Friday, April 26, 2013

Review of Tops Journal, Notebook and Legal Pad from Shoplet #shopletreviews




I've always loved office supplies (and not just for the office!), so I look forward to the reviews I do for Shoplet.  When I saw the TOPs products I received I was immediately curious. 

All of these products are priced around $6 or less.  (Collective Notebooks come in packs of two for $12.02).  They looked fabulous, and I was eager to see how they performed.

Tops Idea Collective JournalItem #TOP56874 – Black Hardcover, Ruled, 5-1/2 x 3-1/2, Cream, 192 Sheets


I'll start the review for the Tops Idea Collective Journal by letting you know that Shoplet is selling it for $5.83.  Normally, I wouldn't even look at a hard-bound journal that goes for that price, because of disappointments I've had in the past.  This journal has made me rethink that position

As you can see from the photo, the journal has a nifty debossed design on both front and back and even the spine.  The design makes it eye-catching enough for the trendiest coffee-shop, but subdued enough for the staidest of workplaces.

The journal is nicely color-coordinated as well.  The pages are a cream color with gray lines that guide the eye, without interfering when you read.  The elastic closure is a gray that matches the lines.  The yellow ribbon book-mark adds a splash of color, and the expandable pockets has yellow sides.

The binding is sewn so I decided to try my usual test of folding the book in half as you would a spiral-bound book.  It does fold back, but the cover tore at the corner.  The binding held firm though, and I don't believe any pages would come loose.  If you don't care about the appearance you could fold it back for ease of writing or drawing.

The pages have a little spring to them, but will lie flat while you are writing on them.

The lines run from edge to edge, with a gray area for the date on the right hand side of the page (front of page only).  I prefer a border of space around the page, but that's my personal preference, and it isn't a deal-breaker for me.

So how does the paper perform?


With each pen, I drew a dot where I really saturated the paper.  The second dot, I smeared with my finger immediately after writing. I went back and ran my finger across the first dot after letting it dry for several seconds.

While there is some show-through, it isn't bad.  I don't believe it would interfere with writing at all.  

While most of the inks smeared in the immediate test, none of them smeared in the second.  I chose most of the pens because they are the 'wettest' I have and most likely to smear.  The Zmulsion and Zgrip, which have dryer inks, barely smeared at all.



For my drawing test, I used an .08 point Micron Pigma.  Given the silhouette you would expect heavy show-through, but there is surprisingly little.  At a few points along the trunk of the tree there were a few points of bleed-through.  I wouldn't hesitate to draw on the back of this page.

The Tops Idea Collective Journal isn't going to replace my current favorites, but for the price, I'm impressed.  If I were going to school, or working on a project that I suspected would take several notebooks, I'd choose the Tops in a flash as the best bang for the buck.


Tops Idea Collective Notebooks

Item #TOP56879 – 10 x 7-1/2, Black, 2/Pack, Ruled, Cream 96 pages each

The Tops Idea Collective Notebooks come in packs of two.  The cover is black with a slight vinyl-like texture.  It doesn't feel like vinyl though, being stiffer, yet still flexible. (sorry for the photo, but I was trying to catch the texture in light.  Otherwise, it's just a plain black cover!)

The binding is sewn, and you can easily fold the book in half, like a spiral-bound book.  

There are front and end pages of light cardstock.  The front page has lines for you to enter personal information.

The paper is essentially the same as found in the Tops Collective Journal, with the same cream color and gray lines that run edge to edge.  (It doesn't have the 'date' section).

Since the paper is the same, I'll just direct you to what I wrote above rather than repeating it all in this section.  I did the writing test with the same results, but didn't do a drawing test because of time limitations.


As with the journal, I'm impressed with that amount of quality at the price.  I don't like the cover on the notebook.  But this is my least favorite format to write in, and I believe the cover is comparable to others in this style.  I wish there was some design or color to make it more appealing.

But I like the paper, and at the price, I'd buy the notebook just for that.  While the cover and design in general doesn't have the pizzaz of the journal, the 10 x 7.5 size would be more suitable for many occasions.

Item # TOP77103 8-1/2 x 11, White, 50 Sheets/Pad.  Also comes in 5"x8 size.


The Tops Cornell Note Taking System Legal Pad is a fairly standard legal pad that comes in two sizes 8.5 x 11 and 5 x 8 inches.  The paper is thin and fairly bright-white.  The gray lines guide the eye without interfering with reading.

The pad is top-bound with perforations.  The perforations are strong enough that I could hold the paper from the bottom corner and bounce it without any tearing.  But it also tears away cleanly when you jerk and pull sideways.

The layout has three sections: a top section for the date and purpose; a column to the left to highlight important items, and a ruled section for general notes.

As thin as the paper is, show-through is inevitable.  It is more apparent that with either the journal or notebook. and there was bleed-through as well.  The lines are not printed on the back.  With the top-binding, it would be difficult to write on the back anyway, so I don't believe the bleed-through would be a problem for writing.

Ink feathered a bit, especially if I paused with the pen on the paper. However, there was less smearing of ink than there was with the cream paper used in the Tops Collective Journal and Notebook.


I did a drawing test and was actually more pleased with the results than I thought I would be.
The white of the paper made for a sharp contrast with my Micron Pigma ink.  I found the lines and wording more noticeable than I usually do.  I think it is because of the space for the 'Cue Column'.  If the whole page was ruled, my eye would tend to ignore it, but contrast always draws the eye.


The Tops Cornell Note Taking System Legal Pad is what it is--a legal pad for taking quick notes.  I don't use enough legal pads to compare it with others, but I suspect it is comparable or possibly better than most in the same price range.  I wouldn't hesitate to buy it for school or meetings where note-taking was my main purpose.

I want to thank Shoplet for giving me the opportunity to try out these products and to remind you that you can fulfill all your office supplies and promotional products needs at Shoplet.com.


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