And now, with apologies to Monty Python, for something completely different...
It usually takes quite a bit to get me enthusiastic about what I would term 'school supplies,' you know the kind of thing - maths sets, protractors, that sort of stuff, but Linex has managed it with this little gem.
Whilst out shopping for back-to-school supplies for my darling daughter the other day at Staples, I happened upon this Linex 404 Safety Compass:
It was one of those, "got to have that!" moments, just look at it! A compass that looks like a pen, great! So, what do I like about it? Where do I start...
For one thing there's the fact that is does look just like a pen, and so shouldn't take up much room in my, err...my darling daughter's pencil case. Then there's the cap, which protects the compass point and lead and should stop the sharp bits sticking in me, err...my darling daughter when it's in her school bag.
The compass is of all-metal construction, apart from the end caps, which are a matching shade of hard plastic, and I do mean matching. Both the top cap and lower sections of the compass arms feature green rubberised grip sections, making the 404 very comfortable in the hand. The metal barrel is pleasantly heavy in the hand, not too heavy, just enough so it feels like the quality product it is.
The top cap is threaded, and unscrewing it gives access to a lead compartment containing three replacement 2.0mm leads. These are not just thrown in mind you, oh no! Linex has thought about this and the lead holder is shaped into a sort of clover leaf design so as to hold each of the three spare leads securely so it doesn't rattle around; I only wish the replacement leads came pre-sharpened (and yes, I'm being picky!)
Dimensions are as follows:
Maximum radius: 155mm
Moving right along, there is a green rubberised disc at the top end of the 404 which is removable to reveal a tightening screw in case the compass becomes a bit loose through use; I have the feeling a lot of design time went into the 404 and nothing on this compass looks like it was included for purely aesthetic reasons - everything has a function, but it does look good too!
Next we move down to the business end, which as I've already mentioned is covered with a removable plastic cap, which even has a pocket clip. The clip is strong enough to hold the 404 securely in your pocket - I know, I've tried it! The end cap reminds me of the one on my old Rotring Skynn fountain pen, and if there had been a matching green insert in the rectangular depression on its very end I would consider the design on the 404 to be flawless; as there isn't, it's 9.9 out of 10, must try just a shade harder for Linex!
The compass end of the 404 features a fixed point and adjustable lead holder, the wheel of which fits into a cunningly designed recess when the compass is closed.
When the compass is open, also visible is the locating hole for the adjustment wheel's spindle, to allow the compass to keep its pen-like profile when closed; it's just another of the small design touches that make this such an excellent product.
In conclusion, the Linex 404 Safety Compass has got to be the most innovative take on a classic design that this pen-thusiast has seen in a very, very long time. Outstanding design, coupled with magnificent build-quality make the 404 by far the best compass I, err...my darling daughter has ever had the pleasure of using.
At a Glance:
Model: Linex 404 Safety Compass
Available from: Staples in the UK; Linex stockists abroad.
Price: £4.99 at Staples
Lead size: 2.0mm
Overall: 5 out of 5
Oh alright, I'll go and buy my darling daughter one too!