Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Quo Vadis Habana Notebook: A Review

Here is the Quo Vadis Habana notebook from the kind people at Exaclair, Inc.

Those close to me know how much I love pens and notebooks. I always have a lot of both – in my backpack, on my office table, on my work table at home; even my closet has pens and notebooks inside! I think most of my backpack’s weight is not because of my laptop and its accessories but because it’s always full of pens and notebooks. And like most notebook enthusiasts, I currently have a number of notebooks in use – and four are in my bag. One of them is a black 6”×9” Quo Vadis Habana notebook.

The Quo Vadis Habana notebook.

Karen Doherty of Exaclair, Inc. has kindly sent me a large Quo Vadis Habana notebook in September. I kept my Quo Vadis Habana in its plastic wrap until I was ready to write the review because I was scared of any damage or dirt getting in the notebook. The first thing I did when I took out the plastic wrap was to smell the Habana's paper. Oh, yes I did that! I always do that to my notebooks, especially the newly opened ones. I do that because I love the smell of new paper, and partly because I also want to assess its quality. And yes, nothing beats the sweet smell of clean, new, non-acidic paper!

The Habana's bright white pages stay flat when the notebook is open.

The Quo Vadis Habana’s cover is made of black leatherette that gives it a subtle elegance. Wrapped in this leatherette is a thick but flexible board. I’m sure one can easily bend the covers, but I won’t risk doing that to my notebook. As I ran my fingers on the Habana’s front and back covers, it felt soft and smooth. The pressed QV logo on the front’s lower right corner and at the back signifies quality to me. My work background tells me these logos come from high quality leather pressing/embossing.

Elegant pressed QV logos on the Habana's front and back covers.

Inside the Quo Vadis Habana notebook are 80 sheets of acid- and chlorine-free, bright white, premium 90g Clairefontaine paper. Think of all that paper goodness! I am so amazed with the brilliant white pages and their smoothness. The lines are widely-spaced, and this is good news for me because of my fondness for wide strokes when writing. The notebook’s pages have round corners, and for me, this is a thoughtful gesture from QV for their notebooks’ users because sharp page corners not only tend to curl up, they can also cut into people’s palms.

Round page corners on the Habana's pages.

The Quo Vadis Habana notebook’s binding is another plus for this notebook, because it allows the pages to stay flat on their own while the notebook is open. This is shown in the photo above of the open notebook.

Notebook abuse? Nah. It was only a test that the Habana gracefully passed.

Finally, we come to the best part: the writing samples!

Because all the reviews raved on the Quo Vadis Habana’s ability to hold fountain pen inks, I tried all my wet nibs on it. I wrote with all my italic/calligraphy pens, some o f my medium nibs and two of my wet fines. The results? Amazing!

I started write-testing the Quo Vadis Habana notebook using my italic nibs. Then I used three Parkers inked with highly saturated inks: Private Reserve Copper Burst and Avacado. Lastly, I wrote with my other inked pens, starting with my Retro 51, which is a wet medium inked with a wet ink: Waterman South Sea Blue. I tested my other mediums, the Parker Rialto and all three Schneider Base pens, the first filled with CdA Saffron and the others with either J. Herbin Bleu Pervenche or Rouge Opera. I also tried the bold Pilot 78G and two plastic pens I got from Daiso, both with scratchy nibs but gives out very wet ink flow. All writing samples looked beautifully, all ink samples dried fast, and because of the Habana’s white paper, the colors all looked so bright! My momentary surprise was cut short when I remembered I had to check the Habana for two more things: feathering and bleed. There is absolutely no feathering on the Habana from all the pens and ink colors I used. Hurray! Bleed? It’s almost as if I held my breath as I turned the page over so I could check for bleed. And… voila! Absolutely, definitely, certainly no bleed at all! Hurray! This means I can forever use a fountain pen to write on my Habana notebook, right?

Pen and ink combinations

Schneider Creativ 1.5mm italic nib and PR Avacado; Lamy Joy 1.5mm nib and CdA Saffron.

Lamy Vista (1.9mm) with Bleu Pervenche, Lamy Safari (1.1mm) with Rouge Opera and Lamy Joy (1.5mm) with CdA Saffron.

3 Parkers: Parker 25 (M) and Parker Jotter (M) with PR Copper Burst, and Parker Vector (wet F) with PR Avacado.

The rest of all the pens and inks I tested on the Habana.

But, wait! I’m surely happy and excited to use the Quo Vadis Habana notebook for journaling, but there are two things I hope the people behind QV will consider: the elastic closure and the page marker ribbon.

The elastic closure for me seems too narrow for this notebook size. Some users may like thinner bands such as the one on the large Quo Vadis Habana notebook, but I would have liked mine to be a little wider. Perhaps this size is good for smaller notebooks, but for a 6”×9” leather-covered journal, it looks a bit awkward for me.

I feel the same for the Quo Vadis Habana notebook’s page marker ribbon: it is too narrow/thin, and too short for the 9” page size. The ribbon is a bit short for me that I cannot tie its end to prevent fraying or I will shorten it even more. But that’s just me, and that doesn’t mean I love the Habana less. :)

The Habana's page marker ribbon which I feel is too thin and narrow. Again, that's just me! :)

The Quo Vadis Habana is a great notebook, and probably the best I’ve ever tried. It’s already friends with my fountain pens, has excellent paper, looks great, what more could I ask for? (Just a wider elastic band and longer page marker ribbon. LOL!) Perhaps a notebook for each available color? Or one of each size? The Habana is available in four colors: black, which is the one being reviewed here; blue, red, and taupe; and in two sizes: large (6"×9", with 80 sheets of 90g paper), and pocket (4"×6", with 96 sheets of 64g paper). Hmmm... Lots of notebooks to choose from! More information about Quo Vadis Habana notebooks is available at the QV site.

Lastly, I’d like to give Mr. Pythagoras a bit of a show-off here.

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