Tech News on G4
Beyond Ink is more than just a pen
June 6, 2016
By Greg Gazin - Apple Gazin’ - G4 Canada
Beyond Ink is more than just a pen
First it was the Swiss Army Knife, and then it was the MFC Multi-function printers, now it's a multipurpose pen that does more than just write.
Ok, the comparisons might be an exaggeration. Nevertheless, with the explosion in the number of gadgets out there on the market that are supposed to make our lives better and easier it's nice to know that practical functionality of various devices can be combined into a small package. Such is the case with Beyond Ink. It's a multi-purpose writing instrument that combines a pen; a stylus, a phone charger and a 16GB flash drive, all in one. More than functional, it's designed to be fashionable, housed in a luxurious package with a brass finish and stainless steel trim.
At first glance it looks like an oversized pen and it is. It's 156 mm long and weighs 71 grams. Unscrew the tip and you'll find a half-size Lamy ballpoint ink cartridge. (Lamy, based in Germany, is a maker of fine writing instruments)
Once the tip is removed, you can screw on the (included) rubber-tipped separate stylus attachment to use with your smartphones or tablet. You don't need to remove the ink cartridge; just make sure the pen is in the recessed position.
Hidden Battery & Phone Charger
At the other end of the pen is the pen clip and I think we all know what that's used for. However, cleverly tucked under it - depending on the model is a very short flexible cable with either a microUSB or Lightning connector that runs the length of the clip. Give it a little push to expose the connector, give the phone a shake to start the sensor and you can recharge your phone, thanks to the 1000mAh battery hidden inside. It's not quite enough to fully recharge your iPhone, but at least enough to get some extra juice in a pinch that should last a good part of the day.
Built-In Flash Drive
There's more. The head of the pen is also removable. Take it off and it reveals a bare standard USB connector. Slip it into your laptop clip facing up and it will recharge Beyond Ink's internal battery; flip it over and insert the connector clip down and you have a 16GB Flash Drive.
Overall it's a nice little gadget. I really like the Swiss-Army Knife style approach and find it amazing that they were able to cram all those features into the pen; although given its size I wonder if they might have been able to slip a mini camera into it, too.
I found that it is a tad heavy for a typical pen. However, it's well balanced and the Lamy ink writes very nicely. It's also comfortable to use but not necessarily for extended periods of time.
The stylus is also a nice added touch as they do come in handy. With that said it would have been nice to find a way to maybe integrate it into the design as a small tip can easily be lost or forgotten.
The hidden charger is also quite handy; the battery isn't huge, but given it's built in to the pen, it's certainly a bonus. As for the flash drive, 16GB is certainly much more than I expected.
When recharging or accessing the flash drive, inserting it clip up is fine, but depending on your laptop, you may need to prop it up slightly to insert it. Also keep in mind that the pen is roughly three times the length of a typical flash drive and the USB connector protrudes out from the top of the pen. Therefore, you’ll need to ensure you have enough clearance on the side or rear of your computer to accommodate the pen’s length.
Beyond Ink retails for US$70 directly from Beyond Ink with significant discounts available for multiple unit purchases. However, I have seen single units listed on Amazon for US$49.99. It comes in two colours: Jet Black and Pearl White and two flavours; Lightning for iOS devices and micro USB for Android.
Beyond Ink could make a nice gift for someone who's graduating or for Dad for Father's Day.
(According to the company's Canadian PR rep, Version 2 is already in the works. It is expected to offer a more seamless USB top screw and connectivity and a more brushed and refined finish. Expected availability is for Back-to-School season.)
Rating: 3.5 / 5
About G4 in Canada
G4 launched on September 7, 2001 as the ultimate television resource for technology news, information and entertainment. Co-owned by G4, Rogers Media Inc. and Shaw Communications Inc., G4 is Canada's first television channel 100% dedicated to technology, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The channel features the latest technology news, information and entertainment in an exciting and high-energy format. G4 is available on digital cable and satellite.