A technophile lawyer rediscovers the joys of pen and paper

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Rhodia Unlimited Notebook review and giveaway (UPDATE: WINNER ANNOUNCED)

Rhodia Unlimited Notebook 1
See that fading near the top? My fault. This sat on my desk
in a Levenger Unifier behind a small notepad, so the sun
faded the top.
I ran across the Rhodia Unlimited notebook by accident a long time ago while I was cruising around the Goulet Pens website (no affiliation, but I love that website and that company!), and decided to give it a shot, probably just enough for a review and giveaway. I'm glad I had the giveaway in mind, because this notebook just isn't my cup of tea. There are lots of great things about it, but some drawbacks as well. Of course, what I see as drawbacks, you might see as benefits, and vice versa.

Let's find out, shall we?

The Review

This notebook is typical pocket size, 3.5 in. x 5.5 in. Click here to see it with a Lamy Safari to give you a sense of scale.

This notebook has got a lot of style, and unsurprisingly bears the Rhodia tree logo on the cover. Unlike the matching elastic closures on the webnotebooks (i.e., orange elastic on orange covers and black elastic on black covers), Rhodia goes for contrast here. In fact, the elastic itself is bicolor — black with three orange center stripes. The strap appears to be the same on both the orange cover and black cover versions, but being bicolor, it stands out on both (though in my opinion, it stands out more on the orange cover). The Rhodia website calls it a "racing stripe."

The cover seems to have a soft feel somewhere between the cover of a regular Rhodia notepad and a cover of the "R by Rhodia" premium line of notepads, but more closely approaching the latter. In fact, for all I know, it may be exactly the same as the premium notepad covers. (On the Rhodia website, the cover on the premium notepads is described as "soft touch" while the cover on the Unlimted is described as "Verso soft touch," but I'm not sure they're different.) In any event, the cover feels very nice. It would almost be a shame to put a leather cover over this.

Rhodia Unlimited Notebook 4I'm not sure what you call this binding. Perfect bound? Glue bound? In any event, it does not make for a flat opening, unless you want to force it (which I didn't).

The perforations aren't really evident because of this — they're too deep in the binding. Every page is perforated, not just pages toward the back, as in some other notebook lines. I suppose that could come in handy from time to time, but I think I can count on two hands the number of times I've torn out a notebook page in the last two years.

Rhodia Unlimited Notebook 3The page has a lot of structure, with a two-line header field and ruling that does not extend all the way to the edge of the page. There are blank borders at top, bottom, and outside edge.

The paper is the usual excellent Rhodia quality. 60 sheets of 80 gsm paper that didn't bleed or feather with any of the inks I tried. It was a little surprising to see that the ruling — graph in my case, but lined ruling is also available — is gray rather than the usual Rhodia purple. That might disorient some Rhodia fans, but I like it (though I would prefer lighter gray). I never was a fan of the purple ruling. (Sacrilege!)

This notebook does not have a pocket inside the back cover. I've never found those pockets very practical on pocket  notebooks anyway, but diehard pocket fans should look elsewhere.

Rhodia did a very nice job with the closure, positioning the elastic so that it covers the grommets when holding the book closed. That is a nice, detailed touch in my opinion. But the grommets holding the elastic in place are likely to prove a problem as you get toward the back pages of the notebook. They are not nearly flush with the cover, and writing over those bumps would drive me a little nuts. Then again, they are placed as near to the edge of the cover as possible. With the margins in the ruling, you may not run across them that often. In any event, I don't need an elastic closure because I carry my notebook in my front pocket, so any little inconvenience resulting from the closure is not worth it to me.

Rhodia Unlimited Notebook 8
Those grommets are probably going
to get in your way eventually
Because I was planning a giveaway with this notebook, I didn't really get a chance to put it through its paces. The cover feels pretty sturdy — it ought to be, considering this notebook goes for $8— but one never knows unless one puts it to the test. I'd be curious to hear from the winner how durable it is, both in how well the cover wears and whether the pages start to separate at the perforations over time (which I've found to be a problem when using Moleskine Cahiers).

Overall, I think I prefer my current setup: A Field Notes graph notebook in my InkLeaf leather cover. If I hadn't spent the money on that cover, I might have been more willing to try out the Rhodia Unlimited for a longer period.

As usual, you can find more crappy pictures in my Flickr photo set for this review.

The Giveaway

The cover faded some at the top while sitting in my Levenger Unifier, but hey, it's free, right? Entering to win this slightly faded notebook is easy. No need to leave a comment on this post. Just:

1. Send me an email (notebookeresqATgmail.com) with the following subject line:


Lower case will work, too, but the spelling must be exact, as I will be using a filter to group all of the entries. If you misspell the subject line, you won't have a chance to win.

2.  Tell three people how much you like my blog.

We'll have to use the honor system for part 2. But think how guilty you'll feel if you win without doing step 2.

Update (8/30/2012):

The Winner

Congrats to Gaby, winner of the Rhodia Unlimited notebook!


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