Notebook Review: Cortex Sidekick Notepad

A week or so ago Ana let me know she was sending me a new keyboard desk pad to try out. You may remember my fondness for desk pads, and my previous reviews of my Ruff House planners and the Original Crown Mill keyboard pad. Despite technology, I love having a place to write down my daily to do list, notes from meetings, etc. So when Ana sent me the Cortex Sidekick Notepad ($39), I was eager to test it out.

The Sidekick Notepad is designed by the one and only Myke Hurley, cohost of the Pen Addict Podcast. According to Cotton Bureau, “Sidekick Notepad is designed to sit comfortably with you and your keyboard. It’s ready and waiting for whatever you‘re working on. Capture all your tasks, action items, notes, and thoughts.”

Let’s get down to it. The Sidekick Notepad is listed as approximately 12″ wide by 7″ tall. (I measured the paper itself as 11.75″ x 6.25″ (30cm x 16cm). The Notepad has a sturdy cardboard backing and a cover made of a paper called “Extract” that is made from recycled coffee cups in London. It has scored edges so it can be folded over the back of the notepad while in use.

Inside are 60 sheets of Munken Lynx paper in a natural white color. There is a box for the Date at the top of the notepad and 2/3 of the pad has a dot grid where you can take notes, doodle, draw diagrams or the like. On the right 1/3 of the notepad is list where you can add and check off items.

I put the paper through its paces with fountain pens, fountain pen ink, brush pens, gel pens, fine liners and of course, Sharpies. The Sharpies always fail the test, but everything else didn’t show through, bleed or feather. Even the ink swab (which I did with cotton swabs) didn’t bleed through. You can see some distortion where the liquid was, but I wouldn’t expect a desk pad to be waterproof anyway (even though it might end up seeing some coffee).

Each sheet is perforated on the top meaning when you’re done, tear it off and start again on a fresh page.

I wanted to take a brief moment to compare the pad to a few others that I have tried.

Functionally speaking, the Sidekick Notepad is more or less the same size as my Ruff House planners. The format is different (the Ruff House planners have weekly undated planning pages) whereas the Sidekick is a bit more freeform. However, they are roughly the same size and weight, which I know does work for me.

The Original Crown Hill keyboard pad is more what I think of as something to keep right under my keyboard and handy for notes. It is much wider and thinner – it measure a whopping 16.5″ x 3.5″ (42cm x 9cm) and is a more convenient alternative if what you want is a notebook right under your keyboard.

The Sidekick won’t fulfill quite the same function as my daily planner, but I do think that it will be a useful addition to keep next to my computer, along with my planner, but better for notes in meetings, random thoughts, etc. With 60 pages, it’s likely to last for a while, though I suppose that depends on how active my days are and how many notes I really take.

I do like the paper – it is nice and smooth, and will handle any pen that I grab at my desk (I rarely use Sharpies so that’s not really a concern) and I think I’ll enjoy using it. The only question I have in my mind is whether I would continue to buy a notebook I just use for jotting down notes at $40. I should say, I don’t think it’s overpriced since it uses premium paper, recycled materials and is imported to the US from London. But if I were to use a page a day, a Sidekick would last me only 2 months so I’d have to decide if I’m enough of a devotee to keep going back for more. Let’s see how I feel after a few months and I’ll report back!

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7 comments / Add your comment below

  1. For me, the section is on the wrong side of the page – I’m left-handed. Other than that, it looks like a nice note pad for keeping around the computer. Thanks for the review and details!

    1. That’s surprising that the section isn’t conducive to a lefty. Myke, who was involved in the creation is a lefty, and Laura, who wrote this review, is also a lefty! Crazy!

      1. I don’t find it surprising at all. If you’re developing a product you want to strive for most marketability. Lefties make up maybe 10% of the world’s population, so catering to them for this seems a little self defeating. I could, possibly, see making a right and left version, but in that case you’d have to take a risk that it would sell as it would require a small redesign, printing, and keeping stock of something that is a pretty niche product.

  2. Seems like there are indentations from various pens that show through on the back—it might be nice to have a pencil board underneath to stop that. (I wonder if the cover could work for that, if it opened to the bottom instead of the top. (Which would also mean the long exposed side of the notebook would be the solid binding, rather than the edges of the pages.))

    1. Laura has a very heavy hand so she often has indention show-through. If a pencil board isn’t available that is the right size, a cereal box could be cut to size to put behind the daily sheet.

      I do like your idea for the cover to open to the bottom to double as a writing board. Very clever!

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