United P2: Pocket Pen

7 02 2015
Time to kick another starter!

Time to kick another starter!

What I have here today is a prototype model of the United P2 Pocket Pen that just launched on Kickstarter. I’ve spent a few weeks throwing it in pockets and bags, I’ve showed it off to nearly everyone I work with, I’ve lost it for almost a week in someone else’s car before finding it again, and I’ve scribbled my fair share of notes with it. Now, my memory is a bit hazy, but this just might be my favorite compact ballpoint pen.

Aluminum body. Stainless steel cap. Machined awesomeness

Aluminum body. Stainless steel cap. Machined awesomeness

It looks part lava lamp, part minimalist rocket. It feels fantastically smooth to the touch, the finish some kind of mix between metal and silk. I’ve left it unprotected, free to jangle against keys, pocket knives, coins, and yet still I can’t find any signs of a scratch yet. I haven’t tried chucking it across a roughly paved parking lot or tried dropping it from the top of a five story building, but I’m not sure I’d want to. I like this pen too much to take the abuse quite that far.

I was worried about a small cap on a pocket pen, but it works

I was worried about a small cap on a pocket pen, but it works

The cap (machined out of solid 17-4 stainless steel bar stock) and its locking grooves are machined so precisely that when you push the cap on, air has nowhere to go, thus requiring the hole in the top of the cap. When you pull the cap off, the air being sucked back in as you pull makes a little pop! when the cap is free. The result is a very secure cap that is nevertheless easy to remove and incredibly fun to play with.

If you grip your pens at the very absolute tip of the pen, this might be a problem, but everyone else will be okay

If you grip your pens at the very absolute tip of the pen, this might be a problem, but everyone else will be okay

Not sure what I was expecting the first time I pulled the cap off, but this wasn’t it. This was something altogether strange and different. This looked like a candle, with the writer’s flame of a ballpoint tip. I was a bit skeptical. But then I followed the groove of the pen and was pleasantly surprised with the result.

I need to work on having a more photogenic grip

I need to work on having a more photogenic grip

For my hand, the prototype is the perfect size. The weight of the pen gives it presence in the hand, but the comfortable way it’s balanced makes the weight almost unnoticeable. The refill included, a medium Schmidt, is nice and smooth in its own right. But the United P2 is designed to take a D1 refill. You know who makes a D1 refill? Do you?! UNI BALL. THE ANSWER IS JETSTREAM. THE ANSWER IS I CAN HAVE A FANCY LITTLE JETSTREAM REFILL POCKET PEN AND A CHOIR OF PENLY ANGELS SHALL SING ABOVE MY HEAD. Ok put that thought on pause. Brad Dowdy has discovered (as I did once he pointed it out and I tried swapping the refill) that the Jetstream refill is too skinny. I HAVEN’T GIVEN UP YET. RESEARCH MUST BE DONE. But I’ll have to come back to this. I’m holding out hope.

UPDATE from the inventor himself:

“Also for the record, the production pen WILL accept all D1 refills. Currently the prototype doesn’t accept some refills because the coating thickness is a little too thick which in turn made the hole size a touch smaller than it needs to be.”

HOPE RETURNS!

Everyday carry approved

Everyday carry approved

Tweaks are already planned for the production run vs. what I have here in the prototype. The pen will be a little larger, both in length and in diameter. Personally I’m fine with the prototype size, but I have medium sized hands. It would be nice, down the line, to perhaps have “large” and “small” size options for the United P2. No one size will be perfect for everyone, but it would be nice to have a choice. I worry that a larger pen wouldn’t fit nicely in the pockets of my fitted jeans. The production run pen will also have a smaller cap hole, which I didn’t have a concern about either way. Finally, the production run will have the press fit cap on the back end of the pen flush with the pen body. It sticks out so slightly on the prototype that I didn’t even notice until I saw this improvement listed, but that update is a good idea. Don’t know when I’d need to stand the pen upright, but just in case.

There are still 28 days to go and already the United P2 has reached its (admittedly easy to attain) funding goal. The makers of this pen have successfully completed a Kickstarter project before (a small brass spinning top that looks really cool and I really want one now, thanks a lot research). If you’re interested in this pen, hop onboard.

United P2: Pocket Pen by Dylan Polseno on Kickstarter





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.

sdlkf

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.








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