Thursday, October 27, 2016

Review: Orée Artisans Stylograph @OreeArtisans

ARTISANS OF EMOTIONAL TECHNOLOGY
We craft lasting technology tools that inspire imagination, contemplation,
and renewed attention to the beauty and wonder of everyday life. 
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ABOUT

Pure copper ballpoint pen & refillable notebook to capture your notes & sketches on paper. Instantly share, edit & sync them via your smartphone.

This review unit will be given away on Instagram, so head over there to find out more!
NOTEBOOK:
Refill: 190 pages
Size: A5
Format: two ring-binder
Paper weight: 120 g

PEN:
Material: Copper
Refill: Standard D1 ballpoint
Diameter: 12 mm
Weight: 52 gm

INSTRUCTIONS FOR USE

Before you use your Stylograph for the first time, recharge it for at least 30 minutes, using the USB cable provided, which you can plug into a computer or USB power adapter. Remember that the Stylograph has to be turned on in order to record your notes.

Download the Stylograph application on your mobile phone from here.
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PACKAGING
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The Orée Stylograph is packaged in a firm, clean cardboard box. The top has the following printed in white:
Orée Stylograph
Façonnier de beaux utils connectés / Artisans of emotional technology
oreeartisans.com.
The back describes the Orée in French and English. The lid lifts off and the box inside is quite snug with items. There is a small card that says:
Important
Please take a few moments to see the basics of how your Oree product works on the following page.
oreeartisans.com/welcome
Presumably, that card was referring to the large white paper that gives some details about the pen and notebook, including proper grip position, launching the app for a guided set up, pen charging via USB plug, and ballpoint refill replacement. It also lets you know where to download the app. oreeartisans.com/stylograph-app
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The Stylograph notebook is nestled in a cardboard cut out, with a little slot for you to slip a finger in and remove it. Underneath the notebook, there is a cardboard slot that holds a grey braided USB cable. The packaging is very simple but it’s clean and tidy, matching the notebook and pen.
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APPEARANCE

The leather journal is very simple. It has two leather covers with rounded corners, and 150 white-grey stone pages inside. The leather looks like a natural vegetable tanned color, which darkens with use, but it will be some time before this starts to happen, depending on how and where you use your notebook. After months of use, my leather still looks quite new. The front says Stylograph (burned in?) and there is a round eyelet type thing for the elastic that holds the journal closed. The back cover says “by Oree”. 
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The back cover also has several punched holes with black cord running through it, and personally, this kind of kills the beauty of it for me. The black is such a stark contrast to the warm colors of the leather and the copper pen. The pen is held in these elastics on a padded strip of leather, and it looks nice, but I feel like a different color and type of elastic should have been used. This elastic looks and feels like what my Goody hair elastics look and feel like, which takes away from the elegance of it all. 
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The large copper pen has a rounded off triangular shape, with a small wooden nodule sticking out of the back, which houses the charging slot. There is a tiny light in the pen that indicates whether the pen is on or not, and it blinks when you register the pen. I like the light, but I imagine it will burn out eventually? I suspect it’s an LED, which should last some time. There is a button on the other side that doesn’t even really look like a button - it’s flush in the barrel so it’s a little tough to press. The cap is flat and blunt, and it is cut at an angle. Inside, the refill is sort of hooded, and the scanner is beneath it. It has a brushed finish to the copper, and upon arrival, it’s quite shiny and bright. So far, it has not developed much of a patina, so I delayed this review just to give it some more time.
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The paper is lined with a microprint, and blank on the back sides. The edges are slightly rounded, and there are two holes in the side. 
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PERFORMANCE

Although I understand the pen has a specific design to match the emotional technology concept, and to house the actual working components inside, it’s not necessarily my favourite shape of pen for writing with. This combined with the fact that it’s a ballpoint, which tends to butcher my handwriting anyway, makes for a writing utensil that works well but I cannot use to product attractive handwriting. I keep trying. 
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There is a certain position to grip the pen in that produces ideal handwriting results, but I don’t find it that easy to write that way. Something to consider if you are picky about how you hold your pen. 

I have only used the included pen on this paper. It has a special micro print on it that allows your words to be scanned and transcribed as you write them. Obviously other pens will not work because they don’t have the working device in them. The paper smells like stone paper and it is very smooth to the touch, fairly water resistant, and tear resistant. Although it’s so tough, it’s also quite soft in that using the ballpoint pen on this prints through the page, leaving behind traces of your writing. If you write things you want to keep private, you may want to use one page at a time, or put something firm behind the page you’re writing on, to absorb the press through. 

HOW WELL DOES THIS WORK: APP, CONCEPT, ETC.

The ultimate question, I suppose! Is this something you could use, something you need, or something you would benefit from? I think it depends on what your habits are like and what you would actually want this item for. This is certainly a duo that can offer a long lifetime (with battery replacement, and paper and ink refill changes), but you have refillable items. The app is straightforward but it does mean you have to have a smartphone (iOS/Android) as well.
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The notebook is on the bulky side, but it's also full of paper. I tried removing about half the sheets and it became a lot more portable and easy to use. The extra papers must be stored carefully because they are quite soft and floppy, but it works to take out half or so. I like how that feels better than a full notebook.

This system can be quite handy if you like to or need to log all the work you do. It digitizes handwriting and sketches quite well, although there is little room for customization. I was informed by the company that the translation is being worked on right now, but once it's up, translation to many languages will be an option. I'm not sure how successful that can be, and it's too bad they don't already have that up and running. I suspect that would not be something I would really use. Maybe ideal if you're a writer? Instant back up?
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I love the classy set up and all-in-one system - you don't have to digitize your work, but it then becomes a pretty expensive system of just pen and paper. It does work well - the readings are clean and clear, and I experienced only one "error" - a line that I did not actually draw. 

PROS
  • Each piece is artisanally crafted one at a time in southern France.
  • Finest natural materials are used.
  • Each leather sheet is handpicked.
  • Ancient techniques used by generations of talented craftsmen.
  • Tools will last a long time and the notebook will develop a patina with use.
  • Website available in English, French, and German.
  • Standard D1 pen refills.
  • Translation coming soon!
  • Charges by a regular micro USB cable and not something proprietary.
  • Pen fits easily into the slot - it doesn’t feel like it’s going to break off (apple pencil.)
  • Battery status of the pen is indicated when you connect via the app.
  • Several options to save.
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CONS

  • If you don’t have an Android or iOS, there is no app for you yet. 
  • Proprietary refill paper.
  • Button on the pen is fairly small - it can be tough to press it easily. I have to use the corner of a fingernail. 
  • If you dislike the smell of metals/copper/brass-y smell being on your hands, you won’t like the pen. It definitely smells.
  • The elastic to hold the pen/keep the notebook shut looks like my hair elastics. The color and feel doesn’t fit the elegance of the package. 
  • Only available with lined/blank pages in the same order. 
OVERALL

Before I had started to use this to test it out, I thought, what on earth? $300? That’s madness. And then I used it. And it worked so well that I was pretty impressed and thought “ok. Maybe it’s not so bad after all”. This is really cool, and if you need a system that archives your notes immediately, or if you like to send doodles on the go, this is an excellent tool for you. There's no reason you cannot use your pen of choice on the paper of your choice, take a picture of it, and send that picture wherever you want it. This is just a refined, rather elegant way to enjoy a tech x analog set up. Very specific, very organized.

Personally, I like to throw a small leather cover with a pocket notebook in my bag, and a few ballpoints for on the go. I don't really use items like this because I have too much "normal" paper and pens. 

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I received this item at no charge for the purposes of this review. I was not compensated monetarily for my review. Everything you've read here is my own opinion. This item will be given away on Instagram.

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