Sensa Minx Stylus/Pen for PDAs and Smartphones

Reviewed by: Howard Carson, February 2005, send e-mail
Published by: Sensa, go to the web site
Available from:
StylusCentral, go to the web site
Requires: N/A
MSRP: US$39.95 (available for less from retailers including StylusCentral)

I sometimes wonder if the major stylus/pen makers get nervous whenever a smaller competitor introduces something which scoops a little bit of big boys' action. It's probably a moot point. But I'll bet the major fine writing instrument makers have absolute nightmares when the likes of the truly massive Newell Rubbermaid (over US$7 billion in sales projected for 2004) starts launching competing products. Along with twenty other major tool and houseware brand names, Newell Rubbermaid is also the owner of Waterman, Paper Mate, Parker, Sharpie and the subject at hand—Sensa. Launched in 1995, the Sensa line of writing tools is augmented by some specialty items including the Minx Stylus/Pen. Newell Rubbermaid is focused on functionality across the full breadth of its enormously varied product lines and the Minx is no exception.

The Sensa Minx Stylus/Pen is slightly shorter than its standard length competitors—about 4.75" with ballpoint extended as opposed to the more typical full length 5.5". That 0.75" difference makes the Minx appear almost diminutive, but once you pick it up it handles like many of the well-balanced, full size stylus/pens. The Minx has three features in particular which distinguish it from it competitors: a) the dense, malleable gel grip on the front barrel, b) the exposed and non-retractable medium point stylus tip at the top of the rear barrel, and c) the unique ballpoint tip actuator mechanism. The Sensa Minx does not have a pocket clip but is supplied instead with a pocket slipcase.

I had been using a Rotring Trio stylus/pen for about a month and was accustomed to its significant weight, push button actuator, pocket clip and the overall quality. The Sensa Minx felt like a flimsy feather after handling the Rotring and the Sensa's absent pocket clip at first had me constantly casting about for someplace to put the thing whenever I stopped using it. After about a day of regular use, it occurred to me that it was more suited to desk use rather than travel or off-site meeting use. Once I relegated the Sensa to a prominent position on my desk (and stopped trying to use everywhere else I went), the instrument came into its own.

By the end of the third day of use, I really started to like the Sensa. The contoured gel grip area which occupies all of the front barrel (except the tip) is remarkably comfortable without being fiddly. It's easy to get a comfortably secure grip, without adjustment, the moment you pick it up. The twist mechanism is actuated by a circular ring built into the end of the rear barrel just below the exposed stylus tip. One-handed operation of the mechanism is easy and exposes the excellent Sensa ballpoint tip. This is a very smooth writer, with a very clean hand, consistent line width and fine control on even the worst paper. The Sensa refill is full size—unlike the mini refills found in other stylus/pen designs by a variety of manufacturers—and it's also pressurized, a feature which also allows the Sensa to write upside down and on materials which confound conventional refills. As long as a hard surface has some 'bite', the Sensa should be able to write on it.

Normally, a pocket clip serves two purposes on cylindrical stylus/pens: a) it positions and secures the instrument in the pocket, and b) prevents the instrument from rolling around and falling on the floor. Since the most frequent cause of ballpoint and stylus tip damage is floor impact, I was initially concerned that the pocket clip-deficient Minx wouldn't last long. What I discovered is that the gel grip holds a temporary set well enough to prevent rolling except on noticeably slanted surfaces. The slipcase is not needed in your own office therefore, but if you travel with the Minx it's probably a good idea to bring the slipcase as well.

The stylus tip is made of a something other than the tip material we're used to seeing on most stylus/pens. It feels a bit harder than normal and actually looks like a clear nylon of some sort. Despite the differences, the tip seems to treat screens quite well and provided a good feel on all the PDAs we tried and on a variety of screen protector films.

Cons: No pocket clip—a vinyl slipcase is supplied with the instrument. The finish on the long rear barrel is extremely nice, but occasionally a bit too smooth for a secure grip when using the stylus.

Pros: Nice product which demonstrates how good this sort of thing can get when smart product design meets use-appropriate synthetic materials. The cushioned gel grip on the front barrel is perfectly located. The coated steel rear barrel is very cleanly finished and the Sensa logotype is elegantly imprinted on it. Small diameter, perfectly centered stylus tip which provides accurate tapping and accurate Graffiti (Palm OS) and block recognition (Pocket PC) response. Sensa refills are sealed and pressurized which means they write upside down, in water and all sorts of other unusual places (including outer space, according to the marketing materials—wonderful if you're vacationing on the ISS this year). You get a lot of quality for the money and the Minx will last for years in regular use. The full size refill is unusual to find in a stylus/pen and that alone makes the Sensa Minx a very good choice. Recommended.

Letters to the Editor are welcome and occasionally abused in public. Send e-mail to:





© Copyright 2000-2006 All rights reserved. legal notice
home | previous reviews | forums | about us | search | store | subscribe


Forums Search Home Previous Reviews About Us Store Subscribe