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  1. This is Part 7 of my Mega Monster Review series on Pocket Notebooks. Here's my review for the Rosetta Notes pocket notebooks along with a few pictures. Below are links to the full review, the main Mega Monster page, and the master spreadsheet (still very light as I ramp up on this project). As this is a work in progress that will likely take me a couple months to complete (I'm not that fast), I'd love any feedback you have that could help me make these reviews more useful. Thanks & enjoy! Full Review Mega Monster Review - Pocket NotebooksSpreadsheet of specs & results Introduction & About the Company: Rosetta is the house brand of the fine folks over at iPenStore. Although currently an online-only stationery dealer, iPenStore is a fourth-generation family business that first opened in Chicago in 1932 as the Evers Office Supply Company. Over the past several years, iPenStore has released a number of products under their Rosetta name, including pens (fountain, rollerball, and ballpoint), pencils & leadholders, andpocket notebooks. iPenStore seems to fly under the radar a bit. I've bought from them several times, and I had the opportunity to meet Jim Evers at the 2017 Ohio Pen Show (nice guy!). They carry a pretty wide selection of products, and they offer a curated, monthly subscription service called iPenBox that includes a fountain pen, some paper, ink samples, and other goodies. Description: Rosetta Notes notebooks are pretty nondescript at first glance. They are typical 3.5 in x 5.5 in notebooks with two staples on the spine and rounded side corners. The front covers are only adorned with the Rosetta logo stamped in a dark gold ink and the back covers have some info about the company and notebooks in the same gold color. Rosetta Notes are available in Blank, DotGrid, Graph, and Lined paper, and each ruling comes in one or two different cover colors (Blank comes in Chocolate and Orange Fizz, DotGrid comes in Wine, Graph comes in Plain White, and Ruled comes in Black and Turquoise). You can get three-packs of any one notebook style, and they do have a mixed pack that comes with one each of the Blank (Chocolate), DotGrid (Wine), and Ruled (Black) books. That was the one I bought. All three cover colors are dark, rich, and muted. Overall, they have a really classy look, but it's a quiet sort of classy...they don't jump out and scream "Look at me!" The Paper: Rosetta Notes are billed as having "Fountain Pen Friendly" paper. They use 70# (105 gsm) Smart White text paper from a family-owned Michigan company called French Paper Co. (if French Paper sounds familiar, it's probably because they've supplied paper for some other notebooks, including some of the Field Notes releases). The paper is bright white and silky smooth to the touch. Is the paper fountain pen friendly? In a word: Heck yeah! Or...like...two words. The ruling for both the DotGrid and Graph is 5 mm. I don't have a sample of the graph, but the DotGrid uses a fairly light gray, and I find the dots to be pretty large. I'd like to see smaller dots. The ruled version uses a darker gray ink, but the lines are super thin and spaced about 6.4 mm apart. With my small handwriting, I love the tight ruling (most notebooks are in the 7 to 8 mm range). Pencil Results: I have yet to find a paper that pencils don't like. Rosetta Notes fall in line with everybody else. Palomino Blackwing: This is kind of a strange combination. It FEELS incredibly smooth, but it SOUNDS a little crunchy...like something I'd expect with more rough or textured paper. The graphite left behind also looks more uneven under a loupe, like I'd expect with rough/textured paper. I've also found that the graphite on the pencil seems to wear down a little quicker than I expected. Erasing had a stubborn start (took several passes before the graphite started to come away), and it left behind a fair amount of color.Uni Kuru Toga Mechanical Pencil (0.5): Super, super smooth writing experience. Feels like I'm writing on air. The line is consistent and pretty dark—very comparable to the Blackwing. Erasing still leaves behind too much graphite for my taste, but it's a little more complete than the Blackwing. Ballpoint Results: They pretty much still work everywhere. Uniball Jetstream (0.7): Very smooth, and the line comes out much finer than I expected. It seems closer to 0.5 mm than 0.7 mm. Excellent performance.Fisher Space Pen (0.7): The Space Pen ink has a slick, oily feeling to it, but not in a bad way. Writing is very smooth and the line is nice and dark. Gel Results: You really can't go wrong with gel pens, and mine all work great on the Rosetta Notes. Uniball Signo 207 Ultra Micro (0.38): Dark and flawless, baby! It's super freaking smooth on this paper. It doesn't come out completely black, but it's comes out darker than it does on several other papers. I think this is the perfect paper for this pen.Pilot G2 (0.5): Wicked smooth. It's doesn't put down as crisp a line as I expected, though. Under a loupe I can see a tiny bit of spread. Otherwise, the line is dark and consistent. Zebra Sarasa (0.7): Sloppy as always, but the paper handles it really well. There's some noticeable spread, but it's not awful. It is extremely smooth, though. Liquid Ink Rollerball Results: Someday when I'm president, I'm going to pass an Executive Order banning rollerball pens. Pilot Precise V5 RT (0.5): It's smooth and dark, but I'm getting some feathering and spread. It doesn't look too bad, but it's definitely visible without a loupe. Look at the capital F, G, and J in the alphabet. Overall, it's a mushy experience, but serviceable.Uniball Vision Elite (0.8): Very sloppy experience. Lots of spread & a little feathering. As with other papers, this ink dries a dark gray rather than black. Fountain Pen Results: I don't want to spoil anything too early, but this paper is magnificent for fountain pens. There were a couple tiny places that didn't dry within 10 seconds, but performance was otherwise flawless. (EF) Platinum Preppy with Noodlers Midnight Blue ink: Very smooth. the line comes out super fine. There are some tiny areas of spread, but you can't see them without a loupe.(F) Lamy Safari with Lamy Petrol ink: Zero spread or feathering and super smooth. In the dry test, the scribble didn't smear at all, but a couple spots in the preceding letters did. (M) Platinum Cool with Pilot Iroshizuku Tsuki-Yo ink: Excellent performance with minimal spread and a few random tendrils (have to use a loupe to see it). My Cool is a really wet pen, and it needed a few extra seconds to completely dry. (0.6) Nemosine Singularity with KWZ Standard Turquoise ink: Very good performance. No spread or feathering (although I do see a few random "artifacts" at the tops of some letters, but I think that's a product of the nib more than anything). Completely dried within 10 seconds, and shows off some really nice shading with this ink. (1.1) Conklin Duragraph with Robert Oster Midnight Sapphire ink: Excellent performance! The lines aren'e especially crisp, but there isn't any spread or feathering at all. More awesome shading, too. Except for the colon after the word "Test," it rocked the dry time test. Conclusion Rosetta Notes are phenomenal little notebooks. Every writing instrument I used wrote smoothly, and most of them behaved well. I got some really awesome shading with a few pen/ink combinations, which is always a nice surprise for paper with fast dry times. I experienced some spread with my wettest pens, but none of them could be considered unusable. The ghosting was minimal and there were ZERO instances of bleed-through. Not a speck. Not an iota. None. So you can easily use the back side of every page. Like I mentioned earlier, the only thing I'd like to see is smaller dots on the DotGrid version. In the struggle to find pocket notebooks that can handle fountain pens and still offer acceptable dry times, Rosetta Notes nails it. And for everything you get out of these notebooks, the $7.99 price tag is an insanely great price.
  2. I've been lax in posting these reviews back to FPN. Sorry for the delay. This is Part 4 of my Mega Monster Review series on Pocket Notebooks. Here's the review for the Fabriano EcoQua pocket notebooks along with a few pictures. Below are links to the full review, the main Mega Monster page, and the master spreadsheet (still very light as I ramp up on this project). As this is a work in progress that will likely take me a couple months to complete (I'm not that fast), I'd love any feedback you have that could help me make these reviews more useful. Thanks & enjoy! Full Review Mega Monster Review - Pocket NotebooksSpreadsheet of specs & results Introduction: Despite the dearth of decent options available in most US office supply & big-box stores, there are actually a ton of companies out there producing interesting, high-quality paper products in a range of shapes and sizes. Some companies are very prominent and well known (Rhodia, Clairefontaine, Leuchtturm), while others fly under the radar. One of these lesser-known gems is Italian stationery wizard Fabriano. Fabriano has a pretty nice range of art and stationery supplies, but you might never know about them because they don't get much press or recognition. Plus, for some reason, a lot of common retailers don't carry them. I've been using several A5 and pocket-sized notebooks from their EcoQua line, and I'm extremely impressed with them. Description: Intended to be 100% environmentally friendly, Fabriano's EcoQua line is, at first look, unassuming and minimalist. There are two things that immediately jumped out at me about their design. First, where most saddle-stitched pocket notebooks are bound by three staples, these use only two. Second, the covers are almost completely blank. There is a small logo printed at the bottom of the back cover that reads "FABRIANO Made in Italy" That's it. There's no other printing, embossing, stamping, or letterpressing. While I'm sure this leads to a better carbon footprint, I think an obvious side-effect is a pretty big reduction in production costs from the unused staples and ink. Fabriano turned around and invested some of that savings back to the notebooks: Very high-quality cover and paper stock64 pages per book (most others have 32 or 48)FOUR books per pack (I haven't seen anyone else do this)Back half of the pages are perforated for easy removal Speaking of the covers, these are fantastic. They're made from 290 gsm, scratch-resistant stock. They're very firm and durable. The texture feels great and the stock is stiff enough so you can write in the book while holding it in your hand. The Fabriano EcoQua pocket notebooks come in four-packs of warm colors (red, orange, yellow, green) or cool colors (blue, wine, black, gray), and you can choose either dot grid ruling or blank pages. Pencil Results: As with all the notebooks I've already covered and (probably) all the ones I will, pencils were perfect. Practically no ghosting from the pencils. Palomino Blackwing: Very smooth, with a soft swishing sound. I do have to rotate the pencil more often than usual, as the paper seems to wear down the graphite quickly. Strange issue with erasing: The first few swipes of the eraser did nothing. Eventually, the graphite started coming away, but it never completely erased.Uni Kuru Toga Mechanical Pencil (0.5): Smooth yet feedbacky. Very fine, crisp line. It's nice and dark, too. I can write very tiny, which is great given the 4 mm ruling width. Ballpoint Results: Pretty much flawless performance and minimal ghosting. Uniball Jetstream (0.7): Dark and consistent line. It feels smooth when writing, but there's this underlying "crunchy" feedback feeling that I'm not finding with other papers.Fisher Space Pen (0.7): Nothing special, but solid performance. Smoother (less crunch) than the Jetstream. Gel Results: Typically excellent, although the Sarasa was almost too much for it to handle. Uniball Signo 207 Ultra Micro (0.38): Typical performance. Very dark, which is nice. Super fine line. Gives some feedback from the paper's texture, but still very smooth.Pilot G2 (0.5): Perfect. Like there was any doubt.Zebra Sarasa (0.7): Not quite as sloppy as it is on most other papers. It gives a bit more control, although it was the only pen I used that bled through the paper (not really enough to notice, just a pinprick here and there). Feels slicky-smooth when writing. Does give a little bit of spread that you can see under a loupe. Liquid Ink Rollerball Results: For as much as I hate rollerballs, both of these pens yielded excellent results on the Fabriano paper. Pilot Precise V5 RT (0.5): Excellent performance. Very smooth. Crips, clean line with no spread or feathering.Uniball Vision Elite (0.8): Surprisingly solid. It actually resembles black ink on this paper. The line seems fine with the naked eye, but under a loupe, you can see a little spread and feathering. Fountain Pen Results: The fountain pen results are so mixed. On one hand, pen and ink performance were beautiful. Easily the best so far. But it comes at a price: dry times. It ain't good. (EF) Platinum Preppy with Noodlers Midnight Blue ink: Completely perfect. Up until the dry test. It smudged! I couldn't believe it. Surely not the EF Preppy!? Could this be true? It's true. No spread, feathering, or bleed. Minimal ghosting. Slightly scratchy with the paper texture.(F) Lamy Safari with Lamy Petrol ink: As close to perfect as it got. The Safari was my only fountain pen to pass the 10-second dry test, but it did show a tiny bit of spread under a loupe.(M) Platinum Cool with Pilot Iroshizuku Tsuki-Yo ink: Perfect up until...you guessed it...the dry test. Quite a bit of smearing. Even though this is a really wet medium nib, I could still feel the paper's texture as I wrote.(0.6) Nemosine Singularity with KWZ Standard Turquoise ink: Another perfect performance...right up until the dry test (it's like a trend or something). Although, this pen/ink combination wasn't that bad for drying time. Another couple seconds would have probably been enough. Gives a very crisp line with no feathering or spread.(1.1) Conklin Duragraph with Robert Oster Midnight Sapphire ink: This paper handled the sloppy, wet stub nib exceptionally well. There were a few random spots of spread, but not feathering and no bleed. Dry test? Failed miserably. Conclusion Fabriano obviously took the "bang for your buck" approach with these notebooks. They shaved off some expenses that you see in other brands, and in return you get really nice cover stock, 64 pages per book, and four books per pack. Plus, the paper is fountain pen friendly and half the sheets are perforated. They pack a lot into this little $10 product. The paper in these Fabriano EcoQua notebooks is probably the most fountain pen friendly paper I've seen in any pocket notebook that I've used so far. The downside to that is dry time. Of the five pens I tested, only the Fine Safari fully dried within 10 seconds. If a fast dry time is critical to your needs, either stick with dry pens or find another notebook. The only other potential downside (for some people) is the ghosting. The paper is relatively thin, so you can see most writing on the backside of the page. There's no bleedthrough at all (except for one or two pinpricks from my juicy 0.7mm Sarasa), but you can see where the writing is. I'd put it on par with Leuchtturm paper. If you're comfortable with the ghosting from a Leuchtturm notebook, then the EcoQua won't bother you. I consider the back side of the page completely usable, but others might find the ghosting too much. Bottom line: If fountain pen dry time is not a concern and you can handle the ghosting, you really can't beat these notebooks. You get a lot of high-quality paper for $10 (and I'm even seeing these go for under $9 in some places). But if you need a true grab-and-go EDC choice and you insist on using fountain pens, then I probably wouldn't recommend these for you.
  3. This is Part 6 of my Mega Monster Review series on Pocket Notebooks. Here's the review for the Scout Books pocket notebook along with a few pictures. Below are links to the full review, the main Mega Monster page, and the master spreadsheet (still very light as I ramp up on this project). As this is a work in progress that will likely take me a couple months to complete (I'm not that fast), I'd love any feedback you have that could help me make these reviews more useful. Thanks & enjoy! Full Review Mega Monster Review - Pocket NotebooksSpreadsheet of specs & results Introduction: This series is all about the collision between the Fountain Pen and EDC worlds, and finding the notebooks that are most appropriate for fountain pen users who want to write on the go. The perfect pocket notebook handles ink well, never feathers or spreads, showcases shading and sheen, dries immediately, and is durable. That notebook is hanging out in Imaginary Land with Sasquatch and Nessie. Generally speaking, "handles ink well" and "dries fast" don't go hand-in-hand. Most notebooks fall somewhere in between, leaving us to weigh which side of the spectrum is more important to us (and honestly, that probably changes, too, depending on the situation we're in at the time). About Scout Books: It took a while for me to get my hands on some Scout Books notebooks. I've seen the brand name a lot over the last few years when I search the Googles, but I've never run across them in any physical store or online shops I frequent. Typically, with pocket notebooks, I toss a pack or two in my cart when I'm buying other things. But with Scout Books, I had to intentionally go and find/buy them. Although Scout Books sell a few "stock" notebooks for retail (including occasional collaborations with artists), their bread and butter is in printing customized notebooks. They consider themselves a "tool for sharing your own story or brand through custom designs." You can see some pretty spectacular examples on their site. They also sell some with completely blank craft covers that you can customize yourself with markers, ink, paint, stickers, or whatever else you fancy. One of the hallmarks of the company is sustainability: Description: I have to admit, I went into this excursion somewhat skeptical that their recycled paper would work well with fountain pens. I've often found recycled paper to be porous and not very uniform, leading to some pretty brutal feathering and spread. But the paper used in Scout Books notebooks is pretty hearty and surprisingly kind to liquid inks, as long as they're not too wet. The paper they use feels thicker and stiffer than Clairefontaine, but not as thick (or as smooth) as the paper used in the Story Supply Pocket Staple Edition 407. In these reviews, I'm using three pens that seriously put paper to the test: Uniball Vision Elite 0.8 (a feather monster), Platinum Cool in medium (juuuuuuuuuicy), and the Conklin Duragraph with a 1.1mm stub (lays down a lot of ink). All three pens suffered some spread, yielding lumpy lines on the Scout Books paper, but honestly, they all performed better than I expected. I still wouldn't pair those pens up with this notebook (especially the Cool), but they didn't really make a mess, either. In addition to being recycled, the paper in the Scout Books notebooks doesn't appear to have any sizing/coating, so it's pretty absorbent. The downside to that is that fountain pen ink doesn't get much of a chance to show off it's goods. But this paper really shines on the other end of the spectrum: dry times. I had one tiny speck of wet ink from my Safari (fine), but everything else was completely dry within 10 seconds. A big win for those "write it and run" type of people. One surprise is that it shows a little shading.Shading typically gets lost with absorbent paper, but I got a bit from my Nemosine Singularity and KWZ Turquoise. It's not what you'd see from Tomoe River, but it was a nice surprise, nonetheless. In addition to shading, that last image also shows the bumpy/mushy spread from the Platinum Cool (top of the image). There's too much spread for me to use this pen with this paper, but feathering is minimal and the dry time is excellent. Specifications In typical pocket notebook fashion, Scout Books pocket notebooks are folded in half and staple-bound with rounded outside corners and hearty cardstock covers. The off-the-shelf offerings come in a few colors/patterns and you can get them in blank, ruled, or DotGrid versions. Typical pocket notebook size is 3.5 x 5.5 inches (9 by 14 cm). Scout Books pocket notebooks are a little shorter at 3.5 x 5.0 inches (9 x 12.7 cm). I'm not sure that makes any real difference in usage; however, if you're the type of person who hates it when a sliver of notebook peeks out of your shirt pocket, then this more compact size may be right up your alley. There is very little branding on these notebooks. In fact, the only branding on the outside covers is a tiny, nondescript logo on the bottom of the back cover, although you'll find another logo and a little more info inside the back cover. The one area where Scout Books pocket notebooks really fall short is in their number of pages. While most pocket notebooks include 48 pages, Scout Books only have 32. If you're looking at buying a three-pack, that works out to 48 fewer pages per pack than most of their competitors. If you're someone who blows through pocket notebooks fast, this is a significant difference. Pencil Results: Pencils work well on the Scout Books paper. The paper is a bit toothy, though, so the soft graphite in my Blackwing did wear down a little quicker than with smoother papers.Palomino Blackwing: Works just fine. As I just mentioned, the toothy paper wore down the graphite, making my lines a little fuzzy (you probably wouldn't notice if you have larger handwriting). The line is dark, though. Erasing took a few swipes to get going and some graphite was still left behind.Uni Kuru Toga Mechanical Pencil (0.5): Perfect. Nice and dark; slightly less so than the Blackwing. It's definitely a crisper line, though. The graphite erases faster and more fully with the Kuru Toga. Ballpoint Results: I often joke that ballpoint pens should be outlawed. But seriously, as unenjoyable as they are, they really do work just about everywhere. Can't argue with their success.Uniball Jetstream (0.7): Works great. Dark and consistent. No complaints.Fisher Space Pen (0.7): Surprisingly smoother than the Jetstream, but also a bit "sludgier" in that the pasty ink causes some drag on the paper. Works fine, if unremarkable. Gel Results: I expected the gel pens to perform perfectly. My expectations were largely met, although the wet-ass Sarasa caused some spread.Uniball Signo 207 Ultra Micro (0.38): Wonderful, as expected. Fine and consistent line. And for as fine as the line is, it comes out really dark, especially against the bright white paper.Pilot G2 (0.5): Solid. Very dark. I'm finding that some of my tighter loopy letters are filling in, which I haven't seen on other papers. Otherwise it's excellent.Zebra Sarasa (0.7): Does okay. Very dark black. I am seeing some spread, even without a loupe. But it is a super wet pen, so I'm not surprised. With a loupe, I can see a bit of short, blobby feathering. Liquid Ink Rollerball Results: I had super low hopes for how the rollerball pens would perform on this recycled paper, but they were better than I expected.Pilot Precise V5 RT (0.5): Very good. There's a minimal amount of spread and a few random feathers, but you have to look under a loupe to see them. Very smooth writing experience.Uniball Vision Elite (0.8): Not quite as good as the Precise, but still better than I expected. There's some spread and a bit of tiny feathering, but it performs about as well as the Sarasa gel. And although it's not as black as the Sarasa, it's still dries darker than it usually does. Fountain Pen Results: I really anticipated that this paper wouldn't like fountain pens. The paper is recycled and not coated. I was pretty surprised, though. Fine/dry pens worked well, and the dry times for all pens were beautiful.(EF) Platinum Preppy with Noodlers Midnight Blue ink: Lots of feedback on this paper. Although not consistently scratchy, the nib caught on the paper once or twice. With a loupe, I can see some very minor feathering around all my letters, and I can see some spread around the starting and stopping points of my lines. It's not enough to notice during normal reading, though. No bleed-through.(F) Lamy Safari with Lamy Petrol ink: Way smoother than the Preppy. Can still feel the texture of the paper, but it's negligible. Some spread is visible, along with a few tiny feathers. But again, it's better than I thought it would be. One or two specks still wet during the dry test.(M) Platinum Cool with Pilot Iroshizuku Tsuki-Yo ink: Quite a bit of spread and feathering. Strangely enough, though, it does retain a bit of shading...but just a bit. This is one of the wettest pens I have, and the dry test was flawless. Significant bleed-through to the other side of the paper.(0.6) Nemosine Singularity with KWZ Standard Turquoise ink: Tiny bit of spread that you can see with the naked eye, and a tiny amount of feathering. The ends of strokes are especially rough. Dry test was perfect and I even got some nice shading with this combo. Small amount of bleed-through, but nothing that would prevent you from using the other side of the paper.(1.1) Conklin Duragraph with Robert Oster Midnight Sapphire ink: Lots of noticeable spread, feathering, and bleed-through. There were a few random tendrils extending out from the letters, but you have to look hard to see them. There is some shading, but the edges of my letters are pretty mushy. Interestingly enough, the dry test was again perfect...a big surprise for as wet as this pen is. Conclusion As I was unwrapping these notebooks, I was pretty sure they wouldn't like my fountain pens. While liquid inks do creep a bit on this absorbent paper (especially with very wet pens), the dry times are fantastic. Even if you use a sloppy, wet stub nib, you can write and go without having to decipher a Rorschach Test the next time you open your notebook. If you mostly use fine/dry fountain pens and you need a durable notebook with fast dry times—or if you're in the market for custom notebooks made with your own designs—then you should definitely check out Scout Books.
  4. Catching up...This is Part 5 of my Mega Monster Review series on Pocket Notebooks. Here's the review for the Kokuyo A6 Systemic Refill notebook along with a few pictures. Below are links to the full review, the main Mega Monster page, and the master spreadsheet (still very light as I ramp up on this project). As this is a work in progress that will likely take me a couple months to complete (I'm not that fast), I'd love any feedback you have that could help me make these reviews more useful. Thanks & enjoy! Full Review Mega Monster Review - Pocket NotebooksSpreadsheet of specs & results Introduction: I know, I know. I've already heard from some of you that A6 shouldn't be considered a "pocket notebook." I have pretty average-sized pockets, and an A6 fits in almost all of them. The only ones it won't fit into are the shirt pockets with a built-in, stitched pen pocket...but Field Notes doesn't fit in there, either, so I say A6 is fair game. And that's a good thing, because this unassuming little notebook is quite the gem. About the Company: Kokuyo is a Japanese company on a mission "to enrich the world through our products. We are constantly looking for ways to make people more creative through careful observation of their lives and work." As such, they deal in two main types of products: stationery and office furniture. I can't attest to any of their furniture, but I've used several of their notebooks, and I've never been disappointed. Probably most well known for their Campus line of notebooks, Kokuyo got their start by supplying businesses with accounting ledgers, and moved into all sorts of other stationery and art supplies. Although headquartered in Osaka, Japan, they have operations in many other countries, such as China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, and India (where they acquired the company Camlin in 2011). Description: This notebook is actually intended to be a refill for their Systemic line of notebook covers. They're kind of reminiscent of the Filofax system, where there are about a million inserts and items that you can put into it to customize your EDC experience. I've never used any of their Systemic covers, but there were two things that caught my eye on these refills: the price and the number of pages. Clocking in at a mere $2.35, this notebook is less than half the price of the industry-leading pocket notebooks ($12.95 for 3 = $4.32 each). Of course, these are regular production books and have no fancy design changes every quarter, so that helps keep manufacturing costs down. But the real kicker is that they cram 96 pages between the covers. That's twice as many as a standard pocket notebook. The Systemic refill cover doesn't sport any real design elements. The front and back covers are just plain black, although the company logo, model number, and UPC code appear on the back. It uses a really simple glue binding with a textured black tape around the spine. I've been bending this notebook all over the place to see if it would lay flat (it does) and then go back to sit closed (it sits open a little, but not as much as I expected). So far, the binding seems durable, with no pages separating from the glue and no cracking in the spine itself. The paper is a very light ivory color. Not dark enough to be considered cream, but definitely not white, either. Unfortunately, this refill notebook only comes in one configuration: black cover + lined ruling. I'm not a big fan of lined paper, but at least the rules reasonably spaced at 6mm and printed in a VERY fine and very light gray line, so they're fairly easy to ignore if you so desire. The top and bottom rules are darker and thicker than the rest, and they have these cool little spacers printed below them. They consist of alternating dots and vertical dashes and include a small triangle to indicate the centerpoint of the page. I guess these are intended to help keep consistent indentation, or even help in writing out tabular data. They're nice to have if you're looking for help with page structure, but easy to ignore if you don't need them. It's a nice touch. Now I know some of you will get heartburn over me calling an A6 notebook a "pocket notebook." But I have yet to find a garment that will accept a 3.5" x 5.5" notebook but not an A6. And although this notebook has 96 pages, it's not really that much thicker than a standard pocket notebook. And really, it's only like a half-inch wider and a quarter-inch taller, so it's not really that big a difference. The only point of contention for me is that the corners are all square. Rounded corners are better because they won't catch on the fabric. I'm sure if you put the Kokuyo Systemic refill in your pocket every day, the corners would undoubtedly get beat up. Pencil Results: Perhaps you prefer pencils to pens. Pencils perform perfectly on this paper. Probably not a peculiar proclamation, given the propensity for pencils to perform impeccably by putting down a plethora of prose and poetry on practically all pages of pulp. Palomino Blackwing: Creamy & Dreamy! The paper is really smooth, and the pencil tip stays relatively sharp while still putting down a dark and surprisingly crisp & consistent line. Erasing had a really stubborn start, but once it kicked in, a good amount of the pencil came away. And if I do say, writing on this paper with the Blackwing produced a lovely swishing sound that I found quite enjoyable.Uni Kuru Toga Mechanical Pencil (0.5): Precision writing going on with the Kuru Toga. The line is super fine and super crisp, although a little lighter than I'd like it to be (still plenty dark enough against the light ivory color of the paper, though). Erases nicely. Ballpoint Results: They pretty much work everywhere. Uniball Jetstream (0.7): Such a smooth writing experience. It's like writing on butter! The line comes out really thin on this paper, and the ink is nice and dark. Despite it being a ballpoint, the Jetstream gave a pleasurable writing experience.Fisher Space Pen (0.7): Also smooth, but gives bit of resistance on this paper. The line comes out very dark...actually looks like black on this paper, where it's usually more of a very dark gray. Gel Results: Much like ballpoints, gel pens tend to work spiffily on most papers. Uniball Signo 207 Ultra Micro (0.38): The ink comes out a little light, but it otherwise performs flawlessly. Very smooth, even with the Ultra Micro 0.38 mm tip on it.Pilot G2 (0.5): I don't even know what to write here. It's perfect, like it usually is. It puts down a dark and very crisp line. Excellent.Zebra Sarasa (0.7): The American version of the Sarasa is a pretty gushy 0.7 mm gel pen. Once in a while it gets pretty sloppy, but not on the Kokuyo paper. It's actually a really good match. Despite a tiny bit of spread that you can see under a loupe, the line remains relatively crisp. Liquid Ink Rollerball Results: The more I use rollerball pens, the less I like them. Had mixed results with these two pens on the Kokuyo paper. Pilot Precise V5 RT (0.5): Another winning combination. The V5 glides effortlessly across the paper and puts down a crisp and consistent line. It performs every bit as well as a gel pen. No spread or feathering at all, although it does lighten up a bit and looks dark gray instead of black.Uniball Vision Elite (0.8): I've come to the conclusion that the Vision Elite is just plain awful. It feathers everywhere. EVERYWHERE. No other pen feathered on the Kokuyo paper...but the Vision Elite did. Performance isn't horrific, but it's not great either. There's a fair amount of spread and feathering, and the ink dries to a flat, ugly gray. The pen is serviceable, but if you're annoyed by any amount of feathering, you'll probably want to avoid this pen & paper combo. Fountain Pen Results: Other than a not-so-great 10-second dry test, this paper works amazingly with fountain pens. I wasn't sure how good it would be at 70 gsm, but the paper must be coated/sized because it handles fountain pen inks beautifully, providing clean, crisp lines and excellent shading. (EF) Platinum Preppy with Noodlers Midnight Blue ink: Excellent. The EF nib will catch on rougher papers, but it's smooth as silk on the Kokuyo paper. There's zero spread or feathering. The ink does seem a little light on this paper compared to other papers I've used.(F) Lamy Safari with Lamy Petrol ink: Excellent writing experience. No trace of any feathering or spread. Super smooth. It's an excellent match for this paper. Almost passed the dry test, with just a tiny drop that didn't dry.(M) Platinum Cool with Pilot Iroshizuku Tsuki-Yo ink: I got amazing shading out of this combination. No feathering or spread with a super crisp line. Didn't do so hot in the 10-second dry test.(0.6) Nemosine Singularity with KWZ Standard Turquoise ink: The edges of the letters are so incredibly crisp: No spread or feathering at all. And this is another combo that produced some excellent shading. The dry test was actually pretty close, but still didn't completely dry.(1.1) Conklin Duragraph with Robert Oster Midnight Sapphire ink: Awesome shading! Wicked crisp lines, with absolutely no spread or feathering. Strangely enough, this combination sailed through the dry test (although my wife was asking me a bunch of questions, so I may have been distracted and let a few extra seconds slip by). Conclusion While this notebook was intended for use with a larger organizer system, it works beautifully as an EDC pocket notebook, too. It's got a whopping 96 pages of excellent, fountain pen-friendly paper, and it's way affordable. It only comes in ruled, and it only comes in one color: black. So it's not going to win any beauty contests. But it's not hideous, either, and there's a lot to love about it. Dry times are an issue, though. If you use fountain pens, and you often need to write something down quickly and Get out of Dodge, you might end up with some smeared ink where you expected to find notes. But if you can afford a few extra seconds to let the ink dry, the smoothness and shading are well worth it. Other than fairly slow dry times, every writing instrument I used was smooth on this paper. It seems to love just about every pen...even the Vision Elite somewhat behaved. And with fountain pens, I got all crisp edges and lots of gorgeous shading. I will say that at 70 gsm, the paper does allow a fair bit of ghosting with all the pens. But there was no bleed-through at all and the back side of the page was very usable with even the wettest pens.
  5. For a while there in 3rd/4th quarter of 2013 and early in 2014 I saw what seemed like a lot of interest in the Midori TN products. Was this a flash in the pan that has now fizzled? If so, was it driven by factors other than cost -- a lot of the past discussions did seem to mention the relatively high cost of this system. Just wondering...





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