Hoverpen: The Executive Pen that Defies Gravity - A Review

Pens are generally something we consider portable in order to take notes while on the go, but there is a subset of the pen market that intentionally designs their products to stay put. The standard option is to either have a pen rest of some sort or vertical stand, but there are some that try to do things differently…

The product in review today is called Hoverpen which is currently on Kickstarter (ending soon…). Designed by a company called Shanpo who wanted to produce a desk pen, but with some details that turn heads or get people to take a closer look.

Rather than being physically stationary like most, Hoverpen deploys the use of magnets in a metal base that allow the pen to levitate vertically or even spin in place if you give it a twist. And, it does it pretty flawlessly.

Shanpo was kind enough to send me a sample of their pen to try out and I’ve been enjoying having it on my desk for the past couple of weeks. Thanks to them!

There are some Kickstarter projects that are a bit scrappy and the makers are just getting things off the ground, but others seem to have put a good amount of design work into the overall package they will be sending out. The Hoverpen came in attractive custom packaging with foam inserts to hold the components and is nicely done. Feels ready for production.

Aesthetically, the one they sent me has a bit of a futuristic vibe (at least to me) being all silver. The base is circle with a slight dome shape that has four pillars evenly spaced around it. The pillars have softer, rounded edges where facing the pen, but then flat, sharper edges on the outside. Like a building from some city in the distant future. The pen itself is a fairly simple, cylindrical shape which adds to the design.

The base is weighty and has a rubber pad underneath. This combo allows it not to move about, but also will provide some protection to the top of the desk which is nice.

From a usability standpoint I find the setup to be extremely easy to grab and use. Just reach over and pluck the pen literally out of the air (which is cool), remove the cap and start going. Also, the cap is magnetic too so it snaps back on without much effort.

The coating is a silver, metallic paint of some sort which is attractive. It is well done and the product is coated nicely. Oddly enough, when I first saw it I thought it reminded me a bit of the finish on my silver Macbook Pro… well, they mention in their campaign that the Hoverpen is finished in the same factory as Apple products so there you go!

From a material standpoint, the version of the pen they sent is made from aluminum, but they also have a titanium option available.

The pen is sturdy, but not overly “hearty” and is light weighing in at just 0.5 oz (uncapped). There are three main parts of the pen: the cap, the barrel, and the end cap (to cover the threaded refill). The two cap pieces are made of very thin aluminum and, while this isn’t bad per se, with metal pens I am used to slightly thicker walls or that the parts feel a bit more “machined”. It would take a decent amount of force, but I wager if I dropped my cap and accidentally stepped on it I would bend it pretty easily.

I speak to the way they designed it not as a criticism, but if you are used to metal pens on Kickstarter that have more heft the feel of the parts on the Hoverpen may come as a surprise.

For the refill they opted for the threaded Cross-style ballpoint which is like a long stick with a plastic piece on the end. These are generally found in many twist mechanism Cross classic ballpoints. It is a decent refill, but in our world of gels, rollerballs, or ultra-smooth ballpoints it doesn’t leave a lot of room for people that may have different tastes. If there was something about the pen I wish had been different it would be this.

Going with a Parker style or Pilot G2 size would’ve provided more room to please folks I think. There is an option to swap in a Fisher Space Pen compatible refill, but won’t provide much of a writing improvement.

Aside from my own personal refill preference mentioned above, I think that Shanpo has made a cool and curious product that people will enjoy. And, the initial pricepoint for it starts at $59 on the Kickstarter (my review model) which I feel is a good value. If not for yourself, someone that likes gadgets or fidget type products would probably find this to be a great gift.

Special thanks again to Shanpo for sending the sample for review. Their Kickstarter is wrapping up this week so give it a look if you think this might make a good addition to your desk setup.

Mechanical Pen and Pencil by INVENTERY

INVENTERY is a brand I was introduced to within the last 18 months when founder/owner Jeffrey Cheng reached out and asked if I’d like to review some of their models and I was certainly impressed. Even being a one man band, Jeffrey has designed and executed some top notch products that I think pen folks would enjoy.

This time around INVENTERY was kind enough to send me some samples of their newest product that they call the mechnical pen and pencil which, in essence, is a retractable barrel that has interchangeable ballpoint and pencil capabilities which is actually pretty awesome.

Now, I’ve seen quite a few machined pens in my day, but rarely do you see any that have swappable parts quite like this. There are multipens on the market, but they tend to use expensive D1 refill that have low ink capacity. This kind of solves for that. Although, not quite as convenient as a multipen, it allows for similar flexibility.

For all of the INVENTERY lineup, Jeffrey has chosen to use brass as his base material although the pen can be had in three different finishes: raw brass, Onyx (black coating), and polished chrome. Oddly enough out of the three the polished chrome is probably my favorite… it has a sleek, uniform design that I love.

If sensitive to weighty pens, the brass adds some obvious heft but the pen and pencil barrel only comes in at 1.6oz which is a lightweight when compared to a lot of brass pens on the market. While it is weighty, it is very comfortable to me.

To someone that has been around pens for a long time and has used a lot, you do notice some trends in the market of brands using similar mechanisms and parts to execute their designs. The brand Schmidt is well known in the pen world for nibs and refills, but they also make several “off the shelf” parts that creators can adapt into their designs.

For the pen experience they are using the internal plastic click mechanism (they use the metal, nickel version on their Mechanical Pen + Stand version that many are familiar with) and for the pencil, the Schmidt Feinminen-System which has it’s own built in clicker.

Both mechanisms have an audible and satisfying “click” associated with them. Not crazy loud, but satisfying for sure. The knock piece at the top is machined from brass and finished to match the barrel which provides a nice, seamless look to the overall experience.

Being a metal barrel pen there may be hems and haws about the use of a plastic mechanism, but I’ve seen the metal ones break down too. Over time I’ve grown not to worry as much about it, especially when the product is pretty affordable and of good quality. I anticipate with “normal” use this pen will last quite awhile.

The experience of swapping the mechanisms out is pretty easy, but takes some thought about the steps. Not quite as simple as popping in a new refill, but doesn’t require any additional tools which is good.

The knock piece unscrews from the internal mechanism wherein there is a spring in between. This spring initially puzzled me (as there is a spring at the tip to create the needed tension already), but its sole purpose is to make the knock “button” stay in the upright position at all times. Super interesting design choice and very deliberate. For kicks, I tried the pen without the spring and sure enough it works fine, but the button stays depressed until un-clicked. So, if you ever lost that spring… not entirely the end of the world!

To swap in the pencil I found these steps to be helpful:

1. Unscrew the barrel pieces and remove refill and spring
2. Unscrew the knock “button” (don’t lose spring)
3. Remove plastic pen mechanism insert
4. Insert pencil mechanism into barrel and thread into tip
5. Insert the pencil knock spacer with threaded side up (metal piece)
6. Screw barrel pieces back together (DO BEFORE STEP 7… trust me)
7. Replace spring and knock “button” by threading onto internal mechanism

Like I said, not quite as easy as swapping a refill, but not too bad. Once in place, the pencil is easy to use and feels like it was made for it. Well, I guess it was…

That last comment was somewhat in jest, but is completely true. Out of one barrel Jeffrey has created a seamless experience that are both excellent without wiggle or sketchiness of any kind which is pretty fantastic.

The Feinminen-System mentioned above comes standard with a threaded tip which INVENTERY took full advantage of. The pencil piece screws in easily to the tip which makes it sturdy and stable while writing. No movement. This is one of the details that I enjoyed a lot about the product. I wasn’t sure that Jeffrey would have done that, but when I found out I was really pleased. Just end to end this product feels really well thought out.

The clip is affixed to the pen via the top ring near the knock. Made from steel, it is strong! It has flex to allow it to separate from the barrel, but would take a lot to bend. Although, personally I wouldn’t clip it to anything thicker than a jeans pocket in fear it might permanently spring out.

Branding on the pen is subtle (the kind I like) and is found in only two places. There is a small etched “I” logo on the knock, and the word “INVENTERY” etched under the clip out of sight. In addition to the logo under the clip the pen also includes the serial number which is a nice touch.

The pen comes with a Schmidt EasyFlow, and nice ballpoint “hybrid” ink that is in a Parker style refill format. I enjoy this refill, but there are many to choose from. The new Jetstream Parker style refill is one I’ve not tried yet, but have heard good things…

Where can you get one?

For the Mechanical Pen and Pencil Jeffrey opted to do a kickoff with an Indiegogo campaign and the prices start at just $42 (future retail of $60) for the single barrel with the two options. For what you get, this feels like a fantastic price.

Thanks again to Jeffrey and INVENTERY for sending these over for review!