Jetstream BLX 1.0mm – Green Black, Blue Black, and Purple Black

6 02 2014
I spent an embarrassing amount of time trying to find my red black Jetstream BLX to work on this review, only to realize eventually that I never even owned any such pen.

I spent an embarrassing amount of time trying to find my red black Jetstream BLX to work on this review, only to realize eventually that I never even owned any such pen.

I first saw the Jetstream BLX in a big box store, on a special Uni-ball endcap display. I immediately texted my local pen store (“I saw Uni-ball Jetstream BLX colors in an evil boxstore; when r u getting them so I can buy?”) and brought another Jetstream into my life. Would it be like the glorious Jetstream standard, or would it be a crushing disappointment like the newer color series?

If only looks were everything...

If only looks were everything…

In the realm of design, good work. The rubbery black body (with subtle microsparkles in the material) provides good traction for gripping, and the material has a pleasant handfeel without picking up too much debris.

Excellent use of colors. Better even than the Signo BLX.

Excellent use of colors. Better even than the Signo BLX.

The rest of the pen is either silver accents, or translucent plastic matched to the color of the refill. Love it. No complaints on style.

Here's where things fall apart

Here’s where things fall apart

But I do have complaints, and unfortunately, they’re about the writing experience. You can feel ink gunking on the ballpoint tip, clogging, with results ranging from episodes of writing not being smooth (being rather jarring, jerky, uneven feeling) all the way to not even writing at all.

How appropriate that it couldn't write out the word DISAPPOINTMENT, because that's exactly what it is.

How appropriate that it couldn’t write out the word DISAPPOINTMENT, because that’s exactly what it is.

I don’t know what the problem is. The colors look great, but the writing is unreliable. Would a smaller tip size help? Why would it, when the 0.5mm Jetstream color series also performed poorly, and black 1.0mm Jetstreams have done just fine? Maybe that blue-black Jetstream color ink series I got so long ago was just a fluke when it comes to the behavior of Jetstream inks with colors.

In the trendy garbage can where it belongs

In the trendy garbage can where it belongs

Sorry Jetstream. Sorry Uni-ball. But these BLX models are terrible.

But if you want to give them a shot, I’m not stopping you. You’ll find them at many box stores and also at JetPens.





Uni-ball Signo 207 Battle – Blue Ink

19 09 2013
Do not believe the faint refrains of advertising media; bolder is NOT better

Do not believe the faint refrains of advertising media; bolder is NOT better

First, a disclaimer: I only bought the bold (1.0mm) and micro (0.5mm) Uni Signo 207 gel pens new, because I already had a regular/medium (0.7mm) and an ultra micro (0.38mm) in blue in my horde. As much as I love wasting money, I decided to cheapskate it this time and so, if any incorrect conclusions are drawn because half of these pens aren’t brand-spanking-new, I apologize. Please lodge any complaints with Uni-ball, since in spite of my undying love for their Jetstream, they have not yet seen fit to shower me with freebies.

The most straightforward, boring picture of the lot. My apologies.

The most straightforward, boring picture of the lot. My apologies.

Overall, the Signo 207s are virtually identical except for two overt things: the iconic clip—

You'd be able to recognize that clip even on your grandmother's old black-and-white notebook-sized television

You’d be able to recognize that clip even on your grandmother’s old black-and-white suitcase-sized television

And the color of the labels printed on the clip and the barrel.

 Why pretty silver for the big bad 0.7 and 1.0mm pens? Why the slightly less attractive gold for the more lovely-writing 0.38mm and 0.5mm?

Why pretty silver for the big bad 0.7 and 1.0mm pens? Why the slightly less attractive gold for the more lovely-writing 0.38mm and 0.5mm?

As far as the design goes, I’m keen on everything except the grip. It’s not a mind-bendingly beautiful look, but it doesn’t need to be. They look slick, and they make the pen cup they’re in look put together. Professional yet disposable (though they are refillable, most casual pen users will likely toss them once they’re empty). My big beef is with the grip. I do not like all the little raised ovals.

Little ovals of sheer annoyance

Little ovals of sheer annoyance

It has been well established that I simply cannot learn the ideal tripod grip. I constantly revert to my ill-advised multi-finger ergonomically-challenged grasping. The little ovals get pressed into the base of my thumb, which gets annoying over time. The Premier 207 body with its Alpha Gel grip doesn’t have this problem, but this isn’t a review of that pen.

IT IS SO AMAZING UNLESS YOU ARE COLORBLIND OR FOR SOME REASON HAVE A BLACK AND WHITE COMPUTER MONITOR

IT IS SO AMAZING UNLESS YOU ARE COLORBLIND OR FOR SOME REASON HAVE A BLACK AND WHITE COMPUTER MONITOR

I almost forgot the secret bonus difference—like the G2s, it appears the tip of each different size of Signo 207 gets its own color.

Shout out to this nose cone design! Do like. Goes well with the clip.

Shout out to this nose cone design! Do like. Goes well with the clip.

So how do they all write? Doing my best to ignore the discomfort wrought unto me by these cursed little ovals, the ink flow on all these pens seems good. No problems with skipping or the pens not writing. Looking very closely, you can see a problem with uniformity of line.

Choo-choo all aboard the almost-railroading express

Choo-choo all aboard the almost-railroading express

The ink deposits thicker on the sides, thinner in the middle. It never gets to the point of full railroading, but it worries me.

Top: biggest vs. smallest. Bottom row: ultra micro vs.  micro, micro vs. medium, medium vs. bold

Top: smallest vs. biggest. Bottom row: ultra micro vs. micro, micro vs. medium, medium vs. bold

The ultra micro is thin and crisp, but there is an occasional odd feeling at the tip—it’s rare, but it’s there. It’s not scratchy…I don’t quite know how to put it. The micro strikes the right balance that the ultra micro falls just short of—the micro isn’t as thin, but there’s no weirdness to it when writing. It’s smooth, without having a large tip (which leads to messy-looking handwriting for yours truly). The 0.7 is smooth, but we’ve crossed the threshold—my handwriting doesn’t look as nice. And the bold? Now we’re totally off the rails. This pen requires DRY TIME, especially on smooth paper. And it looks SO. MESSY. No thanks.

I like Uni Signos, but the 207 isn’t my favorite in the Signo line. It doesn’t write as nicely as other models I’ve tried. But as far as the 207 goes, the 0.5mm micro Signo is the best of the bunch.

Available basically everywhere, including but not limited to office supply stores, corporate leviathans, select gas stations, the inside coat pocket of a shady individual hawking last minute back to school deals sometime in August, and multiple sources online.





Paper Mate Earth Write Retractable Medium Point Ballpoint Pen

8 06 2013
Handwriting that isn't going to win awards ~ since 2010

Handwriting that isn’t going to win awards ~ since 2010

This is a pen I got secondhand from work when I had to fill out my change of address forms and found the pen I was handed to be to my delight, and its owner offered the pen unto me. It’s not right out of the package clean, but it’ll do!

How does one bathe pens? How many looks does one get when asking the local retailer for their finest pen shampoo?

How does one bathe pens? How many looks does one get when asking the local retailer for their finest pen shampoo?

A little bit of googling later, I was able to identify this pen as the Paper Mate Earth Write ballpoint—a pen made from a corn-based material called Mirel (the line also includes a pencil and the most lovely-looking eraser and lead refill container) that is comprised mostly of biodegradable components (takes about a year, according to Paper Mate, and unlike some bioplastics it can be biodegraded in a home compost or natural soil, instead of having to go to a special composting facility). That’s a nice feature to see, especially in a society that seems so bent on treating pens as disposable products.

The glinting sun of a cleaner future

The glinting sun of a cleaner future

Confession time: I love corn plastic. It’s smooth, it’s supple, and it doesn’t feel cheap. I just want to keep touching this pen.

Thanks, Paper Mate. Now I'm a creeper.

Thanks, Paper Mate. Now I’m a creeper.

The design is subtle but fantastic. I love the slightly canted bell sleeve shape around the plunger, the curve and taper of the clip, the slight bulge of the grip, the muted earthy tones of the corn plastic (might have gone with a dark warm gray for the plunger though, instead of the full force bright black (also no, I will not stop calling it corn plastic)). The grip has traction to it without seeming too prone to gathering debris (though it has, over its life thus far, gotten a little dirty). As far as low-end pens go, it’s got class.

1.0mm is medium?? IN WHAT CRAZY HIPPIE WORLD IS THAT TRUE, PAPER MATE?

1.0mm is medium?? IN WHAT CRAZY HIPPIE WORLD IS THAT TRUE, PAPER MATE?

Obviously, this isn’t a Jetstream. The writing, as with all ordinary ballpoints, cannot even begin to compare to that delightful class we call the super-smooth ballpoint. But as far as ordinary ballpoints go, it’s pretty good. No blobbing, good to sketch with. Writing lines aren’t perfect, but no streak-outs so bad that I’ve had to retrace any letters. The refill isn’t breaking ground, but the body is fantastic and the refill, though not revolutionary, doesn’t hold the pen back. Though I would suggest, if they haven’t already, Paper Mate ought to get in the super-smooth game, and do so with this body.

You guys I sniffed this pen extensively it did not even smell of corn

You guys I sniffed this pen extensively it did not even smell of corn

This pen really surprised me. Clearly I need to pop my head in the box stores more often to see what’s new in the mass market!

Paper Mate Earth Write Retractable Medium Point Ballpoint Pen (12 pack) at Amazon





Uni-ball Signo Sparkling Glitter Gel Ink Pen – 1.0 mm – Blue

26 01 2013
Feel the sparkles in your heart

Feel the sparkles in your heart

I’m no connoisseur when it comes to glittery gel ink pens—I may snag one as a novelty, but I don’t have my finger on the pulse of that movement like I did in the 6th grade. My knowledge of the quality of entrants in the field is lacking. That said, I do have a rather cat-chewed Sakura Gelly Roll gel pen in sparkle purple that I will use for comparison.

Pleasantly acceptable!

Pleasantly acceptable!

The body is nice, as far as these cheap things go. Sparkles in the body and cap—noticeable but not gaudy. Cap posts securely on both ends. Pen itself is theoretically easy to refill (who knows how easy refills will be to find, however).

Looks like a mess waiting to happen, though I assure you it isn't.

Looks like a mess waiting to happen, though I assure you it isn’t.

First, how the ink writes. I find it smoother than the Sakura Gelly Roll, and generally more consistent. If I’m gonna be taking some sparkly notes, on writing quality alone I favor the Uni Signo over the Gelly Roll.

Unless I'm writing on my hand, then the day goes to the Gelly  Roll

Unless I’m writing on my hand, then the day goes to the Gelly Roll

As far as personal preference goes, be advised that the Signo ink is more translucent and the Gelly Roll more opaque.

Let it shine

Let it shine!

There is a big flaw in the Signo that you have to be warned of, one that does not plague the Gelly Roll: the Uni Signo glitter ink smells like fish. Smells *powerfully* like fish. If you write with it long enough (read: at all), you’ll think you’ve been transported to an open air fish market. It is truly bizarre.

Perhaps I should have known, blue---> water---> ocean---> FISH.

Perhaps I should have known, blue—> water—> ocean—> FISH.

If you like fish, get this pen. If you want glittery and smooth writing, get this pen. If the mere thought of seafood turns your stomach, DO NOT get this pen.

 

Uni-ball Signo Sparkling Glitter Gel Ink Pen – 1.0 mm – Blue at JetPens





Dong-A Cronix Ballpoint Pen with Hybrid Ink – 1.0 mm – Black Ink

24 10 2012

See that shadow line at the top? That’s from using a Rhodia Dot Grid notebook, writing several reviews in advance while out and about, having to fold back the review to start the next one…so inconvenient.

Any time hybrid ballpoint ink pops up, I’ve got to check it out. Thanks to JetPens for providing this sample!

Your basic clicky ballpoint

The Cronix is a no-nonsense situation: monochrome, with a semi-translucent smoky dark gray barrel and lightly accented gray grip.

There you go, that’s the only decoration you get

It’s simple. It works.

The final word is how it writes, and how it stacks up in the super-smooth pantheon. It’s pretty dark, but not every stroke achieves maximum darkness, with the overall effect being writing that isn’t as dark as the full capability of the ink (such as the darkness achieved on multiple passes, when coloring something in).

I really hope they come out with smaller tip sizes. I am not used to non-microtip pens nowadays.

Smoothness, however, is pretty good. I do sense some rare occasions of a sort of microhesitation, as if at times debris or a smidgen of gunked ink has to pass clear of the movement of the ball, but overall the smoothness is satisfactory. The Cronix isn’t going to unseat such kings as the Jetstream or the Vicuna, but it certainly beats out a regular ballpoint pen.

It’s like the Jetstream’s less-cool little brother or cousin or something. Forever doomed to live in the shadow of a greater pen…

If you’re looking for a down-low understated-looking super-smooth ballpoint pen, and for whatever reason the Jetstream just doesn’t do it for you (maybe you hate Uni-ball or kittens or something, I don’t know), take a look at the Dong-A Cronix.

Dong-A Cronix Ballpoint Pen with Hybrid Ink – 1.0 mm – Black Ink at JetPens





Pilot G2 Battle – Black Ink

6 09 2011

The most writing I've done with a Pilot G2 since middle school, when I didn't know any better

I was asked by Arch Drafting Supply via Twitter what my opinion of the Pilot G2 pen was. My frothing knee-jerk reaction was “IT IS THE WORST THING“, followed by conceding that the 0.38mm Pilot G2 was inexplicably not an affront to human decency / everything beautiful in the world. But I still hadn’t done a comprehensive review of the Pilot G2 line. High time we change that.

Oh maaan look at how astoundingly unremarkable they are!

I’ve already laid down pretty much all the harshness I can in my previous post reviewing the 0.38mm Pilot G2—the design has reached the pinnacle of boringness. Can any pen hope to claim this title from the Pilot G2 through innovative use of the most uninspired and unappealing design techniques known to modern man? Unlikely. A design this steadfastly boring is a classic that will stand the test of time and remain just as boring 20 years from now as it is today.

Little plastic windows opening into the void

There are three elements of design that vary among the different sized models. One is the color of the barrel; the two larger tip sizes (1.0mm and 0.7mm) have smoky translucent barrels, and the two smaller tip sizes (0.5mm and 0.38mm) have clear barrels.

The Pilot G2: as exciting as a rollercoaster, provided that the rollercoaster only travels 1mph and never actually makes it out of the station before you give up and get off.

Second element: the writing on the clip—gold for the 1.0mm and the 0.7mm, silver for the 0.5mm, white for the 0.38mm.

I'VE SAVED THE BEST ELEMENT FOR LAST!!!!!!!!

And your final element: the color of the plastic on the tip (something that most people probably won’t notice, because who refills a Pilot G2 when it runs out? I’m pretty sure everyone just throws them away) is different for each tip size. But enough about the design. What really matters is what’s on the inside. In the spirit of fairness, I went out and bought these pens brand new for this review, hoping that the abysmal quality control would finally break in my favor, unlike every 0.5mm and 0.7mm Pilot G2 I would attempt to use at my last job.

When people say they love the Pilot G2, it's like when teenagers say they'll love each other forever. They just don't know any better.

Thankfully, I had no experiences of utter frustration resulting in throwing the pen across the room while writing this review (this happened several times with several previous G2 pens). All of the pens did what a pen is supposed to do, which is write.

The 1.0mm vs. the 0.7mm, the 0.7mm vs. the 0.5mm, and the 0.5mm vs. the 0.38mm

Of the bunch, I loathed the 0.5mm the most the 0.5mm was my least favorite. There was something that felt off, unsteady, annoying when I was writing with it. The 0.7mm came in at the cut-off of acceptable: perfectly fine if I need to write something down right now, but if I have the time and opportunity to go find another pen to write with, I will. The two extremes, 0.38mm and 1.0mm, turned out to be my favorites.

Baby bear and Poppa bear

Having such an audaciously huge rollerball made the 1.0mm the smoothest among the G2s. My writing looks awful and messy, but I wasn’t getting resistance from the pen (one of my main concerns). And the performance of the 0.38mm is no surprise; we already knew that one was a favorite, with neat, precise, and constant lines.

I doubt I’ll ever go out of my way to make sure I have any of the Pilot G2 models in my daily arsenal, but the 0.38mm and 1.0mm would be just fine in an office drawer, and those pens can rest easy knowing they probably won’t be evicted from one of my many homebound pen cups.

 

No link, because you can find these pens pretty much EVERYWHERE. Probably even convenience stores and bake sales. They’re ubiquitous.





The Write Dudes Super Smooth Retractable Ballpoint Pen

13 07 2011

Do you see these colors? Am I hallucinating this?

Another product from the package of samples that Andrew V with the Write Dudes sent to me! This package originally included 18 smooth & retractable ballpoint pens, but my cat has teleported two of them into an alternate dimension accessible only to felines.

Not that you can really tell, but there are only 16 pens in this picture

The package promises only “assorted colors,” so I have no idea if red, orange, green, purple, light blue (all 2 pens each), blue (4) and black (also 4) are the standard colors, but that’s what I got.

Almost a full rainbow. Everyone always "forgets" to invite yellow...but even when you put him on the page, he barely shows up. </bad joke></barely even a joke>

The look of these pens is like a procrastinated school project hastily rushed to completion five minutes before class; it looks good from a distance, but the shortcuts show a mile wide if you get close. The only parts of the pen NOT made of plastic are the spring inside the pen, and the actual ballpoint nib attached to the ink refill (though I get the feeling there’d be no hesitation to make those out of plastic too, if it were possible). You pick up the pen, and it is lightweight to the point of feeling unmistakably cheap.

This...just....looks....unnecessarily tacky.

It’s a shame, because otherwise I actually quite like the design of these pens. Simple yet modern, with ink color clearly conveyed through the design of the pen body. The grip is comfortable, and thoughtfully molded into a triangular shape for better gripping posture. But that clip, I mean, look at that plastic seam running right down the middle. It’s garish. And I have full confidence that the plastic will quickly break if I try to make use of the clip. If The Write Dudes were to make the silver parts of this pen out of metal—any metal really, I don’t care if it’s cheap so long as it isn’t radioactive—then they’d have the design nailed.

Things get better at this point. These points.

I admit, before I first put these pens to paper, I’d already built up a bias. The cheap construction did not instill great confidence that these pens would even be smooth, let alone super. And the first few strokes of every pen weren’t great (even after first use, if the pen had been sitting unused for a while it was the same situation). But once I’d written a letter, perhaps two, definitely by the end of the first word, I found that these pens were actually, to my astonishment, smooth. Super smooth? Heck, I’ll give it to them. The line quality is decent, as good as any standard ballpoint, and certainly vibrant enough for me. Comparing the black pens, the Write Dudes super smooth ballpoint pen is gray when put next to Zebra’s Surari Emulsion ink or Uni-ball’s Jetstream (which is essentially like writing with liquid night 500 miles from civilization dark). But I think the Write Dudes ballpoint is intended to compete more with the low-end fare (in the neighborhood of, say, Bic sticks and no-name ballpoints), and in that class I’d say it’s a good contender. And I really enjoyed doodling with these pens. I’ll probably draft the light blue ballpoint into my daily arsenal/legion (blue ink/lead has a special property of making all doodles look magically better).

I think these are 1.0mm, by the way. In an ideal fantasy world, these would also be offered in 0.5mm. I'll keep dreaming.

Unfortunately, I can’t find a link on the Write Dudes website to the exact product pack I reviewed. Here’s a four-pack, featuring not my favorites among the colors I received. Try looking in your typical big box stores, like Office Max or Target. I don’t know what the full 18 pack costs, but based on the pricing of the 4-pack, this seems like a darned good value.








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