Today, we’re reviewing the Xonex Ru journal ($5.95). Check it out:
Let’s get the obvious out of the way: we know it’s not black. However, it’s the best we could do under short notice. Someone had sent us an email saying we should check out the Ru journal (the company is Xonex, the notebook line is Ru [Kanga Ru?]) and I’ve been searching New York for once ever since.
I was hoping for a charcoal, the closest they have to black:
Other colors include “ocean,” “rust,” “chocolate,” and “berry” – click here to see the full line. However, it quickly became apparent that Xonex has a very limited distribution. A call to the company set me on the right track, and I found a few in the wonderful Soho bookstore, Mcnally Robinson. No charcoal though, as it seems to be sold out everywhere.
Since all notebooks are inevitably compared to the godly Moleskine, let’s start with the obvious difference: the cover. The Ru journal is a soft cover, and it bends fairly easily (though with less flexibility than the Miquelrius).
Instead of an oil-cloth or leather/imitation leather cover, the Ru uses a dimpled cardboard cover that feels a bit waxy to the touch (apparently “latex-infused for durability”).
The cover is the first place where the Ru loses me. It just doesn’t feel protective enough. Though it looks decent in Amazon’s pictures, in reality, it feels like it will crease if you bend it too far. And the dimples are kind of pointless, even from a looks stand-point. Unlike the picture, you can barely see them, and they certainly don’t give you a better grip on the notebook. Overall, the cover really detracts from the Ru, as it just doesn’t have the sturdiness that can be found in any of the previous notebooks we’ve reviewed. God only knows what would happen if water were to hit this thing, though perhaps the latex-infusion will ward it off.
Size-wise, this notebook makes the same mistake as the Miquelrius – it’s too big. Measuring in at a whopping 4 1/8″ x 5 3/4″, it feels large enough to be a burden to carry around.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: size matters, and with any little black notebook, the key should be portability. Even though it’s flexible enough, it’s too big to keep comfortably in your pocket – and you get the feeling that with enough travel, this thing is going to fall to pieces.
Each Ru journal contains 128 acid free pages, and for those that care about paper thickness and texture, this is where the Ru shines. Without question, this has the highest quality paper of any notebook we’ve reviewed, and I imagine it’d be a dream for artists and doodlers alike.
It’s thick, smooth, and creamy. However, for my needs, I only need paper that doesn’t bleed through ink. And here’s another downside: the Ru only comes with blank pages (no lines), which pretty much eliminates it as a useful notebook to me. On the plus side, the Ru opens flatter than any notebook I’ve seen yet.
The Ru trumps the Miquelrius in one department: it has a back pocket, thus proving it is possible to have a soft cover with a pocket and still be flexible (the 2007 Moleskine Soft Cover Planner’s back pocket pretty much eliminates any of its flexibilty, while the Miquelrius didn’t even try to include on).
The pocket is on the big side, and much sturdier than the standard Moleskine’s. And keeping it all together is the trusty black elastic band.
I can’t recommend the Xonex Ru journal as any sort of Moleskine replacement, soft-cover or otherwise, because it aspires in a different direction. It feels more geared toward the artistic crowd than those looking for a general all-purpose little black lined notebook that can stand some abuse. In fact, when I was taking the plastic wrap off, the scissors pressed against the cover and left some permanent grooves; I can only imagine what a few weeks of being tossed around in constant use would do.
The Ru is meant to be treated with care, and with the high quality paper and modern design, I’m sure many artists would love to have a few of these to scribble in. For the rest of us, though, it is missing a basic level of simplicity and durability that would make it a Moleskine alternative. Be warned: this notebook looks a lot sweeter in pictures.