Thursday, February 28, 2013

Review: Whitelines Link A5 Notebook - Lined & Squared

Whitelines have become more popular and many fountain pen users are extra curious about these notebooks. The famous question of course - is it fountain pen friendly? Whitelines Link notebooks are best of both worlds - notebooks, and technology-capable notebooks to boot. How's that? Let's check them out!
WL242 Whitelines Link Wire A5_Lined

Paper from Sweden
Weight: 80 g
Size: A5
Color: Grey
Ruling: 8 mm Lined/ 5mm x 5mm Squared
Sheet Count: 80
Price: $11.50


These two Whitelines Link demo pads are spiral bound size A5 notebooks. I won't describe the covers too much as these particular notebooks are demo notebooks. The retail versions are much prettier - clean, white notebooks with Whitelines Link written on the front. The notebook is thin and flat. Inside, each page is perforated for easy removal. At the corner of each page is a little signature for the Whitelines app to detect where to capture. The lines/squared ruling is white on the light grey page. There are three tiny, very adorable markers at the bottom of the page - Evernote, DropBox, and an email icon, indicating the options you have available to you after you capture your page with the app.
Whitelines Link Ruled/Squared

The entire notebook does not feel particularly heavy duty. It's a decent, lightweight notebook that is easy to keep in your work bag to tote around. The cover is not heavy duty either so it can get dog eared with rough use. The pages turn easily on the spirals, and the pages tear out easily.

The paper is smooth but not the glossy nor coated type of smooth. It has a very slight texture to it (paper texture, that is) which provides some writing feedback. Ballpoints, pencils, and gel pens write effortlessly and without issue on this paper. Smooth, fibers don't catch on the tip, ink doesn't bleed.
Whitelines Link Writing Sample
When Kaylee sent me the notebooks, she did tell me I would be really impressed by the paper. I was unsure because I was thinking "but for fountain pens...?" So there was nothing else to do but try out a bunch of fountain pens and various nib sizes. Good thing I have like, 15 pens inked. Most importantly, in my humble opinion, is there was no feathering. Even where the ink was heavy and bled through, it still did not feather on the page. Fine to medium nibs with normal ink flow did not show through nor bleed through. Show through or bleed through was evident with medium to broader nibs with wet ink.
Whitelines Link Writing Samples
Whitelines Link Back of Page
Again, I do not expect that fountain pen friendly paper will never have bleed or show through; but I do expect it not to feather, and it didn't.
Whitelines Link Fountain Pen Ink Close Up
While the nibs do not glide smoothly across the paper, they don't drag either. It's a decent, tactile writing experience. I wouldn't do calligraphy on this paper (not that I can do calligraphy anyway), but for taking notes or doing work, it's perfectly acceptable and quite nice in fact.

Whitelines Link
After writing whatever you want to write on your page, you open up your Whitelines app on your iOS device, and using the four little markers in the corners of each page, you place your device over the page so that those little markers are on the screen. As soon as the app focuses, it will automatically capture the image and take you to the next option. What is truly amazing is how it removes the background (the grey part of the page) and leaves only your writing, and even the vivid colour of the fountain pen ink, as in this case. You can then email it or save it to your DropBox/Evernote app or whatever you wish.
Whitelines Link Scan 2
Whitelines Link Scan
The Whitelines app is only available for iOS on iTunes. The app itself has mixed reviews but I'm not here to review the app. I'm here to review the notebook!

  • Fountain pen friendly
  • Affordable
  • Gadget-compatible
  • Very easy on the eyes
  • Perforated pages
  • Two sizes to pick from - A4 & A5
  • Portable scanner
  • Just like all other Whitelines, when you copy, scan, or fax, the white lines disappear

The app needs work. That's not the notebook itself, but it certainly affects the useability of the entire function of the notebook. Mine crashed several times while I was trying to capture images of the pages I wrote on for this review. I use an iPod Touch with the latest iOS.


These are really cool notebooks. I often have taken notes on various pieces of paper or in a notebook and then needed a digital copy of it, so I've taken a picture of it (a terrible picture, mind you) and have sent it to the necessary people. These nifty notebooks perfectly that care of that need. I LOVE that they're fountain pen friendly. What a relief! They're affordable, creative, and useful. Especially for those of us who love our gadgets, and our pens as well.

A4 notebooks are also available with 80 sheets, should you prefer larger pages.

Whitelines provided these Whitelines Link notebooks to me free of charge for the purposes of this review. All opinions here are 100% wholeheartedly my own, I swear. On the paper. I was not compensated monetarily for this review!


edjelley said...

Great review! I wish mine had cool features... Also, going by the feedback on my site, I wonder if they changed the paper at some point. Commenters seemed pretty adamant about the paper not performing well with fountain pens, but I respectfully disagree and your review proves that they play nice. My grid notebook was fine, but didn't perform nearly as well as the lined stitch-bound notebook I have too. Weird!

Azizah Asgarali said...

Thank you! It is a pretty cool notebook, isn't it?? I would love if they made a huge version. ... Or a dot pad version... I guess I should have added that in... lol. I have found varying opinions on the paper. Perhaps the QC or paper quality is just not consistent. The company has decent environmental practices though so I still like to support them. However, both of us have now had positive experiences. Mine are holding up really, really well. I thought the ruling type might have something to do with it, but one lined, one squared and both are behaving the same... I will run this by the person I spoke to at Whitelines. Very curious now!

Mr. Guilt said...

On one hand, I'm digging the notion of creating this bridge between atoms and bits. However, it all seems rather proprietary: I need the Evernote app for my Moleskiene notebook, the WhiteLines one for this, etc.

It seems like there is an opportunity to standardize. In my fantasy, there would be a common set of symbols that any app of this genre ("take a picture of your note, and things happen") and any manufacturer would use. An e-mail icon could be printed on any sheet of paper, and all apps would know what it means.

If all the players can't agree on something, then there is a business opportunity: some clever company creates an app like this, and sells either stickers or a rubber stamp (or both) that I can use on any paper. The advantage of this approach is I could use it in my Webbie, my Arc/Circa notebook, or a Post-It. Heck--I could even affix it to a bill BOM from a shipment.

Michael Matteson said...

This seems like a really neat concept. I take notes on all of the reading I assign (or consider assigning) in my classes, and I'd kinda love a way to easily make them digital without using a scanner for one page at a time. There's a store near-ish here that sells these, and I'll have to check it out.

Azizah Asgarali said...

I find them quite decent! I have heard from others that their paper was not as good (not in the Link, but in the regular notebooks) so I'm questioning their paper quality consistency, but both Links I have are fantastic. It would be disappointing if the paper quality was not consistent, but if you did get a good one, it's pretty awesome. It also sounds like the A4 might be perfect for you too.

Azizah Asgarali said...

You raise a god point. I figure the one thing (these particular ones anyway) Whitelines have going for it is the paper is quite decent, compared to Moleskines Evernote, for example. I like your idea of a standardized app and some stickers or stamp to work on paper. ... Are you a developer by any chance? Hehe

Angela Booth said...

I just ordered a couple of Whitelines notebooks, without checking to see whether they were fountain pen friendly. Your article answered my questions, thank you. :-)

Azizah Asgarali said...

Awesome - happy to help :) I hope you enjoy them! I have a lot of fun doodling and scanning with these!

Breck said...

Gosh AA, you and I go for the same things on a more than average basis. Like 75%. I had not seen anyone else review Whitelines, whereas I bought my notebook months ago now. I don't even know what you said re: the techno aspect. I just bought it to write on. I like it with blue, gray and black inks, but not with orange, brown and green. Those colors seem to not look normal on gray paper.

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