Head to Head Review
If you use a mouse on your desk, or even if you just want a notepad for memos and more, then this is review might be worth two minutes of your time. This pits two versions of the same idea - a notepad that sits on your desk and works as a mousepad as well as a notepad. Possibly one of the most useful additions you can have on your desk as they are practical for so many different uses - mousepad, notepad, doodle pad, organisation, to-do lists. I have used both of these at different times for many years now. With our focus for March being on Good Desk/Bad Desk it seems entirely appropriate to pit these two against each in a head-to-head review. France vs South Korea. The Rhodia Mousepad notepad vs the Paperways Hexagon Deskpad.
Both pads are from top brands As always this comes down to personal preference. Rhodia are a big favourite of ours here and they can always be relied on to produce a simple, modern design. The pad is crisp and clean (again, the cover sheet gives way to a unfussy page layout). Rhodia draw on their orange and black branding, and it is used sparingly in this pad. I do have an issue with the design though on two fronts - I feel the orange page header is a shame as it uses up valuable space (more on that later), but worse is the addition of their web address on each page. It is both a distraction and also a bugbear of mine to sell a product that promotes someone else's website!
I am a great fan of Paperways and have often picked out their products to use personally. They have a clean modern design, simple and smart yet done with just a little dash of quirkiness - it could be an image or a playful use of words. In this case they throw a curveball by using one of their very unusual paper-styles - the lesser known hexagon. The pad is pleasing to the eye, and it has their little airplane logo (on the cover sheet only) which I am quite fond of. This pad is a nice shade of yellow, with accent details in red and grey. All in all, a very nicely packaged deskpad.
Scores. Rhodia: 6/10. Paperways: 10/10
Both pads work on the same principle - a notepad that you simply tear off the top sheet once you're done with it, leaving you with a clean sheet to use. Both are glued along two edges (Rhodia on the left and bottom edge, Paperways on the left and top edges). The pads come with minimal sheets, for a good reason - when it sits on your desk and you use it as a mousepad, the thickness actually becomes an issue. It also can become a bit ragged as the pad sheets are torn off so more isn't necessarily a good thing. Both come with a card backing as well.
The Rhodia pad has two very good design features that Paperways could heed. Firstly, it has rounded corners. Only slightly but it does mean they are less prone to catching on your arm as you work. Secondly, being glued along the bottom edge is a good idea as again it makes it more robust to daily catching (your arm generally catches the pad on the bottom edge you'll find). I also think that having less sheets is a good thing as it makes it less of an obstacle on your desk. The card backing is quite thin but makes up for that by having a soft grip-like feel which means it is much harder for it to slip on the desk surface. Finally, no review of Rhodia could not mention the paper - for those not familiar with it, Rhodia paper is renowned for its quality. The crisp white paper is super smooth and takes both ballpen and fountain pen equally well, as well as pencils.
The Paperways pad has more sheets (actually a 1/2 mark off in my book) and doesn't have the same thought applied to the details as the Rhodia pad does. What it does have though is a pleasing simple layout, with a simple page division that gives you enough of a structure to use it for something specific (maybe use each block for a different purpose?). The card backing gives it a more rigid feel than the Rhodia, but overall it does suffer from the little details.
Scores. Rhodia: 9/10. Paperways: 6.5/10
[table caption="Stats Central" width="500" colwidth="150|150" colalign="left|center|right"]
5x5mm grid,paper style,5mm hexagons
80gsm,paper weight,not specified
22.9 x 19cm,size,29.7 x 21cm
The Rhodia pad is on the small side. Now this could be an advantage to someone else (maybe you have a small desk?) but I find it a bit cramped, not helped by space being given over to the orange header and the web address. That said, there is still enough space to make lots of notes, but it has a feel of a pad more suited to random notes and memos. There is limited space and I also am not a big fan of grid paper as it makes for a heavy, and grey lines on white add to this problem. Still, once you put pen to paper the Rhodia pad is a pleasure to use - smooth paper that any pen will glide across.
The Paperways has that extra space that a full sheet of A4 gives, meaning you can often keep the sheet going for a full week. In fact they have other versions that have a weekly diary layout for just that purpose. I like the layout and will enjoy using this pad but the paper is a letdown - it is perfectly good but not nearly as smooth as the Rhodia paper and so it just doesn't have that extra bit of enjoyment. Heavy ink pen use might also cause bleed which is a real no-no since it will start to affect the next sheet.
Scores. Rhodia: 7/10. Paperways: 8/10
Value for money
It's hard to define value for money. The Rhodia pad works out at 12p/sheet whilst the Paperways does come in at 19p/sheet, but then if you factor in page size there is much less of a difference. The likelihood is that the Rhodia pad will be a bit more cost-effective (I did work it out down to page size and there is maybe a 10% difference in price based on how much paper you get). Both are clearly more expensive than a standard notepad but then they serve a very different purpose.
Scores. Rhodia: 8/10. Paperways: 7/10
It's funny because I was convinced that the Paperways pad would come out on top and by a clear margin. After all, I switched from the Rhodia pad to the Paperways pad myself some years back and I'm very happy with my choice. However, once you start looking at the pads in detail, and what really goes into making the small differences, then the scores start to add up unexpectedly. The Rhodia pad has a lot going for it. It's just that...maybe I like the Paperways because of style over substance but it wins my vote because of the extra space and the clean useable design. I am a fan of Rhodia notepads but I feel this pad just lacks something - it is just too cluttered with details and the grid layout. Now if they made a dot-grid version...
Total scores. Rhodia: 30/40. Paperways: 31.5/40
Click here to see more and buy the Rhodia Mousepad Notepad
Click here to see more and buy the Paperways Hexagon Deskpad