Notebook Review: Panobook

The Panobook from Studio Neat ($20) started its life as a Kickstarter project which quickly exceeded its needed funding goal. Studio Neat had previously launched several products on Kickstarter including several iPhone related items and, as a result, have something of a following in the tech community. So launching a notebook, albeit a notebook specifically designed to fit above or below or near your computer, tablet or keyboard, is a bit of a departure for their audience in some ways. But in others, in makes perfect sense. Tech geeks, designers, coders and other folks who spend their days in front of a computer occasionally need to write things down. The Panobook is designed to fit alongside your sleek laptop or tablet.

Each Panobook comes in a slip case and has a double o-ring binding. The box that the Panobook ships in is also printed with a great writing instrument design.

The slipcase is white card stock and features the same 5mm dot grid as the paper on the interior. On the spine edges of slipcase are areas to label the contents of your Panobook should you plan to archive them. On the opposite spine of the slipcase is the brand information, neatly typeset.

The book itself is covered in a softtouch, dark grey-black, leatherette with rounded corners. The back of the book is debossed with the brand logo, divided across a graphic of an opened Panobook. Very clever.

The first page of the Panobook is a sheet of pastel green cardstock with the brand logo on the front and assorted data for using the book on the back as well as rulers, a place for contact information and the paper specification and a type size reference guide set in Helvetica which really serves no purpose other than it looks designer-y.

The green page also explains the light marks on the dot grid that can be used to divide the pages into smaller sections for certain common types of layouts. The already panoramic layout can be subdivided quickly into three long rectangles for UI design or turn the notebook vertical for storyboarding. There are guides at the halfway point on the pages to easily divide them horizontally or vertically.

The interior paper, what is most important to readers of this blog, is Finch Fine Soft White Ultra Smooth 70# Text with 5mm dot grid.

In my writing tests, I found the paper smooth and easy to use. Rollerball, gel, felt tip and ballpoint all worked very well. Fountain pens with fine point worked pretty well but the 5mm grid really encouraged a finer tool. There was a little bleeding or feathering with some inks so there’s definitely some issues with the paper for fountain pen inks. The proposed purpose, size and format lends itself to a writing tool that can be left uncapped. So a fountain pen is probably not the best tool for the Panobook anyway.

There was only a little show through, even with the fountain pen ink, so it is possible to use fountain pens with the Panobook. I didn’t feel like I needed to limit the tools I could use with this notebook but I’m definitely more inclined to use my large collection of non-fountain pens with the Panobook.

Overall, the Panobook is a more storable, keepable desk notebook similar to the Baron Fig Mastermind. The size is a little different but both do a similar job. Where the Mastermind feels more like an upscale deskpad, the Panobook feels more like an upscale, upsized Field Note’s Front Page/Byline. Where a Front Page/Byline feels like a notebook that might be more portable, the Mastermind and the the PAnobook both feel like notebooks/pads that would definitely remain on a desk for roughing out ideas and planning projects.

See what other reviewers had to say about the Panobook:

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4 comments / Add your comment below

  1. I’ve been seeing a few of these types of notebooks coming out lately, and I’m having a hard time figuring out where on a desk this would go. “Under the keyboard” seems rather vague. My desk at work is a corner desk, and there is no room for such a wide notebook. I prefer my small narrow ones to fit at either end of the corner. Is this design to literally hide under the keyboard until you need it?

    1. I think they mean you can put the notebook in front of your keyboard or laptop, rather than underneath it. I do understand the challenge. I work on a corner desk with a large touch screen CINTIQ which means I put my notebooks to the left or right of my multiple-monitors. Some people have much more minimal set-ups than others.

  2. Thanks for the great review, Ana!

    I wish that “great writing instrument design” appeared somewhere on or in the notebook – it’s too handsome to be discarded with the shipping box. Speaking of great writing instruments, what handsome Pen is that next to the notebook in your photos?

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