The PHX-Pen hit the Kickstarter market back in March of 2012 and ended up a successful venture for Chadwick and Joe of Big Idea Design. I did not back this pen during the Kickstarter campaign, but had seen it around from time to time and always found it to be a pretty intriguing piece.
The design of this pen is about as minimalist as you can get: silver cylindrical barrel with no taper, similar designed cap with a tasteful chamfer at the top. Some may find the simplicity boring, while others find it as beautifully plain; precise and efficient in looks and purpose.
They provide two end caps to the pen: a threaded version and a smooth "original" version. With the threaded version installed, you can post the cap to the end by screwing it on which should help you not lose it. I personally enjoy the smooth version a bit better for aesthetics.
The PHX-Pen comes standard with either the Pilot Hi Tec C or Uniball Signo DX refills which are both known for their precise and fine lines. These refills are not necessarily my favorite which lead to some considerable hesitancy about making the purchase. I eventually got over this and decided that my desire to try this pen overcame my lack of love for its refills. I don't hate these refills, they just aren't my go-to. Despite the fact that buying a pen that takes refills I know I don't really enjoy is crazy, but that's just how things work sometimes, right?
The barrel of the pen is stainless steel and quite weighty coming in at just shy of 2 oz. For a pen, this is pretty substantial in your hand. I gave the pen a go with the Hi Tec C, and, in all honesty, I feel the weight of the pen to be distracting when using this fine of a tip. It made it difficult for me to focus my letters neatly because my hand was trying to compensate for the weight of the barrel. I wouldn't call it unpleasant with the Hi Tec C, but not overly ideal.
This is where things get fun...
I decided that even though they didn't have it listed on their site, I was going to try to make a different refill work. So, with some polytubing (courtesy of my pals at Karas Kustoms), a new spring, and a Fisher Space Pen refill, we were in business.
There is a spring in the end of the pen that pushes "up" on the refill that makes it more snug with the tip. I removed this. After a couple of cuts and checking it against the Fisher refill, I got the length right, installed the spring, and screwed the tip back on. Success!
With the new Fisher ballpoint refill in there the weight of the pen did not seem to be as much of a distraction and I was able to write like normal. If anything, with a ballpoint some added weight helps to push the ink onto the paper a bit easier. With a bit of ingenuity, this pen can be converted to a more standard writing experience.
Now, for convenience sake this pen doesn't rank overly high on the charts due to a few factors.
There is no clip to secure it to anything which could be a concern. Although there are other manufacturers like Kaweco that offer pens without a clip, theirs seem to be a bit easier to handle because they are small. The PHX-Pen is a pretty long writing instrument, and while tossing it in your pocket is possible, its weight and length may be a bit awkward. This may, for many, confine it to their desks for use which might be alright.
The minimalist cylindrical design also means that it rolls very easily. If your desk or table is a bit off level, keep an eye on the pen because it could easily be on its way downhill to the floor.
Even with some of the concerns, the PHX-Pen is pretty cool. I'd put it in the "a nice piece to own" category as it is more like a possession than a practical, everyday tool. It is really fun to write with for the experience of looking at it and using it, but it wouldn't be a pen to haul around with you as a daily carry in my opinion.
Kudos though to the Big Idea Design guys for making such a simple (and striking) piece!