Review – Hot Concepts Illumix 4 in 1 Stylus

Every once in a while you run into a gimmicky, cheap product that’s still a bit of fun. For instance, I wanted a laser pointer (for me and my cat) and was in Walmart one day. On that day I found the “Hot Concepts Illumix 4 in 1 Stylus”. It’s a funky little pen with a light, laser, and touch-screen stylus. And it’s only a couple bucks! Let’s see how it works:

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The light is really just a white LED that’s stuck in the end of the pen. There’s no focus, so it dissipates rather quickly. You could get an idea about the shape of a small room, find a key, or perhaps locate something stuck behind some furniture, but that’s about it. Nothing far away can be seen, and nothing in great detail. But it still works alright. Interestingly enough, both the light and laser can be turned on at the same time. The laser is dimmed significantly by this, but the light seems unaffected.

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The laser pointer works fine. It’s one of the standard cheap ones that can be found almost anywhere. It will hurt your eyes, but isn’t very bright on anything else. It isn’t very well focused and will spread out over long distances. But inside a regular sized room, it is very functional as both a people and cat toy.

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The stylus works with modern touch screens, and it’s fine. It’s so easy to make a stylus that works with these screens now it’s unremarkable. It’s a bit cheaper than the norm and seems like it might wear out, but I’d say the worst thing about it is that you have to watch out and not hit the buttons and blind yourself when using it.

Finally, the pen part. It works, actually quite well. The tip is very fine, but despite that, it writes quite smoothly with little pressure. The inks a standard, almost-black ballpoint ink that’s water-resistant. The cartridge can’t be replaced as far as I can tell, though the batteries can be. So when you run out of ink you’re out and just left with the other features. That would seem to indicate the pen is not a primary function. The sleeve with the stylus has to be removed to access the pen, and this is not held on very well. It slips and can come off with a bit of a shake. There’s also nowhere to put the sleeve when using the pen, meaning it’s a two-handed operation.

A couple of other things: the clip works well, there’s a warning under the laser but otherwise no information printed on the pen, and the white smooth color with “chrome” trim looks nice, but not very professional, and it’s quite slippery.

Overall, every action it performs is done passably, but not well. It’s a fun device to mess around with or have if you want any or all of the 4 uses, but won’t use any of them that much. The batteries don’t last that long, the ink cartridge is small and not replaceable, and the overall tolerances aren’t very tight. The metal construction is nice, but the product seems to be made with disposability in mind. It’s fun, and good for the money. Just don’t expect much out of it.

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Review – Poquitos Part 2 – Monteverde Ballpoint/Stylus and Fountain Pen

I had the regular Yafa brand Poquitos for quite some time before ever even hearing about the brand Monteverde, which is one of the many brands of “inexpensive” luxury pens that Yafa owns. Monteverde mainly has their own line of pens that could be completely separated from Yafa, but recently I discovered Monteverde was releasing a set of pens under the same name and similarly styled to the Yafa Poquito. This, of course, confused me, until I found out the companies’ relationship. The two Monteverde Poquitos have both similarities and differences when compared to the regular Yafa versions. Let’s take a look.

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First up is the fountain pen, which is styled very similarly to the original Poquito, but because it is a fountain pen, it is slightly larger, a little longer, and about twice as thick. The tip of the cap has the same “stylus” as on the smaller pens, and the clip is almost identical. The pen is also made of brass, but seems to be painted better, and Poquito is written right on the cap.

Being a fountain pen, it accepts cartridges (of the standard international variety), but there are no converters designed for it. Some small converters can be finagled into working, but none are advertised as doing so. The nib (which is only available in medium) and feed are relatively dry, but that is the case with many pens with similar nib and feed types (plastic, iridium point, German made) and many inks are designed to work well with this type of pen. The section is stainless steel (I think) and gets slick upon prolonged use. And the pen is too short to hold comfortably without posting. But the pen is still super small, and is absolutely ideal for taking quick notes provided one finds an ink that works well with it.

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In addition to their release of the fountain pen, Monteverde also released a new version of the regular ballpoint Poquito, called the Poquito Stylus (and funnily enough, they also released the Poquito Stylus XL which is almost the size of the Largo). The pen has the same writing and mechanism end as the Yafa Poquito (which is the only part that the Poquitos share). But on the other end, a touch-screen stylus of average size replaces the old hard “stylus” point, which was really useless. This new stylus works quite well, though it can be a bit broad at times. The clip design has also changed. It works just as well, and looks a little nicer, in my opinion, but is more likely to damage the item it is clipped onto. The ballpoint itself is identical to the older pen, with refills being the same.

Overall, the Monteverde versions of the Poquito pens are quite small, and quite functional. They haven’t really fixed any of the problems with the standard Yafa versions, but the added benefits of a fountain pen and stylus (for the people that like to use them) are great. All of the Poquitos are hardy little pens that serve well, and can go almost anywhere. The Monteverde versions just add a little more style and a little more usage variation.

 

Review – Kikkerland Retro Ballpoint and Stylus

A while ago, I reviewed the Bic Tech Ballpoint and Stylus pen. That was one of the first pen/stylus combinations I encountered that were actually purchasable for me (I live in the middle of nowhere). Recently another of the same type of pen was given to me: the Kikkerland Retro Ballpoint and Stylus. And I like these types of pens, so let’s see how this one preforms.

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The style of the pen is “retro” and it comes in three color combinations, two of which I wouldn’t consider using, while I think the third, red and grey, looks quite nice. The pen is fairly torpedo shaped, with both ends tapering down and the widest point being in the center, where there is a small center ring that divides the two body colors and metal sections. There is an almost unusably tight clip that says Kikkerland near the top, followed by a small ring with the smallish stylus point on top. Beyond that, there is no information or other markings on the pen. The paint is plain and smooth, slick enough that it almost slides out of the hand at times, but durable.

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The mechanism is a twist one. It is quite smooth, almost too smooth, as pushing too hard on the pen may reverse the action. The default refill is a Cross type in medium, I’d likely buy Cross refills myself. The pen writes rather smoothly and has little in the way of startup problems, but a bit in the way of blobbing problems. It is good for short notes, but for longer writing likes to smudge and blob. It is, like most ballpoint inks, fairly water resistant.

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Flipping the pen around gets you to the stylus which is a bit smaller and more precise than the Bic one mentioned earlier. It is still slightly mushy and I think these smaller styluses need work before I will thoroughly enjoy using one, but this is the most responsive one I’ve tried. Again, there are a few problems, but I have no difficulties using this to operate my phone, and carrying it around to jot down ideas in Adobe Ideas.

Overall, the pen is on par and the stylus is slightly above-average. I’d make sure the colors and styles work for you before getting it, and replace the cartridge with a Cross refill. After that, it should easily serve well. The metal in the body is sturdy and the paint resists chipping, though it does chip near the tip. It isn’t the greatest pen ever, and it won’t last forever, but it is certainly better than much of the competition for not a bad price.

Review – Bic Tech Ballpoint and Stylus

Well, sometimes now-a-days art isn’t always done on a physical medium. Tablets, smart phones, and touch-screen devices are becoming more prevalent these days and for artistic purposes your finger isn’t the most precise thing in the world. Fortunately, Bic has a solution for both mediums (maybe) the Bic Tech pen and stylus.

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The barrel of the pen is a fairly standard Bic barrel with a slightly grippy (grip) section, a hole for the ballpoint and a logo. Halfway up the pen is where things get interesting. The top half of the pen is a chrome-colored plastic which I personally don’t like but doesn’t look terrible. Just above another Bic logo in the center is the click mechanism, which is unique in its side mounting. The lever protrudes out to the side sightly, but not enough to really get caught or accidentally pulled. It has a slight curve to it, making it a great finger place and making for easy disengagement of the fingers or caught objects (again preventing accidental usage). I would say my only problem with it is it gets scratches from fingernails far too easily. The clip is absolutely nothing special, in fact it doesn’t even clip, it more just hangs on a pocket or something so that’s cheap. At the top is the stylus which I’ll talk about in just a second.

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The pen itself is nothing remarkable. It does appear to be smoother than a normal Bic ballpoint. But it is almost the exact same shade of unimpressive grey-black as every Bic pen.

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Now on to the stylus, which is the standard stylus end that has been popping up all over the place recently. It works. It is obviously not the most expensive or precise thing but it gets the job done. It is better than a finger, I can tell you that much. I can’t attest to the durability of such things, but I can say that it feels likely to break, though the pen isn’t expensive and by that time you’ve probably gotten your money’s worth out of it.

So what is the Bic Teach pen like overall? Mediocre. It does an alright job at being both a stylus and a pen, but does neither fantastically. But for the money it really shouldn’t. If you’re looking into the prospect of such a device or are on a very slim budget (or possibly don’t care) this might work for you, otherwise I’d suggest looking elsewhere.