Every day at work, I keep detailed notes on my day and the progress of my projects. It keeps me motivated, focused, helps me process through technical details, and helps make up for my extremely spotty long-term memory. It’s a pretty important part of my workflow, and for some time now I’ve been thinking of upgrading from the budget Office Depot bleach-white notebooks to something better. When I had a chance to break out of the office for a work conference, and needed a slimmer notebook to take with me, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to give the Paper-Oh Cahier Circulo on A4 format a test-run.
For my second notebook review (after the recent look at the Kikkerland Writersblok New Wave) I’ve decided to approach things in a more organized, systematic way. I hope you enjoy this one! Check out more “below the fold”…
The A4 (210 mm x 297 mm) Cahier Circulo comes in a two-pack, each notebook containing 80 pages to form a flexible magazine-style notebook. The cover is made of double-layered colored kraft paper — in this case, black atop red — with the top layer having a grid of holes punched in it to create a two-toned pattern. It looks very classy and artsy, but not too loud.
The Cahier Circulo is bound with saddle stitches, which are hidden from the outside by the upper layer of the cover. They seem sturdy and secure. Overall, this notebook gives an impression of durability. Although it’s soft-covered, nothing seems to be hanging loose or flopping around. A couple of additional “cover” pages before and after the beginning of the notebook help give it a little extra buffer. I’ve traveled with these in my carry-on and checked bags and they haven’t been wrecked yet.
The thin, saddle-stitched book lays open about as flat as a person might expect, with an ample margin that allows you to avoid temptation to cram your pencil into the very minor crack along the spine.
Ruled pages are my go-to, so I happened to grab a lined version. The pages of the Cahier Circulo have a faint, fine gray ruling across an ivory-tinged page. Oh boy is the creamy goodness doing it for me. To my eye, it is quite a pleasing tone and if you prefer beige-tinted paper, you’ll love this. The lines present the illusion (to me) of being widely-spaced, but actually they aren’t — about 7.5mm; I think it just appears that way because the rule is very thin. In any event, it doesn’t beg the writer to scribble in big kindergarten letters, like some large-format notebooks (even though it gives the impression of being spacious).
The paper is listed as 80 gsm, but feels stout. The page is smooth overall but with a little bit of a bite to it. Rather than being bleached, coated, etc. the Paper-Oh pages are finished naturally and then pressed to attain smoothness. I like that approach. The pages feel smooth but still have the abrasive quality necessary for a good pencil notebook.
I swatched out a handful of freshly-sharpened pencils that I thought represented a good spectrum. I think that it’s a good pencil paper, and great for people who like harder pencils. It does tend to eat softer pencils up but it helps the harder ones lay down a nice amount of graphite. Also, perhaps because of the texture of the paper, it does tend to smudge and hold onto errant graphite dust a lot, which is another reason harder pencils do better.
Pens are another ball of wax entirely. If you like nice pens, you probably won’t be fond of this paper. I tried it with my Cross fountain pen, a Pilot G-2 gel pen, and a Uniball Micro. The Uni roller was fine, but the G-2 and especially the fountain feathered like a flock of turkeys. They both bled through substantially, and the drying time was long.
The price is pretty good on the Paper Oh Cahier Circulo — a two-pack of these nice A4 notebooks will set you back about $15, which is also about what the little (“large”) Moleskine softcover or three-pack of cahier notebooks cost, except the Paper Oh notebooks have about twice as much paper considering the size of the page.
The deal-maker or deal-breaker is going to be whether you use pens or pencils. Obviously, I’m a pencil guy, so the Circulo notebooks are just fine and dandy for me. If I was a fountain pen kind of fella, though, I’d steer clear of these.
Other than that, the Paper Oh Cahier Circulo is a great notebook. It’s light and flexible, but sturdy and high-quality. It’s classy, fun and unique-looking, but won’t break the bank. If you’re a frequent pencil-user, these are great!