Dylan Polseno reached out to me a month or so ago wanting some feedback on a new pen design he was working on. I liked what I heard from Dylan, and the pictures he provided were interesting, so I agreed to take a look at what now has turned into the United P2 Pocket Pen on Kickstarter.
I used the P2 on and off for a couple of weeks, then went back to Dylan with my thoughts. Since I was using a prototype and the final product saw some changes from what I was using, I thought it would be interesting to see the actual email discussion Dylan and I had around the design. I asked Dylan for his permission to share this behind the scenes conversation and he agreed. Here is my original feedback:
Finally getting to this Dylan! I need to carry it more, which I will start doing tonight. My initial thoughts:
The size is good, but it is borderline too small to write with comfortably. Adding the bulge in the barrel to help with the grip is fine, but that pushes my grip higher up the pen and with the cap posted it barely reaches the cusp of my hand to rest on. I have average hands, so those with bigger hands may find it uncomfortable.
The friction fit on the posting is much more solid that on the cap. The cap feels a little loose. I know the tolerances are tight here, I just wonder if it will slip off.
The post in the rear of the pen sticks out farther than the end of the barrel. The first thing I did when I got the pen was uncap it and stand it up on the end of the pen and it fell right over. The appearances of it visually tell me I should be able to do that if needed so I can set the pen down without it rolling away.
I love the D1 refill option - it's just plug and play.
I think you are going to get some pricing friction at $65. I personally understand why it costs what it does and I'm fine with that, but I wonder what other potential customers will think. You are going to have to answer the "why shouldn't I buy a Fisher Space Pen for $20 instead of this" a lot, because people will use this pen in the same way and won't understand the differences.
Let me know what questions or comments you have for me and I'll get back to you again after I pocket it for a while.
(If you want the non copy/pasted version you can find it here. This post is image heavy enough as-is.)
To summarize my thoughts: I love the barrel construction. The aluminum stock with black hard-coating looks and feels great. The stainless steel cap provides wonderful contrast, and the tolerances are very tight. I felt there was a difference in fit between the front and back of the pen, with the cap on the front feeling a hair looser. I'm concerned with the posted writing length of the pen, as it falls just short of what I feel is comfortable for a portable pocket pen. The post on the rear of the pen sticks out too far, but that is easily corrected. Love the choice of D1 refill.
Dylan responded the same day:
In regards to your comments:
I kept going back and forth upon which side to have the refill come out, as in I could have had the bulge as the grip or the inverted bulge as the grip. I chose the inverted bulge due to the small size of the pen, ideally your pointer finger rests within the inverted bulge aiding in grip. I most likely will enlarge the pen overall by about 25%.
I haven’t seen any loose issues between the body and cap. My test for that was to hold onto the body and whip the pen, if it doesn’t fall off then, it shouldn’t during normal use. The choice to design it this way was for one reason: I wanted to remove any steps that most pens have accounting for a cap/ any outer threads. I wanted to make this the cleanest pen possible and this was the only way to accomplish that in my opinion.
This will also be addressed on the production version, the little stainless cap on the back was a late addition. I’ll end up making that cap even with the body so it will stand on end.
It’s critically important for the pen to be expandable to a person’s likes so the D1 was a no brainer.
The price for me has been a tough decision. I’m definitely going after a higher end, lower volume market. I’ve seen incredibly basic pens do well selling on Kickstarter for $40, so it was only logical for me to go above that. Also these will be offered below $65 on the Kickstarter campaign (I haven’t decided exactly what the price levels will be yet). After that the price will float between $55-65.
In the end, this pens intention is for those that want something new, truly new. It breaks free of old pen designs and will be manufactured with extensive detail. The form has to match the function for me to be pleased with it. I honestly don’t think many people will realize/ appreciate the machining feat that is this pen but I hope that some do.
(Original image here)
This is awesome feedback from Dylan. Open and transparent, answering all the points I brought up and discussing what changes he might make in the upcoming launch. He got feedback from others too, including Elizabeth at No Pen Intended. From the time of our discussion to the Kickstarter launch, here is what changed:
Improvements for the Production Run:
After living with our pen for a couple of months and hearing outside opinions we will be making the following improvements to the pen:
The length of the body will be increased 1/4" and the overall diameter will increase .060" (Updated 2/8/14) Smaller hole in the cap. A smaller hole will be drilled in the cap making it more difficult for something to physically get into the cap. Making the press fit cap in the rear of the pen even with the pen body so it can stand on end. The current prototype version features a cap that protrudes past the pen body, this will be addressed. Better body contour machining for a perfect blend of the radii.
Making your own product is hard. Finalizing design decisions is tough. Making everyone happy is impossible. Showing an openness to change while staying true to your design ideals all while being transparent is impressive. I hope you enjoyed this look inside my inbox.
My thanks to Dylan for sending this prototype at no charge for me to review. Be sure to check out the United P2 Pocket Pen on Kickstarter, which I have happily backed.