Now, I don’t remember why I decided to buy this pen, but I will give you a few good reasons to keep it around.
The Tombow AirPress Apro ballpoint pen is pretty much a magical construction made mostly of plastic and practicality.
The pen itself (like seemingly every pen I’ve picked up lately) is made of lightweight plastic (believe me, when I finally get a nice weighty pen, I’ll let you know), which is nice considering one of the main ideas behind this pen is to be able to clip it to your pocket without having the pen drag the collar of your shirt down to your bellybutton.
While the AirPress Apro doesn’t write like fantasmagorical Jetstream butter, it is a smooth ballpoint pen that writes under a broad range of pressures, from the kind where you’re trying to press the pen through to the other side of the table to the pressure you use when you’re trying to write on the delicate wings of fairy angels. This feature is quite probably due to the air-press mechanism: every time you push the cap, air pressure is injected into the ink cartridge. Allegedly this allows the pen to write on challenging surfaces, which may include slightly damp paper and upside down paper, but does not include the greasy paper our cafeteria wraps its breakfast biscuit sandwiches in.
While I especially enjoyed sketching and shading with this pen, you may note that the writing and drawing sample is plagued with little blobbies. I never see them on the end of the pen, they just appear. Everywhere. On the page. This could be a ballpoint pen thing, but this pen seems especially blob happy; consider yourselves warned. Also of note: this pen has one of the shortest ink cartridges I’ve ever seen at 2.25 inches (I can’t yet attest to what kind of cartridge lifespan this equates to). These are drawbacks, but not dealbreakers, as this pen has a lot of other things going for it. Like the plunger–for one, it has that odd little knob off to one side that’s exactly PERFECT for holding onto with your teeth, and the plastic is sturdy enough that it doesn’t feel like I’ll chew through it anytime soon. Doesn’t even show any bite marks yet. The plunger is also very quiet–not exactly a ninja, but it has enough stealth that it could probably pull off a minor assassination. Normally, I like a nice, satisfying click to a pen, but this is problematic when I’m in the middle of a quiet meeting where I should be paying attention but instead want to use a pen. None will be the wiser about your lack of attention thanks to the whisperquiet deployment of the Apro.
On to the final outstanding feature of the Apro–this clip. It’s hinged, for starters, allowing it to usefully clip on to more than just a single piece of paper or a wafer-thin shirt pocket. Even better–when the clip is open, like so, the ink cartridge automatically retracts back into the barrel, and cannot be deployed back into place until you let go of the clip. When the clip is down, it has a part that serves as a locking mechanism that allows the pen to be deployed. What is the use of this? I have watched my father, while absentmindedly trying to put a pen back in his shirt pocket, proceed to repeatedly mark all over his shirt (he was talking at the time; didn’t want to interrupt) until putting the (still open) pen away in his pocket. With this pen, as soon as you put a little pressure on the hinge to open the clip, the ballpoint is safely spirited away, and shirts remain unmarred by wasted lengths of ballpoint ink.
I haven’t had a chance to put this pen through a kind of penathalon to see how well its air-pressure injected cartridge compares to, say, a space pen, but on its own the Apro is a handy little workplace pen packed with the kinds of innovation I like to see in my writing utensils. Not a perfect pen, but definitely a pen worth having.