As a follow-up to my earlier TeleRead piece on why the premium pen manufacturers aren’t meeting the onscreen writing challenge, it’s good to report that at least one firm does seem to have stepped up to the plate: The German precision pen and drawing instrument manufacturer Rotring, whose stylographic pens have been a staple of drawing and engineering courses for decades. Founded in 1928, the company’s rapidographs became the virtual standard for technical drawing. However, as its Wikipedia entry states, “the advent in the 1990s of computer-aided design (CAD) saw the partial demise of the technical drawing pen. To combat this, Rotring diversified its range of graphic pens, pencils and markers.”
So here we have a fine specialist pen manufacturer that has had a 20-year start on other pen makers in tackling the challenge of new technology. How have they responded? Their answer includes the Rotring 800, a “premium mechanical pencil + stylus hybrid, combining both modes at the same end with a unique retractable mechanism. Precision stylus tip for high accuracy, control and speed. Soft tip glides smoothly and is compatible with all capacitive touchscreens.” At 70 euros ($95.00), this clearly is a premium item, though not unduly so. How persuasive an answer is it to the digital challenge? That has to be something of a matter of opinion, although Rotring’s brand and market positioning will help it. I can’t imagine this being an option for the average user, but Rotring’s branding may help it in the digital design market.