Tombow AirPress Pen – White (Review & Giveaway)

27 11 2014
Lacking a portable scanner with me at this time, I'm having to make do with photographing the writing sample instead

Lacking a portable scanner with me at this time, I’m having to make do with photographing the writing sample instead

I don’t know if stormtroopers took over Tombow or if the staff there are just being remotely brain-controlled from the Death Star, but I too was contacted to receive and give away a white-and-black version of the Tombow AirPress Pen. Thanks to Tombow for providing these pens!

It also matches my car. I should give more rides to stormtroopers carrying these pens for the ultimate matching experience. More matching than a deathcage match even.

I’ve had some exposure to the AirPress before, evaluating it as a potential motorcycling pen, but I forgot to get around to actually reviewing it. And I have reviewed the similar AirPress Apro ballpoint pen. As I’ve noted before, I like the lightweight, compact body and the grippability of it—both the non-slip surface covering the whole body, and the slightly wider body itself.

I'm not sure if you can really see it, but it is snowing in the background. And foreground. And on the ground

I’m not sure if you can really see it, but it is snowing in the background. And foreground. And on the ground

That wider body makes it easy to hold and write with the pen even with gloves on (and in the cold, on wet paper, upside down, etc.).

Why is the arrow pointing? What does it mean???

Why is the arrow pointing? What does it mean???

The lanyard loop I understand. The hinged clip, we’re good. I like the grip, and the windows where you can see some of the process mechanisms that pressurize the ink cartridge. The only thing I don’t fully understand is the little plastic arrow thing on the end of the clip. I feel like it has some secret meaning or purpose and I just don’t get it.

UNDER PRESSURE, pushing down on me, pressing down on you—wait have I made this joke before

Just like the Tombow Apro AirPress, the regular AirPress ballpoint pen does really well with drawing. Each click of the pen (on the retraction actually, unless I’m mistaken) pressurizes the refill for 492 feet of writing. Is there a machine that tests these things? One robot arm holds the pen while another mechanism scrolls several hundred feet of paper by? Or is it just some probably underpaid guy writing the same word over and over until either he snaps or the ink cartridge runs out? The writing smoothness I would rank just under the supersmooth category; not butterglide skatesmoothery, but it’s still good. For the utility you get, there’s not much sacrifice of performance in terms of how the pen writes. I might loan my pen out to some LEOs I know to see how it holds up to some real field work.

What does 492 feet of writing even look like on paper? Has anyone stopped and really consciously looked at 492 feet of words?

What does 492 feet of writing even look like on paper? Has anyone stopped and really consciously looked at 492 feet of words?

Tombow AirPress Pen at Tombow

 

And now, for the thanksgiveaway! Tombow has provided an extra pen for me to give away, so give it away I shall!

The rules:

  1. Since I can only afford so much postage, I’m going to limit this giveaway to the U.S. only. Just leave one comment on this post any time between now and Cyber Monday, December 1st 11:59 PM Eastern Standard Time.
  2. One winner will be picked at random from the comments section of this post. Only one comment per person! Comments in excess of one shall be deleted. The comments will be numbered in the order they are received, i.e. the first comment is #1, the second #2, and so on. I will hand-number the entries because why not. The Random Integer Generator at random.org will be used to pick the number of the winner.
  3. I’ll post the contest winner on Tuesday, December 2nd. Winner will have one week to email me. There’s a link to my email at the top of the right sidebar.

Thanks again to Tombow, and thanks to all of you for reading :)





Schneider Assortment – Top Quality German Pens

12 11 2014
If I'd spread this over ~5 individual reviews, it would have taken me forever to tell you about all these pens

If I’d spread this over ~5 individual reviews, it would have taken me forever to tell you about all these pens

The fine folks at Stride, Inc. brought it to my attention that I’d never reviewed any Schneider pens before, the reason being I was pretty sure I didn’t have any. Stride, being the exclusive Schneider agent in the US, offered to send me a Schneider sampler to rectify this situation.

Interestingly enough, when I looked through the Schneider catalogue they sent, I discovered I actually DID have a single Schneider pen, as yet unreviewed, rescued from the same dusty NYC pen shop where I got the Parker Reflex

Interestingly enough, when I looked through the Schneider catalogue they sent, I discovered I actually DID have a single Schneider pen, the Voyage fountain pen, as yet unreviewed, rescued from the same dusty NYC pen shop where I got the Parker Reflex

The appearance of the pens I’ve got seems to fall in one of two camps: standard pens that look similar to other pen lines (such as the ones that look like cousins of a Pentel R.S.V.P. or a Uni rollerball), and the modern fun ones. The ones that look like the R.S.V.P. are known as the Slider (with Viscoglide technology). They have slimmer barrels than an R.S.V.P., and easily-identifiable-in-a-pen-cup color-matching caps and accents. Appearance-wise, these are your basic office / school stick pens with plastic clips.

The body says vaguely Uniball-looking, but the grip/fins/nose cone says Pilot Precise. It's like their strange German baby.

The body says vaguely Uniball-looking, but the grip/fins/nose cone says Pilot Precise. It’s like their strange German baby.

The Xtra Hybrid is also pretty typical office fare, with the addition of a big metal clip, and an attractive grip section.

In hindsight, I think I mentally intended to put the green one in the middle of this lineup for greatest visual balance. TOO LATE TO TAKE MORE PICTURES NOW

In hindsight, I think I mentally intended to put the green one in the middle of this lineup for greatest visual balance. TOO LATE TO TAKE MORE PICTURES NOW

Then we have my favorites—the contoured body style with full-body rubberized surface grippiness. I love that there’s no single exact grip spot that you’re supposed to hold, and the rubber has a nice feel; neither too tacky nor too slick. For the capped models, I wish the caps snapped to post. To post, the caps are friction fit on the end; it’s pretty secure, but I like the sound and sensation of a satisfying cap snap. For that reason, if I had to pick a favorite of the bunch it would probably be the retractable Slider Rave XB. It’s attractive, convenient, and practical.

There's a lot of potentially messy-looking ink buildup, but it hasn't given me problems so far

There’s a lot of potentially messy-looking ink buildup, but it hasn’t given me problems so far

The ballpoints all feature Schneider’s Viscoglide technology, which is just their brand-name way of saying super-smooth ballpoint. And is it? I’m happy to say that Viscoglide does not disappoint. Is the ink as dark as that bastion of the night, the ink which absorbs all light, the venerable Jetstream? No, perhaps not, but the smoothness is there, with no blobs or skips. Put it in the pantheon of super smoothness. The sizes I have to try out are XB and F; XB is undeniably smoother, but the F is still pretty slick. We must ask, as seen with the Jetstream Color, do alternate ink colors impact performance? For the purple Slider Memo XB, a resounding no—this might just be the best purple ballpoint I own. For the cotton candy colors of light blue and pink, I do think they feel a touch slower, the light blue perhaps a smidgen more than the pink, but then again maybe I’m imagining things. There are no issues of skipping or blobbing, it’s just the other colors feel faster.

If you're colorblind, does the red and green body pen just look all the same color?

If you’re colorblind, does the red and green body pen just look all the same color?

And then there’s these two. The Xtra Hybrid performs solidly and provides ink consistently, with no scratchiness or any other weird rollerball feelings I’ve encountered in other rollerball pens before. The Schneider Xpress fineliner has got to be a teacher’s pen. Writing with it I feel like I need to give someone an F minus, and with its waterproof ink I wouldn’t have to worry about their tears washing my harsh but necessary judgments away. There are reasons I’m not a teacher you guys.

Bright colors, maximum fun

Bright colors, maximum fun

Bonus: all these Schneider pens I’ve got feature wear-resistant stainless steel tips. Double bonus: Stride is a company not only providing some quality pens, but with a pretty awesome story: they’re a certified small woman-owned business committed to successfully training and employing people with developmental disabilities. Step up your game, other pen companies; what are the rest of you doing to make the world a better place (besides putting good pens in it)?

Thanks again to Stride for providing these pens for review!

Information on ordering Stride Pens (available through Office Max and Office Depot)





Ink Drop Soup: Yoropen, Back Again!

27 08 2014

Remember the Yoropen?

This pen probably has more in common with some species of tropical, exotic bird than it does with other pens

It took about 8 minutes of scrolling back through my media library to find this

I mentioned when I reviewed it that there was a metal version. Little did I realize at the time that Yoropens had been pretty much discontinued since about 2008/2009, operations shut down…but they are back, and trying to get started up again through Kickstarter.

Image from the Yoropens Z3 Kickstarter

Image from the Yoropens Z3 Kickstarter

The Z3 is an updated version of the old metal Yoropen (the Z2) in a big way: instead of requiring only special, odd, proprietary ink cartridges, the inside has been redesigned to be able to accommodate generic refills after they’ve been bent appropriately by an included mold.

Image

Image from the Yoropens Kickstarter

I’m excited to see the new Yoropen Z3 in action, and Yoropen has reached out to me to send me one to try once it’s ready; keep your eyes open for a review in the future. In the meantime, the Kickstarter is live if you’re looking for a different pen from a company with previous success that’s trying to get back in the game.

Yoropen Z3 on Kickstarter





Uni Jetstream Prime 3 Color Ballpoint Multi Pen – 0.7 mm – Navy Body

29 05 2014
Delays in getting this post done brought to you in part by: getting a new dog

Delays in getting this post done brought to you in part by: getting a new dog

Either the Uni people listen or they came to the same logical conclusions their customers do—there should be a fancy Jetstream multi pen, there should be D1 Jetstream refills—VOILÀ! Both of these things, in the same pen. Thanks to JetPens for providing this sample.

And most of all, thank you for blue, and not pink. Pink exists now though, for those of you who are not me and love pink

And most of all, thank you for blue, and not pink. Pink exists now though, for those of you who are not me and love pink

The body is metal (type unspecified), the paint job that same enchanting metallic finish typically reserved for bumper cars. But classy. Like a Ferrari bumper car.

Exactly like a Ferrari.

Exactly like a Ferrari.

Up top, we’ve got some of the most subtle multi pen markings I’ve ever seen, coupled with what I’ll assume is a curious homage to Legos. Sure, you are a fancy businessperson now, but your heart hasn’t forgotten how crucial the carefully collected gem panel was to the city-defending death ray you had Lego Anakin Skywalker man. Or whatever it was you used your Lego gems for.

Put them in treasure chests? But then where would we keep all of Lego Queen Amidala's extra hairstyles?

Put them in treasure chests? But then where would we keep all of Lego Queen Amidala’s extra hairstyles?

The knocks are so smooth, strangely smooth if you’re used to multi pen components that are pressed inward and down to deploy. They are extremely satisfying to manipulated, and probably guaranteed to drive coworkers crazy. At least they won’t drive you crazy—they never fail (not in my experience so far, no getting stuck, no randomly undeploying, just solid mechanisms).

Looks vs. comfort. Typically this is a battle that plays out over fashionable shoes.

Looks vs. comfort. Typically this is a battle that plays out over fashionable shoes.

I do question the comfort of the all-metal body, especially in the grip area, particularly if you like to grip hard. I have to catch myself when I’m writing to readjust away from a death grip, lest I press the pen uncomfortably into the base of my thumb. Maybe adding a regular grip would do nothing to alleviate this, but an Alpha Gel Grip? What you’d lose in svelte aesthetics you’d gain in heavenly grip comfort. Maybe if I suggest it enough times, it will be reality. Alpha Gel Grip Jetstream Multipen of Fanciness. Alpha Gel Grip Jetstream Multipen of Fanciness. Looks like for now, this will remain but a dream.

You could definitely fit more in here. Oh, perhaps a secret message could go in here too?

You could definitely fit more in here. Oh, perhaps a secret message would fit?

Moreso than the Uni Jetstream 4&1 multi, these refills rattle when writing. When I pick the pen up and put it back to the page I can hear it, enough to be noticeable. Not quite enough to drive me up a wall yet, but given the choice I’m inclined to go for a quieter writing experience. Or, there are some sounds that are soothing to hear when you write, like the gliding of a nib as it lays ink on the page. Refills rattling is not one of those pleasant sounds.

I almost want to ask for more colors, but knowing the track record I've experienced with non-traditional Jetstream color inks I think I'll keep my mouth shut

I almost want to ask for more colors, but knowing the track record I’ve experienced with non-traditional Jetstream color inks I think I’ll keep my mouth shut

The performance of the refills is satisfying. The colors are rich, and above all stay off my hands. The black seems to perform best of the three colors, but that might just be my imagination. Is it as good as a regular Jetstream? Perhaps not on the most microscopic, nitpicky level, but it’s much smoother and more satisfying than any other D1 ballpoint refill I’ve tried so far. Is there a bulk discount on these refills? I have a lot of mini ballpoint pens I’d like to upgrade.

Set it down like this and no one even knows about your allegiance to the plastic brick

Set it down like this and no one even knows about your allegiance to the plastic brick

Is this the best multi pen your $45 can buy? I guess it depends on how much of your childhood was dedicated to Legos. This is the sort of pen that would make a great gift to receive, but might not necessarily be a pen body you clamor to buy for yourself. The D1 refills that this body brought to pen existence are another matter entirely, and I strongly advise you to stock up and retrofit as many little pens as possible.

Uni Jetstream Prime 3 Color Ballpoint Multi Pen – 0.7mm – Navy Blue Body at JetPens





Uni Jetstream 4&1 4 Color Ballpoint Multi Pen and Pencil – Purple

15 04 2014
Someone hand me some failing tests, that red is just itching to give out a big glowing F minus minus

Someone hand me some failing tests, that red is just itching to give out a big glowing F minus minus to some poor sap not smart enough to be using a Jetstream

What’s better that a Jetstream? Several Jetstreams rolled into one. Thank you to JetPens for providing this sample!

It comes it several colors, but obviously dark purple is the superior choice

It comes it several colors, but obviously dark purple is the superior choice

The body is simple and professional, with tasteful silver accents. The markings to denote refill colors are unobtrusive—quite appreciable, as multipens are ever in danger of looking like rainbow vomit with their many-colored plungers.

I like how the pencil is referred to as "0.5mm SHARP"...it makes a mechanical pencil sound so much more dangerous and exciting

I like how the pencil is referred to as “0.5mm SHARP”…it makes a mechanical pencil sound so much more dangerous and exciting

The sticker on the body was easily removable and left no residue. Coupled with the subtle branding imprinted on the clip, you’ve got a pen that looks good and keeps distractions low key.

Things I was not expecting to find in here: metal. Things that all of in here consists of: metal.

Things I was not expecting to find in here: metal. Things that all of in here consists of: metal.

The pen itself is nicely balanced, with the majority of its light weight focused lower, in the grip. The grip section is metal, with a nice grippy rubber on top (though it would be PHENOMENAL to have the grip be Alpha Gel instead, that would probably make the pen unbearably wide, and would collect more debris than this grip does). The upper half is mostly plastic (excepting the clip), and the overall composition of the pen makes it pretty comfortable for a longer writing session.

In the event of a graphite emergency, break the snap seal located on the top of your multi pen and apply eraser directly to the emergency

In the event of a graphite emergency, break the snap seal located on the top of your multi pen and apply eraser directly to the emergency

Normally I’m not a fan of easily-lost caps covering uselessly tiny erasers, but this cap hold surprisingly firm to the pen. It’s not going to get lost unless you set it down and forget to put it back on. The eraser itself isn’t much to speak of—more of an emergency provision. The pencil component is deployed by pressing down on the clip, and lead is advanced by pressing the deployed clip down again. It’s a wise design choice, providing a larger plunger for easy use of the pencil while concealing it design-wise in the clip. The only improvement I’d like to see here is for Uni to find a way to shrink the Kuru Toga mechanism into the size of a multi pen refill. A multi pen made of Jetstreams and a Kuru Toga would be unstoppable.

If you need more colors than this, be sure to give yourself a stern lecture about how back in my day we didn't have any newfangled ink colors. Pens were also used uphill both ways. In the snow.

If you need more colors than this, be sure to give yourself a stern lecture about how back in my day we didn’t have any newfangled ink colors. Pens were also used uphill both ways. In the snow.

I’ve had some problems recently with certain Jetstream color models not living up to the Jetstream name—consider this pen redemption. All colors perform smooth and vibrant, as a Jetstream should. The 0.5mm provides crisp lines that glide onto the page with almost no pressure whatsoever. The barrel is a bit wide, as almost all multipens are, but it’s not unwieldy—only if you really prefer a slim pen will it be something that might bother you. And, after handwriting out this whole review, the side of my hand is clean. This is the Jetstream I know and love.

If someone at Uni isn't feverishly working right now on adapting the Kuru Toga mechanism for multi pen use, then they don't know good money

If someone at Uni isn’t feverishly working right now on adapting the Kuru Toga mechanism for multi pen use, then they don’t know good money

If you use red, blue, green, and black ballpoints on a regular basis, you’ve got to give one of these a try. I’m thinking especially professionals and students in the science, technology, engineering, and math fields, plus anyone who needs to mark up papers, or just likes having access to all the traditional pen colors at once. The refills are smooth, the mechanisms solid, and the pen looks good. Classic Jetstream goodness!

Uni Jetstream 4&1 4 Color Ballpoint Multi Pen and Pencil – Purple at JetPens





The Bolt – Copper

9 04 2014
No part of this is not awesome

No part of this is not awesome

I got an email out of the blue from Dan Bishop, pen designer for Karas Kustoms, offering me one of their sweet pens to try—I had a taste for the copper, and with the Retrakt backordered out the wazoo, Dan offered to let me try the new copper edition of the Bolt.

I can't suggest what pen Theodore Roosevelt might use if he were alive today, but I can heavily imply

I can’t suggest what pen Theodore Roosevelt might use if he were alive today, but I can heavily imply that IT WOULD TOTALLY BE THIS ONE

I wish you could pick up this pen, because I bet you solid money if you picked it up you would be unable to resist uttering a variation of your favorite, possibly expletive-laden exclamation of disbelief. Something like, “BY THE GREAT BEARD OF ODIN WHAT A CUPROUS MASS OF RAW PEN THIS IS!” Grab two fistfuls of pennies while playing the most dramatic rock music known to your person—you still won’t be able to fully appreciate the weight of this pen until you hold it for yourself. They say this pen is machined from solid copper, and they are not lying.

It smells like a fistful of pennies

And it smells like a fistful of pennies

In spite of being weighty enough to quality as a weapon of self-defense, the weight is well balanced. The pen sits firmly in my hand. I may need to do some strength training before I’m able to write out a whole novel with so heavy a pen, but the weight is comfortably distributed. The copper will warm up with your hand (and will gain a patina in time, which I’ll update with once I’ve got it) and naturally possesses antimicrobial properties.

I'm pretty sure I could do a 60mph somersault and that pen would still be attached to that pocket

I’m pretty sure I could do a 60mph somersault and that pen would still be attached to that pocket

The pen has a fantastically simple, industrial look. The clip is bolted down as firmly as possible, but the flared end allows for it to slide onto papers and pockets with ease (and hold onto them with strength one level below rigor mortis).

Made this on my phone with the fantastic GifBoom app. Heckuva lot easier than making the .gif myself in Photoshop

Made this on my phone with the fantastic GifBoom app. Heckuva lot easier than making the .gif myself in Photoshop

The Bolt is named for its bolt-action deployment mechanism—it’s wonderfully smooth, and with a little practice can be engaged single-handed (at which point, you will be tempted to play with it endlessly).

Yes OF COURSE my motorcycle has a pen cup DOESN'T EVERY MOTORCYCLE??

Yes OF COURSE my motorcycle has a pen cup DOESN’T EVERY MOTORCYCLE??

I decided to take The Bolt out for a ride—the clip held firm to my jacket pocket and the pen did well, but when I put it somewhere less insulated from the V-twin vibrations, like inside the bag on my back rack, the pen ended up coming a little loose.

Note how you can see the seam where the two pieces come together? That's because it rattled a bit loose.

Note how you can see the seam where the two pieces come together? That’s the pen basically being unscrewed by the motorcycle. The knock also needed to be tightened back in after the ride

So if you’re carrying The Bolt in a bag rather than directly on your person, I’d recommend pairing it with something like a Nock Co. case.

This refill is a winner

This refill is a winner

The refill it came with—a Schmidt easyFLOW 9000—may be my favorite Parker-style ballpoint refill yet. It’s dark, it’s smooth; looking at my hand, it’s not 100% smudge resistant, but it’s approaching Jetstream-like quality.

Are you thinking of Abraham Lincoln? I'm kind of thinking about Abraham Lincoln

Are you thinking of Abraham Lincoln? I’m kind of thinking about Abraham Lincoln

The only complaint I have is that the top plunger can end up a little loose while still being on tight enough that you can properly deploy the pen without realizing that it needs tightening. When you get into this scenario, rattling can happen. If you’ve got rattling, you need to tighten the plunger all the way.

She insisted on being in the picture

She insisted on being in the picture

All in all, this is a heavy and heavy-duty unique pen, solid made-in-the-USA goodness. Thanks again to Dan and Karas Kustoms for providing this pen!

 

The Bolt – Copper Pen at Karas Kustoms

plus!!! a great roundup by The Clicky Post of all the Karas Kustoms pens





Shaw Pens – The Bessemer Ballpoint

19 03 2014
lkj!

Because turquoise makes everything better

Alan Shaw contacted me about helping come up with a name for a new pen he’d designed, and happily I accepted the challenge.

I opened the mystery package to this intriguing nameless pen

I opened the mystery package to this intriguing nameless pen

The look is high-class mechanic, with a touch of the inventor about it with that o-ring grip and accents, and the hex nut around the knock. The name is a nod to Sir Henry Bessemer, who developed the process to mass produce cheap mild steel, which paved the way for the proliferation of the hex nut.

As decorations, the o-rings are a solid choice

As decorations, the o-rings are a solid choice

The o-rings as grip will be a make or break feature—either you will appreciate their grippability, or you will find them too hard. It may depend on how hard you grip the pen.

I am getting hungry for sweets

I am getting hungry for sweets

The body I love. It looks like an enchanted cola float captured in resin. The pen will come in other colors, but anything reminiscent of a tasty dessert is a good start.

I wonder if o-rings come in other colors. I wonder if I'd want the o-rings in other colors...

I wonder if o-rings come in other colors. I wonder if I’d want the o-rings in other colors…

My only complaint is the length of the pen. For me, this pen would be perfect if the tip came out right where the grip meets the nosecone. As is, it feels a bit long in my hand, feels like it would balance better if it was just that little bit shorter. Maybe if you have bigger hands it’d be perfect.

I need Uni-ball to make Parker-style Jetstream ink ballpoint refills. That would complete my life

I need Uni-ball to make Parker-style Jetstream ink ballpoint refills. That would complete my life

The refill it comes with, a Franklin-Christoph brand Piper Premium 1000 Ultra-Glide ballpoint, is a fairly smooth and fairly dark Parker-style ballpoint refill. There are some moments occasionally when writing when I can feel some oddity, something less than 100% smoothness, but it’s generally a pretty decent refill. The pen will take any Parker-style ballpoint refill, so I’ve paired the lovely cola colors with a sky blue Private Reserve ballpoint refill, to fabulous effect.

Here's hoping there will be some new ones at the Raleigh Pen Show!

Here’s hoping there will be some new ones at the Raleigh Pen Show!

Keep an eye out at the pen shows and on the Shaw Pens website for the Bessemer!








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