Officeworks X A5 PP Spiral Notebook

x_a5_pp_post_cover_with_pensI picked up this notebook at my local Officeworks for AU$2.99. That’s right — three bucks. My expectations as to how it might perform under a fountain pen were therefore not overly high, however feeling the paper while in the store suggested it just might be a little better than expected.

Home I went — not expecting much, however in the knowledge at worst it would end up a rollerball or gel pen notebook and at least see some use. What I ended up with was a whole lot more than that.

Design

x_a5_post_X_logoThe X A5 PP Notebook is part of the broader range of ‘X’ series stationery at Officeworks, consisting of notebooks, paper, writing instruments and various other accessories. I believe these are an Officeworks “own brand” type line up. All would be considered reasonably priced, with many downright cheap, as is the case with the subject of this post.

x_a5_pp_post_coverThe A5 is a double spiral or wire bound notebook with slightly frosted, transparent, hard polypropylene (hence “PP”) front and rear covers. Also available is a variant with a ziplock pocket at the front and an elastic enclosure, for the princely sum of AU$4.99.

Apart from the branding sticker in the bottom right hand corner of the front cover, the notebook carries no other features or markings, which suits the simplistic design. Given the cover is transparent, there is of course a great opportunity to decorate the first page as you please, and presto: instant personalised cover design. Commensurate with my overall design and creative abilities, mine remains blank.

x_a5_pp_post_labelOne other point to note is your usual preferences regarding binding in notebooks will of course apply. I know many find the large wire binding to get in the way of a fluid writing experience — particularly when writing on the left side of the page, or vice versa for left-handers. If that is how you usually find things in these notebooks, you’ll find it here as well. On a positive note, I’d say there is a medium amount of “wiggle” in the page when writing — also something I typically find characteristic of wire bound notebooks, which if excessive, can certainly be a deal breaker for me. They have done a pretty good job here.

Overall, the X A5 has a robust feel to it, and for the price, is certainly not an unattractive notebook. Sure, it’s not likely to set your desk on fire in the style stakes, however the simplicity of the design ensures it won’t necessarily look out-of-place on that desk either — a characteristic often missing from items at the lower end of the market.

Specifications

The specifications listed on the Officeworks website:

  • Cover: frosted clear polypropylene
  • Binding: double wire
  • Pages: 180 (90 sheets)
  • Paper: 80 gsm white
  • Ruling: 5×5 mm dot grid
  • Size: A5
  • FSC certified (Forest Stewardship Council) paper
  • Country of manufacture: China

Paper and performance

As noted in the specifications above, the 80gsm white paper comes with a dot grid ruling and 180 pages — more than enough to keep you going though a few ink chambers of writing. The pages themselves are not perforated, however tear out easily enough, and do not leave the entire edge of the sheet torn to shreds like some wire bound notebooks.

It’s when it comes to writing on these pages that the real value for money here is hammered home. With fountain pens, this paper really does punch well above its price tag. Certainly not as smooth across the surface as say Rhodia paper, however performance-wise it doesn’t suffer.

x_a5_pp_post_writing_1x_a5_pp_post_writing_2

With finer nibs you’ll experience a little tooth on the page (something I prefer, as long as it’s just a little), however I would still describe the overall experience as a smooth one. Wider and wetter nibs only get smoother, with no feathering, show or bleed through the page. I’ve mentioned in the past I can deal with a little bleed or show through, but feathering drives me crazy.

x_a5_pp_post_reverse_pagex_a5_pp_post_stub_macro

Remember I paid three dollars for this notebook.

Of course as with any paper performing in this way, at times there will be issues with dry time if you are powering along, and testing shows typical inks will dry at around the 20-25 second mark, plus or minus 5 seconds or so for wetter or dryer inks. Of course it goes without saying its ability to handle rollerball, gel ink, or your standard ballpoint pens is assured.

This is without doubt some of the best value 80gsm notebook paper going around, and is readily available online or at your local Officeworks store. This post on The Fountain Pen Network would suggest I am not alone in this line of thinking.

Conclusion

Having picked up this X A5 notebook on a whim, when “back to school” shopping at Officeworks with my kids, the hope was it might be a reasonable quality, cheap notebook to have lying around. It turned out to be way more than that.

Of course it won’t replace your Rhodia No. 16, but wow, it’s a heck of a lot closer than you might think, and I’m certainly likely to be back for more. It would indeed be a great option to accompany the purchase of a new Pilot Prera fountain pen if that’s why you entered the store.

Well done Officeworks — extremely well done.


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5 thoughts on “Officeworks X A5 PP Spiral Notebook

  1. Great to see a review of a product easily available in Australia .. thanks Pete!

    I picked one of these notebooks up today after reading your post. I also bought one of X series pressboard B6 lined notebooks1 … I was a little worried about the ruling (which is thick and dark when I typically prefer lighter, thinner lines) but given your review of the paper I was happy to take the chance … especially for $2.99.

    I was also happy to see that Officeworks had expanded its range of notebooks: in addition to the usual Spirax, etc, they had a decent range of Rhodia, Clairefontaine, Miquelrius, and even some Japanese brands like Kokuyo and Lihit. Will give Notemaker and Kinokuniya Stationery some competition, at least in the paper area. Pens still a bit lacking …

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    1. Thanks for stopping by and reading. I also have one of the ruled pressboard notebooks at work. From memory these use the 75 rather than the 80gsm paper. My fountain pens on the finer side are still ok – just a little more show through but certainly usable in my opinion. I certainly hope they suit and you enjoy using them.

      Cheers,

      Pete

      Like

  2. I wish Rhodia would make notebooks like this – I like the idea of a spiral dot grid, and even though I love the dotgrid pads, I think I’d use something like this more than I do the pads. Wish I was on your side of the world to pick up a few. Thanks for the review

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    1. Thanks. Yes I too often prefer a notebook to notepads. While not perfect, this one does a very good job – especially for the price. Hopefully you’ll come across something similar eventually!

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