Review: Cross Townsend Brushed Platinum Plate Fine-Tip Stylus

 Cross Townsend Brushed Platinum Plate Fine-Tip Stylus

When I graduated from high school, I was presented with a set of 10K gold Cross pens by my parents. This replaced a chrome set I had received in junior high school. For many, Cross was a symbol for writers. Over the years, I have collected many pens, but my Cross pens remain front-and-center, flanked by their cousins from Mont Blanc and Cartier. Today, I write on my iPad Air 2 more often than on paper. The closest pen, versus the best pen, usually suffices for the occasional check endorsement or tax note on a receipt. Like regular pens, I have collected dozens of styluses, from the passive type that drove the interfaces of the Sharp Zaurus and the Pocket PC, to the active type used to scrawl across the likes of the Microsoft Surface. 

Capacitance styluses present a challenge, with their usually too soft tips dragging and scooting in staccato steps across an iPad screen rather than smoothly expressing a line. Cross has created my current favorite in the $350 Townsend Brushed Platinum Plate Fine-Tip Stylus, a stylus that seamlessly integrates digital writing with the entire Cross Townsend collection. This AAAA battery-powered writing device delivers its touches and taps through a 2.6mm conductive polymer tip that meets the screen just right, helping reduce finger prints while improving accuracy. Cross recommends the $5.99 ZoomNotes and the free INKredible, but I find the Townsend glides across any of my non-touch sensitive apps. And that is an important point. This is a note-taking stylus, not a drawing or painting stylus. While it will work in any applicaiton, it will not convey pressure as the 53 Pencil, the Apple Pencil or the Adonit Touch do.

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Perhaps most important to pen collectors is the beauty and feel of the stylus. The  brushed platinum is gorgeous, and unlike many stylus products where the pen was deisgned around the technology, this stylus is pen first and technology second. It just feels right in my hand. The little blue LED near the tip tells me it is a 21st-Century offering and not something nostalgic; but don't get me wrong, this "device" holds its own against classic pens.

As much as I like this pen, and keep it tucked in my Briggs and Riley shoulder bag, or in easy reach in a shirt pocket, there is, however, a question that all capacitance pen manufacturers must ask: how aggressive is Apple going to be with the Apple Pencil. I have tried the pencil and it cannot be compared to any other solution on the market for responsiveness. The Apple Pencil was designed for the iPad Pro ecosystem while all stylus products for iPad or iPhone are very much work arounds that Apple never really endorsed.

That said, regardless of what Apple does with its Pencil,  this stylus is going to work on a variety of Apple devices long into the future. As I write this, my Townsend eStylus sits beside my Logitech Keys-to-Go keyboard at the ready to tap an insertion point or highlight an error. My iPad Air 2 is never going to get an Apple Pencil.  While the iPad Air 3 may come pencil enabled, being part of the legacy isn't a bad thing for a pen. The Apple Pencil is utilitarian. I can't think of a more beautiful way touch my iPad's screen than the Cross Townsend Stylus, now or in the future.

 

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Daniel Rasmus's picture

Daniel W. Rasmus is the Founder and Principal Analyst at Serious Insights. He is the author of Listening to the Future, Management by Design and Sketches of Spain and Other Poems. Rasmus teaches at Bellevue College where he teaches Social Media and Personal Branding.