I came across this latest tech organizing gadget last year and immediately fell in love. Rocketbook is a hybrid of a notebook and whiteboard that, along with the Rocketbook app, scans your handwritten note or doodle and instantly turns it into a digital file that’s ready to send out into the world. As much as I rely on technology, and I mean rely on technology, there are still times when I prefer a handwritten option for note taking and to-do lists. Rocketbook offers the best of both worlds. My Rocketbook Fusion is the ideal tool for those late night braindumps before bed, weekly grocery lists, and for getting schedule changes to my husband who will only acknowledge messages that are sitting in his inbox. Rocketbook really shines when working on the go as a means to send files to co-workers or to a file storing app.
So What Is It?
Rocketbook notebooks are made with reusable pages (yay no waste!) that work exclusively with Pilot FriXion pens and markers (Note: other writing implements will work on these pages but will not erase). All Rocketbooks come with one black Pilot FriXion pen and a microfiber towel which, when made damp, is used to wipe the page clean. Rocketbook offers a variety of notebooks that vary in size and page style. Choose from options that include blank pages, lined pages, graphing or grid pages, as well as weekly and monthly calendars, task lists and brainstorming charts to keep you organized. Do give the ink a few seconds to dry before turning the page as the shiny surface of the paper needs a little drying time.
Once you have selected the notebook style that best meets your needs, download the Rocketbook app and create an account using your email address. Steps for registering for an account can be found here.
Upon logging into the app, you will find three icons at the bottom of the home page that will handle most of your needs within Rocketbook. History will hold all of your previous scans, New Scan will take the photo of your Rocketbook page, and Destinations is where you program your sending options.
On the bottom of every notebook page you will find seven icons that represent seven different destinations you can program for the delivery of your scan. A destination can be an email address or text message, or an app such as GoogleDrive, Dropbox, OneDrive and more. Select the desired destination by marking the icon at the bottom of your notebook page with an X and the scan will know where to send your file. Rocketbook provides helpful video tutorials on setting up your destinations.
Take a Scan
Now you are ready to take your first scan and test out this cool technology. By pressing the New Scan icon on the app home page, you will see a camera display appear. The entire Rocketbook page must fit in the screen to allow Rocketbook to scan the QR code and destination icon at the bottom of the page. Don’t worry, Rocketbook will crop around the perimeter of your notebook page and will not include any background. Your scans are automatically saved with their destination info until you Discard them or move to the Next page where you can send them out at once or individually. A copy of every scan is kept in the History tab of the Rocketbook app. Additional information on scan settings are explained here.
Adding a title to your page is helpful when sorting through your scans as well as for the recipient of your file. By adding two hashtags (pound symbol) to the beginning and two hashtags to the end of your handwritten title, the Rocketbook app knows to name your file by that title. If no hashtags are detected, your file is given an auto-generated name with the date and time the scan is taken. More on this here.
The settings found within each destination provide more great options for expediting your workflow. Scans can be sent as either PDF, JPG or GIF files. You can choose to Auto-Send the file which will bypass the manual approval step you encounter after taking your scan. You can also select Bundle Scans for PDF documents which combines multiple scans and sends them as one PDF.
The OCR Transcription setting transcribes your handwritten note into typed text that is then sent out to the assigned destination. You can choose to have the translation included as a TXT file attachment or embedded in email, as shown below. I have used this feature multiple times and I’ve been impressed by the translation, but note, it is not perfect.
Properly cleaning the pages of your Rocketbook notebook is essential to the care and quality of your scans. Removing the ink with the eraser included on the pen is helpful for keeping your page clean and organized. However, fully cleaning the page with water and the provided microfiber towel is crucial for fully removing the residue from the ink and eraser and creating a fresh page for your next task. I find misting the page with a spray bottle before wiping it dry with the towel does the best job.
Bonus Features and Critique
Rocketbook notebooks come in a variety of colors and additional Rocketbook accessories like multi-colored pens, markers, cases and more can be found here.
After using Rocketbook for the last four months, my only complaint is on navigating through the notebook itself. I will often modify a to-do list or page of notes for several days before scanning with the Rocketbook app. But with no way to quickly flip to an existing page it is easy to lose track of where you left off. I’ve come to use post-it notes to mark my pages but a reusable tab or sticker would be very useful addition to the Rocketbook world.