It’s official: pen and paper is passé, but you can make both of them work for the future, and Moleskine is leading the charge, revitalising the world of the smartpen for its classical journals.

Some of the greatest writers have gotten by spending time scribbling in a notebook, with the likes of Oscar Wilde and Ernest Hemingway known to use things like a Moleskine, and while these will never really go out of fashion, the times they are a changing.

These days, tablets, phones, and computers are becoming the norm for the way many of us transcribe the daily happenings and the information we need to remember, but so many people prefer the sound a pen makes when it etches its metal tip into page, or glides ink all over a crisp sheet of paper.

That’s fine, too, and we don’t think we’ll see the end of either tool in our lifetime, if ever, but that’s not going to stop companies from making the attempt to merge the tool with the digital world.

We’ve seen Livescribe do it in the past with its smartpen — one of the first, actually — and now Moleskine is doing the same, hoping to increase the recognition for the smartpen accessory by packaging the concept in something you might actually see a writer or an artist use, while also finding a neat middle ground for the paper.

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Announced earlier in the year, Moleskine’s middle-ground solutions called “Pen+” and “Paper Tablet” are now available in the Smart Writing set, and we’re going hands-on with the concepts to see if they hold water, or even hold words.

First let’s tackle that pen, because it’s easily the most critical part of a digital pen system.

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For starters, Moleskine’s Pen+ is a little different from the smartpen fare we’ve seen from Livescribe in the past.

Relying on technology from Neo Smartpen — Livescribe’s biggest competitor — the Moleskine Pen+ looks more like a standard pen, with a relatively thick cylindrical barrel that strangely has more in common with a triangular prism than it does a cylinder.

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This slightly unusual shape means the Moleskine Pen+ is at once familiar and easy to grip, but also stable on the desk, with the mostly flat edges of the smartpen unable to roll with such a unique design.

There’s also a pen cap here complete with pocket clip, and the whole thing looks and feels more like a real pen than any other smartpen we’ve tried, and we’ve tried every model we could get our hands on.

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