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  1. Hello all, I picked up a Mead Flex notebook at a local office supply store. It's a very interesting binder-notebook cross, with the best characteristics of both. The Flex is what you would get if you had a typical plastic notebook and used 3 flexible plastic rings instead of wire. The ones I saw were in different solid colors (pink, blue, green, black) on the front with black plastic rings and a black back. It comes in 1-subject, 3-subject and 5-subject sizes, although you can comfortably fit quite a bit more paper in a Flex than Mead says. Any US 3-hole punched paper will work (not sure if 3-hole punches are the same size in other countries). I definitely recommend this if you like the paper-swapping abilities of binders but have trouble with the stiff sides breaking, the weight, the size, etc. It's the weight of a wirebound notebook, the size of a wirebound notebook except for right where the rings are, look and operates like a notebook (including folding the front cover around to touch the back to show only one sheet of paper), except that you can use any paper you want. The only thing that could be improved is the cover stiffness. Amazon reviews are generally very positive, so I feel good about its ability to stand up to lots of use. The only concern I can see at the moment is that the rings may eventually wear out, like binders will develop problems closing if used enough. The front and back covers are solid plastic, and feel sturdy. They are flexible, not stiff. The notebook can be completely opened and the front cover moved to the back (just like a regular wirebound notebook), but remains flexible when that is done. It's not stiff enough to write comfortably without bracing it on a surface. It's light enough that even with the thin Mead paper I'm not worried about a yank disordering my notes (my concern about disc-based systems). Here I'm holding the Flex by a couple sheets of paper. With heavier paper I feel comfortable yanking it around by whatever part's nearest. http://www.img.ie/images/et3vs_thumb.jpg Binding: The notebook uses a thin strip of cloth and 3 flexible plastic rings to keep itself together. The cloth is inside the plastic rings and is stitched to the front and back plastic covers. The rings keep the paper together with the cover. They're spaced like standard binder rings, but are plastic instead of metal. They are attached to a stiff strip of plastic which is bolted to the back cover of the Flex. Each ring has to be pulled apart individually, which isn't as noisy a process as most binders I've dealt with. More of a dull pop than a loud boing. One side of a ring is a hollow tube, which is contoured inside to be the mate of the plastic spear that is the other side. The rings are flexible, and not perfectly round, which makes them easier to write over compared to binder rings. Here's both sides of the notebook cover, showing the binding http://www.img.ie/images/1qr9o_thumb.jpg Closeup of a ring on the back cover showing how they're secured http://www.img.ie/images/6y8y3_thumb.jpg Paper: Mead Five Star paper. It's OK, but doesn't really matter, because you can use any paper you want. Durability: The Mead guarantees are only for a year, and looking at how the plastic rings hold together, I can see that something might become worn down if you swap pages around very frequently. This is a softer plastic. On the other hand, I haven't see any signs of wear yet, and not having to buy a $50 punch just to use a notebook makes this a much better investment for me. Pricewise it's cheaper than or comparable to the disc notebooks I've seen ($12 for the 3-subject).

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