(App Store Review by BuonRotto)

The app is somewhat intimidating at first with its very beautiful, tasteful but spartan look. The developer goes to pains to NOT enforce a system for organization beyond of course the books metaphor. You really have to start dumping content in to see how nice it is.

I was using Evernote but I had a bunch of reservations about it that Notebooks answers:

  • Viewing PDFs, images, slideshows, web pages, etc. just like any note. Everything in Notebooks you put in it is on equal footing, not attached, linked or otherwise stuck inside a note — it is the note!
  • Completely transparent system for your data. Yes, it’s basically tied to Dropbox or perhaps a homespun cloud. But I can get to this content through Dropbox, back it up and I never have to worry about being locked into proprietary formats. Totally future-proof.
  • The formatted document type and styles are a little gem for beginners like me. Then I read some more and realized it’s not hard to apply new formats to documents with CSS. You can either learn a bit and roll your own or find a bunch of code online. Incredibly flexible, at least potentially.
  • It’s just as “everywhere” as Evernote with the Dropbox support. Anything you throw into your a Drop box Notebooks folder shows up in a Notebooks. No special import procedure, though there are some nice copy/paste features inside the app, and of course it shows up in the “Open in…” sharing dialog. These really nullify all those Evernote buttons out there. There is even a JavaScript bookmarklet if you like.
  • REALLY responsive developer. Can’t emphasize how nice that is to have an actual person at the other end of the email. Very helpful and reassuring.
  • LOVE LOVE LOVE that I can extract or create tasks from my within notes now or later and that I can organize them how I wish with the contexts and due items smart folders. This is huge for me. Taking notes, creating action items, and assigning contexts for them (yes, full tagging would be a boon) all in one place. Better yet, the task can be full documents with referential material within them, breakdowns of sub-tasks, etc. you can start simple and keep adding. Great for someone like me who works with big, long term projects and deadlines.
  • Easy to share this stuff too either the old-fashioned way or through Dropbox sharing. Only nit to pick is that .plist files dot the folder landscape in Dropbox. Better than a proprietary format though and easy to sort folders in Dropbox by type.
  • You can create combined eBooks or other note types that can collect lots of info and documents and notes into one place. Great for archiving and for recording your process.

Disadvantages from Evernote or even OneNote:

  • No cute little I-create-note-titles-from-your-calendar-appointments trick. It’s pretty handy to be honest, but then again, I now date my note titles YY-MM-DD anyway. Yes, you can assign a location and time stamp to your notes in Notebooks!
  • Tagging is far more robust in Evernote. Tagging is also a great way to waste time and energy without a good, simple system. Notebooks has contexts which when done well are nearly as good. Only thing tagging allows over that is you can choose multiple tags to filter things like: high priority items for this project that are to be covered in a meeting.
  • The saved searches and OCR of Evernote pro are nice as well. Notebooks actually does a pretty good job with searching, but Evernote’s is search on steroids for those who need it. I’ve yet to really take advantage of such powerful tools, usually an indexed document, a good note naming scheme and book system will do the trick later on.
  • Specific to OneNote: the layout is a lot less flexible. No floating text fields, moving pictures wherever, etc. It’s not a layout app and OneNote tries to bridge the gap between concept mapping and outline note taking.

The rich feature set and interface make it so much more than a filing system or a note taker. It took me some time to really see how to use it to its full advantage, but it was well worth the investment.

Picked Notebooks Over Evernote