The Ultimate Notepad?

by Bob Schwartz

The best reason to get a very expensive, very powerful smartphone is to have it serve as the ultimate notepad.

No. But if you are someone whose practice has been, since the beginning of time (that is, since the earliest digital days), to go around with a pocket memo book, you may have noticed that the notepad has become vestigial, like a no longer useful appendage about which you still maintain some habitual affection, even if it is no longer useful.

Smartphones are remarkable notetaking devices. Even without the added convenience of voice-to-text, with the right keyboard (recommended: SwifKey) and the right app (recommended: AK Notepad), the flash-of-brilliance scrawl has now become the flash-of-brilliance digital non-scrawl, polished, spell-checked, and ready for prime-time.

A state-of-the-art memo book (Mead top-bound) ended up squarely on a desk next to a state-of-the-art smartphone (Samsung Galaxy S2). Here are some observations.

They are both quite elegant. They are almost exactly the same size: memo book 3×5 inches, smartphone 2.60 x 4.93 inches. The memo book is considerably cheaper, less than a dollar (pen not included), while the smartphone can be hundreds of dollars, depending on the contract. There is no contract available for the notepad.

Obviously, the notepad will never run out of battery power, even if the notetaker does. The worst that can happen is that you run out of ink, at which point lipstick, burnt matches, or dozens of other things will do in a pinch. The upcoming J.J. Abrams television series Revolution is about a world where all electric devices suddenly and completely stop working. Dystopia or utopia, if this possibility lurks on the fringes of your thoughts, for eighty cents or so, you can buy an insurance policy against your most groundbreaking but ephemeral thoughts being lost forever. Seems like a bargain.