Is a stylus for an iDevice so important a product that it needs to stand on its own? Or could a good stylus coexist on the end of a nice ballpoint pen? It depends.
Naturally, people have different needs and tastes when it comes to a stylus. Some want it small and portable. Some, like me, want it to look and feel like a fine fountain pen. Some want an actual pen combined with a stylus, and that’s what the Kensington Virtuoso Signature Stylus and Pen is.
This hybrid product comes in a glossy black or silver. The ballpoint extends with a rotation of the top, and the nib is where would find an eraser if it were a mechanical pencil. The length is 5.25 inches (133 mm) and the weight is exactly one oz. (28 grams). The nib is 8 mm in diameter. Here is one of the black ones next to the Kuel H12, previously reviewed.
Virtuoso Signature (top) compared to Kuel H12.
This stylus product reminds me of the Griffin stylus + Pen + Laser Pointer. There’s no laser or battery, so the Virtuoso is lighter. But it has a similar feel and design. Like the Griffin product, the clip is embedded into the cap, and I don’t think that’s as durable as, for example, the elegant and technical design of the Wacom Bamboo.
The packaging displays the product so that there’s no doubt it’s a stylus by showing a green squiggle. There’s a lot of productizing, description in multiple languages, commercial bar code and a QR code. Kensington is a big company that puts a lot of small print on the package.
Included is a leaflet with the warranty in six languages and phone numbers for technical support in almost two dozen countries. As I said in the SPIGEN Kuel H12 review, the packaging reflects the developer’s pride in the product. It also sends a positive message when the customer handles it in a retail store.
You can pull off the cap to reveal the inner mechanism. Twisting the black tip allows you to remove and replace the ballpoint. It’s very easy to do. Unfortunately, the nib is not replaceable. The warranty protects against defects and workmanship for two years, but I surmise that the nib usage constitutes normal wear and tear.
The feature list is modest, but that’s true of any stylus, and I’ve mentioned them all: 2-in-1 solution, two available colors and a replaceable pen.
The factor that a potential customer will need to deal with is the fact that the nib is at the top, and that’s where the clip is. So the question is: does the clip interfere with the handling of the product as a stylus? I didn’t find it to be a problem physically. What I did find odd was holding a stylus with a sharp silver tip pointed at me, even with the ballpoint retracted. It felt a bit, well, unaesthetic.
Other than the effect I just mentioned, I found the Virtuoso Signature to be a sturdy, nicely built and good looking product. It has a solid feel and balance no matter which end you’re using.
Connecting the Dots
I think this product is best for someone, say, a business person who doesn’t use a stylus very often, but wants one handy. For example, signing a document on an iPad. Having it part of a handsome pen solves that problem.
However, if you’re working with a stylus for a long period of time, say, as an artist or taking notes, then a dedicated stylus is the way to go because it will feel more natural in your hand. In that case, I favor the Kuel H12 or the Wacom Bamboo.
Because the Virtuoso Signature does double duty and is rather handsome, it also makes a nice (and somewhat expensive) gift for an iPhone/iPad toting executive.
Finally, this isn’t the only stylus that Kensington makes. There are many others that are dedicated styluses and cost less. For example, the Virtuoso Stylus for Tablet. That one looks a lot like the Rocketfish Stylus, previously reviewed. It may not be different enough to merit a review. Let me know if there’s interest, and I’ll ask for one.
Kuel H12 Stylus for iPad: Almost Perfect
Bamboo Stylus Solo for iPad: Almost Perfect
Rocketfish Stylus for iPad: The Long and Short
Kuel H10 Stylus for iPad: Not so Cool as a Pen