Thursday, April 25, 2013

Review: Unlimited Notebook by Rhodia

When I received these Rhodia UNLIMITED notebooks that Karen Doherty sent to me last year, I asked her why they're called UNLIMITED. Karen said the name UNLIMITED refers more to a lifestyle with no limits on activities or ideas which could be noted in a stylish pocket notebook. And I thought she's right, these notebooks are aptly named UNLIMITED. This post will tell you why.

I've always preferred big notebooks and pads because I could write more in bigger pages and they take longer to run out of pages. They are heavier, though, and when I saw the pocket-sized Rhodia UNLIMITED notebooks, I immediately took one as my 'pen and ink test notebook.'

Rhodia's UNLIMITED notebooks come in pocket size only, measuring 3.5 x 5.5 inches, just like the size of a small index card. These notebooks are available in black or orange covers, with ruled/lined or grid/graph inside pages. What I really liked about this notebook is the cover which is not just ordinary laminated board, but a soft, velvety material called Verso soft touch. 

Another feature that I liked about Rhodia UNLIMITED notebooks is their round page corners. I have always preferred round corners on my notebooks because they do not dig into my palms when I write, and I do not see frayed corners as the notebook gets used.

A bicolor (black with three orange stripes) elastic strap keeps this pocket notebook tidy, a feature that I do not often see in pocket notebooks available in the market. The strap is held tight by small grommets in the notebook's back cover.

What's clever with the elastic strap is that it covers the grommets while keeping the notebook closed. I just worry that these grommets may create bumps in the notebook pages, especially if I am near its last few pages.

Most pocket notebooks are either sewn or stapled in the spine, but Rhodia's UNLIMITED notebook has its pages glued to the spine. I tried pulling on the pages to test if they will fall off the binding but they did not. The glued binding in this notebook is definitely durable, but it prevents the notebook from lying flat.

Both ruled/lined and grid/graph notebooks are perforated so users can easily tear a page off when needed. This feature may be welcome to some, but I hardly tear a page off my notebooks, so I don't see this feature as useful to me. I still think it's thoughtful of Rhodia to include perforations in a pocket notebook.

These pocket notebooks have 60 sheets (120 pages) of 80gsm white paper. Both ruled/lined (right) and grid/graph (left) notebooks have double ruled margins at the top of the pages.

I noticed that the ruling of the UNLIMITED notebooks is gray instead of the usual purple used in most Rhodia pads. I prefer this color because it is more subdued and does not compete with the bright colors of my fountain pen inks.

Just like all the Rhodia notebooks that I've tried before, the 80gsm smooth white paper of the UNLIMITED is perfect for fountain use. I tested my daily writers on a page (left) - most of them have either medium or broad nibs filled with wet and saturated inks - and the paper held up well. Feathering has not been a concern for me when I'm using Rhodia paper, although I noticed that inks took longer time to dry.

I also tested other pens on the UNLIMITED notebook with ruled/lined pages, and again, the paper held up well. I tested a rollerball, several gel pens, felt-tipped pens, a ballpoint and highlighter, and Sharpie, of course.

The photo below shows the back sides of my pen and ink test pages. There is some bleed in the fountain pen and ink test page, and I attribute that to the medium nibs on my pen, and the BB stub nib on my Pelikan M205 filled with Private Reserve DC Supershow Blue at that time (bleed on top of the page). I believe it's understandable that wide nibs and saturated inks create messy show through and ugly bleeds, but for most of my medium nibbed pens, the paper held up well. The rest of the pens in the other test page did not bleed at all, except for the Ultra Fine Point Sharpie which bleeds on any paper.

Overall, Rhodia's UNLIMITED notebook is an excellent pocket notebook to use. It has a unique cover which comes in two colors, the elastic strap is tight and keeps the notebook together, the pages have rounded corners, and the paper is excellent for any pen type. It doesn't have a back pocket or page marker, but for such a small notebook, who needs those? I've been using my orange UNLIMITED notebook for pen and ink tests and I'm happy with it. It's a wonderful pocket notebook that can be used for different lists, fits in small pockets and bags, and it's a Rhodia. Why don't you get one for yourself?

The Rhodia UNLIMITED notebooks used in this review are from Exaclair, Inc. through Karen Doherty. The pens and inks used in this review are from my personal collection.


  1. This is a TERRIFIC review. I always love Rhodia notebooks (though they can't lay flat... but then at the same time I love glued binding.) In the Unlimited I particularly like this new strap design. For the paper I've always preferred blank pages, but it's good that they have a more subtle line color now.

    I'm asking myself the same question at the end of the review... With so many unfilled journals around the house I don't need to get one of these, but then need has never really been the primary reason (or reason at all) for me to get a wonderful journal or pen...

    Thank you for your review. Keep writing! :)

    All the best,

  2. Such a good review. some friends of mine says All Rhodia paper is acid-free and ink-friendly making them the perfect choice for use with wet pens. her is you will find the new rhodia notebooks.