|Moleskine Volant and Rhodia Classic Staplebound notebooks, with Sharpie Pen for scale.|
Round #1: Size and Ease of Use
The Moleskine Volant is the smaller of the two, measuring 6.5x10.5cm, while the Rhodia measures 7.5x12cm. Since these are pocket notebooks, they obviously should not be too large, but very small notebooks may also be awkward to handle, especially for people with larger hands. Personally, I found the slightly larger size of the Rhodia made the notebook a bit easier to use than the Moleskine.
Score: Moleskine 0, Rhodia 1
Round #2: Packaging
Because I am concerned about the environment and want to reduce waste, I try to buy items with less packaging as often as possible. Although the amount of packaging may depend on where and how you buy your notebooks (in store vs. online, for example), the Rhodia was the clear winner in this case. (I bought both of my notebooks in local stores.)
The Rhodia came with no packaging (other than a price tag), while the Moleskine came packaged in a plastic wrapper, with a paper sleeve on the outside, and a pamphlet on the history of Moleskine and two blue stickers marked "Quality Control" whose purpose is unknown on the inside.
Score: Moleskine 0, Rhodia 2
Round #3: Cover Material
The Moleskine cover has a black textured finish, with no markings other than the embossed Moleskine logo on the bottom of the back cover. Sophisticated and understated is the look here.
The Rhodia, on the other hand, has a more casual appearance with the Rhodia logo displayed boldly in orange in the middle of the front cover. The back cover bears another logo, information on the notebook, and a barcode, all in orange. The glossy black cover has a smooth coating and is described as waterproof, although I haven't tested it. What I really don't like about the Rhodia cover is that the material shows every small scratch and scuff. It also does not feel quite as sturdy as the Moleskine cover.
Both notebooks have rounded covers, which is preferable to avoid that dreaded dog-eared appearance.
Score: Moleskine 1, Rhodia 2
|Opened up: Rhodia (left) has bright white pages, Moleskine (right) has off-white pages. (Excuse my fingers.)|
Round #4: Paper
The Moleskine has off-white paper of unknown weight, with grey ruled lines 6mm apart, although the ruling seems wider because the notebook itself is so small. The Rhodia has bright white 80g paper with violet lines 5mm apart and is available in both gridded and lined versions.
Although the crisp clean appearance of Rhodia's white paper and violet lines probably would have made it the winner in this round anyway, what sealed the deal is that the Moleskine Volant has perforated, detachable pages. I didn't realize this when I bought the notebook (okay, I didn't read the package) and was very disappointed when I opened it up. It just feels wrong to remove pages from a bound notebook like this.
Score: Moleskine 1, Rhodia 3
|Writing samples: Moleskine (left), Rhodia (right).|
Round #5: The Dreaded Pen Test
Both notebooks were enjoyable to write in and I noticed no immediate or obvious differences between the two while I was testing out the different pens. The colours of a few pens may have looked slightly more vibrant on the off-white paper of the Moleskine than on the bright white paper of the Rhodia. However, on closer inspection there were greater amounts of feathering with the Pentel EnerGel, Uni-ball Vision (but not the RT version), and Pilot V5 Hi-tecpoint in the Moleskine than in the Rhodia. The lines in the Rhodia generally looked crisper than in the Moleskine.
Turning the pages, there was minimal showthrough in the Rhodia, while the Moleskine suffered from bleedthrough with the three pens mentioned above as well as with the Vision RT. The rest of the pens showed through to some extent.
Although it depends on what sort of writing instrument you use (for example, I liked the Jetstream ballpoint and the pencil better in the Moleskine than in the Rhodia), generally the Rhodia performs better here.
Score: Moleskine 1, Rhodia 4
|Writing samples, reversed: Moleskine (left), Rhodia (right).|
The Rhodia is staplebound, while the Moleskine has a stitched binding. The Rhodia has 48 pages, while the Moleskine has 56 pages. The Rhodia is made in France, while the Moleskine is made in China. Finally, the Rhodia cost me only $2.29, while the Moleskine cost me $7.95 for a 2-pack ($3.975 each). Of course, your prices may vary.
Although the Rhodia Classic Staplebound notebook came out the winner in this battle, it may not necessarily be the best pocket notebook for you. Depending on your personal preferences, choice of writing instrument, and extent to which your notebook is a part of your fashion statement (or lack thereof), the Moleskine Volant may be the better choice.
Conduct your own tests, assign your own scores. The battle continues.
Related reviews for Moleskine Volant: OfficeSupplyGeek, Simplicity Embellished, Life Imitates Doodles, Rob's Art Supply Reviews.
Related reviews for Rhodia Staplebound: Travel Tech Review.