The Best Smart Notebooks, Selected by Expert Testers

Writing in a smart notebook.

There’s a tool for every task, and while all of the best tablets make a great option for things like visual content creation and media consumption, they can feel a bit like overkill if you’re simply looking for something digital that replicates the things you do on paper. This would include everyday tasks like taking notes, jotting down to-do lists, and brainstorming for both professional and creative projects. A smart notebook may make the best option for such activities, as it offers a feel and experience similar to a physical notepad and pen.

A smart notebook also makes a much more capable alternative to note-taking apps for iOS and Android, as a smart notebook will give you a larger screen to work with, as well as a little texture that makes the experience feel more like writing on paper. There are a lot of smart notebooks out there to choose from, so we’ve taken the liberty of rounding up the ones we think are the best. Reading onward you’ll find the best smart notebooks for various use-case scenarios, including selections for brainstorming sessions and for budget shoppers.

The best smart notebooks

  • Buy the

    if you want a smart notebook and e-reader combo.

  • Buy the

    if you want the best smart notebook, period, and don’t mind paying a premium to get it.

  • Buy the

    if you want a smart notebook that can fit in your back pocket, or jacket pocket, or bag, or just about anywhere.

  • Buy the

    if you want to feel like you’re writing on a familiar surface.

  • Buy the

    if you’re shopping for a smart notebook on a budget.

How we chose these smart notebook

The most important thing to consider when you’re shopping for any piece of tech is your needs. We aren’t all looking for the same thing, and there are a ton of smart notebooks to choose from. Are you planning to take notes? Are you planning to share your work? Are you planning to read e-books? Being certain of what you’re going to use a smart notebook for can be the difference between enjoying your experience and wishing you had splurged for a tablet.

Simplicity front and center

A smart notebook is not the right device for you if you plan to consume a lot of complex digital content. Many smart notebooks don’t have color displays, as they put the experience of writing things down front and center. Most smart notebooks, in fact, utilize e-ink displays, which present on-screen content in a flat, black and white image that’s meant to reduce eye strain. Smart notebooks rely on simplicity and ease of use, much like a piece of paper.

Your proper price point

Another thing you’ll want to consider when it comes to choosing a smart notebook is how much you want to spend. Features, capabilities, and conveniences will go up with every smart notebook’s price point, so if you’re looking for something to write your novel with you may want to consider spending a little bit more than somebody who’s simply looking to keep up with note-taking in class.

Software platforms

You will definitely want to think about your software ecosystem when it comes to choosing a smart notebook. If it’s not made by Apple it’s likely to be powered by Android or its own proprietary operating system, and you’ll want to look for things like compatibility with software and cloud services. In addition to storing your work on an internal solid state drive, most smart notebooks are capable of syncing it to the cloud. Be sure to keep an eye out for which cloud services a smart notebook can do so with, as well as whether or not it can work with software like Microsoft Word.

How we chose these smart notebooks

My choices for the best smart notebooks were made considering a number of factors, with emphasis on a harmony of price, ergonomics, and general smarts offered. It doesn’t make sense to recommend a smart notebook without useful smarts, and it makes less sense to recommend one nobody can afford.

The general point of a smart notebook is to replace our traditional notebooks, so that’s what we’re going for here. We’ve considered all of these things through two decades of heavy mobile device use, through a strong familiarity with the features of both e-readers and tablets, and through the experience of several years spent writing about tech.

Amazon Kindle Scribe

Best smart notebook for most people

Amazon Kindle Scribe.
Pros Cons
Folder organization Software can feel lacking
Document imports
Long battery life

Amazon’s Kindle lineup is known mostly for its e-reader capabilities, but with the Amazon Kindle Scribe you’ll get the capacity to scribble as well. In addition to its functionality as an e-reading device, the Kindle Scribe is a digital journal you can write on. Reading and write is as natural with the Scribe as it is with paper. This is mostly due to its 10.2-inch, 300 ppi display. This display is front-lit and glare-free, which creates a more paper-like experience.

Some impressive functionality comes with the Kindle Scribe as well. With it you can take handwritten notes as you read your favorite book titles in the Kindle Store, marking things up directly on the e-book pages. The Scribe can also markup directly on PDFS, and even create sticky notes in Microsoft Word. It has the longest battery life of any Kindle, and unlike tablets, the Kindle Scribe offers months of reading and weeks of writing on a single battery charge.

And if all of that’s not enough, you can take Oprah’s word for it. The Amazon Kindle Scribe was selected as one of Oprah’s Favorite Things 2023.

Storage 16GB, 32GB, 64GB
Display 10.2 inches, 300 ppi
Pen included Yes

reMarkable 2

Best premium smart notebook

Using the reMarkable 2 smart notebook across several devices.
Pros Cons
Feels like paper Limited internal storage
Great software
Versatile cloud integration
Cross-device syncing

If you’re really looking to splurge on a smart notebook, the reMarkable 2 is probably the one for you. In many regards it’s more like the spirit of a tablet in the body of a smart notebook. The reMarkable 2 often wins out when considering the smart notebook that most feels like writing on paper. Since the release of the original reMarkable the smart notebook has drawn high regard for its user experience.

The reMarkable 2 is also one of the best smart notebooks when it comes to cloud integration. You can send content to the reMarkable 2 with just a click, and once you’ve read, reviewed, and marked up documents you can easily send them right back. The reMarkable 2 includes reMarkable’s mobile note-taking app, which is also available for desktops for even deeper integration across devices.

Some of the reMarkable 2’s more premium features include the ability to share your screen live, a paper-thin design that comes in at just 0.19 inches in thickness, and a 1-year Connect subscription that provides unlimited cloud storage and note-taking across devices.

Storage 8GB
Display 10.3 inches, 226 ppi
Cloud integration Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive

Rocketbook Mini

Best portable smart notebook

Using the Rocketbook Mini smart reusable notebook on a table.
Pros Cons
Super portable Bad for longform writing
Endlessly reusable
Versatile cloud integration
Feels like a notepad

Whether you’re a poet, an idea man, or simply forgetful, you may often have a need to jot something down. In cases such as this you’re going to want ultimate portability out of your smart notebook, as there’s no telling when the next mental impulse worth recording may strike. The Rocketbook Mini is perfect for just such a situation, as it’s just 3.5-inches by 5.5-inches and can easily slide into a purse or back pocket.

The Rocketbook Mini isn’t quite the same as a more obvious smart notebook. It provides a classic pen and paper experience, yet is endlessly reusable. All you do is write in the notebook using the Pilot FriXion pen and your notes are stored digitally. From there you can scan them with your smartphone or send them directly to a number of cloud storage services for storing. When you’re done, you can simply wipe the page clean for reuse.

App support iOS, Android
Page count 48 pages
Cloud integration Google Drive, Dropbox, Evernote, OneNote, Slack, iCloud, and more

Moleskine Pen+ Smart Writing Set

Best smart notebook for brainstorming

Using the Moleskine Pen+ Smart Writing Set across multiple devices.
Pros Cons
Large writing surface Poor battery life
Smart pen included Difficult note organization
iOS and Android apps available
Cool factor

That’s right, the little journal made famous for storing the notes of Ernest Hemingway has gone digital. Writers and artists who are constantly working to give their creative visions some footing should love the Moleskine Pen+ Smart Writing Set. It includes an 8.5-inch by 11-inch smart notebook designed with Moleskine’s legendary style, as well as a Moleskine Pen+ for jotting your notes down. A companion app seamlessly transfers what’s written on the notebook to any number of compatible devices.

With this Moleskine smart notebook combo you can digitize your analog notes, as well as notate, share, search, edit, and organize. You can record audio to sync with your notes in order to help you flesh out ideas and ensure nothing gets lost in translation. Exportable formats include PDF, and you can also upload your notes to Google or Evernote. With this smart notebook combo Moleskine brings the same commitment to culture and imagination to its digital lineup as it has for decades to its notebooks, bags, and pens.

Display 8.5-inches x 11-inches
Smart pen included Yes
App support iOS, Android

Boogie Board Blackboard

Best budget smart notebook

A man writes on the Boogie Board Blackboard smart notebook.
Boogie Board
Pros Cons
Large writing surface Poor battery life
Writes and erases precisely
Versatile cloud integration

No frills but still a little fun is on the docket with the Boogie Board Blackboard. It’s a smart scan reusable notebook that comes in letter size for a nice, full writing experience. It’s the perfect gift for any tech lover, but it’s also a smart notebook that can be utilized in the office as easily as it can be in the classroom. It saves notes and ideas instantly yet provides the kind of traditional writing experience that we’ve all grown used to.

The Boogie Board Blackboard comes with four note-taking templates. It works with a super accurate pen to both write and erase exactly what you put down, and it does so with a simplicity that more expensive smart notebooks and e-readers might overlook. The Boogie Board Blackboard is perfect for taking notes, marking up documents, and sketching out ideas in the digital age.

Display 8.5-inches x 11-inches
App support iOS, Android
Cloud integration Google Drive, Evernote, Dropbox, OneNote

This article is managed and created separately from the Digital Trends Editorial team.

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