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)





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.





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





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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