Gadgetry has always been part of James Bond’s calm under pressure. The Beyond Ink Pen has nothing to do with 007, but it’s not hard to imagine him producing it from his breast pocket.
Part pen, part stylus, part charger, and part storage device, the Beyond Ink is really the Swiss Army Knife of pens; it makes it easier to carry one or two fewer gizmos around when on the move. Beyond Ink doesn’t shoot lasers or turn into a poison dart, but it still impresses simply because of how utilitarian it turns out to be.
Wearing different hats
There’s a lot to this pen out of the box, though the packaging doesn’t reveal anything special at first blush. Indeed, discovering the various features is a little like unboxing the device itself, where the different openings and crevices are revealed.
The pen comes in either white or black brass, accented with silver in stainless steel. Weighing in at 71 grams, it has some heft that should be appreciated by anyone who wants a premium pen to feel like a premium pen. Needless to say, this isn’t a product that looks or feels cheap. There are iPhone or Android-compatible (including BlackBerry and Windows Phone) versions — the key distinction boils down to whether there’s a short built-in Lightning or micro-USB cable emerging from underneath the clip.
The cap at the top reveals a standard, double-sided USB plug that, when plugged into a computer, charges the internal 1,000mAh battery, or when flipped over opens the 16GB of internal storage. The bottom also screws open, making room for the stylus tip, completing the transition from pen to stylus at the point of contact. When keeping the main piece in, this is a standard black ballpoint pen, and manufacturer Beyond Ink wisely uses Lamy Ballpoint Ink refillable cartridges that are readily available on Amazon and easy to swap out.
Writing and styling
There is nothing particularly special about the rubberized tip for the stylus. It’s not all that different from any other decent stylus available for touchscreens, so on that merit alone, Beyond Ink hasn’t delivered anything exceptional. That’s why the other functionality this pen offers matters.
As a stylus, the pen is ideally suited for standard input on a tablet or touchscreen, not for artistry or photo-editing.
Still, I loved writing with it as a ballpoint pen. Smooth yet soft, and with good ink, taking notes with it was a nice experience. It was easy to feel the weight, especially when compared to doing the same thing with a typical cheap-and-lightweight pen, but getting used to it didn’t take very long.
Bringing along the removable piece at the bottom to make the switch from pen to stylus was a challenge to remember; perhaps a tether would help keep the two pieces in the same place. Am I complaining by wishing for a purely “all-in” device that doesn’t require a separate piece? Perhaps — but it’s annoying enough to merit mention. It’s a moot point if you plan to use the Beyond Ink Pen singularly as a pen or stylus, of course.
As a stylus, the pen is ideally suited for standard input on a tablet or touchscreen, not for any artistry or photo-editing that requires a softer touch or thin tip. It simply isn’t good enough to do those jobs effectively. Beyond Ink clearly envisioned this to be more of a general purpose tool that way, and under that pretense, it works very well.
The rubber used is soft and slides gracefully across a screen, making swiping very easy on any surface. Responsive and consistent, browsing apps or writing basic notes on an iPad or Nexus 9 left me little to complain about. It’s just that it is thicker, like any standard stylus, so is not conducive to any function that requires something akin to a fine-tooth comb.
Charging and storage
While it’s true 1,000mAh isn’t going to make a huge dent in battery loss for any of today’s major smartphones, simply having that charging capability can make a difference when power becomes an issue. Again, unfortunately, Beyond Ink forces a choice between Lightning or micro-USB, taking away the possibility of an agnostic device that can accommodate anything out of the box.
On the storage side, having 16GB on board and on the go is nothing to sneeze at.
The cord is quite short, forcing an oddly close physical connection that makes both devices unwieldy. Plugging in an iPhone 6 Plus to charge this way was convenient when I need the extra juice, for example, except I had to hold the pen behind the phone with the point sticking out in front.
This highlighted another design miscue for the micro-USB model, with the longer end of the plug laying at the top of the cord. In order to use an Android, BlackBerry, or Windows Phone by tucking the pen behind the device, I had to twist it the other way, which looked awkward and made me cringe at the pressure I was putting on the cord. It’s a minor gripe, and not everyone may care, but Beyond Ink should’ve flipped the orientation to make this unwieldy connection a little more seamless.
On the storage side, having 16GB on board and on the go is nothing to sneeze at. Carrying files or saving documents onto it from a computer (Windows PC or Mac) was super easy, and the bonus was that I could simply flip it over to charge. For anyone who works remotely or is highly mobile with a laptop or tablet, this pen delivers a very useful benefit that way. I include myself as one of those, so for me, the pen proved to be a handy tool.
Beyond Ink offers a one-year limited warranty from the date of purchase from an authorized reseller, covering repair or replacement. There is a 30-day return policy for a full refund in case you buy it and don’t like it, but you will need to have the box and all pieces included when sending it back.
The DT Accessory Pack
The Beyond Ink Pen isn’t a game-changing gizmo and it doesn’t offer any new technology, but it does combine existing tech into something useful and fashionable. New colors and a jewelry model are reportedly coming, so black and white may not be the only options for long.
For any techy dad, the Beyond Ink Pen would make a good gift, given the $70 price – sure, it’s fairly high, yet still reasonable for such an occasion. If you need a pen and stylus, and like the idea of a charger and storage thrown in to boot, this is one gadget that should have you covered.