Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Review: Esquoia Dry Erase Notebooks

I am a relentless notetaker and listmaker with a couple of different styles. First, there are notes I take that are meant to be referred to often - lists, schedules, various information that can be looked up frequently and tends to be fairly permanent.  I couldn't get through a day of my life without my lists, and they are made and stored on my computer, where I can quickly search for what I need.

But, there is another sort that the computer can't help me with, and generally these aren't referred back to that much at all.

When I am sitting in a meeting or workshop, I can't really haul in my computer to take notes. Even if I could, I find there is something about the process of keeping my hands involved while I am listening to something that helps me soak in the information, whether it is taking actual notes or doodling or even doing needlework while I listen.

It's as if some part of my ears are in my hands and it solidifies the connection between what I hear and how well I will 'know' it later.

So I haul around notebooks, knowing I am unlikely to ever read what I'm writing into them - and mostly knowing I won't even be able to read what I scrawled in a few days, and then the notebook sits around 'just in case' or gets tossed.

I'm sorry, trees.

For this reason, I was really excited to learn about Esquoia, a company created by a pair of students in Europe.  Esquoia offers one of those simple ideas that make me wonder why on earth everyone isn't making these - dry erase notebooks that come in either full sized, or smaller pocket sized.

Using dry erase markers (and they sell some really nice fine-line pens in multiple colors), a single notebook can be preserved and then used repeatedly!

Before I discuss my own experiences, here's a great video that explains the basic features of an Esquoia notebook:

For review, I received one of the full sized notebooks with a red cover and two black dry erase pens - one medium line pen, and one fine line pen.  Each pen has a small dry-erase eraser on the end of it and a cap that snaps on securely but comes off without too much effort.

Because Esquoia notebooks allow pages to be quickly and easily added and removed, they included a few sheets of each variety they offer - lined, grid, music staffs, and blank.

I think each of these are good options - blank for freehand drawing and lined for the writing are obvious, but grid paper is one of my favorite things, because you can both write with it (great for neat outlining and lists that need checkboxes) and use it to draw items that need precise scale, such as doing a room renovation layout.

The music staff sheets deserve special mention, I think.  While I am no composer, I do know people who do - and sometimes they find electronic composition to block their creativity rather than enhance it.  So, paper scale sheets are used, erased, scrawled over as notes are changed and moved multiple times and then, finally, rewritten again in a readable form.  It is an absolute given that these changes will be made - which makes dry erase musical composition sheets just brilliant!

My first use was simple - I wanted to test each of the pens, how quickly I could touch the ink without smearing, and how well it erased.

I wrote two sentences, one for each pen - both wrote clearly and pretty much exactly the way felt tipped writing pens do. The fine line pen mirrored my writing pen of choice perfectly.

As soon as I'd written the top sentence, I ran my thumb over it - no smudging at all.  I've had longer wait times for ink to dry from regular pens!

Finally, the eraser - I actually erased the mouth of my happy face a week later and it took just a second and erased cleanly. It's small enough that it is easy to erase tiny detail, too.

Short answer is that I love these pens a whole lot!

My next step was to give it a really good workout, though - would the pages still not smear if I wrote in my usual fashion? I'm lefthanded, so I have a long, sad history full of smudged pages and hands covered in ink or pencil carbon.

I had a workshop / planning session coming up, in which there would be a whole lot of information imparted and then additional notes having to go into various sections of the page as things were decided.

I used the medium line marker to write headers on one of the grid sheets with space for additional notes.

As the workshop progressed, I used the fineline marker to write in the notes, going back over the same parts of the page - no smudging, and I had to do a lot of erasing and rewriting to keep things in the right area.

Finally, there was a planning phase that required yet additional notes, so that was a third pass of my hand dragging over the page, still without smudging, and still easily erasing items that needed to be altered and moved.

Meanwhile, I was also flipping over to the lined pages to write non-outline style notes, and then to the blank sheets to doodle during periods when nothing else was required.

Through all of this - NO SMUDGING.

Once or twice the pen did seem to have a little difficulty starting to write - this was in a small area where I'd erased a good half dozen times, and I think did it a bit too energetically, scratching the sheet.  Truly, for writing or erasing, no pressure is needed, and that's the best way to keep them lasting a long time.

That said, Esquoia does sell refill sheets separately than the notebooks, so if you damage one, just replace it! As the video above demonstrates, adding and removing sheets is very simple.

I am really sold on this product - I would love to also have the smaller sized notebook that would fit in my purse for more spontaneous use, but I expect to get a ton of use out of the larger one as well.

If I have any complaint at all, it is that the cover options are confined to a few color variations on the cover shown, which has a very industrial feel to me and isn't to my taste, or there is an option to have a custom cover made (great for companies that wish to have logo'd notepads!) - but this requires a 25 notebook minimum, so it really isn't practical for individual users.

I expect that I'll either not worry about that, or get crafty someday and decoupage an image I like better.

That aesthetic consideration aside, the notebook itself is a joy to use, highly functional, and now one of my favorite tools for both work and play.

(Now, they just need to tackle those obnoxious gigantic pads of papers that are used and tossed in meetings all over the world.  Think of the possibilities!)

To get your own Esquoia dry erase notebook - or to surprise someone else with one for the holidays - you will need  to order from their website.  Prices are in British Pounds Sterling so the dollar amount may vary from day to day, but a notebook the size of the one I reviewed would come with one fine tip pen and cost approximately $25.00.  They would also come with 25 sheets of only one variety of the four styles, however, additional sheets of any of the styles can be purchased separately in 5 sheet quantities for about $2.65.

Esquoia has agreed to let us help our readers lower that cost considerably, making this a really excellent value.  By using the code "happy25", you can take 25% off your full order, and there is no expiration on that discount! (of course Esquoia reserves the right to expire it, so if you're interested, use it while it's there!)

Shipping does take a bit of time - shipments within Europe take about a week, and expect it to take a couple of weeks to get to the US.  Mine didn't take quite that long, but especially in December, you want to allow some extra time for arrival!

Esquoia Website
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  1. I could use one of these! Thank you for sharing at the Thursday Favorite Things blog hop. xo

  2. great idea! thanks for sharing with us for Sunday Brunch x

  3. Omg this is such an awesome idea. I so need one of these! Visiting from Sunday Brunch at Mums. xx

  4. I really need one of these in my life.