19 May 2011

Flex by Filofax - Review Part 1

When a company that has been known for one type of product for 90 years comes out with a new concept or design of product, it somewhat grabs your attention.  Flex by Filofax is just that. A totally new product line for them.

I received a large parcel just before I left to travel to UK on Monday, it was a bundle of the new Flex by Filofax consisting of a Pocket size Flex ‘binder’ and an A5 size Flex ‘binder’ in addition I also received some other inserts for both sizes.

This is the first time I had seen the Flex system, so it has taken me a few days to fully assess it before writing this review. Yes it’s made by Filofax, but it is very different to the organiser systems you are currently using.

There are some similarities so let’s deal with those first. The page sizes are the same, so pocket is 81x120 mm, A5 is 148x210 mm. There is a Slim size as well which is 150mm x 85mm slightly smaller than Filofax Personal Size.

Like a Filofax organiser there are a selection of ‘inserts’ that you can put in your Flex binder. However, an insert in the Flex system is effectively a bound book, not loose pages. Inserts such as plain or ruled paper come in a variety of page numbers so you have some control of how ‘thick’ or ‘thin’ your Flex is.

I’m not sure why, but I was expecting a very technical solution as to how the ‘inserts’ are attached to the binder. But there isn’t one. If you think of your Filofax organiser without the ring mechanism (possibly quite a costly item these days) then on the front and back cover there are slots or pockets running from top to bottom of the cover, these are quite wide. You simply insert the cover of the insert from the left or the right into the pocket.

Being such a simple solution it does facilitate quite a few permutations that you can use in setting up your Flex system.

So far I’ve come up with these ideas:
  • Normally we think of a book being bound in the middle when you open it. With the Flex system you can have it like that. However, you can also put the binding at the edges with the opening sides in the middle. This raises some interesting possibilities, which I will come on to later.
  • The pen holder included with your Flex binder can be inserted on the left or the right or in the middle. Left handed people can celebrate this system I think would cope with their needs perfectly.
  • Being able to insert any number of combination inserts in to the binder allows you to mix and match the different inserts available and the method of moving them in or out of your simple is very quick and not complicated at all. For instance with the Flex binder you get a Jot-Pad, there’s no need for this to sit in the binder all the time you could keep it in your kitchen for making shopping lists, then just as you go out shopping you pop it in to your Flex binder and it is then integrated in to your system again.
  • There are diary inserts; so far I have only seen a Week on Two Page format and Year planners. But if they one day they produce a Page Per Day format as well. You could have say Week on Two Pages on one side of the binder and Day Per Page on the other side of the binder, when open, both would be fully visible at the same time. 
The diary inserts I received are 2011/2012 13 month week to view and they include the following:

  • 13 month week per view diary (July 2011 – July 2012) in English only
  • Each week has a ‘This Week’ space along with a monthly calendar and then equal spaces for each day.
  • Four year calendar blocks
  • 2012 + 2013 Month planners (the cover sheet says 2011 + 2012 this is an error)
  • International information
  • European information.
  • Notable dates
  • Religious festivals
  • Weights and Measures
  • The World and time
  • Personal Information.
The paper is similar to Filofax cotton cream; it feels quite high quality and smooth to touch. In total it is 144 pages. The level of detail in the information is similar if not the same as in a conventional Filofax diary insert, but obviously you can’t remove pages you will not use, and they have to stay in the same order. 


In the above picture you can see an A5 Flex binder with a notebook inserted on the left but with the binding in the middle, whilst on the right the plain notebook is inserted with the binding on the outside edge, as you can see when open it they do overlap.


In the picture below on the left is the A5 Flex binder in grey sitting next to my grey A5 Malden (I had to get a Malden in here somewhere!!) As you can see the Flex binder is slightly smaller although the paper size is the same.


This picture shows the standard A5 Flex set up of an 80 page ruled notebook, 32 page jotter pad and moveable elasticated pen holder


Opening everything up.


Here I've removed all the inserts so you can see the binder in it's basic form. Even with an insert on the left hand side it is still possible to access the car slots on the left hand side. The pockets that the inserts slip in to can be used as a secretarial pocket if there isn't an insert slotted in to it.


Here is a Pocket Magenta Flex binder.


Again this comes with a standard set up of a 64 page ruled notebook, 32 page jot pad and a moveable elasticated pen holder



Again removing the inserts shows the detail of the car slots on the left and you will notice the horizontal slots for the jotter pad top and bottom so you can use the binder with the pad on the left or the right.


Here I've inserted the Week on Two Page diary insert on the right and a 256 page notebook on the left. As mentioned earlier, with it fully open the card slots are still accessible.


The view from above of this quite 'chunky' set up. The pen holder is still usable.


And fully closed with these to inserts in place here you are seeing the binding side, so it more or less protects the pages too.


Prices are as follows:

2011
RSP
(Inc VAT)
CODE
SIZE
PRODUCT DESCRIPTION

Covers



852001
Pocket
Filled Pocket Flex Black
£      17.00
852003
Pocket
Filled Pocket Flex Magenta
£      17.00
852004
Pocket
Filled Pocket Flex Slate
£      17.00
854001
Slim
Filled Slim Flex Black
£      19.00
854003
Slim
Filled Slim Flex Magenta
£      19.00
854004
Slim
Filled Slim Flex Slate
£      19.00
855001
A5
Filled A5 Flex Black
£      27.00
855003
A5
Filled A5 Flex Magenta
£      27.00
855004
A5
Filled A5 Flex Slate
£      27.00
Dated



8621111
Pocket
Pocket English Week on 2 Pages Flex Diary July 2011-July 2012
£       5.50
8620112
Pocket
Pocket English Week on 2 Pages Flex Diary Dec 2011-Dec 2012
£       5.50
8621011
Pocket
Pocket Multi-Language Flex Horizontal Year Planner 2011
£       2.50
8621012
Pocket
Pocket Multi-Language Flex Horizontal Year Planner 2012
£       2.50
8641111
Slim
Slim English Week on 2 Pages Flex Diary July 2011-July 2012
£       7.50
8640112
Slim
Slim English Week on 2 Pages Flex Diary Dec 2011-Dec 2012
£       7.50
8641011
Slim
Slim Multi-Language Flex Horizontal Year Planner 2011
£       3.00
8641012
Slim
Slim Multi-Language Flex Horizontal Year Planner 2012
£       3.00
8651111
A5
A5 English Week on 2 Pages Flex Diary July 2011-July 2012
£      10.00
8650112
A5
A5 English Week on 2 Pages Flex Diary Dec 2011-Dec 2012
£      10.00
8651011
A5
A5 Multi-Language Flex Horizontal Year Planner 2011
£       3.25
8651012
A5
A5 Multi-Language Flex Horizontal Year Planner 2012
£       3.25
Refills



872001
Pocket
Pocket Flex Thin Ruled Notebook
£       3.50
872002
Pocket
Pocket Flex Thick Ruled Notebook
£       7.50
872003
Pocket
Pocket Flex Thin Plain Notebook
£       3.50
872004
Pocket
Pocket Flex Thick Plain Notebook
£       7.50
872005
Pocket
Pocket Flex Contacts
£       3.50
892001
Pocket
Pocket Flex Jot Pad
£       6.00
892002
Pocket
Pocket Flex Pen Holder
£       2.00
874001
Slim
Slim Flex Thin Ruled Notebook
£       4.50
874002
Slim
Slim Flex Thin Plain Notebook
£       4.50
874003
Slim
Slim Flex Contacts
£       4.50
894001
Slim
Slim Flex Jot Pad
£       8.50
894002
Slim
Slim Flex Pen Holder
£       2.50
875001
A5
A5 Flex Thin Ruled Notebook
£       5.50
875002
A5
A5 Flex Thick Ruled Notebook
£      10.00
875003
A5
A5 Flex Thin Plain Notebook
£       5.50
875004
A5
A5 Flex Thick Plain Notebook
£      10.00
875005
A5
A5 Flex Contacts
£       5.50
895001
A5
A5 Flex Jot Pad
£      10.00
895002
A5
A5 Flex Pen Holder
£       3.00 


Flex is currently available in stores at the moment and available on-line in the next couple of weeks.

There is also a dedicated website for the 'Flex by Filofax' where people have posted their own feedback about the Flex system

I'm not sure I would replace my Filofax with a Flex system. But I have to say I think this new product should be a success, particularly if they expand the range of inserts available and possibly the number of colours/styles of the binders.  I particularly like the way the binder has been designed, the way the pockets if not used for an insert you can use then as a pocket for storing notes, tickets etc.

Thank you to Filofax for sending me the free samples to review.

26 comments:

  1. perfect post is perfect....

    i will have to see the flex in purpose. i like the idea of it very much but am concerned about how bulky i would be inclined to make it.

    ReplyDelete
  2. This is similar to how Hermes sets up their agendas, though with more flexibility. That said, you can get page-per-day books for an Hermes agenda (they come boxed, 3 or 4 books per year, I can't remember which), but this limits users to WO2P exclusively. How disappointing.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Excellent review Steve, thank you for showing us the details of this new system (and I love the action shots! Well done.).

    There are several things I like right away about this system: the ability to see the weekly diary open alongside notes; each booklet lays flat and there's no rings to avoid while writing; the pockets are arranged so that there are many possible configurations for the booklets.

    Can you tell us approximately the thickness of the A5 Flex with the weekly diary and notes booklet compared to the thickness of your A5 Malden?

    Thanks again Steve for this great review!

    ReplyDelete
  4. oh dear ... just when I got my Malden and got it all fixed up. I really like the looks and flexibility of this. Awesome review! I'll have to come back tomorrow and read it more thoroughly (past midnight here).

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thanks everyone.

    Laurie I will set up the A5 Flex like that later and add in an additional photo. As well as measuring the two together.

    ReplyDelete
  6. My goodness... This could be the answer to all my Filofax needs! Let the Flex shopping commence!

    Thanks Steve- you have brightened up this morning's commute!

    ReplyDelete
  7. You would not believe how amazing that review was, and you really sold it to me (not that it would take much) but as soon as i get paid and i see it online im buying it :-) MAGENTA!!!!!! YAY

    Thank you for an amazing review!!!! :-D

    ReplyDelete
  8. Great review, thanks Steve. I feel quite excited about this, but am not sure if in fact it would meet my needs as well as my filofax.

    Top marks to Filofax for branching out with a new innovative product though. I'm sure if it is successful they will add some nice leather binders to the range - I would have thought they might have had one in leather now though?

    I'm looking forward to seeing more about it soon.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Interesting! I'm not sure I would replace my existing filofaxes either; it's annoying that if I bought this to try out, I wouldn't be able to just swap back to my filofax binders if I didn't like it, because the inserts I had bought for the flex wouldn't fit on the rings and they would be wasted, unlike if I buy a filofax binder now, I can just switch the inserts back over. But I suppose I might find a use for it one day... I just wonder if any non-filofax notepads etc would fit in the slots refilling it could be slightly less expensive?

    ReplyDelete
  10. Excellent question TPS, I wonder if for example Moleskine volant or cahier notebooks would fit into the slots?

    ReplyDelete
  11. Hi Folks
    OK after lunch I will do the additional photos as mentioned earlier and also I will measure the 'slots' or more accurately the size of the pockets on the Pocket and A5 I don't have a Slim/Personal to measure but you might be able to scale between the different sizes to get some idea.
    Regards
    Steve

    ReplyDelete
  12. This is indeed a great review, Steve!! Whilst looking at the pictures, I found myself trying to come up with an excuse to get one. Sadly, I can't justify getting yet a new system, when I have my lovely Midori waiting patiently inside its box until next year.... sigh.

    I agree with you, this will be a great hit, especially if they offer more colours! The magenta and slate are ok, but I'd much rather have one in purple (Laurie, wink wink), blue, olive green, etc...

    ReplyDelete
  13. Yes let's hope Flex 2.0 comes in purple!

    (Although really, do I need any more temptation??)

    ReplyDelete
  14. great review and pics!

    the flex seems interesting enough but it also looks as if it's a desk product - no matter what the size. i write in my lap a lot or sometimes standing up...not sure that this product could work that way unless you took the booklet out of the sleeve pocket...hmmm kinda too much work. it's already a lot of work sometimes to very quickly unpop a binder, look for notes or the marked calendar and write in that... i'd love to see more detailed images on how people would use it

    ReplyDelete
  15. Wow! So great to hear a 'specialists' hands on experience with this!
    I have high hopes for the Flex system and really am looking forward to play around with it (and maybe smell it... (if you do not get this, don't think of it!) ;-) )
    Looking forward to see it in the e-shop soon. Hope my local pusher (Norway/Oslo) will get a good selection as well.

    ReplyDelete
  16. us traditional filofaxers might have a problem with the inability to take things out after year and years of conditioning where we add and remove at will. but then again filofax seems to be pushing this as a filofax alternative. in my head i read that as moleskine competition.

    @theperpetualstudent i think that you asked a great question. i know some japanese bookstores that sell notepads in those sizes and hope that they will fit as an alternative if i dont like the flex ones

    ReplyDelete
  17. @Laurie and Justenoughsalt,
    I think the A5 size will be easy to refill because there are plenty of A5 notebooks, diaries etc out there! In fact, I'm thinking about doing that for my uni planning notes. But I don't know about other sizes...

    Does anyone know where we could get our hands on one of these?

    ReplyDelete
  18. @Steve

    Thanks for the great review!

    That looks like a pretty great combination of bound book and "leather" organizer.

    I like the slimness of the inserts in the A5, though the pocket is a little obnoxiously thick.

    I am a little disappointed at the quality of the Flex cover, but I definitely love the potential!

    Anticipating the future covers they will provide. Great hopes for something a little luxe in terms of Flex covers.

    All-in-all, I like it!

    Great post!

    ReplyDelete
  19. @justenoughsalt I was thinking the same thing, that this is a direct response to Moleskine. Seems like a "smarter" Moleskine, instead of having 3 or 4 books floating around in your bag, you can bind them all together.

    I used to be a Moleskine person, and part of the reason I stopped using them is I got sick of having so many loose books to keep track of. Yes, it was nice to only bring with me the book I thought I'd need, but it was also a hassle.

    If one can stick Moleskine books in the Flex cover, that might be a real winning combination.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Wonderful review. I would not envisage the Flex replacing my Filofax but I like the thought of having it as an ideas book that I leave on my desk that I can sketch and write in (and open up so my thoughts are all displayed at once).

    Nothing will replace my Filofax, a system that works so well for me but this might be an ideal supplement (time to go shopping!).

    ReplyDelete
  21. Filofax might be "excited" - but nothing is new. The Flex by Filofax design is just a blatent copy of the Time Manager (TMI) Planner Wallet from 1980 and still available! To be fair, Filofax have done it in different sizes such as A5 and added some flexibility - but that's about all! If I could add a photo here to show you, I would!

    ReplyDelete
  22. Excellent review! I'm in agreement that I would replace my Malden as my daily planner. But I can see myself using one of these for meeting and/or project notes. Looking forward to its arrival in the US.

    ReplyDelete
  23. OK if you have any 'readers questions' I think I will mop them all up with one final part on this product.

    Please post your questions in the next day or so. Thanks

    Steve

    ReplyDelete
  24. I think the Flex is great. It is great for taking quick notes on when I get calls and the jot pad can be used for sketching quick diagrams for clients (to tear off and hand them). Use it all the time now.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Just confirming you can fit Moleskin cahiers in the Slim size as I do exactly this. I like the Moleskin paper and they are actually slimmer books (slightly thinner paper) than the Filofax books (also cheaper if you ignore they come in packs of 3) so you can fit more into the Flex. Cheaper replacement and some might prefer the simplicity of the Moleskins and the type of paper. I actually bought the Flex as a potential cover for my many cahiers but might try the actual Flex books I have too, even if they look a little drab..

    ReplyDelete
  26. The flex can definitely be useful for students like me. :)

    ReplyDelete

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