Pros: Passcode-enabled; Palm rejection; Useful zoom feature; Emoticons
Cons: Expensive; No audio-recording capability; Doesn't sync with the cloud; iOS only
Verdict: Noteshelf comes decked out with bells and whistles, such as password protection and palm rejection, but is this note-taking app worth its asking price?
Like other iPad note-taking apps, Noteshelf lets you jot down memos using a variety of pen and paper styles. But it doesn't stop there. This app also piles on a slew of extras, such as optional passcodes, palm rejection and emoticons. Noteshelf packs more features than some competing apps designed to make note-taking easier, but is it worth the $5.99 price tag?
Noteshelf is available for iOS only. After Noteshelf is downloaded and installed, it asks to send you push notifications and then takes you to the main interface. You don't have to create an account or enter any personal information.
In Noteshelf, skeuomorphic design lives on. The app's main interface looks like a wooden bookcase, similar to the Newsstand in iOS. In Noteshelf, a sample notebook rests on the upper left; tapping New on the upper right creates a new notebook, where you can choose the color of the notebook's cover as well as the type of paper.
At the top of each notebook is a wood-grained toolbar with options to clear the page of all marks, erase or rewrite the last strokes you made, and zoom in on specific parts of a page. In the middle of the bar are a pen tool, a marker tool, an eraser tool, a text tool and tools for adding emoticons and photos. If you long-press one of the writing tools, a gorgeous drop-down palette lets you select not only the color, but the thickness of the pen or highlighter.
If you want to type text, either select the T icon at the top or double-tap anywhere on the page. A small toolbar just above the keyboard lets you change the font, size and alignment.
Within Settings, you can change the look of the paper, add tags and share a notebook via email, Facebook or Twitter. Here, you can make a notebook Read Only, a feature that can also be found in Notes Plus and Notability.
Noteshelf offers a huge variety of paper styles, including a legal pad, checked paper and even different kinds of sheet music. There's even a baseball scorecard, which is something you won't find on other note-taking apps.
It may seem frivolous, but we were thrilled that we could add emoticons, a feature lacking on other note-taking apps. Like on other apps, you can import photos from your iPad's camera roll or take a photo, and then resize it within the note.
Noteshelf has a handwriting mode, but unlike Notes Plus, which uses a palm pad to prevent you from making unwanted inputs while writing, Noteshelf has a palm-rejection feature. This mode prevents your hand from making marks on the page if you're resting your wrist on your iPad. However, the multitasking gestures in iOS 5 can cause problems for handwriting apps; we like that Noteshelf popped up a panel alerting us to this issue. Unfortunately, we couldn't disable multitasking gestures from the app itself.
Noteshelf features an in-app store, where users can purchase additional writing papers, themes, covers and stationery. Each additional purchase is $0.99. Although you don't need any of these add-ons, it's nice to have the option to customize your notes even further.
Like Notes Plus, Noteshelf lets you create passwords to keep notebooks confidential. Something we did miss, though, is the capability to record audio -- a feature included in other note-taking apps. Also missing is the ability to sync your notes to the cloud -- a feature included on Evernote, Notability and Notes Plus.
The zoom feature in Noteshelf worked better than the zoom in such apps as Notability. Instead of two-finger scrolling and potentially making a mark on the page, you just tap the Zoom button and can use the arrow buttons to navigate exactly what part of the page you want to zoom in on.
Also, there was virtually no lag between the time we started writing with a stylus and the time it appeared on the screen. The erase function worked well, and we liked that there were options to clear the whole page, erase in order of your last stroke and erase manually.
After disabling multitasking gestures, palm rejection worked flawlessly; we didn't have any accidental marks from our wrist resting on the iPad. Sharing a notebook with an email address sent the note almost immediately as an attachment.
At $5.99, Noteshelf has a fairly steep price tag, but you get some useful features, such as palm rejection when scribbling, and the ability to password protect your notes. However, for this price, we wish it came with cloud-syncing and audio recording -- two features you get for free with Evernote. We like Noteshelf's attention to detail and extras, such as built-in emoticons, but when it comes to note-taking apps, there are better values out there.