HMM Rule/One

2 07 2015
I guess I should have used the ruler more in the writing sample. Too late now

I guess I should have used the ruler more in the writing sample. Too late now

Not gonna lie, I got a little burned out on crowdfunding pens in 2014. When I first saw the link for the Rule/One, I resisted. I thought, not another Kickstarter pen…do I really have the mental and emotional energy for this? Do I have the money to spare for the umpteenth time for a vision I may not actually see realized for many months, if ever? How many airplanes could we have built out of all the aluminum that we’ve crowdfunded into pens? But I couldn’t get the Rule/One out of my mind, so I backed it.

Background feline not included in standard packaging

Background feline not included in standard packaging

There were delays. There are always delays. But the HMM team kept updating with their attractive product progress pictures and earnest missives (all of which I read in the voice of BMO from Adventure Time, which I assure you makes any news better). When the unveiling came, it did not disappoint. I ripped open my FedEx envelope to a slick tube of trendy packaging. Even though I’d seen pictures, and voted on the particular color scheme, I was still impressed to hold the actual packaging in my hands.

The empty holes are where I didn't back the stylus option and the lanyard loop attachment option

The empty holes are where I didn’t back the stylus option and the lanyard loop attachment option

Eventually I’m sure this cardboard will fall apart, but in the meantime it makes a handy carrier. Let’s take it out of the tube though.

Metric for the more cooperative parts of the world, inches for us stubborn Americans, and anyone else thus inclined

Metric for the more cooperative parts of the world, inches for us stubborn Americans, and anyone else thus inclined

Matte black body, pop of color—this is the design that had me hooked. It’s simple, fun and functional. I couldn’t wait to show it off once I got my hands on it. The ruler has laser engraved measurements in inches and centimeters (one on each side).

One ruler to rule them all, and in the gel ink bind them

One ruler to rule them all, and in the gel ink bind them

On the one hand, I almost want to abuse it a little to see how durable laser engraving is; on the other hand, it’s so pretty that I don’t want to hurt it. Time will tell, I suppose.

Three for exactly what I paid for one! Whaddadeal

Three for exactly what I paid for one! Whaddadeal

Due to some trial-and-error issues with the magnets, HMM provided all three different types of pen heads free to all backers. The simple tube style works best/fastest with the magnets, the conical screw-on head keeps the pen most secure but does not use the magnets, and the original version of the magnet head (the one in the middle) allegedly has a better weight balance for writing.

You can even post it backward, for minimal comfort

You can even post it backward, for minimal comfort

The refill shipped with the HMM Rule/One is a Mitsubishi UNI 0.38mm gel refill (same as a standard Signo 207); this was the first Kickstarter pen I’d seen designed specifically with the Uni Signo refill in mind. It writes wonderfully, as the Signo is wont to do. The refill itself fits snugly in the pen body, with no rattling and no drying-out problems thus far (and I have let it sit unused for probably at least a month at a time at some points). There isn’t a grip, but the matte-finish twelve-sided barrel never feels slippery in my hand. It doesn’t feel exceptionally comfortable either, but there’s only so much you can expect from a tube of metal.

Note how it is ever so slightly out of alignment

Note how it is ever so slightly out of alignment

While the Rule/One is well made and attractive, there are a few oddments/negatives about it. The screws on either end easily and frequently come loose (mostly in the course of transport). A bit of Loctite might not be a bad idea (although then I would probably need more than a fingernail to unscrew the screws if needed). While there’s no play between the pen and the cap with the screw-on head, the fast and streamlined tube magnetic head allows for over a millimeter of play in which you can push the pen out of alignment with the cap (perpendicular to the length of the pen, as seen slightly in the above photo).

At least it's pretty easy to take apart and put together

At least it’s pretty easy to take apart and put together

The screws are threaded along the ordinary “righty-tighty lefty-loosey” principle, but the interchangeable pen heads are backward. Twisting the pen head when it is facing you, you have to twist clockwise to loosen, and counterclockwise to tighten. Or just think to yourself, do the opposite of what you were thinking whenever you want to change the heads.

Also designed to be used as a bookmark, unlike other pens that you try to use as a bookmark and they, in turn, pop right out of your books

Also designed to be used as a bookmark, unlike other pens that you try to use as a bookmark and they, in turn, pop right out of your books

In spite of the few negatives, and in spite of the fact that I pretty much never have need of a ruler in the course of my daily life, I still love the Rule/One. There are also attachments available (which I was too cheap to purchase) that go in place of the screws (a capacitive stylus head, a loop for lanyard attachment), which unfortunately do not yet appear to be available for individual purchase (though it looks like if you buy the Rule/One from HMM it will come with all attachments, but not all pen head styles, just the same magnetic tube style in 3 colors).

If I weren't lazy and hadn't already been working on this review for months, I'd make a little gif of the fun of magnets

If I weren’t lazy and hadn’t already been working on this review for months, I’d make a little gif of the fun of magnets

If you need a ruler in your life and a gel pen in your life, this is a pretty sleek combination of the two. Plus, you get the joy of magnets.

HMM Rule/One

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Pilot G2 0.38mm vs. Uni-ball Signo 207 Ultra Micro

24 09 2013
It's like an arcade game, with less quarters

It’s like an arcade game, with less quarters

There’s a big, wide world of micro-tipped pens out there, but when it comes to what’s available in physical American stores, choices are limited. So it’s high time for a showdown between the two most commonly available retractable micro tip pens: the Pilot G2 0.38mm and the Uni-ball Signo 207 Ultra Micro (in blue).

Imagine the sound of two pens clicking aggressively at each other. That is the soundtrack to this review

Imagine the sound of two pens clicking aggressively at each other. That is the soundtrack to this review

I’ve laid out my thoughts before on the design of both of these pens. Comparing the two is like trying to determine the winner in a noodle-armed slap fight. No one really wins, and we all feel a bit silly.

Are these really both 0.38mm? They don't look the same size.

Are these really both 0.38mm? They don’t look the same size.

What it really comes down to here is writing. The Signo 207 has lighter ink, and it appears to write thinner than the Pilot G2 by an almost microscopic factor. But the Uni-ball Signo 207 is occasionally plagued by some odd feeling at the tip when writing, something I can’t properly put into words. It’s not scratchy, it’s not like there’s any problem with the flow of ink, but there’s something, some slight something, that is at times getting in the way of 100% smooth writing.

And the Signo does a lot of this. See those near-railroads?

And the Signo does a lot of this. See those near-railroads?

The Pilot G2 isn’t exactly perfect either. It isn’t scratchy, but it feels ever so slightly slower when writing compared to the Uni-ball, like some kind of microresistance is involved—but the performance is more consistent, both in terms of the feel and the quality of the lines being laid down. The vertical line of my Ts with the Uni Signo 207 betrays an occasional tendency to deposit less ink in the middle than the sides of the line. The Pilot G2 does it too, but less often.

This has the makings of an excellent family crest. I'll get the castle fixed up and have it printed up on some flags and armaments.

This has the makings of an excellent family crest. I’ll get the castle fixed up and have it printed up on some flags and armaments.

If the Uni Signo 207 could get itself together and always write without that weird feeling to it, then in spite of its annoying grip it would be the clear winner. Both of the pens I’m using for this comparison I’ll admit are a few years old, brought back into use for this review, so even if age has brought the performance down it should have done so equally, because I got these pens around the same time.

For its consistency in performance, I declare the Pilot G2 0.38mm the winner of this fight.





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.





Pilot Juice Gel Ink Pen – 0.38 mm – Dark Red

15 08 2013
Dark Red Juice, extracted from the Spills-On-Your-White-Carpet Fruit.

Dark Red Juice, extracted from the Spills-On-Your-White-Carpet Fruit.

Let’s come right out and say it: this bad little boy is an obvious clone of the Zebra Sarasa Push Clip. I don’t know which came first in Japan, but JetPens only recently began carrying the Pilot Juice so I assume it’s the derivative model. But perhaps ‘derivative’ isn’t the right word, because derivative sounds negative, and this pen is a definite positive.

Basic beauty

Basic beauty

I love the design. It’s covered in little touches—the dots on the translucent grip, the gentle wave of the plastic around the knock, even the design-conscious label printed on the clip (a clip which has TWO holes, one for lanyards and one for charms, or heck, double lanyards! double charms! go nuts!).

I wonder if they sell pens from vending machines in Japan. The answer should be ABSOLUTELY OF COURSE AND HERE IS YOUR FREE ROUND TRIP PLANE TICKET TO JAPAN TO GO SEE SUCH A VENDING MACHINE!

I wonder if they sell pens from vending machines in Japan. The answer should be ABSOLUTELY OF COURSE AND HERE IS YOUR FREE ROUND TRIP PLANE TICKET TO JAPAN TO GO SEE SUCH A VENDING MACHINE!

It just looks good. Not dollar-dropping, work-of-art writing utensil good, don’t be silly. But it’s darn satisfying. Pilot, tell your people that designed the Juice “good job” and give ’em gold stars all around.

It looks like it should open more. Believe me, it won't.

It looks like it should open more. Believe me, it won’t.

I don’t think the clip capacity is as great as the Zebra Sarasa Push Clip, but I’m not too worried. I’m not looking for a binder clip with a pen attached.

No blobs here. Lookin' at you, Uni Signo DX Bordeaux-Black. I still remember your blobbery.

No blobs here. Lookin’ at you, Uni Signo DX Bordeaux-Black. I still remember your blobbery.

When Pilot can make a gel pen that writes as nicely as the Juice, as attractive as the Juice, why do they even bother with the unreliable ogre that is the G2? It boggles the mind. The Juice performs well, laying down sharp lines without skipping or blobbing, and isn’t scratchy, provided you don’t write with a hammerhand (but then, no pen writes smoothly when you’re trying to bore a hole in the table through your paper). It comes in a bevy of colors, 0.38mm and 0.5mm tip sizes, and is technically refillable (though I don’t see any refills currently for sale at JetPens, the pen opens and the ink cartridge does come out).

DARE TO COMPARE! DOUBLE DOG DARE!

DARE TO COMPARE! DOUBLE DOG DARE!

The closest comparable tip size for the Zebra Sarasa Push Clip is probably the 0.4mm. A brief run-down of the differences, besides being 0.4mm vs. 0.38mm: the Zebra barrel is a few millimeters thicker, the Juice, a few millimeters taller. The Zebra clip appears to be a type of hinge and opens wider than the Juice, which relies on a coiled spring in its clip. When clipped onto something, the Juice sits higher. How does the writing compare? Honestly? Switching from one to the other, they’re practically twins. But the Juice costs less. SCORE.

Life would be better if I were an octopus and if all these wonderful pens worked underwater so I could write with more than 1 or 2 pens at a time.

Life would be better if I were an octopus and if all these wonderful pens worked underwater so I could write with more than 1 or 2 pens at a time. The world is just full of fine pens!

For a look at the 0.5mm model, I recommend you check out The Pen Addict’s write up. He’s also got the link to the Japanese marketing site for the Juice, which is…something very special indeed. Just like the pen.

Pilot Juice Gel Ink Pen – 0.38mm – Dark Red at JetPens





Uni-ball Style Fit Mystar 3 Color Multi Pen Body Component – Brown

14 12 2011

I was going for "autumn" but it seems I achieved "Halloween"

I’ve been waiting for this pen body to exist ever since the first Style Fit model rolled onto my radar. Lo, I asked for a nicer body around the $15 price point, and I have received.

It's like they read my mind. Or my blog. Or really, just came to the conclusion that any sane individual would: Style Fit is awesome, needs more bodies.

The Style Fit Mystar/Meister (which is it? Jetpens says “Mystar,” which sounds demure and twinkly; the stickers on the pen say “Meister,” which sounds like Burgermeister Meisterburger, and the only thing to do at that point is just accept that Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town) is made of lovely, shiny metal that looks like Serious Modern Business but isn’t heavy to hold. Deploying the components has been changed from plunger-deploy to twist-deploy, making the pen look much more neat and normal.

Mystar/Meister spelled here simply as: <>

Plus there’s a sturdy metal clip now.  I’m very happy with this model; you can have a Jetstream and a Signo DX in one sharp looking pen ….AT THE SAME TIME! The only thing missing is a Kuru Toga component (if only such were possible); that alone would make the Style Fit an instrument of utter perfection.

Now you know the difference between daylight white balance and incandescent white balance on my camera when sitting by a window inside a cafe while drinking an Irish coffee. So glad we cleared up that mystery.

The three components I chose to load the Meisterburger up with are an 0.38mm brown-black gel ink component, an 0.7mm black ballpoint ink component, and an 0.38mm golden yellow gel ink component. As I mentioned before, the gel ink is the same as that found in the Signo line, and the ballpoint ink is Jetstream ballpoint ink.

I had my Style Fit customized with an extra-dimensional portal so I could include a fourth component.

For curiosity’s sake, I swapped in one of my pencil components to see how it works in the Burgermeister. Much more comfortable than the plungers on my old Style Fit model. You just push the top down when the pencil is deployed, and the lead advances. It’s exceedingly satisfying, and unlike the previous model, doesn’t make my thumb feel like it’s going to slowly transform into a bloody stump.

Hey, the components are helpfully labeled! Hey, wait, this isn't actually helpful.

Brace yourselves for my only complaint. Though the component refills are labeled with size on a background of easy to discern color, you can’t see any of that through the window on the Mystar. They were designed for the see-through grip of the first model. It would be nice if labeling could continue up the barrel so that the little window is actually useful; the coloring on the tubes fades out right where the window starts, and there’s no indication whatsoever of tip size. But that’s a minor annoyance in light of the overall improvement that this model offers! Good job, Uni-ball.

The pen:

Uni-ball Style Fit Mystar 3 Color Multi Pen Body Component – Brown at JetPens

The components seen here:

Uni-ball Style Fit Ballpoint Multi Pen Ink Cartridge – 0.7 mm – Black at JetPens

Uni-ball Style Fit Gel Ink Multi Pen Ink Cartridge – 0.38 mm – Brown Black at JetPens

Uni-ball Style Fit Gel Ink Multi Pen Ink Cartridge – 0.38 mm – Golden Yellow 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.





Uni-ball Signo DX UM-151 0.38mm Gel Pen in Brown-Black & Bordeaux-Black

30 10 2010
Two colors at once!

These doodles aren't quite as inspired as the last ones, but we'll get over it and click this thing for a larger image anyway.

This pen is far from being a candidate for perfect pen. This wasn’t what I’d concluded from use of this pen before I decided to use it in a review, so why don’t I share those sentiments first.

Two pens!

I have no idea why the bordeaux-black doesn't have "DX" on it

Prior to writing this review, I had many a time enjoyed jotting down my inane brain crap into an extra-small Moleskine volant with the brown-black pictured here. It had the power to make my horrific left-handed scribble look somewhat more neat-looking with its needle-fine tip.

So fine!

You could stab a man with those. Maybe.

I also didn’t have bleed-through problems on the Moleskine paper, which I feel is something of a rarity. You could see the ink through the paper some, yes, but that was because it was so deliciously dark. And the pen didn’t feel like the typically slender, fragile, dainty sort of pen I’ve had with some needle-point types. This pen always made the cut to be thrown into my everyday pen-carry pouch. But the course of this review brought out an unfortunate revelation.

THE BLOBBING.

It didn’t always happen. But when it did, these nightmare ink blobs would collect on the tip of the pen. I got a huge blob to form while taking pictures of the pens today (I’d done a little writing too). Then I did what is easily the stupidest thing I’ve done all week.

oops, too close

That would be a blob of ink on the camera lens.

My first attempts at a close-up went a little too far. At least the ink came off the lens. Then a blob didn’t want to form for documentary evidence, as if to try to convince the world I was some kind of pen-liar. Little did the pens know.

The HORROR

THE HORROR!

THE UNSPEAKABLE HORROR

THE UNSPEAKABLE HORROR

I am patient in stalking my prey. LOOK AT IT! LOOK AT THE BLOB! AUGH! WHAT A HORRIFIC BLOBBITY INK BLOB OF INK AND BLOBBERY!

Look what it did to this innocent paper

Anyway. This is otherwise a good gel pen. I don’t know how frequent this blob-propensity is, but the fact that I got two pens ordered at two different times to exhibit this same phenomena seems to indicate that this might not just be my pens. Perhaps we need a bigger sample size. Or I just need to put my pen down when I need to think. Either way, I’d be willing to buy more of these pens. They have a fantastic range of colors, decent price, it’s a smooth writer, and in spite of my caps lockery the blob thing isn’t that big of a deal. I had never had it happen before yesterday. But in light of this development, I have to, for now, deem this Not a Candidate for Perfect Pen (gah, it was so close though before I did this review…)

Uni-ball Signo DX UM-151 0.38mm Gel Pens at JetPens

(also available in 0.5mm and 0.28mm)