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The Rocketbook Core is a smart notebook which uses pages made of a special material that allow you to write on them in pen, but then wipe them clean to use again. The digital smarts of this book lies in the app, which allows you to scan the page and have it automatically uploaded to a pre-designated cloud service, before wiping the page clean to use again.

The key here is that this is a super affordable option which doesn’t require an expensive smartpen. The Rocketbook Core (formerly Everlast) is priced at $34 which comes with a Pilot FriXion pen and microfibre towel. It makes our list of the best smart pens as a good budget pick.

Rocketbook Core: Writing and drawing tests

The Rocketbook Core uses special pages that are made from polyester composite. This means you do need to use a special Pilot FriXion pen if you want to erase when done. But this works just like a normal pen both in pen size and feel as well as smooth delivery of ink. Then, with the included microfibre towel – dampened – you can erase the page to start again.

The book itself comes in either a dot-grid pattern or lines, depending on what you prefer. It also comes with the pen but there are others available in varying colors so you can create a color coordinated page, which many smartpens won’t let you do.

Both the pad and the pen look like any regular set, making this super discreet to use. The ink dries fast so there is no smudging and you can easily wipe the entire page, or parts of it, using the damp cloth. Yup, that’s the effort, you will need water to do this. But if you’re out, just use another of the 36 pages then wipe clean when you’re at a water source. This cleaning also makes this a sustainable option over traditional paper and smartpen alternatives and means you can correct mistakes as you go.

Rocketbook Core: Apps and connectivity

The Rocketbook app, available on iOS and Android, lets you quickly scan pages to the cloud. Each page of the book has a QR code and a shape at the bottom which you can cross off. Once you’ve setup which shape sends the page to which app, this makes scanning and organizing super simple.

For example you might use the star to link to a folder in Google Drive, while the diamond sends it off to Evernote. There are lots of options with plenty of integration which makes this scanning process, which does take a few seconds, so easy that it becomes a habit. 

That’s the key here. This just works so well and so easily that you will find yourself adopting this way of working with your notes. Everything is securely backed up and you can access it from many devices since it’s cloud stored.

Rocketbook Core: Comfort and ease of use

The Rocketbook Core is as simple to use as any other regular notebook. The pens are light and work perfectly and the scanning upload process couldn’t be easier. The fact that it does require scanning is a step more than the auto uploading of a smartpen, of course. But at this price it’s hard to compare. 

The wiping of the book is super simple and works well with the damp included microfiber cloth. This means you won’t need to buy another notebook at all since this can be reused again and again. That not only makes this super sustainable but also very portable, letting you cram all your books into one.

Rocketbook Core: Extras

The Rocketbook Core is the basic notebook model from the company but there are lots of other options that specialize in what you might be working on. There’s an executive version of the Core, with smaller and more portable form factor. But there are other models that include things like calendars, graph paper, office templates, classroom focused layouts and more.

The app features an OCR function which means you can use this handwriting recognition to search your notes for a specific part. This also lets you use your hand written text as the file name and you can even get a transcript of the text, via email. Yup, this won’t convert handwriting to text immediately like some smartpens offer but will output to PDF and JPEG formats for easy sharing.

Should you buy the Rocketbook Core?

The Rocketbook Core is a clever way to take many of the best bits of a smartpen while keeping the product affordable, sustainable and very easy to use. That means you can write naturally, have your notes stored digitally in the cloud where you need  and even interact with them intelligently using handwriting recognition smarts.

This won’t give you handwriting to text directly and does require app based scanning but with the wipe clean pages, that make this last for as long as you need, it’s a very compelling option.