The ink pen is a common accessory for students, professionals, bloggers, travelers and more. It secures a unique place as a classic and reliable form of communication with the ability to write on a number of different surfaces. For some, the type of pen matters not; as long as it writes, it works. For others, the pen they use is vitally important, often displaying status and occasionally offering unique functions.
Beyond Ink is a new pen that targets a curious market. This market is comprised of tech-savvy individuals looking for new, innovative ways to aid communication, without straying too far from the basics. Targeting this market has led Beyond Ink to become a pen that’s a curious hybrid of new and old, a mishmash of technologies seeking to work together.
The company’s website proudly proclaims the conception story of Beyond Ink, emphasizing that it was born from a need for one tool that could enable multiple forms of communication. The question is, how does Beyond Ink accomplish that goal?
Before that question can be answered, the make-up of Beyond Ink must be revealed. The pen itself is 156mm long and weighs a hefty 71 grams, making it far heavier than most pens, even luxury models. That extra weight is there for a reason, however, as Beyond Ink packs a 1000mAh battery within its cylindrical body. This battery is connected a hidden charging cable that you can have outfitted with either a microUSB or Lightning connector.
There’s still another secret hiding within Beyond Ink. Users can unscrew the top of the device to find a USB stick that features two different functions, depending on how it’s inserted. If you insert the USB stick with the pen clip facing up, Beyond Ink will recharge the battery within. If you insert the USB stick with the pen clip facing down, it functions as a 16GB USB 2.0 flash drive, allowing you to easily carry your files with you.
All of that is wrapped inside a body made of brass and stainless steel. The pen tip itself is a fairly typical ballpoint that utilizes Lamy Ballpoint ink. If you’re more a technology buff, the pen tip unscrews from Beyond Ink and can be replaced with a stylus tip, allowing it to be easily used on touchscreens.
As a pen, Beyond Ink functions, but doesn’t excel. The ink color was surprisingly light and occasionally skipped, making it less pleasurable to use than other higher-end pens. Additionally, the extra weight of the pen proved to be a great detractor while writing, as the hand simply tires of lugging the pen across the page. As a stylus, Beyond Ink fared slightly better, with the stylus tip working well and the extra weight acting as less of a detriment, due to the difference in how the hand holds a stylus as compared to a pen.
The design of the pen faces some issues. From a purely aesthetic standpoint, the brass body was seriously hindered by the smooth, glossy coating that covered it. This coating held a great affinity for fingerprints and scratched surprisingly easily, making the pen feel less expensive than it is.
Additionally, two of Beyond Ink’s key features, the USB stick and charging cable, are hindered solely because of design. The charging cable is flexible and is hidden behind the pen clip. While easy enough to access, the cable is so short that your phone will practically need to sit on top of the pen in order to charge it.
The USB stick also faces issues, with its only workable use being in a situation where it can sit on top of a flat surface while in use. For example, it was practically unusable on my Microsoft Surface Pro, where the USB port sits on the top right of the device. Beyond Ink is much too heavy to stay in the USB port if there’s no solid surface for it to sit on. This is a pity, as having a flash drive integrated into a pen is a brilliant idea, but it’s no good if it can’t be used in most situations.
Beyond Ink is an interesting idea, combining several different technologies into one device designed to aid communication. It can be used as a classic ballpoint pen, a stylus, a flash drive, or even a battery pack, designed to be large enough to give you a couple more hours of talk time on your phone.
The current iteration of Beyond Ink, however, falls short of its goals, being hindered by design flaws that make it more of hassle than it’s worth. Additionally, with a price of $70, it’s hard to justify purchasing it over any other pen. Nonetheless, Beyond Ink is a concept that has great potential with interesting and useful ideas that could prove to be extremely effective. With some tweaking and a few design changes, Beyond Ink could be an important new tool for communication. While the current iteration is good, we have faith that the next version will be even better.