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Ergonomics isn't everything: A review of the Stabilo's Move Gel Pen

Dustbuster or miniature pleasure device? It's the Stabilo's Move gelpen as shown in Stabilo's website.

THERE are two kinds of pens.

Those that look like sex toys and those that don’t.

The Stabilo’s Move gelpen—sold and displayed in select National Bookstore branches in Metro Manila—belongs—arguably—to the first category.

While displayed inside its clear plastic case, it stands proud, erect; its majesty diminished only by the bright colors it comes in; colors more appropriate for a carnival, warning signs, flotation devices, and Cyndi Lauper’s hair in the eighties.

Outside its case, the pen looks like a miniature handheld vacuum cleaner. Or even the pocket edition of a poorly-designed vibrator.

Whatever the first impression, sex toy or dusbuster, the Stabilo’s Move may just be the world’s most ergonomic pen.

The Stabilo's Move in its plastic case.

Not only does it have two variants—one for lefties and another for righties—the pen also has two notches that serve as “placeholders” for the thumb and the forefinger.

The needs of the middle finger are not overlooked. It fits in snugly under the grip area when the pen is in use.

Meanwhile, the barrel is curved, like the contours of a streamlined car with very minimal air resistance.

The barrel’s tip slopes downward, lying between the crook of the thumb and the forefinger, helping to further enhance the physical act of putting words onto paper.

Taken together, the pen’s ergonomics—from the notches at the grip area to the curves of the barrel—provide a stable writing experience.

As it should.

After all, it was designed for children six years and up, especially those who have difficulty with their penmanship.

However, Stabilo isn’t about to stop the adults from having all the fun.

With the Stabilo Move, writers, journalists, reporters, and all manner of notetakers will no longer be able to lose their grips.

But of course, it’s not the perfect writing instrument.

It’s not even the easiest pen to use.

That distinction, I believe, belongs to the Parker Jotter, a ballpoint whose form factor and utility has outlasted and outlived the original Volkswagen Beetle, the Toyota Corolla, and, yes, even Madonna.

The Parker Jotter has become so dominant that some rival pen brands—Germany’s Schneider, for one—produce and design models based on its refill, a distinction that the Stabilo’s Move can only dream about.

And even before it thinks about its longevity as a product, the pen’s makers could try fixing its cap—it has something of an identity crisis.

To take the cap off, do you push and pull or twist on and off?

During the first few times I’ve managed to use the pen, both worked.

Except that the cap can be twisted too tightly.

As a result, the pen’s ability for immediate use—especially while in the throes of inspiration and/or urgency—is severely impaired.

Note the shape of the caps in the presumably newer Move on the computer screen (above) and the supposedly older model below. (Ignore the dirty fingernails).

Instead of helping put words onto paper, issues with the pen’s cap prompts the left brain to take over the right, slowly choking the imagination and creativity as both hands wrestle to take it off; an act that remains so simple with other pens it could be done blindfolded, half-asleep, eyes closed, inebriated even. (According to its website, Stabilo has released a newer version of the pen with a different cap, supposedly designed to keep users from losing them. [See: Stabilo])

Overall, the pen serves its purpose.

It writes better than your regular, run-of-the-mill gelpen.

Now, would it be too much to ask for a simple, ballpoint refill?

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