We Put Rocketbook's Panda Planner to the Test

Rocketbook / Rocketbook
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To-do lists never seem to end. Every time you check off one task, another one appears. Whether you organize your life through notebooks, calendars, or apps, it always seems like there is an elusive, better way to do it all. Rocketbook wants to solve all your organizational problems with one simple planner you can use year after year.

The Rocketbook Panda Planner ($35) is a reusable, erasable notebook that allows you to scan notes, to-do lists, and other action items into an app and save them to the cloud to use on the go. This planner uses the technology from Rocketbook and the organizational methods developed by Panda Planner to help users stay on track at work and in their personal lives.

But do all the modern bells and whistles really make your everyday routine that much easier? Rocketbook sent me a free Panda Planner, along with the Cloud Index Cards, to test out and see for myself.

Rocketbook Innovations Inc./Amazon

How Does the Rocketbook Panda Planner Work?

Once you download the Rocketbook app, you can start to see the planner's versatility. After scanning a page, you can choose to send the file to your app of choice, including various email services (like Gmail), Google Drive, DropBox, iCloud, Evernote, iMessage, Slack, OneNote, or OneDrive. Once you settle on a destination, just mark the icon with your pen, and it will send the scan as a PDF to that assigned location.

This is a huge advantage if you are like me and want to carry around fewer items while you’re out. If you tend to forget your grocery list at home every weekend, you can just scan it to your phone after writing it so you'll always have it handy. It even extends to those looking for an easy way to keep track of workouts and meal plans without having to bring a notebook to the gym.

Elaine Selna

Both the Rocketbook Panda Planner and the Cloud Cards also include a Pilot FriXion pen and a microfiber towel. The planner includes yearly, monthly, weekly, and daily planning pages in addition to goal-oriented, lined, and blank pages. You can fill these pages up to your heart's content, and use the dampened microfiber towel to wipe away all the ink so you can start again from scratch. But be warned: Traditional pen ink will not disappear off the planner's synthetic paper, so just double-check you're using the right pen before writing.

Does the Panda Planner Actually Help?

The planner is an excellent alternative for people looking to keep track of notes, lists, goals, and ideas while on the go. Since there is an easy way to scan the pages, it makes the notebook portable, shareable, and adaptable, unlike traditional paper methods. The durable synthetic pages also make it an eco-friendly alternative to buying piles of notebooks every year. However, there are few hiccups in terms of usability.

The bottom of the FriXion pens have erasers that work well in a pinch if you don't want to go through the hassle of dampening the microfiber towel and waiting for the page to dry. However, they're not perfect, and you might end up with faint text that remains even after using the eraser. So it's best not to rely on them too heavily. (Think of them as the backspace button and not a delete-all method). And while the pen tip glides smoothly on the page, the ink tends to smear, so lefties might want to watch out.

I also thought the scans were a great idea until I realized that you couldn’t edit them once they're in the app. Even when the photos are sent to places like Google Drive, they're converted into a document of jumbled and incoherent text or as a solid photo you can't alter. So if you use this method for your trips to the grocery store, for example, you won't be able to physically check items off your list as you shop.

If you're the type to keep close watch of your goals and constantly think about milestones, this planner should keep you on track. But if you're a bit looser with tracking your goals and aren't looking to always see your progress, a lot of these pages will just be lost on you. Personally, I would’ve preferred more weekly review pages since there was only a set of two, meaning you can't plan out your whole month as in-depth.


Final thoughts

If you're looking to consolidate your space and limit waste, the Rocketbook Panda Planner has a lot to offer. It cuts down on the need to buy notebooks, download organization apps, get new calendars each year, or waste even more paper on to-do lists. This planner is for the person who wants one product that will last them years to track their goals. If you're still attached to the traditional pen-and-paper lifestyle or need a product that allows for easy note editing, like I am, you might want to opt for a different model that suits your needs.

You can pick up a Rocketbook Panda Planner on Amazon for $35.

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