January 19, 2015

404 words 2 mins read

Quick Review: Pencil (Stylus) by Fifty Three

Pencil By FiftyThree
Recently I’ve been on a “go paperless” kick. I want to move as much of my life into Evernote as possible. While I’ve been using Evernote for quite some time, I got the bug to expand that usage and see what else I could do easily. Part of that is the desire to be able to take handwritten notes, digitally. In the past I’ve used

Paper by FiftyThree and quite enjoyed it, so I figured I’d see how Pencil by FiftyThree (their custom stylus) worked out.

The first thing to keep in mind is that “Paper” is designed for arts & design, more than taking notes. The “Pencil” very much follows this aesthetic by a design to look very much like a

carpenters pencil, wood exterior and everything. I love the fact that it has an eraser backside, along with being rechargeable by a standard USB-A port (which is hidden inside). It is, however, your standard capacitive stylus, so it’s covered in that soft rubber-like material on both pencil and eraser end. The pencil end does, however, have some sort of pressure sensor built-in.

Hidden USB for charging? Eraser butt? Both very handy.
So how does it work? As I’m not trying to use the “Pencil” for it’s designated purpose of art, I can’t comment on some of the functionality. I will say that I did try and play with the “blending” functionality with mixed results. Beyond the art, the “Pencil” gave me a lot of fits and starts from the technology side. It connected at first but I had to keep re-connecting it and in later tests it wouldn’t connect at all. Since there is no external indicator lights, I’m not even entirely sure if the “Pencil” is on. Eventually I gave up even trying to test the devices fancy functions.

Overall, it’s a cool design and the tech issues may just be a bad unit. However, the writing experience was unsatisfying to me. It really is designed for artistic purposes with the ability to take notes (like say if you were drawing up a diagram) as a far secondary purpose. Of course the “Paper” app is also limiting when it comes to taking large amounts of notes. The export to PNG (to Evernote) is also not a good format for notes, PDF would have been better. So I’ve quickly chalked this one up as a loss and moved on.