Moleskine Smart Writing Set Review

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May 24, 2016
I purchased the Moleskine Smart Writing Set last week and have to agree with everything in this review. After using it daily for the past week, I'd like to add a few comments from my experience.

1) The handwriting recognition is useless. I write in block text, like an engineer or architect. The pen handwriting recognition works best with cursive writing, as opposed to printing. Strange, since you think printing would be easier to decipher. If you write in cursive with large, open strokes, you will have more success than I did. For me, the handwriting recognition does not work.

2) The pen is supposed to record your writing when not connected to your smart device & app, then later sync that data back to the app. This worked when I first used the device. One week later, the feature no longer works. I've gone through all gyrations recommended by Moleskin and NeoPen to fix the problem, but no luck. I've send separate emails to Moleskine and NeoPen support for help. Moleskine states all customer service requests will be answered in 48 hours. Two days...seriously?? Luckily NeoPen customer service is supporting Moleskine purchases and replied within an hour or so of my request. Reformatting the pen through a Windows PC as directed by NeoPen did the trick.

3) Although the app allows you to create multiple virtual journals, when you write in the physical Moleskine journal your writing only appears in a generic virtual journal in the app. You then have to transfer your select pages to any specific virtual journals you created. This is a bit of an annoyance.

4) The pen can only be used with one smart device at a time (iPhone, iPad, etc). This is not like Evernote where your app and notes are synced across devices. Why? I have no idea, since syncing all data should be relatively straightforward. Basically each page in the physical Moleskine journal has a serial number and the app store each page as a separate file. With each page being indexed like this, syncing across devices shouldn't be a problem.

5) Editing in the app works well. You're able to deleted blocks of text, highlight, change pen colors, etc.

6) Syncing with Google Drive and Evernote was effortless. The Evernote sync happens in the background. As you pause writing on a page or update the page later, the Evernote record is also updated. Updating to Google Drive requires a manual process.

So, for Evernote users, what's the difference between the Smart Writing Set and just taking a photo of your notes through the Evernote app? Not much, unless you can get the handwriting recognition working properly. Not having this feature working correctly is disappointing, since it would save me a lot of time. But as it currently is, it's making more work for me. I'm better off typing notes into an iPad or laptop.

Would I recommend the product? I think it's overpriced and needs to get a few bugs worked out. If you have to be an early adopter, go ahead. If you're dependent on handwriting recognition, I would hold off.


Oct 3, 2014

Hey Bill,
Thanks for the detailed hands-on! I agree, sharing was the best part. It did decently with my handwriting, which surprised me considering not even my own mother can read it.

The LiveScribe is a bit chunkier but doesn't have some of the anooyances you listed about apps. And it's cheaper. Moleskine makes a set for that, too.

I liked it for the basics, but I really don't think there's a "best" solution out there just yet.
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