Cross MicroPen PDA Stylus & Retractable Pen

Reviewed by: Mark Goldstein, July 2004 (updated August 2007)
Manufactured by: A.T. Cross
Requires: Sony Clie TG50, T665C, SJ20, SJ22, SJ33, NX70V; HP/Compaq 3955, 5455, 5555, 2215; T-Mobile Pocket PC; Dell Axim; PalmOne i705, M125, M130, M500, M515, Zire, Zire 21, Zire 71, Tungsten E; PalmOne Handspring Visor Neo, Visor Prism; Audiovox Maestro; Toshiba e350, e355, Genio e550G, e740, e755 and others
MSRP: US$14.99

Cross, the venerable designer and purveyor of fine writing instruments and writing related products, has not allowed the market growth and popularity of PDAs, smartphones and handheld computers to go unnoticed. In fact, over the past few years Cross has released and increasingly interesting array of writing instruments dedicated to PDA users. The new Micro pen comes with 3 different caps to fit a multitude of PDAs which means that for those of us with more than one PDA (one Palm OS, one Pocket PC for example) the days of having to grapple with several substandard OEM styli may be a thing of the past. Both of these Cross models feature a retractable pen with black refill, a soft touch barrel and a top/cap mounted stylus tip (the opposite of typical styli which invariably have their stylus tips on the end).


StylusCentral supplied us with the MicroPen for review and we were delighted to get a sample of this latest offering from Cross, a company which continues to innovate through combinations of unique designs and interesting new materials. A bit of time is required to adjust to having the stylus tip positioned at the top of the stick, but once you get used to it the MicroPen proves to be a worthy data entry device. The Cross stylus tip is designed to provide better data entry by being fitted and shaped to create the most effective contact point for PDA screens. In our three weeks of daily use (during which a number of people in my office 'borrowed' the MicroPen, with the appropriate cap of course), we encountered fewer letter and number errors. The improvement is attributable in our view partly to the tip shape (which provided more accurate tap placement and letter strokes), partly to the tip material characteristics (which provide a smooth, positive feel during letter strokes) and partly to the soft touch barrel (which provided a sure grip with less incremental slip and shift). In fact, the soft touch barrel is a real joy to use, easy on the fingers, grippy even when your hands are oily or damp from perspiration, providing a firm feel despite the skinny diameter required to fit into the storage silo of most PDAs.

Cons: Cross has stayed with its roots as a pen & paper writing instrument company by placing the pen tip at the end of the stick and the stylus tip at the top. So is the MicroPen a writing pen with added PDA stylus functionality, or is it a PDA stylus with added writing pen functionality? The verdict seems to be the former. The only problem with having the stylus tip at the top of the stick is that, unless the PDA is stored in a case, the tip tends to pick up bits of dirt which might eventually scratch your screen. You are using a screen protector over the graffiti area at least aren't you? On a side note—this is not a Cross issue—PDA designers have to understand and acknowledge in their designs that it's just as important to devote more room in the PDA chassis and case for the stylus as it is to dedicate space for audio chips, WiFi chips, storage media I/O, digital cameras, headphone jacks and so on. We urge all PDA makers to design larger diameter styli and storage silos for their devices so that more effectively useful styli can be integrated.

Pros: The comfortable Cross soft touch grip on the barrel is by itself worth the price of the stylus. Excellent twist out pen tip and refill, the usual fine Cross quality, providing smooth, clean writing and ink flow on all types of paper stock. Refills are available from Cross and many other office supply and specialty stores. One stick with three different caps to adapt to dozens of Palm OS and Pocket PC handhelds. Extremely well designed stylus tip despite its location at the top of the stick. We found that letter recognition was markedly better due, we think, to the slightly greater surface area of the Cross tip making contact with the graffiti area. Fatter stylus tip provides better tactile feedback when tapping. Good tip material characteristics provide smooth action during letter strokes when writing on the screen itself or on a screen protector. Unique design that is well worth a look. Recommended.

KSN Product Rating:



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