OmniPen Pro Stylus/Pen Laser/Flashlight

Reviewed by: Jack Reikel, February 2006
Manufactured by: BoxWave Corporation
Requires: N/A
MSRP: $24.95

The OmniPen is an all-metal device featuring a twist-out pen/stylus combination as well as a single LED flashlight and a red laser pointer. The OmniPen is designed for business use, providing a useful and physically integrated collection of functions and usability which serve a variety of needs.

Although I certainly take these kinds of products seriously, reviewing one of them is always a challenge. The main problem is that uses for LED flashlights and red laser pointers usually take place in clusters, so I was lucky enough to be asked to deliver a few presentations in the weeks after we received the OmniPen for review. The pen/stylus part is easy, especially for an avid PDA user like me. There's nothing worse than a stylus tip which breaks, a pen ball that disintegrates while you're signing an important document (or a check), and so on. Similarly, a laser pointer without the battery power to complete an active presentation, and a flashlight that appears to be useful (and handy) but which also doesn't throw enough light to justify its name will usually ensure that the device is rarely used and thought of as a waste of money. The OmniPen is one of the better units of its type that I've seen at this price point and it was (and continues to be) a pleasure to use day-to-day.

First and foremost for me, the quality of the writing pen determines whether or not I'll ever use one of these devices beyond the review period. I'm happy to report that the waisted lower barrel with its symmetrically dimpled grip area is both comfortable and well balanced. The writing feel is respectable with the stock refill, but substituting a good Cross mini refill really improves things. The stock refill demands a more upright tip angle than I like, but the Cross tip can be used smoothly at a more comfortable cant. The stock refill is a smooth writer in the right position however and I recommend using it for a while before running out to spend more money on a Cross refill.

My main use for stylus tips is tapping, especially since I started using a Treo 650 (with its thumb typing pad there's no silkscreen and therefore no Graffiti writing).

In any event, the stylus tip centers well as it comes out of the barrel and that makes for accurate taps, accurate game play and accurate item selection. The white stylus tip material is durable and is rated for continuous use on screen just like the OEM tip supplied with your PDA or Smartphone.

The 650 nanometer laser is surprisingly bright. The wavelength generates a typically bright, high frequency red, medium sized dot. In daylight, the laser was usable up to 35 feet (10.6 meters). In normal room light (incandescent or fluorescent) I had good luck with visibility up to about 50 feet (15.2 meters), but distances beyond that demanded much lower room light. In medium room light, the laser worked well up to 60 feet (18.3 meters) and at up to 90 feet (27 meters) in the largest dark room I was in.

Cons: The lower barrel is retained by a pressure fit rather than more secure and stable screw threads, so if you're in the habit of exerting extending pressure while twisting the pen or stylus in and out, the lower barrel gradually creeps away from the shoulder stop. Eventually, the assembly might loosen because of excessive wear. The pocket clip is very stiff. Continuous use of the laser or LED flashlight will drain the three LR41 batteries within 15 minutes, so you really have to be careful how you store the pen in order to avoid accidentally activating the buttons. Typically for all metal pens, it's difficult to grip well outside in cold weather.

Pros: The pen uses LR41 batteries which can be purchased online very inexpensively (I found them at 10/$4.90 at, 12/$9.95 at, etc.). The 650 nanometer laser works well even in moderately bright light. I used the laser for six different presentations without having to change batteries. The flashlight has proven invaluable at night for locating junk hiding in the bottom of my briefcase, keys and other items dropped under the driver's seat of my car, and a variety of other trivialities. The OmniPen is a good looking device, with a clean, brushed aluminum finish, matching brushed steel pocket clip, waisted lower barrel and symmetrical grip dimples. The black enameled BoxWave logotype on the rear barrel adjacent to the clip looks quite good. The flashlight LED and red laser are recessed sufficiently to protect their sensitive lenses. The pen has a slick, professional look while remaining usable and effective. It's a good writing instrument and a good presentation tool. Recommended.

KSN Product Rating:

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