New Things Lab MEMO Whiteboard Wallet Review
The MEMO from New Things Lab won’t fit everything you typically stash in your wallet, but the whiteboard is great for minimalist travelers with big ideas.
- 6063 aluminum is durable and lightweight
- Whiteboard large enough for pictures and long lists
- Magnetic closure is strong and doesn’t pop open
- Closure can be loud when done quickly
- Only space for six cards, no cash or extras
- Aluminum chips fairly easily
3.85 oz (109.1 g)
4.25 in x 2.91 in x 0.43 in (10.8 x 7.4 x 1.1 cm)
We were extraordinarily excited to get the New Things Lab MEMO. At first glance, the card storage design isn’t anything to write home about. However, the ability to bring a writing tool with you at all times is unique, especially in an age where digital technology reigns supreme. We’re curious if it works or is just a gimmick. Let’s dive in!
The exterior of the New Things Lab MEMO is machined 6063 aluminum. We’ve seen this material before—it’s lightweight so that it won’t slow you down, but it is durable enough to handle the bumps and knocks of travel. If it sounds familiar, but you aren’t sure why, it may be because it’s used for your window and door frames at home. If it’s durable enough to slam the door when heading to the airport, it should work for your trip to Paris!
These wallets are cut with a CNC machine, or computer numerical control machine, which is extraordinarily precise. That means your wallet is precisely how the folks over at New Things Lab designed it to be.
Three colorways are available at the time of writing— Charcoal Black, Slate Grey, and Gilded Rose. All three options add their unique flair to the design but look sleek and don’t get in the way of the minimalist factor of the wallet.
On the front is a small New Things Lab logo with ‘MEMO’ spelled out above it. It isn’t too in your face and is only on one side, so if it bothers you, flip it over.
The wallet secures with magnets. It’s not hard to open, and we haven’t seen it pop open accidentally in testing. However, because of the strength of the magnets, it can be loud when it shuts, especially when you’re moving quickly or closing it casually. If you take your time and move slowly, it isn’t loud. We don’t think this is a huge deal, but it’s worth mentioning if you like to fly under the radar.
However, you don’t need to open the wallet to access your gear. *The crowd audibly gasps.* We know what you’re thinking; why on earth does it open then? We’ll get there!
This design can only accommodate cards, and there are two slots to slide them in and out on the side of the wallet, each of which can handle three cards. If our mathematical equation is correct (it is), that’s six cards. There’s an oval cut out on either side of the wallet to push your cards out quickly.
In testing, we notice that the card on top comes out first, followed by the next card, and then the last. Once you get used to stacking your cards in order of how much you use them, this is helpful. However, if you want to get the third card back, it can be cumbersome. If you push hard enough, all your cards come out in one fell swoop, but it doesn’t work every time.
Okay, the wait is over. Let’s open this bad Larry up. Inside, you won’t find space for gear, but there’s an endless canvas for ideas, games, and lists. That’s right—it’s a whiteboard!
The writing surface is large enough to draw a small picture or play a game of dots and boxes. On the side, there’s a slot to stow the included pen. When you store it securely, it doesn’t fall out; however, if you don’t replace it correctly, it’ll fall out the next time you open the wallet.
You can use the whiteboard as a surface to play games with a travel partner or friend on the airplane, in the hostel, or at the bar. If your phone dies, grab directions from a local and write them down so you can get to your next location without wasting too much time. Or, if you’re artistically talented, use it to doodle, write poetry, or jot down ideas. Even if you aren’t an artist, it’s fun to draw pictures of the places you’re visiting to commit them to memory.
The whiteboard inside the New Things Lab MEMO negates the need to carry around a pad of paper and a pen— a more sustainable option. While sometimes you need to keep a note for a long time, most things you write down are disposable. With a whiteboard, erase the message and move on. Because the wallet closes, you can leave notes for as long as you want without worrying about smudging the script. The packaging for the wallet is made of paper and recyclable, adding to the sustainability angle presented by this wallet.
Because the wallet folds and doesn’t overdo it with card storage, the sizing is very minimalistic. When closed, you can hold it in your palm. It will fit inside most pockets (even feminine sizes) and slide nicely into slings of all sizes.
You can hold onto it with one hand even when you open it up. You might not be able to palm it, but it’s comfortable to hold onto with one hand and write with the other. Those with larger hands can wrap a thumb around one end and a pinky and ring finger around the other for a secure carry. This is helpful, as you can walk and write simultaneously without the worry of dropping your goldmine of ideas.
Because of how small it is, this thing is easy to lose in the bottom of your daypack or travel backpack if it isn’t secured. This is especially true if you opt for one of the darker colorways and your pack has a black interior. It’s wise to slide it into a smaller compartment to find it when you’re up next at the chip shop. You wouldn’t want to wait any longer for your fish and chips, would you?
Even if the materials are radically different, the Chums Surfshorts Wallet has a vaguely similar design and roughly the same footprint as the New Things Lab MEMO.
There are two spots to stow gear in the Surfshorts; however, you can fit more stuff inside. You aren’t limited to cards, either. You can put cash, cards, keys, and other small items on either side. There’s an exterior key ring, which makes this wallet more utilitarian.
The New Things Lab MEMO has a more minimalistic design and cuts the clutter. The Surfshorts Wallet makes bringing too much gear for the ride easy; the MEMO only fits the essentials.
The largest difference between these two wallets is that the MEMO has a whiteboard for you to write things down. Theoretically, you could stow a pad of mini sticky notes and a tiny pen inside the surf shorts, but it would likely get crumpled up in time. The MEMO’s design is unlike any other we’ve seen to date, and we can’t wait to see where they take it next.
- The materials are durable but a bit heavy
- The whiteboard appears high quality; we’re excited to put it through its paces
- Magnets are snappy to close but can be loud in intimate environments
- The materials have held up well and haven’t gotten scuffed up
- It can be loud when it closes at times
- The whiteboard is fun to use and doesn’t erase itself when closed