Being a lover of all things pen and paper and an advocate of the analogue world, I do certainly also favor a best of both worlds-approach. A meaningful combination of digital and analogue tools, in my opinion, do go a long way. With that in mind, I do here and there dwell into different options of pulling together the digital and analogue and see where I find a fit. The latest product in this range that I stumbled upon was the Quo Vadis ME Journal (Multimedia Enhanced Journal) – sounds promising, and of course I wanted to give it a try.
So let’s go.
First and foremost, the Quo Vadis ME Journal is a really lovely notebook. It is basically a digitally enhanced version of the great Habana Journals. That means it comes in a very nice sewn binding, super silky-smooth 85g ivory paper from French manufacturer Clairfontaine with a 5.5mm lined ruling and a leather-like cover. The notebook is held together with a rubber strap in notebook color (which closes nice and tight) and comes with a black page-marker.
Well, there really is nothing much to say about Clairfontaine-paper, except that it is just super-amazing. I definitely buy their products simply because they do manufacture some of the best writing paper there is. Apart from that, the leather-like cover also feels really nice. The ME Journals are available in three colors: black, red, and raspberry – I got the red one here. They’re available in a large size (6 1/4 x 9 1/4″, which is slightly oversize A5) – the one I have here – as well as in a smaller pocket size (4 x 6 3/8″).
A closer lock at the front cover of the notebook already sort of reveals its “enhancement secret”, which is the 160 preprinted QR-codes that it comes with on each side of its 80 pages. This is actually the “enhancement”-mechanism that will allow you to sort of link digital files to your handwritten pages. But more on that in a bit.
As any notebook or reasonable class, the ME Journal also comes with the manufacturer name embossed on the lower back side: Quo Vadis in this case here.
The paper is, as said, a super nice and silky smooth Clairfontaine paper, ivory colored, just great paper. Period.
The edges are rounded and the ruling is in a soft tone and slightly dashed, so it is most easy on the eyes.
The lower left corner of each page is now where apparently the digital enhancement magic happens. First of all, what you want to do is downloading the ME-app (iPhone-, iPad- or Android-App), with which – after creating an account – you will scan in that QR-code. You will then be able to assign a digital file to your handwritten page. That could be a photo, voice, video or other files such as presentations or pdf-documents that you got on or take with your smart phone. You might even type in text or add hyperlinks. Each QR-code can be assigned to file-sizes of up to 50MB. To “play back” the files that you have assigned to a page you can either scan in the QR with your phone, or alternatively go to www.mymejournal.com (which is where your files will be stored) and type in the 10 digit code manually. So, this is how it works:
Upon trying it out, it also really worked seamlessly. I got the app on my iPhone 6 without any problems. Made the account. Opened the app. Scanned in the first barcode – I just picked a random page. You’ll then be presented with the QR-code number you scanned in and will be offered with the file-options you might wanna (or technically could) assign to that page.
So far so good. Even though the app itself looks slightly older-fashioned in design (resolution problems and so on), the process itself works really well. You can add files to each single QR-code (page) and they will all pile up in the app-library. You can then scroll and go through them there. In case you want to know which page they belong to, just refer back to the QR-code number or scan in the respective page in the journal. Both ways round work.
The only real problem I encountered, and that makes the whole system pretty unusable to me personally, is that I was only able to assign one file per QR-code. Like when I scan in the QR again and, after say having already assigned a voice memo, when I now assign a photo, this will automatically (without a warning or anything) overwrite the voice memo that I have just assigned to the page. This issue got me to not really test further if this system would be something I could work with on the long run and over different use cases.
So, to round it up, I generally find the approach of the ME Journal extremely interesting: using a notebook in which I can enhance my handwritten notes with associated digital files, page related. Pretty awesome, I would say. Also the notebook and paper is no doubt high class. Just saying: Habana.
The only real problem, for now and for me, is that it seems to only be possible to assign one digital file per code/page. In case you might want to use the ME notebook as a wine journal, i.e. assigning just a photograph of the bottle label to the handwritten page about the wine – well, it might work just fine. In case you really want to use the ME Journal as a flexible and versatile analogue-digital-scrapbook, what you would need is being able to assign multiple files per page. I hope we see that functionality in the future. A little research, however, has show that this issue seems not to be too unknown of and also I am apparently not the only one to not figure that out. Someone might well enlighten me on how to use the ME journal properly in case I might have failed to figure out the function. Suggestions welcome! For now, I think the ME Journal is definitely a great idea – with some room for improvement.