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Rocketbook Wave Review: The Most Productive Way to Literally Cook the Books

Sometimes, the best way to take notes is with good old-fashioned pen and paper. That can make organizing and searching your notes a pain, though. The Rocketbook Wave, like many before it, wants to get the best of both worlds by letting you easily digitize and backup your notes. Unlike those before it, you can stick this notebook in the microwave to erase it. Yes, really.

At first glance, the Rocketbook Wave seems like a normal spiral notebook. Each page has a series of symbols—like an arrow, an apple, or a bell—along the bottom. With the Rocketbook app (Android, iOS) you can scan each page and automatically send it to your preferred app of choice, including Google Drive, Dropbox, Evernote, and OneNote. You can even download and print out the Rocketbook pages right here if you want to see how this system works without spending a dime.

By itself, that’s not very special. There are dozens of apps that can scan documents, clean them up, and upload them to the cloud (including, as it happens, Google Drive, Dropbox, Evernote, and OneNote). Where the Rocketbook Wave stands out, however, is that you can re-use your notebook by microwaving it. Once you’ve filled up the entire notebook, just stick it in the microwave for a few minutes and the ink will disappear, leaving a fresh notebook for you to start over with.

Microwaving Your Notebook Feels Wrong, But It Works

If you squint really closely, you can see the very faint remnants of the notes left behind.

Sticking almost anything other than food in the microwave is always going to feel just a little bit dangerous. It should. Most things that aren’t food shouldn’t be microwaved. In this case, we can make an exception. The Wave is designed to be microwave-safe. Most notebooks are bound with either metal spirals or glue, both of which are major no-nos in microwaves. The latter because burning it can release poison into your microwave, and the former because it can, you know, start fires. The Wave instead uses microwave-safe plastic for the spiral and cover, so you won’t damage your microwave or the next meal you put inside it.

That being said, there are still some precautions you should take when microwaving your notebook. First, the company suggests you place a mug of water inside the microwave on top of the Wave (specifically, inside the rings on the cover) to help absorb some of the microwaves. Of course, you’re now essentially boiling water, so you’ll need to be careful when removing that, as well. Then, the company says, keep cooking your notebook, checking in every 30 seconds to see if the logo on the front cover has changed colors. Do this once with the front facing up, then again with the rear facing up, and your notebook should be wiped clean.

I tested this with my own notebook—though I didn’t have time to completely fill it—and the results are impressive. After just a few minutes in the microwave, every page is wiped clean. You can still see some minor indention on the pages where the writing used to be, but it’s still pretty usable. Both pictures above are of the same page and you can see some very minor indention, but only if you squint really hard.

Unfortunately, those build up. According to Rocketbook, you can reuse the notebook up to five times. Frankly, you could probably keep using it beyond that, but over time the faint mess that gets left behind becomes so messy that it probably won’t read or scan very well. Still, using this notebook five times is still four more times than you’d get to use most notebooks.

The Rocketbook Wave Isn’t That Special, But It Is Really Cool

So, how does Rocketbook pull of this magical feat of engineering? Well, technically it doesn’t. The erasable ink isn’t a Rocketbook innovation. That’s all thanks to Pilot’s line of Frixion pens (pronounced like “friction”). These pens use a special ink that disappears when it’s heated. Each Frixion pen—including the one that comes with your Rocketbook Wave—has a hard rubber tip on the end that you can use to rub the paper. This creates just enough friction to heat up the paper, which turns the ink invisible.

Technically, you could use Frixion pens on any paper (including the free Rocketbook pages you can print on your own!) and it would work just as well. All the Rocketbook Wave gives you is a notebook that’s microwave safe. It’s a heck of a lot easier to heat up an entire notebook and start over than it is to erase everything by hand. The color-changing logo on the cover so you know when your notebook is done cooking is also a handy little addition. And sure, you can technically scan everything to your favorite cloud app without Rocketbook’s app, but being able to pick where you want to send something by ticking a box at the bottom of the page is easier than remembering how to scan things with four different apps.

The Rocketbook Wave doesn’t excel by creating revolutionary new innovations. Instead, it stands out by bringing existing techniques together in a clever way. It doesn’t matter whether the company invented invisible ink. What matters is that your pen and paper notebook now has a reset button. For prolific note takers, that may be reason enough to go with this notebook over a generic one from the local office supply store.

Eric Ravenscraft Eric Ravenscraft
Eric Ravenscraft has nearly a decade of writing experience in the technology industry. His work has also appeared in The New York Times, PCMag, The Daily Beast, Geek and Sundry, and The Inventory. Read Full Bio »