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)





Sheaffer Taranis Roller Ball (Stormy Wine Feat. Gold Plate Trim)

6 12 2013
Fanciest Roller Ball I've Reviewed Yet! -- and just in time for my 150th review!

Fanciest Roller Ball I’ve Reviewed Yet! — and just in time for my 150th review!

Unless you are temporally challenged like yours truly, you’ve realized by now that the gifting holidays fast approacheth. Not to worry—Sheaffer is on top of it, and kindly sent me this sample to review and to pique your gift-buying interest. Thank you, Sheaffer.

Gift experience simulation: engaged

Gift experience simulation: engaged

Maybe you’re a jaded pen aficionado who has so many fancy pen boxes that you make box forts in your spare time—I’m not. Maybe this box is simple, but I was impressed. THE BOX COMES IN ANOTHER BOX, how much fancier does it get without turning into a Russian nesting doll of pen containment? And the box for the box? So perfectly wrappable that I couldn’t resist.

This picture is probably the closest to accurate color I could get. Reproduce the color in your home: put some red wine in a glass. I used Cabernet Sauvignon. Drink the wine. Keep drinking the wine. (If you are underage, make someone else drink the wine for you). Leave about a sip in the bottom of the glass. Look at that sip and squint.That's about the color.

This picture is probably the closest to accurate color I could get. Reproduce the color in your own home: put some red wine in a glass. I used Cabernet Sauvignon. Drink the wine. Keep drinking the wine. (If you are underage, make someone else drink the wine for you. If you are against wine, make someone else perform this experiment and take pictures for you.) Leave about a sip in the bottom of the glass. Look at that sip and squint.That’s about the color.

True to the name of its color, my Stormy Wine Taranis Roller ball arrived on a cold, stormy afternoon—and though I couldn’t have wine at the time (had to go to work) this is a perfect warm wine color. If this had been the fountain pen version, I could think of some perfect matching colors of ink…or if Sheaffer made a fountain-pen-ink-to-rollerball-tip converter…hint, hint, Sheaffer; my money dollars are waiting.

The ends are squared, like chopsticks. Using Sheaffer Taranis pens as chopsticks is not advisable. Talk to your doctor before eating roller ball pens as part of your heart healthy diet. Wwait

The ends are squared, like chopsticks. Using Sheaffer Taranis pens as chopsticks is not advisable. Talk to your doctor before eating roller ball pens as part of your heart healthy diet.

The Taranis (named after the Celtic god of thunder) is a design piece, no doubt. I might have to bust out my top hat, just so I can take my hat off to its designer, U.S. architect Charles Debbas. The details are simple but deliberate, and undeniably classy. I come down on the side favoring the long clip, but if it’s too plain for you I’d suggest finding someone to engrave a Celtic knot band down the face of it. But that’s just me; originally I thought (with my bad eyesight) that the SHEAFFER branding on the grip was something Celtic.

Haha, not even close. Does pronouncing "Sheaffer" with an Irish accent make it marginally more Celtic? Probably not.

Haha, not even close. Does pronouncing “Sheaffer” with an Irish accent make it marginally more Celtic? Probably not.

Even though the branding is upside-down for my left-handed perspective, I love this grip. It’s streamlined art deco. It’s modernized classic. Everything about this pen is lining up perfect for my hand—the ridge for the cap to snap on doesn’t hit anything, nor does the posted cap edge, and the weight feels nicely balanced. The cap posts smooth and snug, and doesn’t throw off the balance.

Seems the pen world is determined to start learning me a thing or two about roller balls.

Seems the pen world is determined to start learning me a thing or two about roller balls.

The refill it came with is a Sheaffer rollerball refill II (306), and it’s taking me some getting used to. I haven’t used a lot of rollerballs like I have gel pens, fountain pens, and ballpoints, so I don’t know if it’s common for the pen angle to so dramatically change the ink flow. It’s great for line variation in drawing, but for writing I’m still trying to get it under control. When I’ve got it, holy rollerball it’s smooth. It’s glorious. Like writing with power and butter. When I don’t, I cry out to the Celtic god of thunder to show me mercy and let my lines be consistent again.

Bartender! Quickly! Fill my glass! No, not with wine; more pens!!

Bartender! Quickly! Fill my glass! No, not with wine; more pens!!

The Taranis comes in five finishes, with boss-sounding names befitting a Celtic god—Stormy Night, Icy Gunmetal, White Lightning, Stormy Wine, and Sleek Chrome (translated: black, gray-silver, white, purplish red, more different silver) and is available as a ballpoint, rollerball, or fountain pen. Thanks again to Sheaffer for providing this sample!

Sheaffer Taranis by Sheaffer





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





Noodler’s Demo Rollerball Piston Fill

15 06 2013
The first time I've been too frustrated to finish the top illustration (though I did try again at the bottom)

The first time I’ve been too frustrated to finish the top illustration (though I did try again at the bottom)

Having so many bottles of ink, I decided to pick up a bottled ink rollerball pen at the Raleigh Pen Show. I was recommended to get the J. Herbin roller, but Anderson Pens was out so I picked up the Noodler’s instead.

See-through is like instant pen magic for "cool looking I should buy this"

See-through is like instant pen magic for “cool looking I should buy this”

It certainly looks cool, but the pen itself does feel its cheapness. I can foresee this plastic cracking, perhaps. Hope it doesn’t. But this plastic isn’t the supple sort of resin as the other Noodler’s pens I’ve had. The upshot of this though is that it doesn’t have that peculiar Noodler’s pen smell.

No gas mask or hazmat suit required

No gas mask or hazmat suit required

The piston fill works well. Looks like a good ink capacity. The grip is small but smooth, and rests nicely on my finger.

"Roll" is a deceptive term here. "Squeakerball" is more fitting

“Roll” is a deceptive term here. “Squeakerball” is more fitting

I’m not a rollerball connoisseur, but this thing is all over the place. First of all it’s squeaky; most of the time when I write it sounds like a mouse scarfing down a huge hunk of cheese. Second, the amount of ink that comes out is highly variable. I’m getting scarcity and I’m getting ink rush crazytime. I don’t know how to get it under control. Maybe the heat from my hand on the plastic is heating the ink enough to force it thru. It’s not consistent blobbery. No rhyme or reason to it.

Do I like the Noodler's ink sticker on the cap? I'm not sure.

Do I like the Noodler’s ink sticker on the cap? I’m not sure.

Reading online reviews, this seems to be a pretty consistent problem, and apparently the use and care instructions (which, I confess, I didn’t read) advise adjusting the piston so that there is as little room for air as possible…I haven’t done that yet, but in handwriting this review the ink flow just randomly cut out to nearly a trickle. WHAT IS GOING ON HERE.

WHEN WILL THIS WRITEMARE END?

WHEN WILL THIS WRITEMARE END?

I want to like this pen, but it’s more of a novelty that a pen of practical use. If the ink flow can get its act together, maybe we can reevaluate this penlationship. But for casual pen collectors, take a pass on this one. It’s too mercurial to be worth it.

Noodler’s Demo Rollerball Piston Fill at Anderson Pens





Pentel Libretto Pen & Pencil Set — and GIVEAWAY!

20 12 2012
Pens AND pencils---TOGETHER?!?!?

Pens AND pencils—TOGETHER?!?!?

You know how these things start. I get an email that begins with “do you want—” and I’m already shouting YES PLEASE as I reply with my mailing address before they can even get out the words “free pen sample.”

Does this desk look dimly lit to you? Or do I need to change my contacts?

Does this desk look dimly lit to you? Or do I need to change my contacts?

Usually I’m skeptical of gift sets when it comes to the world of writing utensils. No good reason for it, really. If I don’t like something, there’s usually a good reason. Gift pen and pencil sets are the exception. I distrust them without any justification.

The subtle accents somehow seem festively appropriate. Or maybe that's the red felt. Maybe the accents really indicate the number of times the pen was distilled. 150-proof pen, ladies and gents.

The subtle accents somehow seem festively appropriate. Or maybe that’s the red felt. Maybe the accents really indicate the number of times the pen was distilled. 150-proof pen, ladies and gents.

But I’m glad I gave these a shot. They’re simple yet elegant, with classy accents and a nice feel in the hand. I’d take them to a dinner party; wouldn’t you?

Pencil? Bueno. Rollerball? Not so bueno.

Pencil? Bueno. Rollerball? Not so bueno.

The pencil I found myself reaching for time and again on recent craft / notebook-making projects. The pen, however, is a bit of a let-down. It doesn’t apply well over pencil, meaning it’s a no-go for art use, and I had some occasional skipping. Not to fear though.

I doubt Pentel appreciates me kicking their refill out for a Uni-ball Jetstream refill, but maybe I wouldn't have to if they'd stock the Vicuna in American retail stores.

I doubt Pentel appreciates me kicking their refill out for a Uni-ball Jetstream refill, but maybe I wouldn’t have to if they’d stock the VIcuna in American retail stores.

Joyous wonder, the Jetstream refill fits in this body. So you can have a fancy all-fine-occasions pen with a delicious Jetstream center (and if you love the person you’d be giving this to, you WILL open it up and put a Jetstream refill in the pen).

 

For all your favorite gift-based holidays!

For all your favorite gift-based holidays!

Now, on to the good stuff.

 

******************************

THE GIVEAWAY RULES!

******************************

  1. To enter, just leave one comment on this post any time between now and Thursday, December 27th 11:59 PM Eastern Standard Time. Since I’ll be sending this myself, and I’m not made of loot and dough, I’m limiting this contest to U.S. residents only. Sorry!
  2. One winner will be picked at random from the comments section of this post. Make any kind of comment—but only one comment! 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. Because my blog doesn’t seem to number the comments on its own yet, and I STILL don’t will probably never have time/the willpower to fix it, I will again hand-number all the entries in Photoshop like I did here. 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 Friday, December 28th. Winner will have one week to email me. There’s a link to my email at the top of the right sidebar.

Good luck everyone!

Many thanks to Pentel for providing these sets for me to review and for the extra to give away!

Pentel Libretto Pen & Pencil Set

 

 





New Premium Line of TUL Pens from OfficeMax — and GIVEAWAY

3 12 2012
Four for one special!!

Four for one special!!

This review would have been brought to you sooner, but someone decided to make vanish my original sample package. Whoever you are, I hope you weren’t expecting pens in that box. I hope whenever you so much as look at a pen you are filled with an unending sense of guilt that haunts you all your days.

Given that it's the premium line, I would have put them IN a line, but that just didn't fit nicely in a picture

ADMIT YOUR GUILT OR BE CURSED FOREVER, MYSTERY THIEF

So, I too was contacted by OfficeMax to see if I’d be interesting in taking their new premium line of pens for a whirl. As always, I am thrilled for the opportunity to test some new pens. Also, something about a giveaway? We’ll come back to that.

From top to bottom: marker pen, rollerball, gel pen, ballpoint

From top to bottom: marker pen, rollerball, gel pen, ballpoint

I like the general design of this TUL line (confession: I am not at all acquainted with the previous line so I can’t really compare the two). These pens don’t try too hard; they adhere to basic, minimalist designs that stick to a general theme while giving each pen a unique look.

The ovals are another good element

The ovals are another good element

Design-wise, the gel pen is my favorite. I like the long grip, and the color accents are just enough to let you know what the ink color is while not detracting from the simple, stolid office theme. The capped pens (marker and rollerball) have hard plastic that I’m afraid might be prone to crack over time (similar to the Platinum Preppy). The ballpoint would be better with a longer grip section, like the gel pen, but I’ll survive.

Here's where all the important parts come in.

Here’s where all the important parts come in.

The marker pen is smooth, and the only bleedthrough I had was on the drawing portion. The rollerball was a little inconsistent (or character-filled, if you prefer), and was probably my least favorite of the bunch just due to that and the occasional odd sensation of the ball rolling not quite properly. If I’m going to have character-filled lines, I prefer to have them coming from a fountain pen, when I can have whatever color ink I want. The gel pen was smooth, bright, and consistent, all good. But my favorite, by and far, was the ballpoint pen. It was dark and smooth to the point that it took me completely by surprise. I think I’ve finally found a pen that performs close enough to a Jetstream that I can keep on my desk, but not be too distraught if the pen walks away.

If I ran an office, I'd order them

If I ran an office, I’d order them

Suggested retail prices range from $1.99 (single pens) to $20.99 (12-pack). Not bad at all.

TUL Marker Pen from OfficeMax

TUL Rollerball Pen from OfficeMax

TUL Gel Pen from OfficeMax

TUL Ballpoint Pen from OfficeMax

******************************

THE GIVEAWAY RULES!

******************************

Now for the part you’ve been looking forward to: the giveaway! OfficeMax is generously providing a sample set directly to one lucky reader here. Your rules as follows:

  1. To enter, just leave one comment on this post any time between now and Monday, December 10th 11:59 PM Eastern Standard Time. Sadly, this contest is only open to U.S. residents.
  2. One winner will be picked at random from the comments section of this post. Make any kind of comment—but only one comment! 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. Because my blog doesn’t seem to number the comments on its own yet, and I STILL don’t have time/the willpower to fix it, I will probably just hand-number all the entries in Photoshop like I did here because this is the kind of solution that sane people come up with. 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 11th. Winners will have one week to email me. There’s a link to my email at the top of the right sidebar. I’ll forward your info to OfficeMax so they can send you your pens!

Good luck, and thanks again to OfficeMax!

Disclaimer: I received the TUL products mentioned in this post from OfficeMax in order to facilitate my review. The items featured in this giveaway are also provided by OfficeMax and will be sent to the winner directly. Opinions expressed in this post are 100% my own. I have not been compensated for this post in any other way.





Stabilo Bionic Worker Roller Ball Pen – 0.3 mm – Black Ink

14 07 2012

It is theoretically possible that one day, I will find a rollerball I like as much as I like the Jetstream ballpoint that I’ll go around championing. But today is not that day.

One of these days, maybe I’ll learn to stop trying rollerball pens. We just don’t work well together, me and rollerball pens, but resisting such a brightly colored new arrival proved impossible (thanks to JetPens for providing this sample!).

Good for Halloween, and for public safety cone emergency replacements

I’m all over this design. Bright minimal-industrialist, the curves, the dots—and it looks great next to a Rhodia notebook.

Maybe it’s the sleep deprivation talking, but zoom in on this picture—doesn’t it look like there’s a black bird standing on the S, dropping a dot on the T? Maybe it’s just the sleep deprivation.

It’s got the little touches that are nice to see on an industrial pen, like the unobtrusive little bump there to keep the pen from rolling off when uncapped, metal clip, and a cap that posts and secures nicely. The rubberized body, though it has a mild propensity to gather a few cat hairs, has nice traction (because I assume all industrialized environments more or less involve working in three feet of oil).

Labeling can sometimes be used to great design effect. EXCEPT WHEN IT’S COVERED IN LIES

I know that a European fine is thicker than a Japanese fine, but there is nowhere on this planet where a 0.3mm tip pen should make a line this thick and be called a “fine.” This is not fine. This is very unfine. You should be fined for making something so unrefined, Stabilo.

shhhh the sleep deprivation is talking

Maybe German workers have no need for fine things. Maybe other people like pens that don’t write consistently clean, crisp lines. I don’t know. All I know is I have a cool looking pen here that I’m not particularly drawn to write with.

Fuzzy writing on majority of papers is a pretty constant problem for me and rollerballs though, so don’t blame Stabilo too badly for that.

I might try to see if I can hack the Stabilo ink insert out and put something else in, and if it works I’ll report back. Otherwise, unless you really need something to match a Rhodia Notebook, or you collect all the rollerball pens, or you have better luck than me with these mercurial liquid ink sticks, I’d pass on this pen.

Stabilo Bionic Worker Roller Ball Pen – 0.3 mm – Black Ink at JetPens








Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 250 other followers