that allows the users to apply stylistic modification to the text. 

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Another option is to share the image of the note by itself.  To do so, you need to tap on the picture of the note, and a pop-up window will show with various choices.

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Conclusion:
As a staunch supporter of hand writing, I am surprised by how much I enjoy investigating various methods that CamNote allow the users to share the notes.  I can see that this product is valuable especially in a group project or brainstorming session, where one can easily take notes by hand when the light bulb comes up, and easily share ideas electronically.  The best part is the this notebook can be thoroughly enjoy by itself because how accommodating the paper is for variety of media, even if you do not utilize the technological component.
What is a better way to acquaint with a product than trying it out?  I am giving this CamNote notebook away to one lucky winner, in part to celebrate the milestone of 200 posts of this blog.  It was last summer that this blog reached its 100th post milestone and I fully appreciate your support!

Here are the rules for the giveaway:

1.  To enter, simply entered the required information in the Google form below between now and Tuesday, August 27th at 11:59pm PST (7:59AM GMT).  One entry per person, please.  Entries will be numbered in order they are received.  The Random Integer Generator at random.org will be used to select a winner.
2.  This giveaway is open internationally, as long as United States Postal Services has your country on its list.
3.  The contest winner will be announced on August 28th and will be contacted via e-mail.  If I did not receive a reply within a week, another winner will be selected.

Thank you again for your readership and encouragement.  Good luck!

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