Beyond Ink Pen tries to mesh pens with technology
The Beyond Ink Pen aims to bring writing instruments into the future by combining the ballpoint pen we've all used for years, with the new technology that has become integral to our lives. You get access to a ball point pen, stylus, battery, charger, and flash drive all in one place. The Pen is well designed in that it looks like you'd expect a pen to look, right until you look up close.
It is a bit larger that your normal writing instruments though, something you might not realize until you pull it out of the box. It's longer, heavier, and bigger in your hand, which can feel bulky. The design is done in black and grey with steel and brass, with a smooth feel that is really well done. There aren't any buttons, rather getting access to various features involves twisting the appropriate portion of pen.
At it's core, Beyond Ink is a ballpoint pen. In that respect, it works about as well as any other pen you could pick up at the store. There aren't any issues with ink running dry or skipping, and the mechanism is a simple twist to engage. The problem that crops up is when you're using the pen for more than just a few lines at a time. If you're just jotting down notes, then you probably won't have any issues.
The thing is, Beyond Ink is quite heavy and bulky in your hand comparative to a normal pen. It's not just the weight of the pen that becomes problematic either, it's much bigger around than most writing instruments. The bigger size combined with the increased weight means that if you try to write out a few pages you'll really be feeling it. It makes the pen something that you might use to sign checks, but tends to somewhat limit it's use as a pen for extended writing sessions.
Using it as a stylus is slightly different, because you aren't using your hand quite the same way. You can certainly use it for longer than you can when writing out things longhand. However eventually the same problems of becoming uncomfortable, or starting to hurt your hand after prolonged use. It's a shame, but not necessarily a surprise. Located inside the pen is a 1000mAh battery which you can use to charge your phone when you're out and about.
The microUSB is nestled underneath the pen clip to keep it out of your way when you don't need it. When you do it's pretty easy to access and easily gets the job done. Popping it out from under the clip wasn't particularly difficult, but there's likely to be some damage-related anxiety as you go to use it. The included cable is dainty, you can actually see the individual wires under the thin rubber protector. That means when you do plug your phone it, it'll be practically on top of the pen. Still, having the ability to quickly top up the charge when you're in a hurry is quite handy.
Underneath the screw off pen cap, you'll find the 16GB USB flash drive. When you plug the Beyond Ink into your laptop, what will happen is entirely dependent on whether the pen clip is facing up, or down. The pen clip facing up will charge the 1000 mAh battery, giving you a green indicator light to show when it's charging. Plugging it in with the pen clip facing down, will let you access the flash drive itself. The flash drive itself works as well as any USB 2.0 flash drive that you can pick up today, this one just happens to be attached to a pen. While it works as well as any other flash drive, you aren't going to find any bells and whistles here. For example, connecting the microUSB cable to your phone does not allow you to access the storage, it's only for power.
Beyond Ink is available in white or the black pictured here for $70, and gets you access to several different features that may come in handy during the course of your day. You'll have to decide for yourself if having a charger, 16GB flash drive, pen and stylus, all in one place, or if you'd prefer to deal with each of those features separately.
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Jen is a staff writer who spends her time researching the products you didn't know you needed. She's also a fantasy novelist and has a serious Civ VI addiction. You can follow her on Twitter.