A technophile lawyer rediscovers the joys of pen and paper

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Quite possibly the last review in the entire world of the first generation Quo Vadis Habana notebook (large U.S. version)

This is embarrassing. What is it with me and Exaclair products? The legendary Karen at Exaclair is kind enough to send me a couple of samples, and I wait until each one of them is nearly obsolete before I review them. I posted Quite possibly the last review in the entire world of the second generation Rhodia Webnotebook just before the third generation one came out, and now I find myself in the same position with the Quo Vadis Habana. I guess the good news is that I can tell you what I think of the upcoming changes at the same time.

By now, there is very little original to say about the Habana. Plenty of good, detailed reviews have been written (see the end of this post for links). Let's get the basics out of the way, straight from the Exaclair website:
  • Clairefontaine paper - extra white, exceptionally smooth satin finish
  • 90 g, acid-free and pH neutral paper (for desk size and pocket blank)
  • 80 sheets
  • Firm cover for writing support
  • Elastic closure, ribbon bookmark
  • Inside pocket for notes and cards
  • Elegant round corners
  • Sewn binding for extra security and flexibility
  • 6 1/4 x 9 1/4"
The large Habana is significantly larger
than the large Rhodia Webnotebook
(pictured) or Moleskine
Love, love, love the paper. Extremely fountain pen friendly — Noodler's Baystate Blue and Noodler's Baystate Concord Grape were the opnly inks I tried that bled or feathered — smooth as silk, and the bright white paper makes an excellent testing ground for trying out new ink samples or to show the true color of your favorite inks. The only thing I would change about the paper is to make the ruling narrower. The current 8mm spacing is too wide for my typical handwriting.

Unfortunately, it is what I love most about the notebook that is changing — the paper is going to be off-white in the newer version, and slightly thinner (85 g).  The thinner paper is supposed to be just as fountain pen friendly, but I will miss the bright white paper, which is somewhat of a standout feature in notebooks.

Apparently, the change is intended to make the paper identical in Habanas worldwide. The announcement from Quo Vadis is here. Goulet Pen Co. proprietor Brian Goulet shares what he learned from Quo Vadis and his hopes for the new notebook at Ink Nouveau.

My sample was taupe. Some months ago, I read a review (that I can't find now) in which the reviewer thought the taupe cover looked just plain brown. Odd, because to me, it looks quite pink!

The Habana opens nice and flat when on a table, and is easy to write on when you're away from any surface to put the notebook on. Its somewhat larger size lets you rest your hand on the page longer than in a smaller notebook, and the leatherette cover, though uniquely flexible, is firm enough to serve as a writing surface.

Rear pocket gusset
The pocket inside the back cover impresses for two reasons. First, because of the size of the notebook, the pocket easily accommodates letter-sized or A4 paper folded in half. Second, the gusset appears to be some kind of fabric-reinforced paper rather than plain cardboard.

The leatherette cover is uniquely flexible, yet stiff enough to provide a firm writing surface if you're away from a table.

Flexible cover, anyone?
Assuming the paper's fountain pen characteristics remain the same, one thing you'll need to look out for in both the old and new versions is the trade-off for the smoothness and fountain pen friendliness of the paper: drying times for most fountain pen inks that are longer than on many other papers. If you're in the habit of closing your notebook immediately after writing in it, this may not be the notebook for you, at least not if you use a fountain pen. If you do, you may want to use a sheet of blotter paper as a bookmark so your writing does not smudge when you close the notebook.
So far as I can tell, the only thing changing is the paper, so if you find any of the other aspects I've described appealing, and the new paper lives up to its billing, this may be just the notebook for you.

Other reviews:

DIY Planner
Takenotesonthis's Blog
Reciprocal Crap Exchange
Everyday Correspondence
Passion du Jour
Black Cover
The Orchard
Lady Dandelion
Rants of the Archer
Spiritual Evolution of the Bean

I'm barely scratching the surface there. I'm not kidding that this may be the last review ever for this version of the notebook!


1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the review, what's really funny is that my WebNoteBook v.3 that I have has a big White Apple Logo on the cover in the same place as yours! :-) Macheads are proud folks aren't we?