Write Your Notes in a Rocketbook

Introduction: I must say that I have mixed emotions about Rocketbook. On the positive side, it is an excellent use of technology to improve low-tech methods that have been in use for centuries. I can envision this being used extensively in genealogy research and note-taking.

On the negative side, use of any paper-based note-taking product is contrary to the paperless lifestyle I have been following for a few years. I try to never use paper as I find paper is easily lost, damaged, or at least is difficult to find when I need the information later. That is especially true if I am not in the place where the paper notes are stored. For a list of my past articles on going paperless, see http://bit.ly/2wfDaw6.

On the positive side, I realize that not everyone is comfortable with a paperless lifestyle. Paper notes are still used by hundreds of millions of people around the globe. If that includes you,  Rocketbook may be an attractive product for you. It helps store everything safely and securely in the cloud where you can quickly and later easily find digital images of your notes, drawings, and other paper-based items.

In short, if Rocketbook appeals to you, I’d suggest you try it out! As for me, I will write about it but am unlikely to use Rocketbook myself.

Are you still writing notes and transcriptions in a spiral notebook? It’s time to move into the 21st century!

A Rocketbook looks like many other notebooks. It has paper and even a spiral binding. You can write in a Rocketbook with a pen or pencil. What’s different is what you can do AFTER you have written your notes. In short, you can upload your precious notes to your own private area in the cloud where they can be easily accessed at any time. Your notes will never be lost unless you deliberately erase the online notes later.

The price? Seventeen dollars gets you the basic notebook while the more robust versions are available at $27 and $34.

With any version of Rocketbook, you can take notes, write a story, or even draw a masterpiece. Anything that you might do on regular paper, you can do on a Rocketbook page. For instance, if you like to take notes during genealogy talks, family interviews, or visits to repositories, this could be your new tool. When you have a chance later, simply aim your Apple iPhone or Android phone at the page(s) of notes you have taken, press an icon, and your note(s) will be safely and securely saved in the cloud.

You can either keep the notes private for your own use or you can (optionally) share the notes and drawings with another person or with a few other people or even with the entire world. The choice is yours to make.

Actually, the Rocketbook is almost the same as all other spiral-bound notebooks with one exception: the way you store your notes and later retrieve them. Each page includes special symbols and even a QR Code printed along the bottom; you can mark these symbols to map to your favorite file storage services in the cloud, such as Dropbox, Google Docs, iCloud, Evernote, email, and several other cloud applications.

Using the free RocketBook app on your Android or Apple cell phone, you then capture an image of your notes with the cell phone’s camera. The Rocketbook app will then crop any background out of the image, enhance the image for clarity, and upload it to the cloud service of your choice. The image in the cloud can be saved in either PNG or PDF format.

Comment: In fact, you don’t really need to use Rocketbook to accomplish these tasks. Your present smartphone contains everything you need or else you can add various pieces of software easily. You could (manually) take a picture of any page(s) in any notebook. You can then (manually) edit the picture to make it ready for uploading, such as (manually) cropping the image and (manually) enhancing the image for clarity. You then can (manually) upload the resultant image(s) to your desired cloud-based file service, such as to Dropbox, Google Drive, SpiderOak, iCloud, or any other similar service. You could then (manually) add a title and the keywords you would use to make the image easier to find  later.

The primary advantage of Rocketbook is that it simplifies the process. Instead of spending minutes, perhaps an hour, performing all the manual steps I just described, Rocketbook can do the same thing in five seconds or less and undoubtedly will do so with less chance of errors.

To use the Rocketbook app, you will need to provide an email address. This will be the default destination for your notes. In addition, it can help you work with a product support person if you have an issue at some point. The website notes that this information will never be shared or sold to third parties. Once saved in the cloud, you can share, print, or archive your notes as you wish. The notes can later be imported into most any other program, such as your favorite genealogy program.

Note: Rocketbook does not decode your handwriting and convert it into readable computer text, suitable for use in word processing apps. Then again, no other apps I know of can reliably do that. If you want reliable handwriting-to-text conversion, you will need to wait a few more years for the recognition technology to improve.

You do not have to wait until the Rocketbook is full to upload your notes to the cloud. You may upload pages at any time.

What happens when you’ve used up all your pages? That depends on which version of the product you are using.

The basic “Rocketbook One” has single-use pages. While you can use any pen or pencil, you cannot erase the pages with this version. In other words, once you have used the initial 140 pages, you will need a new pad of paper with the special symbols on the pages. The website offers a 3-pack of 50-page pads for $10.

At the next level, the “Rocketbook Wave” lets you erase the entire notebook up to five times by popping it in the microwave with a mug of water sitting on the cover! While this version has just 80 pages, the repeat usage gives you a total of 400 pages of notes. The website also offers a 3-pack of Rocketbook Waves for $72, just a bit over $20 each.

The one caveat here is that, in order to erase the pages, you must always use a pen with thermo-sensitive FriXion gel ink. Your $27 purchase of one Wave includes one Pilot FriXion pen. You can buy more pens from the Rocketbook website for a little over $2 each or even cheaper on other websites.

The top of the line is the “Rocketbook Everlast,” which costs $34. Like the Rocketbook Wave, this version also requires use of a FriXion pen and includes one with the product. The big difference is that each page wipes clean with a moist cloth, so you can use it an infinite number of times; in other words, your one-time purchase is everlasting. Given the infinite use, you only need enough pages to last you until the next time you upload and then erase one or more pages, so you get fewer physical pages: either 32 pages in letter size (8.5 x 11 inches) or 36 pages in executive size (6 x 8.8 inches).

The required Rocketbook cell phone app is available free of charge from the iPhone App Store and the Android Play Store.

To try out the app before you buy a Rocketbook, you can print out a free page at https://www.dropbox.com/sh/eqnsm164v0sav3v/AAA-cMxpo8BhBH8sLOFbkUe2a?dl=0

You can learn more about the various Rocketbook versions at https://getrocketbook.com and at https://getrocketbook.com/collections/all-products. You can purchase the books and pens directly from the Rocketbook web site as well as from Amazon at: http://amzn.to/2vBTE0P and possibly from your local office supply chain store.

I would suggest staring with the cheapest version of Rocketbook at $17. After you have used that for a while, you will know whether or not you wish to continue using it and also have a good idea of which version you prefer in the future.

As mentioned earlier, I won’t by purchasing a Rocketbook simply because I already have another method of dealing with notes and I like my present method. I won’t be switching and therefore cannot speak from my own personal experience. However, if you purchase a Rocketbook or if you already have one, please post a comment below to tell others of the successes or failures you have encountered.

2 Comments

I admit I read this quickly, so perhaps I missed a real key point to it. I’ve been using JotNot scanner on my iPhone & iPod for years (I know there are newer scanner apps) and it does this just fine- including quickly cropping the page if necessary before saving, adding tags and a title and uploading to, in my case, Dropbox. Using JotNot I can scan my written notes AND everything else I’ve encountered in my research (books, documents, etc.) If I scan handwritten notes, it’s because I might want to access them from multiple locations (which is not very often). The paper notes just go into recycling to live another day in some other form if I don’t want/need to keep them. As techie as I try to be (love gadgets), this just seems to be more labor than what I currently do.

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Thanks Dick for pointing out this item. For over 40 years I have had multiple notebooks for taking notes at meetings and while on the phone. This seems to be a great improvement if it works as advertised and the comments I found are positive. My paper consumption should drop as the pages are reusable and the storage issue should disappear.
I have ordered one from Amazon and should have it tomorrow.

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