Sunday, 24 November 2013

A5 Original Filofax in green - Review

Original A5 Filofax

Oh, I succumbed. I had decided (quite sensibly!) that I neither needed nor wanted any more Filofaxes and that, if anything, I should thin the stocks back to ones I was actually likely to use.

And then I bought an A5 Original Filofax in green.


Oh, because it was green. And about half price. And because I have this fond belief that when I give up working for others and start working for myself, that I will have an A5 planner on my desk and use a pocket as a satellite, with WO2P in the A5 and just money and notepaper and the briefest of diaries in the pocket.

A pipe dream. I know.

Anyway, I saw the A5 Original on sale on eBay for less than £42 delivered and I decided that this was too good an offer to miss. I could pay almost the same amount for an A5 Domino after all. And of all my Filofaxes, the A5 ones are used the most. Once I do start working for myself, I think the A5 will be the best size to keep track of everything and so the beautiful green Original will not be wasted.

First impressions:
Well, my first impressions are that Filofax are shooting themselves in the foot by taking what is a luxury, high-end product and wrapping it in plastic to make it look bargain-basement. Yes, I know I bought mine at about half-price, but had I bought it full price, I know that it would not have come in a box or wrapped in tissue paper. What is the mind-set of Filofax over this move to plastic wrapping? Why no protective box? Why make something beautiful (and expensive) look cheap? Companies like Liz Earle have got it right – tissue wrap everything and throw in freebies with each order and it feels like you’re unwrapping presents when the products come and that you got a great deal. Compare with Filofax – spend more, get no freebies and when it comes, it feels cheaper (and therefore less special). Wake up Filofax. That’s not a great model.

Horrible plastic cover making an expensive item look cheap and nasty

The Filofax:
1. The Cover
The cover and the majority of the interior are thick leather. The green is beautiful – solid, intense but still classical. The button on the strap says “Filofax The Original est. 1921”. The two layers of leather making the cover are stitched together with contrast-thread stitching. I feel pretty ‘meh’ about contrast stitching but it’s bearable on this. Maybe that’s because the % of cover that is contrast-stitching is minimal with the A5 size. On a personal size I would be hunting for some green leather polish and toning it down.

Front cover
Back cover
2. The Inside
Unlike most Filofaxes, the Original is in many ways stripped down and will therefore appeal more to some and less to others. If you were wanting to combine wallet and planner, for example, look elsewhere. There are two not all that helpful card slots in the front cover and no zipped pockets anywhere.  The back of the cover leather is black.

The inside front cover has a full-height pocket behind the two card slots. In essence, it is a piece of leather with two slots cut in it, sewn around the edge to the front cover. As I say – stripped down. There is also an elasticated pen-holder which is part of a strip of elastic attached to the inner leather part. The far left of it makes a pen loop. Then there is a broad slot (which I think is supposed to hold a phone), then another narrow slot where you could put another pen. The pen loop would possibly not clash with the dividers. I’ll know better when I start using it. At the moment it looks slightly like having a pen in the pen loop would bend the dividers.

Inside front cover
The back cover is again, a single piece of leather that is stitched to the outer cover to produce a full-height pocket. Again, there are slots cut in this piece of leather, but this time they are to hold a jot-pad. Until I use it, I’m not sure how useful it will be and I can tell you for free, that it will only get adopted if I can find an alternative, sensibly priced set of jot-pads that will fit the slots as the only ones I can see on the (very-irritating-let’s-not-show-you-all-the-items-at-once-but-make-you-wait-and-load-some-more-for-you-as-you-scroll-down) Filofax website are £6 for 3 (and each pad only has 14 pages!). Are they having a laugh?
[Actually, a very brief search online found a pack of 8 x 30 sheet jotters for £0.70 that would easily fit the slot. That’s more sensible! They are here]

Inside back cover with jot pad

3. Flattability
5 stars. Flat as a bat from the start.

4. Contents
  • Cover sheet
  • 6 dividers, numbered 1-6 in blue and green alternately
  • 4x To Do sheets
  • 8x lined paper sheets
  • 4x squared paper sheets (squares = 7.5mm x 6mm (wxh))
  • 8x plain paper
  • 8x contacts sheets
  • 8x air-force blue coloured sheets
  • 8x green sheets
  • 8x pink sheets
  • 2014 vertical week-on-two-pages diary (font looks more like the cotton-cream font than the regular diary font. Timed entries from 8am to 8pm; Saturday and Sunday share a column)
  • White frosted ‘today’ marker (though it doesn’t actually say ‘today’ on it)
  • A zipped plastic pocket
  • The jot-pad in the back slot

Cover sheet with dividers behind
Contacts pages
Diary pages
Plastic pocket with 'today' marker and back cover behind
Overall Impressions?
It’s solid and well made (though, of course, one of the rings doesn’t match perfectly). The leather is a lovely colour and the contents are pared down but functional (I have more A-Z dividers than I know what to do with! I’m quite glad not to get any more). It looks very professional. The jot pad is a nice idea (as long as you replace it with cheaper versions when you’ve used it all).

The plastic wrapper is horrible and made the binder look cheap and nasty. The pen loop may clash with the dividers and bend them and the front card-slots seem a bit useless (at least to me).

In summary, I think it’s a nice binder and it will be a pleasure to use. I just wish Filofax would think again about the plastic wrapper (and the price of their jot pads...).

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