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Best Laboratory Notebooks 2018 – [Buyer’s Guide]

Last Updated December 1, 2018
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Billy JacobsMy name is Billy Jacobs. After more than 43 hours of research, including interviewing two experts and spending 10 hours testing 16 popular laboratory notebooks, I found the best laboratory notebooks of 2018.

I have been writing about technology and entertainment since the early 90s from my secluded home in West Virginia. In this section we provide our readers with a comparison table of our top picks. Scroll past the table for a closer look at each of the 3 best laboratory notebooks in our review section.

Best Laboratory Notebooks of 2018

If you get well acquainted with these basics, you shouldn’t have a problem choosing a laboratory notebooks that suits your need. Now, let’s get to the gist of the matter: which are the best laboratory notebooks for the money? Here are my top picks with detailed reviews, comparison charts and buying guides to help you purchase the perfect item for your needs. Here are the customer reviews of some of the best laboratory notebooks of 2018.

Test Results and Ratings

Rank №1 №2 №3
Total 4.8 4.5 4.3
Ease of use
4 points
4 points
4 points
5 points
5 points
5 points
5 points
4 points
4 points
5 points
5 points
4 points
Awards 1
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№1 – NATIONAL Laboratory Notebook

NATIONAL Laboratory Notebook

Brown pressboard cover
Stitched binding
100, 4×4 quad carbonless numbered sets
Nothing, except that I wasted too much time making my choice.

Why did this laboratory notebooks win the first place?

I don’t know anything about other models from this brand, but I am fully satisfied with this product. The product is very strong. Its material is stable and doesn’t crack. The rear part fits perfectly! It is mounted really tight and reliable. I am very happy with the purchase. It is definitely worth its money. The product is top-notch!


Ease of use










№2 – Scientific Notebook Company Flush Trimmed

Scientific Notebook Company Flush Trimmed

Smyth Section Sewn pages, Flush trimmed Cover with rounded corners.
192 numbered pages with 1/4 grid and signature blocks. Pages printed front and back.
Issuance page, Instruction page, and Table of Contents Pages
A little more expensive than other brands on the market.
Heavier and thicker.

Why did this laboratory notebooks come in second place?

The design quality is top notch and the color is nice. Managers explained me all the details about the product range, price, and delivery. The material is pretty strong and easy to wash if needed. I like this product. For such a low price, I didn’t even hope it to be any better. It’s decently made.


Ease of use










№3 – BookFactory Blue Lab Notebook / Laboratory Notebook – 96 Pages

BookFactory Blue Lab Notebook / Laboratory Notebook - 96 Pages

Hardbound book with durably coated, Blue imitation leather cover and stamped with “LABORATORY NOTEBOOK”
Smyth sewn — book lies flat when open, professionaly bound.
Tamper-evident, archival quality, acid-free paper in 1/4″ (6 mm) grid format
The large size.
No advanced features despite the cost.

Why did this laboratory notebooks take third place?

This price is appropriate since the product is very well built. I liked the design. We’ve been using it for 2 months and it still looks like brand new. It is inconvenient to use due to the size. I am going to get something different next time. The material is incredibly nice to the touch. It has a great color, which will suit any wallpapers.


Ease of use










Laboratory Notebooks Buyer’s Guide

If you keep the before points in mind, you can easily go out to the market and buy laboratory notebooks, right? No!

My first failure to reproduce an experiment

First, I had to find the right notebook among the several she had left in the lab. In fact, the description of the experiments stretched over two of her notebooks, and were not written down in one piece. There was a page here, a page there, from which information had to be combined to get an idea on how the experiments were done.

After having assembled the pages, it was really hard to organize the information. A lot of details were missing, and I couldn’t even decipher the handwriting in some cases. I ended up setting up most of the methodology from scratch, and of course I wasn’t too much surprised that my experiments showed different results than those she had observed.

It was my first direct encounter with the reproducibility problem. This led me start to question the sustainability of empiric research data in general!

If the methods to record complex experiments are missing and prone to error (paper, transcribing, retrieving), so that reproducible results cannot be guaranteed, how could you ever be sure you’re dealing with real insights and not random information? It all came down to missing infrastructure for data recording and retrieval, and data integrity.

Quick Tips

If you’re in a hurry, these are the most important things to consider when choosing a new laptop. For a lot more detail, see the sections below.

12.5 to 14-inch  screens offer the best balance between usability and portability. Larger screens are fine if you don’t travel much and smaller models are great for kids.

SSD Storage instead of a hard drive.

8+ hours of battery life is ideal if you plan to take your laptop anywhere at all.

Consider a 2-in-if you want to use your laptop as a tablet. If not, a standard clamshell notebook may be a better choice.

Chromebooks are good for kids. Windows laptops and MacBooks both offer plenty of functionality; which platform you prefer is a matter of personal taste.

Chrome OS

Found on inexpensive “Chromebooks” such as the Lenovo 100S Chromebook, Google’s OS is simple and secure, but limited. The user interface looks a lot like Windows with an application menu, a desktop and the ability to drag windows around, but the main app you use is the Chrome browser. The downside is that many of the “web apps” you use don’t work particularly well offline. However, that’s changing as a few Chromebooks, including the high-end, Google PixelBook, can now run Android apps.

If you need a device to surf the Web and check email, navigate social networks and chat online, Chromebooks are highly portable and tend to offer good battery life at low prices. They are also extremely popular with schools and parents, because they are hard for kids to infect with malware.

Choose the Right Size

Before you look at specs or pricing, you need to figure out just how portable you need your laptop to be. Laptops are usually categorized by their display sizes:

1to 1inches: The thinnest and lightest systems around have 11- to 12-inch screens and typically weigh 2.to 3.pounds,

1to 1inches: Provides the best balance of portability and usability, particularly if you get a laptop that weighs under pounds.

1inches: The most popular size, 15-inch laptops usually weigh 4.to 6.pounds. Consider this size if you want a larger screen and you’re not planning to carry your notebook around often.

1to 1inches: If your laptop stays on your desk all day every day, a 17- or 18-inch system could provide you with the kind of processing power you need to play high-end games or do workstation-level productivity.

Here are the main components to keep an eye on.

CPU: The “brains” of your computer, the processor has a huge influence on performance, but depending on what you want to do, even the least-expensive model may be good enough. Here’s a rundown.

Intel Core i5: If you’re looking for a mainstream laptop with the best combination of price and performance, get one with an Intel Core iCPU. Models that end in U (ex: Core i5-7200U) are the most common.  Those with the a Y in the name are low power and have worse performance while models with an HQ use more wattage and appear in thicker gaming and workstation systems. Intel’s new 8th Generation, “Kaby Lake Refresh” CPUs have model numbers that begin with (ex: Core i5-8250U) and double the number of cores from two to four, which dramatically improves performance.

Intel Core i7: A step up from Core i5, which Models with numbers that end in HQ or K use higher wattage and have four cores, allowing for even faster gaming and productivity. There are also Core iY series chips that have lower power and performance. Keep an eye out for CPUs that have a in the model number (ex: Core i7-8250U) because they are part of Intel’s latest, 8th Generation Core Series, and offer better performance. However, 8th Gen processors are only available in the U series right now.

Intel Core i3: Performance is just a step below Core iand so is the price. If you can possibly step up to a Core i5, we recommend it.

AMD Ryzen Mobile: A new set of chips that are designed to compete with Intel Core iand Core i7. 

AMD A, FX or E Series: Found on low-cost laptops, AMD’s processors — the company calls them APUs rather than CPUs —  provide decent performance for the money that’s good enough for web surfing, media viewing and productivity.

Intel Core m / Core i/ i”Y Series” — Low-power and low heat allow systems with these processors to go fanless. Performance is better than Celeron, but a notch below regular Core iU series.

Intel Xeon: Extremely powerful and expensive processors for large mobile workstations. If you do professional-grade engineering, 3D modeling or video editing, you might want a Xeon, but you won’t get good battery life or a light laptop. 

Don’t Skimp on Battery Life

If you’re buying large, bulky notebook that you’ll use only on a desk near an outlet, you don’t have to worry about battery life. However, if you plan to use the laptop on your lap, even if it’s at home and or work, you’ll want at least hours of endurance, with 8+ hours being ideal. To determine a notebook’s expected battery life, don’t take the manufacturer’s word for it. Instead, read third-party results from objective sources, such as our reviews.

Fig. 2

A chart illustrating the licensing and platform information across the active ELNs in the market

The different licensing categories and associated considerations are as follows:

Paid for—This is a proprietary piece of software that can be purchased, which may use proprietary data formats.

Paid (with free version)—This is a proprietary piece of software that can be purchased, but which also has a version of this software which can be used for free; either as a trial for a fixed period of time, or a version that has reduced functionality.

Open source—This is a product where the code behind the actual software has been made openly available so that anyone can redistribute it and edit it as long as they conform to the licensing conditions. Open Source products are often free, but not always, and could use either standard or proprietary data formats.

Using an ELN in their research group

Strong interest in implementing one or finding out more about them

The University of Southampton’s Lab Practice Study asked users about their ELN usage and experiences. Some participants had used ELNs such as LocalWiki, LabTrove, Blog3, BioBook, Enovalys and an industrial one on a short term basis. The industrial ELN was unfavourably described, whilst the other ELNS were only deemed useful for certain purposes. One participant found Enovalys very useful for inorganic work, but lacking the required functionality for their transport runs. Equally, participants who tried LabTrove and Blogfound some of the elements useful in certain situations, but all defaulted back to Word documents. One participant suggested that this was the case because it did not contribute in a systematic way to their work. illustrate the key barriers that our studies identified, and these are described in more depth in the following sections.

One respondent experienced sharp price-increases in database maintenance and upgrade costs after an initial discount. Other concerns are service providers not competing to keep costs down, and the potential cost of storage space; indicating disincentives if the University charges groups for storage space. Figure 

Media and Gaming Machines

Before you drop a grand or two on a gaming laptop, you should know what you’re getting for your money. Powerful quad-core processors are par for the course, with Intel Core ichips pushing serious performance even for non-gaming applications. Discrete GPUs from Nvidia and AMD provide silky-smooth graphics and impressive frame rates; some high-end rigs come with two GPUs, helping justify their high prices. External GPU docks are also an option, connected to the laptop via a Thunderbolt cable. Additional features to watch for include high-resolution displays and hard drives that offer 1TB or more of local storage space, so you can store your entire game library on the machine.

Beyond Plastic

As designs get sleeker and slimmer, manufacturers are using an array of materials in their construction. Plastic (or polycarbonate) is the least expensive and most commonly used material in laptop frames, but manufacturers have shown great ingenuity in making plastic not look cheap. The most common technique is in-mold decoration or in-mold rolling, a process made popular by Acer, HP, and Toshiba, in which decorative patterns are infused between plastic layers. This process has evolved into etched imprints and textures, commonly seen on laptop lids.

In the end, though, plastics are often associated with low-priced laptops, while higher-end models rely on metals. Common premium choices include aluminum, which has a more luxurious look, and can be fashioned into a thinner chassis than plastic. Unibody construction, where the entire chassis is made from a single piece of metal, has become the gold standard, as seen on Apple’s MacBook and MacBook Pro lines. Other all-metal designs mimic this same look and feel, securely sandwiching two separate layers together.

Other common chassis materials include magnesium alloy and carbon fiber, both of which add strength while keeping overall weight low. Glass has long been found covering displays, but with ultra-strong variants like Gorilla Glass, you’ll find the material being used in everything from the lid to the touchpad.


Laboratory data – the data produced in the practice of the scientific method – is not consistently managed among academic labs within or external to many academic research institutions. As data on which research is based upon becomes more openly available, Data Management Plans will more often be enforced. Thus, Data integrity, Data lifecycle, Data Security, Perpetual Revision History, Permanence, and unchangeable time stamps, will be concerns that will evolve into in the management of laboratory research data. Proof of research and discovery is a major concern among researchers and there are more instances of research fraud, unintended or intentional, than most people realize. The use of a Digital Lab Notebook can help prove discoveries, protect intellectual property, and provide the tools necessary to defend or audit research activities and preserve research integrity. As the collaborative nature of scientific research continues to become more easily executed with the continual advancement of research technology, it becomes essential for researchers, funding agencies, publishers, and institutions to protect and defend the work produced in research laboratories.

Size and weight

The size of a notebook is generally determined by the screen size, though some models have narrower bezels which slightly reduce the overall dimensions. But by and large, if mobility matters to you, look for a model with a 13-inch screen or smaller. If not, you might appreciate the extra screen size of a 15-inch notebook.

Manufacturers tend to make a big deal about just how thin their notebooks are, but does a millimetre or two really make much difference, especially if it means sacrificing ports or battery capacity?

Processor and RAM

Arguably, the internal specifications matter more now than ever before. That’s because there’s such as wide range of laptops and price points on offer.

Entry-level 2-in-1s, for example, typically come with a low-end Intel Celeron or Atom processor and a stingy 2GB of RAM. These are fine for web browsing, email, short documents and cloud applications, but not much else.

If you want to do more, make sure you get at least 4GB of RAM and ideally 8GB if you use resource-hungry applications like video or photo editing, or like to run multiple programs simultaneously.

In terms of processing power, the next step up from the entry-level chips is Intel’s Core M range, followed by Core i3, mid-range Core iand high-end Core iJust bear in mind that upping the processing power often has an impact on battery life. That could be one reason why Apple, for example, uses a Core M chip for its latest MacBook.

AMD A-series processors are also sometimes used in budget and mid-range laptops and they’re generally fine.

No doubt you’re mainly interested in using your laptop for business, but if you do want to play games after hours, you’ll probably want to look for a dedicated graphic chip, like the Nvidia GeForce 960M in Asus’ VivoBook Pro.  


Many laptops – and pretty much all 2-in-1s and ultraportables – now use solid state drives (SSDs) instead of traditional hard disk drives (HDDs). This makes them significantly lighter and faster, though with less capacity – typically ranging from 64GB to 256GB of storage.

This is another component that entry-level 2-in-1s tend to scrimp on, with some offering a woeful 32GB of storage. If you can’t stretch your budget beyond one of these, make sure it at least comes with a slot for an SD card so you can add removable storage.

Not all SSDs are the same, though. For example, the new lighting-fast NVMe (Non-Volatile Memory Express) drive have had a huge impact on performance.

Similarly, many laptops no longer come with DVD drives to keep the weight down. If you want one, you’ll have to go for a full-size 15-inch laptop or buy a separate portable optical drive.

Battery life

Battery capacity is measured in milli-ampere hours (mAh). However, while a higher-capacity battery will last longer in any given laptop, it’s not a reliable way of comparing notebooks. Other factors, such as the type of processor, screen size and resolution, and how well the system has been optimised, also play important roles.

Manufacturers often provide a rated battery life. These need to be taken with a grain of salt because the manufacturers have often done the testing themselves using different techniques – although you could perhaps use the ratings to compare two models from the same maker.

Some notebooks have swappable batteries allowing you to carry two for, say, long flights. But being able to rely on one higher-capacity battery is more convenient. 

Kyo-iro Ohara’s Morning Snow

I fell in love with Kyo-iro Ohara’s Morning Snow when I first saw it on the Vanness website. The name comes from the soft purple shadows that appear in snow drifts on cold mornings (not that we have such days in Abilene, Texas, sigh). The color is a muted purple that can be quite dark in wide or flexible nibs and nicely subtle in finer ones.

I tested the ink using my Aurora Nebulosa with a medium italic nib (no flex). The ink shades well and writes beautifully, though it is a bit on the dry side. As you can see from the swipes, the ink can appear as a dark purple or (as in the swab) a dusky purple. It is not waterproof.

Chromatography reveals several colors in Ohara’s Morning Snow: dark blue, purple, lavender, pink, and light blue.

The ink exhibits wonderful shading and sheen in wide nibs, as demonstrated using my Handwritmic Ruling Pen.

But for normal writing, the ink is much more subtle, as you can see in these writing samples with my medium italic nib. The poem is by Christian Wiman who teaches at Yale.

I saw a swatch of Kyo-no-oto Hisoku on the Fountain Pen Network and went nuts over it. Poor Lisa at Vanness Pens got about a dozen emails from me about this ink. Fortunately, she was able to procure a bottle and got it to me in time for Christmas. Hisoku means “secret,” and this ink looks like something whispered in the wind. Unfortunately, it is a limited edition.

Hisoku is an unusal color. It’s not bright like a teal ink and it’s not dark like a blue ink. Vanness calls it a “steel blue.” I think it looks like the muted blues you sometimes see in Renaissance paintings. I tested it using an Omas fine extra flessibile nib. It exhibits gorgeous shading and the color is quite unique. It reminds me a little of Noodler’s Dostoevsky, but I like Hisoku better. The ink is wet and is not waterproof.

Chromatography reveals some of Hisoku’s secrets. It is a muted blue ink with some yellow tones.

Hisoku looks fantastic in a wide nib with excellent shading and sheen where the ink pools.

I wrote out a poem by one of my favorite poets (Mary Szybist) using my Omas pen, but something is wrong with the feed and the nib kept railroading.

So, I switched to my TWSBI mini with a 1.1mm stub. The ink performed well. It’s wet, but not deeply saturated, yet it shades beautifully.

I love Kyoto inks because they are soft, distinctive colors that evoke emotions in me that other inks simply do not. I can’t explain this. Perhaps the names of the inks create images in my mind that stimulate emotions. Perhaps the colors themselves remind me of fond memories. Either way, the inks are special to me. (These inks were purchased from Vanness Pens at a discount with my own funds.)

Enjoy reading The Pen Addict? Then consider becoming a member to receive additional weekly content, giveaways, and discounts in The Pen Addict shop. Plus, you support me and the site directly, for which I am very grateful.

Research data

On Being A Scientist from the National Academies “The scientific research enterprise is built on a foundation of trust. Scientists trust that the results reported by others are valid. Society trusts that the results of research reflect an honest attempt by scientists to describe the world accurately and without bias. But this trust will endure only if the scientific community devotes itself to exemplifying and transmitting the values associated with ethical scientific conduct. This video is based on third edition of On Being a Scientist and reflects developments since the publication of the original edition in 198and a second edition in 1995.”

Center for Biomedical Ethics

On being a scientist : a guide to responsible conduct in research / Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy, National Academy of Science, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine of the National Academies.

3rd ed. Washington, D.C. : National Academies Press, 2009.

Engineering Library (Terman) » Stacks » Q180.AS32009

The art of being a scientist : a guide for graduate students and their mentors / Roel Snieder and Ken Larner.

Cambridge, UK ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 2009.

Earth Sciences Library (Branner) » Stacks » Q14.S62009

Publishing ethics

American Chemical Society publications – ethical guidelines

The ACS Journals’ Ethical Guidelines are offered from a conviction that the observance of high ethical standards is so vital to the whole scientific enterprise that a definition of those standards should be brought to the attention of all concerned.

Green Library » Stacks » Q225..R472003

Research records composed of notes and protocols have long played a role in the efforts to understand the origins of what have come to be seen as the established milestones in the development of modern science. The use of research records to probe the nature of scientific investigation itself however is a recent development in the history of science.

NIST Data Gateway

Searchable by specific keywords, properties and substances, the NIST Data Gateway provides easy access to NIST scientific and technical data. These data cover a broad range of substances and properties from many different scientific disciplines. The Gateway includes links to selected free online NIST databases as well as to information on NIST databases available for purchase. You can also search the Journal of Physical and Chemical Reference Data through this Gateway.





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You must visit the page of sales. Here is the link. If you don’t care about which brand is better, then you can choose the Laboratory Notebooks by the price and buy from the one who will offer the greatest discount.



Final Word

First of all thanks for reading my article to the end! I hope you find my reviews listed here useful and that it allows you to make a proper comparison of what is best to fit your needs and budget. Don’t be afraid to try more than one product if your first pick doesn’t do the trick.

Most important, have fun and choose your Laboratory Notebooks wisely! Good luck!

So, TOP3 of Laboratory Notebooks



Questions? Leave a comment below!

Chatting about Laboratory Notebooks is my passion! Leave me a question in the comments, I answer each and every one and would love to get to know you better!

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