Pilot FriXion Ball Knock Retractable Gel Ink Pen – 0.5 mm – Blue Black

29 03 2014
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Blue black, possibly the classiest gel color

You want to talk about a pen I really can’t improve much on, it’s this exact pen—the Pilot FriXion Ball Knock. It’s a retractable, erasable gel with a nice design at an easy price point.

I'm going to take a picture of the back side, I said to myself, and promptly forgot to do just that

I’m going to take a picture of the back side, I said to myself, and promptly forgot to do just that

The body is simple, professional, and color-coordinated to the color of the ink. The only detracting feature is that the back side is covered in Japanese (instructions, probably) printed on the body—would have been better to have all that printed on an easy-remove sticker.

When deployed, the three little window squares show yellow green. What a delightful little detail

When deployed, the three little window squares show yellow green. What a delightful little detail

To spare you the several seconds of embarrassment that stymied me when I first got one of these pens: push down on the top of the clip, NOT the eraser—the clip is what operates the retractable deployment mechanism. There, hopefully I’ve saved you valuable seconds of pressing the eraser, yelling “WHAT AM I DOING WRONG??”

Also known as the friction nubbin

Also known as the friction nubbin

What makes the FriXion so much better than the erasable pens of my youth is that the erasing isn’t accomplished by removing the material off the page—instead, the friction created by the act of rubbing/erasing generates enough heat to cause a reaction in the thermosensitive ink, changing the color to an almost imperceptible near-white, effectively erasing the ink. This process means no eraser crumbs. And this design means none of the problematic situation of the Pilot FriXion Point, whose cap, when posted, would block the eraser. Bravo, design team.

I think this came out looking a bit too bright blue. Please adjust your computer monitors accordingly for the duration of this picture

I think this came out looking a bit too bright blue. Please adjust your computer monitors accordingly for the duration of this picture

The grip is simple, streamlined with the body. Might I suggest a deluxe model with a luxuriously squishy grip be added to the FriXion lineup? Ultimate student model?

Sweet gel action

Sweet gel action. That makes me think of flavored ink. Imagine FLAVORED ink! This is not flavored ink, but if it were, it would probably taste like dusky blueberries (/food poisoning don’t eat the ink kids)

The goods! There are some things you need to know about the FriXion gel inks—they will never be as bright and vibrant as typical gel inks—every color, even the black, has a subdued, muted, almost milky opaque quality to it. It looks lovely, but if you want those strong, bright colors then the FriXion line may disappoint you. Next note: if you press hard into the page when you write, yes, you will still be able to see the indentations of your writing. The eraser is neither magic nor anti-gravity, but I imagine this is also a problem for pencils, so I wouldn’t hold it against the FriXion in particular if a heavy-handed writer is you (but perhaps consider a larger diameter tip, like the 0.7mm). All that said, I find the FriXion writes smoothly with almost no pressure needed. I love using this for taking notes, between the writing and the erasability—just make sure you don’t leave them in, say, a hot car (either the pen or the notes) or you’ll have to stick them in a freezer to bring them back from invisibility. The only possible suggestion I’d add is roll out a needle-point version. Because heck, why not?

Gloomy lighting brought to you by the weather! Cooperating with my pen pictures since never.

Gloomy lighting brought to you by the weather! Cooperating with my pen pictures since never.

There will always be room in my pen case for a Pilot FriXion Ball Knock. Thanks to JetPens for providing this sample!

Pilot FriXion Ball Knock Retractable Gel Ink Pen – 0.5mm – Blue Black – at JetPens

 

 





Tombow Pfit Clip Mini Ballpoint Pen – Orange Clip – Sharbo X Blood Red Refill

28 02 2014
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Featuring a Zebra Sharbo X 0.4mm Blood Red Gel Refill ordered back in 2010

Thanks to an incurable case of pen-ADD, I’ve got a lot of cool pens ordered in a fit of JetPens mania, played with for a while, and then forgotten about before getting a chance to do a review—and I’m working on that! The Tombow Pfit is now benefiting from my renewed attention.

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Apparently, the clip features a flat surface so it can be decorated with stickers or jewels if desired. Clearly I’ve been owning this pen all wrong. Someone hand me some adhesive decoratives.

It looks like a full-sized pen cut in half with a bright clip streamlined into the side of it. The grip-like grey section is more for looks than function, as it doesn’t seem to line up much with my grip. Overall in the looks department it fits in comfortably with other trendy hip little Japanese pens.

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Pfit probably stands for “petite fit” but I will also accept “possible fit” “panther fit” and “propane-based fit” as potentially fitting answers

The clip has good clippability to it. It clips to the hard cover of my notebook, onto my lanyard, on a pocket, onto a bunch of pages (maybe not all of those at the same time) without looking too bulky.

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And you can hook it on a little lanyard loop! In case you need to lash it to one thing and clip it to another and thus hold together the very fabric of your office

The cool thing about the clip is that to retract the pen, you open the clip. The pen can’t be deployed when you’ve got it clipped on a pocket, because the clip is slightly open. It’s a fun mechanism to play with—push the knock to deploy, open the clip to retract, and repeat until someone smacks the Pfit out of your hands.

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Who even knows what I did with the old refill, probably bartered it to a wizard for candy

Originally, the Pfit came with some kind of 0.7mm standard ballpoint, probably similar to the Tombow OnBook. But I went on a Sharbo X refill kick (that’s what happens when you don’t just suck it up and buy something that you want) for all my mini pens that would take one, and have long since outfitted the Tombow Pfit with a Blood Red 0.4mm Sharbo X gel refill, which is still writing years after I put it in. The lines get a bit anemic in the middle sometimes, but that’s my only complaint in the writing department, and how much that issue might be due to age I can’t be sure.

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No longer available in orange!

The Pfit is a fun little pen, and would make a nice out-and-about accessory for office life or a cute little gift for others. The orange clip Pfit is no longer sold at JetPens, but they do still have some jewel-tone clips available!

Tombow Pfit Clip Mini Ballpoint Pen 0.7mm at JetPens

Zebra Sharbo X Gel Ink Pen Refill Component D1 – 0.4mm – Blood Red at JetPens





Zebra Prefill 3 Color Multi Pen

29 01 2014
In honor of the fast-approaching Valentine's Day, this scan has decided it wants its magenta-purple ink to appear pink instead. I give up

In honor of the fast-approaching Valentine’s Day, this scan has decided it wants its magenta-purple ink to appear pink instead. I give up

These names for multi pens get unwieldy. This is technically the Zebra Prefill 3 Color Multi Pen – Light Blue Body Component / 0.3mm Mechanical Pencil Component / 0.4mm Sarasa Gel Ink Components – Black and Purple. There, that’s everything.

In the world of budget-priced, customizable multi pens, there’s no perfection—only some pretty good options. The Prefill (‘preferred’ + ‘refill’) is Zebra’s pretty good option.

Simple and clean. Like that song. This will now be the soundtrack for the Zebra Prefill.

Simple and clean. Like that song. This will now be the soundtrack for the Zebra Prefill.

The body is hard plastic, and comes in a range of colors and patters (you can get a 3 component body or a 4 component body). Like the original Uni Style Fit, we’ve got a see-through grip to easily identify which components are loaded. Advantage over the original Style Fit: lead advances when a pencil component is deployed by pressing down on the top knock button. Disadvantage: the Prefill has no eraser (also, the Style Fit fixed that problem in another body). That’s right: no eraser; not on top, useless and tiny but still existent, nor as an optional in-body component, like the glorious Hi-Tec-C Coleto line.

Help me I'm still listening to the song. Hold me, Zebra Prefill, whatever lies beyond this morning....

Help me I’m still listening to the song. Hold me, Zebra Prefill, whatever lies beyond this morning….

Biggest thing going for the Zebra Prefill is probably this clip. Cribbed from their Sarasa Push Clip, Airfit Jell, and Surari 4C multi pen, its hinged clips pinch right on my heartstrings. Love a hinged clip.

I SWEAR IT'S MAGENTA PURPLE. NOT PINK. WHY. DOES THIS KEEP HAPPENING. WITH THE SARASA PURPLE.

I SWEAR IT’S MAGENTA PURPLE. NOT PINK. WHY. DOES THIS KEEP HAPPENING. WITH THE SARASA PURPLE.

A lack of eraser is a serious negative if the Prefill ever hopes to be a strong multipencil, buuuut among the Prefill, Style Fit, and Coleto systems, the Prefill is the only one with three size options (0.3mm, 0.5mm, and 0.7mm) for the mechanical pencil. The Coleto has 0.3mm and 0.5mm, and the Style Fit only has 0.5mm for its pencil component. It all depends on what your priorities might be in building an affordable multipencil.

Fine, I give up. Whatever. It's pink.

Fine, I give up. Whatever. It’s pink now.

If you’re a Zebra fan (think Sarasa gels and Surari super smooth ballpoints), then the Prefill is a good way to bring your loves together in one body, with some caveats. First, there’s only one size option listed for your various gel pen colors (0.4mm) and one size option for your ballpoints (0.5mm)—though the 0.7mm Surari ballpoint refill from my Surari 4C fits in the Prefill, making that 2 ballpoint size options. Second, it seems like individual Sarasa Pens write better than the components in the multi pen. Sometimes a little sacrifice is in order when you want compact convenience. But it’s like there are these times when the gel ball tip feels a little odd while writing…not so consistently nor terrible as to render the pen totally annoyingly unusable, but know that this may come up for you, and you may not like it.

Here's where an eraser would go...IF THE PREFILL HAD ONE.

Here’s where an eraser would go…IF THE PREFILL HAD ONE.

Zebra may be a little late to the low-end game, with not as many gel size options, but the Prefill is a comfortable start. I don’t think it’s enough to unseat the Style Fit or the Coleto, but it should at least pique the interest of Zebra’s Sarasa and Surari fans.

Zebra Prefill Multi Pen System at JetPens





Billet Pen & Marker

21 01 2014
I think you can imagine what writing with a Sharpie looks like. It's big and it bleeds through the paper

I think you can imagine what writing with a Sharpie looks like. It’s big and it bleeds through the paper

I’m sure you all remember this little Kickstarter you helped successfully fund? Thanks to Cliff at Billet Pens, I now have one of the pens and one of the markers to take for a spin. Thanks to Cliff for providing these free samples!

Background image is from a set of three by Chris Simpson titled "Zen Garden" ... the framed set was lying around the house, seemed like it could be a suitable background

Background image is from a set of three by Chris Simpson titled “Zen Garden” … the framed set was lying around the house, seemed like it would be a suitable background, as I don’t have real rocks readily available in my life

The Billet Pen comes in a simple box—nice enough to be functional, especially if you’re gift-giving, but well within the range of something you can dispose of and not feel bad (this is a big problem for me. I have a lot of boxes I don’t want but feel too guilty to get rid of). There’s also a slip with some helpful safety information about these magnets. Do not eat the cap, kids, and especially don’t eat two of them.

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Matte Black finish pen, Electric Blue finish marker

These pens are solid, from the appearance to the feel of the aluminum, from the magnets to how snugly everything fits together. There’s no clip, but I go back and forth on the clip issue—on my pens that have them, I wish they didn’t, and the ones that don’t tend to make high-speed rolling escapes off the side of my desk. No way to win on that for me. The pen is a little shorter than the marker—both bodies are the same length, but the marker cap is longer. The caps aren’t interchangeable between the pen and the marker; the pen cap has a special rubber plug and the marker a special inner cap to keep their respective refills from going dry.

dljk

I need to invent more reasons in my life to use Sharpie-type markers

The refills themselves aren’t really the focus—the Hi-Tec-C and the Sharpie marker both are solid writing options. As for the writing experience, both the pen and the marker hold their refills firmly in place. There’s no play, no wiggle, just perfect writing. The grip for the marker is the grip on the Sharpie refill. The pen grip is a two-part aluminum construction: an adapter and a tip. The adapter is perfectly machined to the width of the Hi-Tec-C refill, and if you unscrew the grip at the adapter’s meeting point with the barrel right behind the O-ring that seals the cap, you won’t be able to pull the refill out the back (there’s a flare at the tip of the refill that is wider than the ink part of the refill). You have to unscrew the tip section to get the refill out. I’m thinking the adapter/grip section is thus interchangeable so that, further down the line, other adapter sections can be made suited to other refills that are thicker or thinner than the Hi-Tec-C.

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The whole magnetic world is your pen cap holder. By the way that pen/marker diameter is about 1.5cm, for those who like to keep score of those things

These magnetic caps are pure sciencey forces-of-nature fun. They stay perfectly put while you write. Easy to absentmindedly snap on, easy to take off, but strong enough to stay on in the normal course of use. You can tap it on the page; it won’t knock the cap off (unless you’re particularly violent). Even pushing the cap down on the page, bending it away 90 degrees from the body with just the edges touching, the cap will still snap back onto the body when you lift it (best do this trick slowly though). And though the magnets can’t hold the entire pen to your refrigerator or other suitably magnetic surface, it will hold the cap. Magnets, yo. More fun than should even be allowed.

sdf

Magnetic more like magneato

The aluminum is smooth, and lovely to hold. The pen has weight, but isn’t too heavy. The barrels are thick—about the size of a Prismacolor marker—much thicker than your average pen body. And that’s a good thing! Variety is the lifeblood of the pen world (that said, if you don’t like big barrel pens then these babies are not for you). These pens are well made (in the USA), simple, but undoubtedly satisfying.

Billet Pens and Markers available in several finishes at Billet Pens

 

Note: the giveaway winner tells me he’s had some issues with the tip coming loose on the pen, which I haven’t had any problem with (this is why multiple pen reviewers and multiple pen opinions are important!)…if any of you have or have not had this problem, let me know! And if you do have this problem, see if Loctite helps any? I’m always told I need to put that on anything that might rattle loose on my motorcycle…





Ink Drop Soup: Billet Pens and Markers – Kickstarter & GIVEAWAY!

8 12 2013

When it comes to Hi-Tec-C pens and Sharpie markers, you’ve got two quality brand lines there with almost endless color choices. With so many colors to choose from, you can never have too many pen bodies to put them in—and just in time for the gifting holidays there’s a new pen body on the Kickstarter scene—the Billet Pen and Marker.

Image credit goes to Cliff/Billet Pens for all these images

Image credit goes to Cliff/Billet Pens for all these images

The body is anodized aircraft grade aluminum, with five basic body colors (red, black, purple, machined/silver, and matte black) and several laser engraved options. This Kickstarter is going fast, because the creator, Cliff, wants to get these pens out in time for those who make Christmas their #1 gifting holiday—multiple reward tiers are scheduled to ship on the 18th of December. I know what you’re thinking, because I thought it too—the 18th?!? What is this, Chinese factory magic? No, Cliff is a careful engineer and has been working on this project well in advance, stockpiling the pens needed (using a slower laser) to make sure that what he offers will be ready in time.

Two solid choices for refill types

Two solid choices for refill types; Hi-Tec-C Billet body comes with black, red, or blue option refill

Reasons I’m excited about this pen:
+ Thicker barrel body. Some people like slim and slender barrels—they’ve had their pens made time and again. It’s time for something I can wrap my meathooks around and actually write with for a while, and these look like just the solid-sized pens for the job.
+ Magnets. Magnets are always exciting. Unless you swallow two or more of them, in which case magnets are an emergency.
+ Attention to detail. I asked Cliff if he had made considerations to ensure that the refills wouldn’t dry out after a week, two weeks, a month, or more of not being used, because I have had some problems with Hi-Tec-C refills in alternate bodies going dry if I’m not constantly using them. The Billet pen has a special rubber plug, and the marker has a special inner cap to keep them from going dry.

Did I mention the excellent price? It's excellent.

Did I mention the excellent price? It’s excellent.

This Kickstarter ends Monday, December 16th at 2:59am EST, so get on it!!! That’s not very many days, and the project only has to get to $5000 to be funded! Don’t deny me this pen because you were feeling Scroogey :)

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THE GIVEAWAY RULES!

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To sweeten the spirit of things, Cliff is offering to give away a Billet Pen to one lucky winner! If you win, you get your choice of any of the pens being offered on the Kickstarter! Your rules as follows:

1. To enter, just leave one comment on this post any time between now and Monday, December 16th at 2:59am Eastern Standard Time. Sadly, this contest is only open to U.S. residents (but not to worry, internationals, you can get one of your own if you back the project on Kickstarter).
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 that’s just how I roll. The Random Integer Generator at random.org will be used to pick the number of the winner.
3. I’ll post the contest winner the morning of Monday, December 16th. Winner must email me as soon as possible! There’s a link to my email at the top right sidebar. I’ll forward your info to Cliff so he can ship you the pen of your choosing!

Good luck! And thank you to Cliff of Billet Pens!





Cross Edge Nitro Blue Rollerball Pen

24 11 2013

Rollerball? Lies. The refill says gel rolling ball.

Rollerball? Lies. The refill says gel rolling ball.

I won this sweet-looking pen in a Facebook giveaway by Goldspot Pens. Thanks to them and to the gods of random drawings for bringing unto me this pen.

Compact for travelling, full force for writing

Compact for travelling, full force for writing

The look is one of total modern sophistication. It’s got a bit much going on to be minimalist, but it’s still sleek and stylish. And this nitro blue metallic fusion resin—what a color!

A blue color, to be specific.

A blue color, to be specific.

The best part is the opening mechanism: pull apart to open, push together to close. It’s the sort of mechanism you can sit there and operate over and over. Open and close. Open and close. It’s fun to do. Might drive someone listening nearby crazy though.

It looks like it lines up so perfectly, but for me that isn't a good thing.

It looks like it lines up so perfectly, but for me that isn’t a good thing.

As I should have foreseen in the name, the Cross Edge has these edges where it slides open, and those edges align perfectly to dig in the crook of my hand. Not a problem if I hold it a little lower, but somehow that’s just not how I end up holding it. The feeling is slowly driving me a little bit crazy.

Name that planet for bonus points! Name where the picture came from for quadruple points! The points mean nothing!!!

Name that planet for bonus points! Name where the picture came from for quadruple points! The points mean nothing!!!

The refill it comes with is a gel rolling ball 0.7mm tip. The black is a rich black. Performance has been mixed so far. Pretty nice on some papers, random times where the flow nearly chokes out on other papers.

See how some of the writing is thinner? It still wrote, but it was getting questionable before it kicked back into gear

See how some of the writing is thinner? It still wrote, but it was getting questionable before it kicked back into gear

When it’s working, I like how it writes, though it does do that same annoying thing that Pentel EnerGels do: ink picks up on my hands and gets redistributed onto the page (thankfully without smudging the writing).

I thought maybe this was a stylus. Nope.

I thought maybe this was a stylus. Nope. Just…STYLE.

I like the pen, just gotta watch those hard edges.

Cross Edge Nitro Blue Rollerball Pen at Goldspot Pens





Pilot G2 0.38mm vs. Uni-ball Signo 207 Ultra Micro

24 09 2013
It's like an arcade game, with less quarters

It’s like an arcade game, with less quarters

There’s a big, wide world of micro-tipped pens out there, but when it comes to what’s available in physical American stores, choices are limited. So it’s high time for a showdown between the two most commonly available retractable micro tip pens: the Pilot G2 0.38mm and the Uni-ball Signo 207 Ultra Micro (in blue).

Imagine the sound of two pens clicking aggressively at each other. That is the soundtrack to this review

Imagine the sound of two pens clicking aggressively at each other. That is the soundtrack to this review

I’ve laid out my thoughts before on the design of both of these pens. Comparing the two is like trying to determine the winner in a noodle-armed slap fight. No one really wins, and we all feel a bit silly.

Are these really both 0.38mm? They don't look the same size.

Are these really both 0.38mm? They don’t look the same size.

What it really comes down to here is writing. The Signo 207 has lighter ink, and it appears to write thinner than the Pilot G2 by an almost microscopic factor. But the Uni-ball Signo 207 is occasionally plagued by some odd feeling at the tip when writing, something I can’t properly put into words. It’s not scratchy, it’s not like there’s any problem with the flow of ink, but there’s something, some slight something, that is at times getting in the way of 100% smooth writing.

And the Signo does a lot of this. See those near-railroads?

And the Signo does a lot of this. See those near-railroads?

The Pilot G2 isn’t exactly perfect either. It isn’t scratchy, but it feels ever so slightly slower when writing compared to the Uni-ball, like some kind of microresistance is involved—but the performance is more consistent, both in terms of the feel and the quality of the lines being laid down. The vertical line of my Ts with the Uni Signo 207 betrays an occasional tendency to deposit less ink in the middle than the sides of the line. The Pilot G2 does it too, but less often.

This has the makings of an excellent family crest. I'll get the castle fixed up and have it printed up on some flags and armaments.

This has the makings of an excellent family crest. I’ll get the castle fixed up and have it printed up on some flags and armaments.

If the Uni Signo 207 could get itself together and always write without that weird feeling to it, then in spite of its annoying grip it would be the clear winner. Both of the pens I’m using for this comparison I’ll admit are a few years old, brought back into use for this review, so even if age has brought the performance down it should have done so equally, because I got these pens around the same time.

For its consistency in performance, I declare the Pilot G2 0.38mm the winner of this fight.








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