Monteverde Poquito Fountain Pen – Chrome

27 03 2014
Top, writing sample with Poquito #1 that did not want to cooperate. Bottom, writing sample with Poquito #2, somewhat more cooperative

Top, writing sample with Poquito #1 that did not want to cooperate. Bottom, writing sample with Poquito #2, somewhat more cooperative

I had a review all ready and done for this pen. Here’s basically the summary of that review: “the last thing you want as a fountain pen user is the indignity and embarrassment of a pen that refuses to write.” No matter what I did, the pen just would not write. The flow was terrible. It would dry out after mere hours of not being used. But the Goulet Pen Company, being awesome, when I contacted them for advice on what to do about the poorly performing Poquito went ahead and sent me another one to exchange. Now, I have a less terrible Poquito to review.

It is certainly compact

It is certainly compact

Appearance-wise, the Poquito is on winning ground, which was what originally attracted me to it. The idea was to get a serious metal-body contender for the pocket fountain pen category at a more affordable price than, say, the twice-as-expensive Liliput. The snap cap won points for convenience, and though the Chrome body picks up hand and fingerprints clear enough to convict a crime, I chose chrome over one of the painted jobs thinking it would hold up better in pockets that might also include keys and other oddments. The cap snaps nicely closed, and posts securely. So far, so good.

Here is where the unmitigated goodness ends

Here is where the unmitigated goodness ends

The writing, however, is on a little shaky ground. As I mentioned, my first Poquito wouldn’t write reliably at all. The second Poquito is doing better, though I still had some problems when I first got it—the pen seemed to dry up overnight, it would need to be scribbled around with before I’d get it writing again.

"Poquito"---Spanish for "little," likely being the general amount of ink you'll be able to coax out of this pen.

“Poquito”—Spanish for “little,” likely being the general amount of ink you’ll be able to coax out of this pen.

But it seems to be writing for now, so let’s evaluate that performance. On the whole, the flow seems a bit dry and also a bit variable. It’s not been so dry as to completely ghost out, but you can see where the ink gets thinner. The nib is neither terrible nor remarkable; it simply is.

Oh Poquito, I had such high hopes for you!

Oh Poquito, I had such high hopes for you!

There are good, reliable compact fountain pens out there, but the Poquito doesn’t top the list. I would probably recommend the too-juicy A.G Spalding & Bros. Mini Fountain Pen over the Poquito (JUST KIDDING I inked up the A.G. Spalding mini and MY GOODNESS IT IS WAY TOO JUICY). If you want a solid way to spend your money, for the same price at The Goulet Pen Company you can get two bottles of Rohrer & Klingner Scabiosa Iron Gall ink, which is pretty much the most magical ink I’ve ever tried (and it will be shipped in the most secure and Fort Knoxian bubblewraptopia of fashions). Or you can take a whirl on the quality control roulette wheel and give the Poquito a try.

Monteverde Poquito Fountain Pen – Chrome – at the Goulet Pen Company





Ohto Tasche Fountain Pen – Fine Nib – Black Body

4 03 2014
mrrr

Grab a glass of water; this writing is far too dry

I’ve had an interest in this pen since 2011, when it first landed on my wishlist. Thanks to JetPens for providing this free sample to review.

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Tasche is probably not short for Mustasche but it should be

The Tasche has a great compact design—small for carrying, full size for use. There’s a classic elegance to its look, all shades of silver and smooth black.

Note the little rubber ring on the end that helps keep the cap smoothly secured in place

Note the little rubber ring on the end that helps keep the cap smoothly secured in place

The cap snaps satisfyingly shut to close, and slides smoothly on the end to post. In terms of portable use, this is probably the best, most easy to use design I’ve dealt with. It feels secure when posted, and you don’t have to deal with the slight time delay of unscrewing a cap. Unfortunately, that ends the portion where I have good things to say about the pen.

It's all downhill from here

It’s all downhill from here

First off, the pen didn’t even want to write when I put the cartridge in. I managed to get the pen to write, and it’s been an anemic struggle ever since.

Handwriting this review out was infuriatingly near-impossible

Handwriting this review out was infuriatingly near-impossible

This is beyond dry. This is barely usable. This is the Sahara desert in the form of a pen, minus the jackals and sand lizards. I get the sense that maybe the nib slit is too narrow, meaning I might be able to fix it with some effort, but you don’t buy a pen whose quality control record operates on the kind of odds you’d find in a casino. Most people aren’t going to spend good money on an ordinary pen knowing that you’ll probably have to fix it just to get it to be usable. Rescuing this pen will be good practice for me, but unless you’re looking for a rescue operation, stay away.

Sorry Tasche, I'm not just looking for a pretty face to dress up my pen case

Sorry Tasche, I’m not just looking for a pretty face to dress up my pen case

If you want a working compact pen in the same general price range, drop a few bucks more on the Kaweco Sport. If you want an attractive quality control disaster, feel free to gamble on the Ohto Tasche.

Ohto Tasche Fountain Pen – Fine Nib – Black Body at JetPens





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

28 02 2014
word

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





Ohto Capstick Cap-Knock Needle Point Ballpoint Pen – 0.5 mm – Red Cap / Black Body

14 02 2014
In honor of it being that holiday with the color red (also, pink, chocolates, maybe heart-shaped objects are involved)

In honor of it being that holiday with the color red (also, pink, chocolates, maybe heart-shaped objects are involved)

I’ve had this pen almost three years now! Wow. I don’t even remember what might have specifically motivated me to get it, aside from my general love of compact pens.

It comes in other lipstickesque colors like black cap red body, black cap pink body, and pink body black cap.

It comes in other lipstickesque colors like black cap red body, black cap pink body, and pink body black cap.

The look is a svelte combination of a six-sided wooden pencil and a slim chapstick, made of metal.

How they made this baby is beyond the scope of this blog

How they made this baby is beyond the scope of this blog

The metal body has a matte-like surface that has held up well and provides a decent grip. It’s about as comfortable as a standard wooden pencil is, but the concern for a little pen like this is more durability and utility than comfort. You want something you can throw in your pocket or bag and not worry about—and in that, the Capstick has excelled. Three years of abuse and only one little dent.

And a few nicks, nothing too atrocious

And a few nicks, nothing too atrocious

The cap snaps securely to close and into place to deploy the tip. It’s a clever mechanism.

This is where the magic happens

This is where the magic happens

Even if it somehow managed to lose its cap, the Capstick isn’t going to mark up the inside of your bag or pocket—the tip isn’t deployed unless the cap is posted. It’s a neat feature, unless you do lose the cap—then you can’t use the pen (which is ultimately why I decided against making this a motorcycling pen…I could see a fumbling of gloves, and a cap dropping off the side of a mountain, never to be seen again).

It LOOKS totally awesome, and if only that was what mattered in writing utensils...

It LOOKS totally awesome, and if only that was what mattered in writing utensils…

The 0.5mm needlepoint ballpoint is…meh. Sometimes it will write well for quite a while, lines slim and crisp for a ballpoint, but then the flow goes off, gets thin:

It also feels off when the writing gets thin

It also feels off when the writing gets thin

I might just be particularly nitpicky, because the ink never cuts out entirely, but I can’t help feeling that a needlepoint gel 0.5mm refill would have been a better-performing option for this pen than the ballpoint.

Complete with sparkly logo "for pouch" ..give one to the kangaroo in your life today

Complete with sparkly logo “for pouch” ..give one to the kangaroo in your life today

The Capstick is more about compact convenience and style than a stellar writing performance. Or maybe this is just what happens to the refill being this old. The construction is solid—I may see if any other refills can be hacked into this body.

Ohto Capstick Cap-Knock Needle Point Ballpoint Pen – 0.5 mm – Red Cap / Black Body at JetPens





Shaw Stylus/Ballpoint Necklace Pen

3 12 2013
Editing assistance brought to you by my cat, who has decided to sleep on my arm while I'm trying to type captions

Editing assistance brought to you by my cat, who has decided to sleep on my arm while I’m trying to type captions

Though I initially resisted getting the one that matched my Shaw Gilbert Fountain Pen, a similar pearl and purple colored swirl version proved too great not to get.

Resemblance to snail dissipates when actually worn

Resemblance to snail dissipates when actually worn

First off it’s a great accessory, sartorially speaking. You’ve got this beautiful chain (which, if you wanted something less classy couture you could replace it with say a black or leather cord, which would still look nice), matching silver accents, and that gorgeous resin body.

Chain hangs long enough to easily use the stylus without it hanging all the way down to your kneecaps

Chain hangs long enough to easily use the stylus without it hanging all the way down to your kneecaps

Look at the resin! No, really, look at it! Beautiful!

Are you looking? I'm not sure I can't really tell; the internet is in the way.

Are you looking? I’m not sure I can’t really tell; the internet is in the way.

The pen is compressed on a spring; once unscrewed from the cap the inner metal tube containing the refill expands out to an overall pretty normal pen length. And though I wouldn’t sit here and write out a copy of the greatest works of Shakespeare, it’s perfectly comfortable for some quick notes. You would think it would feel weirdly balanced. It doesn’t. You would think the thin barrel would feel too thin. Somehow, it doesn’t.

Open sesame

Open sesame

The refill it comes with is a standard mini ballpoint—nothing too fancy.

Open disassembly

Open disassembly

But I’m thinking that means I can put some of those sweet Sharbo X gel refills in. Score!

Ha! You can't sit on my arm when I've got you trapped in the DIGITAL REALM, SILLY FELINE!

Ha! You can’t sit on my arm when I’ve got you trapped in the DIGITAL REALM, SILLY FELINE!

When it comes to evaluating capacitive styluses, I admit I am a little lost. Does it work? Yes. Hooray! I will note that it is replaceable (it unscrews from the body), so if it ever craps out, breaks, explodes, or whatever it is that happens to capacitive stylii, your pen(dant) won’t be ruined. Oh, that would be a good name for it. Capacitive Pen(dant).

Mesmerizing!

Mesmerizing!

The problem with a lot of emergency pens is that I forget to put them in designated locations in advance. Around the neck is perfect—if I lose what’s holding the chain on, I’ve got bigger (and perhaps decapitatory) problems.

There’s no specific link up on Alan Shaw’s website yet for this handy little number, but if you’re interested send him an email or give him a call!





Bobino Slim Pen – Black

19 07 2013
Does someone need some very gray writing? I have got you covered, champ.

Does someone need some very gray writing? I have got you covered, champ.

The Bobino was a long resisted impulse purchase. All it took was finally finding it for a dollar less at Barnes & Noble than what it went for at the Container Store for the sale to be complete.

If it's nothing else, the Bobino is pretty photogenic

If it’s nothing else, the Bobino is pretty photogenic

Finally, I can prove to you all that I’m not just swayed by a pretty barrel design. Aesthetics must go hand in hand with function, and though the flat flounder design is hip, it’s a pain to hold.

Am I cool yet? Are the hip kids watching?

Am I cool yet? Are the hip kids watching?

I had a very strong feeling going in that actually using the pen would pose a bit of a problem. If I grip it very loosely it’s not as bad, but then my mediocre lines get just that little bit fainter. And it’s hard to triangle-grip a pen that only has 2 sides.

Yeah technically it's a 3-dimensional object but the fatness of my fingers negates the functional existence of the slim side planes

Yeah technically it’s a 3-dimensional object but the fatness of my fingers negates the functional existence of the slim side planes

In a super-smooth world, you gotta hit me with some serious bells and whistles to get a nod. This ink is merely gray, sometimes doesn’t start, and while it’s not NOT smooth, it doesn’t possess my snobbish high standard for exceptional smoothness.

But wouldn't it look cool attached to this case?

But wouldn’t it look cool attached to this case?

Given that I always have a bag and my bag always has pens, I can’t even imagine attaching this inside a notebook (where, though it wouldn’t be significant, it would still add some bulk). If I have a notebook that needs a low profile pen on hand, the Tombow OnBook does a much better job. Emergency pen for a checkbook? Maybe, if unlike me your checkbook actually leaves the house with you. Emergency school pen? You’d be better off paying extra attention in class, or begging a pen off someone else. Even if it’s a Bic Stic or a G2, those are still suitably pen shaped.

The Bobino looks neat, but ultimately it’s just a gimmick.

But if for some reason you want it, scour your local Barnes & Noble. Otherwise, price ascending, you’ll have to hit up the Container Store or Amazon, where the price is even less worth it.





Zebra Minna Mini Ballpoint Pen with Japanese Print – 0.7 mm – Wine Red Cap

29 06 2013
I have mixed emotions about this pen

I have mixed emotions about this pen

This is a story about a pen so small that I actually lost the first one I bought (you’re welcome, cleaning people in random motel in Asheville), but so adorable that I bought another one anyway (but not so cost-effective that that was necessarily a good idea).

The American penny was just too big. Like taking pictures of the coin more than the pen.

The American penny was just too big. Like taking pictures of the coin more than the pen.

I originally owned the silver one, but it was too much of an indignity to buy the exact same thing again, so I went with the “wine red” cap on repurchase (though I can’t say that the wine I drink ever looks this particular shade of red. I guess “fruit punch red” just doesn’t have the same classy ring to it). This pen is small. Your mind will not comprehend how small it is unless you’re holding it. You see it here, next to the 1 euro-cent, or on JetPens, next to an American quarter, and you THINK you have an idea of how small it is. You’re wrong. It’s smaller than that. You could probably swallow this pen whole and not even manage to choke on it (it’ll probably get stuck somewhere past your stomach though, so, maybe don’t do that).

You also may not realize how small one of these 1 euro cent coins is. I believe the mathematical size is referred to as "unbelievably adorable" sized.

You also may not realize how small one of these 1 euro cent coins is. I believe the mathematical size is referred to as “unbelievably adorable” sized.

It’s a lovely pen to look at. Slim, minimal, elegant, and well made (at its price, it had BETTER be well made). The metal cap is smooth, with a pearlescent sort of sparkle-sheen to it, and posts perfectly. The little Japanese print provides just the right amount of accent. It’s held up well so far, being tossed in at the bottom of a bag, which makes me hopeful for its potential as an everyday carry.

I think it is a universal requirement of standard ballpoints to have some crusty ink crud visible when I take its picture

I think it is a universal requirement of standard ballpoints to have some crusty ink crud visible when I take its picture

It writes. Not a particularly enjoyable experience for me, writing for the duration of the writing sample; I found the lovely silver accents around the print to be a bit of a pain in the base of my thumb, and the writing felt a bit cramped with such a small and slender barrel. But it does what I would need it to do, which would be write in a moment of necessity. The smaller your hands, the more you would probably like writing with this pen. The refill itself, a Zebra 4C-0.7 ballpoint pen refill, is nothing spectacular.

IT'S LIKE THEY'RE SWIMMING IN WATER BEFORE YOUR VERY EYES

IT’S LIKE THEY’RE SWIMMING IN WATER BEFORE YOUR VERY EYES

At time of writing, this wee little pen is only a dollar seventy-five shy of a full ten dollars, which seems like an awful lot of money to drop on something so little that isn’t a fountain pen. Spending absurd amounts of money on fountain pens is somehow more psychologically justifiable. It’s a pretty little pen, but if I lose it again, I probably won’t be buying a third.

Zebra Minna Mini Ballpoint Pen with Japanese Print – 0.7mm – Wine Red Cap at JetPens





Follow-up: Pilot Petit 1

3 06 2013

20130603-214523.jpg
Hadn’t written with this little guy in probably a year; started right up!





Stipula Passaporto Crystal Clear Eyedropper Fountain Pen

23 02 2013
Possibly M nib? Not entirely sure. Delicious Pendleton mix ink though.

Possibly M nib? Not entirely sure. Delicious Pendleton mix BlaKWa ink though.

The Stipula Passaporto was just a distant, expensive dream until I stumbled upon it half-priced at the DC Pen Show (at Speerbob’s booth) and couldn’t resist.

It's a bit like a cigar, except you can write with it and it probably won't give you cancer and OKAY IT IS NOTHING LIKE A CIGAR

It’s a bit like a cigar, except you can write with it and it probably won’t give you cancer and OKAY IT IS NOTHING LIKE A CIGAR

The design of the pen combines several of my most favorite things: compact, clear body, fountain pen, made in Italy. The only thing that could make it better is if it could dispense espresso through my skin into my blood stream while I write.

Remember when I would be awake in the daytime and have natural daylight for these pictures? THOSE SURE WERE THE DAYS

Remember when I would be awake in the daytime and have natural daylight for these pictures? THOSE SURE WERE THE DAYS

The body is a sturdy sort of resin something or other, and seems to hold up well in spite of making numerous unprotected trips in my pocket. It can be filled with standard short cartridges, or as an eyedropper pen with bottled ink. It even comes with its own glass eyedropper. The cap screws on to close, and presses onto the back to post. When closed, the pen is Fort Knox secure. This is not a pen that will unscrew in your pocket. The cap, when posted firmly, is pretty secure (though can be knocked loose), and makes the pen long enough for comfortable long-term writing. And my, is it ever comfy! I LOVE the thicker body barrel for writing.

Chance of humidity: always percent

Chance of humidity: always percent

Now, for a few negatives. This first one drives me crazy—condensation in the cap. Or ink in the cap. Or worse, BOTH. It happens often, and especially when I carry this pen in my jeans pocket. The pen is secure, so I’m not worried about this stuff getting out, it’s just annoying that it’s there at all.

Sure it writes wonderfully NOW...

Sure it writes wonderfully NOW…

The second BIG big negative is that I could not get a steady writing flow going right out of the box. It was crazy frustrating, and I tried everything I could think to do (besides take it back, because I would admit no defeat). At last beaten, I took the pen back to the ballroom, and escorted it (and some cash) over to Pendleton Brown to see if he could do something for it. And he did! It writes wonderfully now, a nice tactile smooth with an ink flow that never fails. And he hooked me up with some of his Waterman BlakWa ink mix, which I am currently in love with.

Little leaf keeps pen | From rolling down the table | Some but not all times

Little leaf keeps pen | From rolling down the table | Some but not all times

You might think, with these two major problems looming over it, that I might not like this pen. But fountain pens are funny things. Maybe it’s their offbeat nature. Maybe it’s a psychological attachment fueled by all the dough you fork over for pens like these. Who knows. But in spite of its problems, I love this little pen. I’m glad I got it, and I enjoy using it.

Unfortunately, I don’t see any clear versions of the Passaporto fountain pen at Speerbob’s, and none of the other colors are for the price I got mine at. If you’re looking for this pen at an unbeatable price, you might have to make the trek to a fountain pen supershow to get a good deal. Or scour the internet. Best of luck in your quest.





The X-Pen +prototype+

30 08 2012

My tiniest writing sample yet

This will be my first review of a prototype. Arash Malek emailed me out of the blue, asking if I would be interested in reviewing one of the prototype samples from their Kickstarter campaign, and like always with these kind of review requests (seriously, are these trick questions? who says no?) I said yes.

I guess I should have used normal items of scale, like rulers or coins. Too late now!

My first reaction was a delighted “OH MY STARS AND ENVELOPES; IT’S A TINY PEN!” I love small pens with an eye toward everyday carry convenience. Other notable pens that activate this joyous whimsy include the Kaweco Liliput, the Pilot Petit1, the E+M Workman Pocket Clutch lead holder, the Hi-Tec-C Slim Knock—but this is the first compact felt tip pen I’ve encountered.

You haven’t seen photoshopping this poor since the dawn of the internet

Let’s talk about design. It looks like a battery. Or a robot cigarette. Probably both! (Stay away from cigarettes, kids, robot or otherwise. Except for this X-pen; it’s not actually a robot cigarette.) It’s strange and I like it. I’m not an engineer, but if I were designing a hip-and-with-it engineer, this looks like the sort of pen I would have ever in the hands of that engineer.

Hexes aren’t just for witches and wizards

As you probably know (unless you hate science and fun), magnets are one of the coolest things discovered for the human technological arsenal (sorry to be speciesist, but how many aardvarks using magnets have you seen?). The cap closes and posts with magnets. I cannot stress enough how satisfying it is to close the cap. Yes, it’s also very functional and keeps the cap securely in place, but most importantly it’s way more fun than it really should be. I find myself idly opening and closing the cap just for the fun of it. Functionality bonus!: the hex on the cap unscrews the hexamabob that holds the refill in place.

Note: there’s no finish on this round of the prototype, so the steel sleeve in the front is starting to rust a bit—this was noted to me by the makers before I got the prototype, so I’m not concerned.

You may recall my discovery of the Pilot Fineliner, and my delight in its performance. Well, though my sample came with a Pilot Razor Point refill, you will be delighted to note that the X-pen also takes the Pilot Fineliner tip/refill. MOST EXCELLENT.

Boring ordinary Pilot Razor Points

The Razor Point refill itself is quite nice—though I feel like it takes perhaps a couple of words to warm up, after that it’s nice and smooth, no drying out or whatever other problems exist in the felt-tip writing world. Even though it’s short, it’s long enough even unposted for a normal writing experience; and even though it’s pocket sized, it’s thick enough (thicker than the original Pilot Razor Point body) to be perfectly comfortable.

ACTION! DRAMA! EXCITEMENT! PEN!

From what I’ve seen in this prototype, I think the X-pen will be an excellent pen (IS THAT WHAT THE X STANDS FOR HMM?). It’s very exciting to see some pennovation that goes beyond just another body for Hi-Tec-C refills. Thank you to Arash for providing me with this sample!

Check out the X-Pen Kickstarter campaign, and get in on it while there’s still time!








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