Planner Review: ABP1

I currently use three different planners- two for my personal life and one for work. Today I’m going to offer a review of my work planner- the gorgeous yet practical ABP1 made by Quo Vadis. I’ve used an ABP1 as my work journal the last two years and have found it well-suited to my needs. With its pleasing, clean layout and high degree of functionality, the ABP1 will be my work planner choice for years to come.

The ABP1 is a daily planner that measures 5 1/4″ by 8 1/4″ – large enough to be useful, yet compact enough to be portable. The planner boasts smooth 64g white paper which is a delight to use. And as with almost all Quo Vadis planners, the ABP1 has a sewn binding that lays flat when open- which is essential. Sections in the planner include a personal information page, annual planning calendars, a slew of maps, and an address section at the back. The volume has a nice heft and balance and feels right in the hand.

The Quo Vadis ABP1
The Quo Vadis ABP1

 

 

Anno planning calendar
Anno planning calendar

 

Page layout of the ABP1
Absolutely gorgeous page layout of the ABP1

Now lets take a tour of the daily planner page itself. As I’ve said before, the layout is clean and aesthetically  pleasing and, most importantly, very practical, perhaps the most useful layout I’ve encountered in a planner (and over the years I’ve tried many a planner format). As you can see in the image above, the page is divided into three main sections- a narrow timed column to the left, with a larger open format notes section comprising most of the page. A smaller notes/email section appears at the bottom of the page along with small monthly calendars. Line width I’ve measured to be approximately 5mm, which I find to be nearly perfect. And if you look closely, you’ll see that the bottom corners of each page are perforated- simply tear away the corners to mark you place as you progress though the year.  While I wasn’t particularly fond of the tear-away corners at first, I’ve grown to appreciate their utility over the ribbon bookmark found in some planners lines, which, at least in my case, becomes a delicious temptation for the cats whenever my back is turned.

An example of how I use the ABP1- a useful combination of timed schedule and notes sections.
An example of how I use the ABP1- a useful combination of timed schedule and notes sections.

Above is a shot of the ABP1  in action. Again, very practical with appointments and other scheduled events appearing in the timed column to the left and general notations about key events of the day appearing in the generous notes section to the right. One of the nice things about the timed column to the left is the extended range of hours. Perfect for weary souls such as myself who report to work early and often stay well into the evening.

The only drawback of the ABP1 (albeit a minor one) is the absence of large monthly calendars, which would be a useful inclusion when a broader planning view is needed such as occurs with project management. While this would be a nice addition, it’s not essential and doesn’t detract at all from an otherwise excellent planner.

 

 

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Catching Up

Remarable just how quickly time passed since my last real blog post. In terms of notebooks and pens and planners, I have been far from idle the last two and a half years.  If anything this period has been a golden age of experimentation- a time of hope and disappointment; a time of paper cuts and inky fingers. I’ve tried new notebook brands and paper styles and found some workable and others…. well, not so much. I’ve continued my quest for the best of the micro-point gel pens and again picked up a fountain pen after many years away. I culled through a variety of planner styles and settled on two I’ve since placed high in the pantheon of what a planner should be. And, finally, during the time away from the blog, I fell in and out of love with Moleskine. Twice. Each time I was drawn by the ideal and driven away by the reality of cheap ass dreadful paper. The last breakup with Moleskine was different. It has about it a sense of permanence; a feeling that I’m just….over that brand, that annoying and deep chasm between expectation and reality.

So when it comes to pen and paper, what am I using now?

  • For notebooks and pads I’m mostly using Rhodia
  • I’ve become quite fond of dot grid paper which has become my paper of choice when it’s an option.
  • For planers, I’m using Quo Vadis: a Hebdo weekly for personal use and an ABP1 for work. The latter is among the best. planners. ever. made. And will likely be the subject of my next product review.

Habana: The Verdict

First the data:

  • Length of Service: 5.5 weeks (to date)
  • Number of Entries: 37
  • Number of pages written: 55 (27 sheets front and back, plus 1)
  • Types of pens used: 5 different models (points ranging from .18 to .38)
  • Two types of ink used: gel and pigment

Also included for consideration were two hiking expeditions where the Habana was pressed into service for field notes and related observational data [Saturday, October 6, 2012. —Ecological Preserve. 12:25pm. Mosquitoes bad. Very bad. Am bleeding to death out here. Help me, Obi-wan Kenobi; you’re my only hope.]

So after almost six weeks of putting the Quo Vadis Habana (4″x6″) notebook though its paces, I have reached a verdict, an informed impression of the notebook line, which is perhaps best summed up in the photo below:

The result of the Habana trials: rushing out to buy three more!

As the above photo might suggest, the quality and performance of Habana notebooks were such that I found it necessary to immediately procure three more. When it comes to good notebooks and pens, I’ve long thought it necessary to stock up just in case something untoward happens such as the product being discontinued, or enduring some disagreeable modification, or even something of lesser consequence like the fall of Western Civilization.

Quo Vadis’ Habana is an excellent notebook; it is by far the best I’ve encountered to date. Construction is of very good quality and even after some time with it in the field, I’ve seen nothing suggestive of the contrary: no loose pages, no ominous tears in the binding.  I’m rather looking forward to brining a Habana along on the next trip abroad, for it certainly seem durable enough to serve as a travel notebook.

Of the Habana’s many wonderful attributes, one of the standouts is the paper. Anyone familiar with this blog knows well the importance of paper quality to me; it can be the deal breaker for an otherwise good notebook. Habanas come equipped with 80 sheets of 85 gr ruled ivory Clairfontaine paper which provides a delightful and smooth medium upon which to write. The ruling is fairly  narrow (around 6mm) which works well, though a slightly narrower ruling (4-5mm) would be ideal for my tiny penmanship.

Every type of pen used during this trial performed flawlessly, especially the Sakura Pigma Microns (.20 point) which have long been among my favorites. There is *gasp* absolutely no shadowing on the back of a written page. While on occasion I will use a fountain pen, I have yet to try it on Habana paper, but given its good quality, I’m confident as to a positive outcome. And I rather like fewer number of pages in a Habana, as it provides less stress on the hand whilst writing, especially as one works their way down the page towards the bottom. This has always been an inconvenience with thicker notebooks. So in this sense, less is actually more.

I’ve long thought that the perfect size for a pocket notebook is 4″x6,” providing ample enough space for writing without feeling cramped and still remain portable.  After nearly six weeks of carrying the Habana here, there, and everywhere in my back pocket, jacket pocket, backpack, and camera bag, I’m convinced that 4″x6″ is indeed the ideal size for pocket notebooks. In terms of portability, it’s entirely comparable to the more widely available 3″x5″ sizes on the market. The cover of the Habana has a slight flex to it, which seems to facilitate portability. Initially I had a few reservations about the somewhat flexible cover as I tend to do much of writing on the go and was concerned as to whether or not it would provide sufficient support. I’m happy to report that it does.

So at any rate, I’m well pleased with the Habana experience and am satisfied that I’ve found a quality notebook line to use for the forseeable future. This is not to say that I’ve ceased the quest for the perfect notebook, nor that I won’t try other notebooks should they catch my eye. What I can say with confidence is that competitors have their work cut out for them if they hope to surpass Quo Vadis’ Habana line.

Habana: First Impressions

The end of summer was a dark time, marked by frustration and bitterness brought on by cheap-ass paper. Needing at that time a “carry-about” notebook, I had put back into service the pocket Moleskine used on-and-off for a portion of this year. Alas, by the beginning of September I was again over the garbage Moleskine attempts to pass off as “paper” and casting about for a suitable alternative.

While researching notebooks online one evening I ran across Quo Vadis’ Habana, a line with which I was vaguely familiar. This particular notebook caught my eye for a couple of reasons: first was the mention of Clairfontaine paper, which I’ve used previously and know of be of first-rate quality. The second eye-catching element was the size of the notebook: 4″x6″ which I’ve long considered the ideal size for a notebook, despite it being larger (and presumably not as portable) as the more common 3″x5″ size. Nonetheless, there was much potential with the Habana and the question of whether or not this notebook would prove a suitable alternative to Moleskine was soon one step closer to being answered due to the perilous ease of “one click ordering” combined with a singular lack of willpower.

The 4×6 Habana has been in my possession for maybe two weeks, but it was only tonight that I put pen to paper and began putting it through its paces. My initial impression? With the solid construction and quality paper It’s a good notebook. A VERY good notebook…

Habana notebook (4″x6″) by Quo Vadis. First entry.

As to how workable the Habana ultimately is will be determined after several weeks or months of use. I’ve always disliked product reviews where the author does little more than open the notebook, perhaps scratch a few lines with a couple different pens and then pass judgement. A proper assessment of a notebook can come only after a fair amount of service.  Is it durable? How about field trials- how does it hold up to writing on the go or being chewed by Sasquatches? As such this post isn’t a proper, comprehensive review, only a collection of initial impressions, with the following key points:

  • The Clairfontaine paper is very good quality which contributes greatly to a smooth writing experience.
  • The 4″x6″ size of the Habana notebook seems about as portable as pocket notebooks measuring 3″x5,” neither of which can comfortably be stuffed into the front pocket of a pair of jeans.
  • The cover of the Habana is firm, though not quite as firm as a Moleskine. How much support it gives to the writing process when on the go has yet to be determined.
  • Overall construction of the Habana seems solid, but again this is something that will be determined over the next few weeks or months.

Thus far I am altogether impressed with the Habana, but its ultimate standing is yet to be determined. In a month or so I’ll write a follow-up post as to how well it stands up to wear and tear and a variety of pens. So stay tuned….