This is a review by contributor Tim Pockett. Tim is an EDC and stationery enthusiast from the South West U.K. with a background in copywriting. You can follow his Instagram account here for some awesome pen, paper, watch, and EDC shots. To read more reviews by Tim, click his author page next to the little pencil icon above.
Description: A lightweight, easy carry pen for the die-hard minimalist
Filling Mechanism: Hi-Tec C Coleto gel ink cartridge
Measurements: 13cm (5 1/8″) Width: 5.3mm (7/32″)
Color Options: Raw Polished Aluminium, Space Grey, Red, Blue, Gold, Rose Gold, Black. Available for purchase from Ensso here.
Review Paper: Mnemosyne A5 80gsm notebook
I’ve mentioned minimalism in pen design in my previous reviews, but the Ensso Uno makes me feel as though I’ve misused the word. At just 10g and 5.3mm thick on the most part – there’s almost nothing to it.
Every aspect of the Uno pen has been reduced to the essentials. The barrel for example is so narrow it is eclipsed by even the refill of standard sized pens, such as a Pilot G2. There isn’t a milligram of unnecessary bulk. The Uno is quite literally the bare minimum a pen can be.
Resembling a thin metal rod with a wider, tube-like end, it looks more like the missing component from the shiny internals of some precision machine, than a writing instrument.
Twist the wide section several times and suddenly you’ve got something that looks more like a pen. This wider tube is actually a hood that protects the writing tip like a cap would. But rather than unscrewing completely off the pen, the hood rotates backwards down the pen body to reveal the nib, locking up on a second set of threads approximately 1.5 cm later. Here it becomes a section to grip the pen’s extremely narrow barrel.
I’ve never found thin metal pens particularly comfortable in my large hands. Yet despite the Uno’s super slim proportions, it actually writes pretty well. The 3.9cm long grip is the only part of the pen that needs to be thick enough to hold. With no weight behind the pen and the slender body working as just a guide to keep it in place, I thought I would need to push harder, but the gel refill required no extra pressure to write with.
Part of the Uno’s writing experience is of course down to Ensso’s choice of the Hi-Tec C Coleto gel ink cartridge. This refill is common in multi-pens and is sized accordingly – and it’s scaled down dimensions facilitate the Uno’s own extremely slender proportions, which are designed around this refill. I found the Coleto a bit scratchy, but once I’d accustomed to it and started writing a little smaller, I found it fine for quick notes and jotting.
The gel ink cartridge is loaded through the back of the pen, once you’ve unscrewed the rear with a flat head screwdriver. This screw is actually a metal rod that holds the cartridge in place, which if you’re not carrying a driver might be tricky to switch on the fly.
I’m not usually that concerned with packaging, but the robust, rubber capped Perspex tube that contained the Uno was definitely a change from the usual box or wrapper. It doesn’t feel disposable and I’ve actually been using it to transport the pen, which I presume is its intended purpose given the Uno has no pocket clip. Once you get over the irony of how much mass it adds to the Uno’s ultra-slim proportions, this sturdy tube actually makes for a great single pen case.
Overall, I’m a fan of the Uno. The pen feels like a great option for those looking for an unobtrusive pen that’ll still provide a gel-smooth writing experience (if not quite as smooth as a full size gel writer). The cap/grip section is well thought through, killing two birds with one stone by keeping the overall proportions tight whilst negating the need for a separate lid or bulky spring-loaded retraction mechanism. The only improvement I’d like to see on a future version is maybe a few less rotations to retract and extend the hood/grip.
The finish on the raw aluminium Uno feels decent enough and definitely doesn’t look cheap. Ensso also do some stylish anodized versions with a pretty high-end looking Space Grey option. There is also a titanium version for those who appreciate a little more weight, but aluminium is the way forward if you’re looking for the featherweight option.
- Very unobtrusive thanks to its slender proportions and featherweight build
- Innovative design that cleverly combines cap and grip
- Good finish that doesn’t feel cheap
- You’ll need a screwdriver to access the refill
- No clip limits carry options
- The hood/grip section could have a few less twists to retract and extend
Reviewing the Uno was definitely an eye opener. Ensso’s restraint to keep firmly to the Spartan parameters of the pen’s design prioritizes the fundamental and banishes the superfluous. It feels to me like the Uno is an experiment into what the very minimum a pen can be whilst still being comfortable to use. And if it is an experiment – it’s a successful one.
Thanks to Ensso for sending the Minimalist Pen over for review. If you head over to their site, you can check out their full lineup of writing instruments. There’s usually an email sign up on the site that’s good for 15% off your order, so be on the lookout!