Uni-ball Jetstream Ballpoint Pen – 0.5 mm – Basic Series – Black

15 04 2011

No words. Only ink. ...which makes words.

I realized yesterday that, as much as I make mention of how much I love Uni-ball’s Jetstream line of pens, I haven’t actually reviewed some of my favorite Jetstream pens (I’ve only reviewed the Jetstream color ink series blue-black thoroughly). Up until now, you have had to trust only my declarations of love without any evidence or overly-closeup pictures of pens. Let’s change that.

There it is, kids. The modern aesthetic. The perfect blend of fun and functionality. The pen that has been writing through your dreams, and into your heart.

WARNING: do not actually use a Jetstream pen to literally write into your heart. You may experience slight discomfort or death.

The design–oh boy. I love the design of this pen. I love the combination of curves, the swooping lines, the white-black-clear with metallic baby-grey-blue accents. The way this pen looks is due to the conscious effort of someone(s), somewhere(s), deciding that this pen should be more than just a pointy cylinder with a clip on the end. And I appreciate that. I think the effort of design really shines through on this pen, so, whoever you are that made this model of Jetstream look the way it does, thank you. I love it.

So fine, so smooth....one day, Casanova will be referred to as "the Jetstream of human beings."

Writing–compared to the larger nib sizes, the 0.5mm isn’t AS smooth–meaning that, instead of writing as smooth as liquid melted butter it writes as smooth as soft-but-not-totally-melted-yet butter. This is just an observation from having used the 0.5mm, 0.7mm, and 1.0mm Jetstreams. Bigger nib rolls a little more smoothly, but can also be a bit messier. But look, we’re reviewing the 0.5mm here so enough about those other nibs.

The amount of pressure required to make a line with this pen–and not just a line, but a good, dark line–is practically none. Writing is much more relaxing when you don’t have to grasp the pen as though for dear life and try to rip through the other side of the page from bearing down so hard. The ink flows, the pen glides, your hand can relax and still make words happen on the page.

The ink also dries very fast, or at least, does not leave wet blobs anywhere. I’ve had other ballpoint pens that would leave my hand spotted with ink after a writing session of dragging my hand across the page, but never with the Jetstream. The ink gets on the page and it stays there. Even trying to deliberately smudge a line immediately after making it, I only got a tiny bit to give the weensiest smudge. It’s barely even noticeable. THIS is what is ideal for lefties. I want a pen whose ink is set in stone within a second of putting it on the page. Jetstreams never made this promise, but it’s certainly what they deliver.

I believe the ink has some other fantastic properties to it–waterproof, fadeproof, some other fun stuff like that. Even if it didn’t, you already have a fantastic pen here. Everyone should own a Jetstream. Every office should stock Jetstream pens (instead of those awful Pilot G-2s, seeing how they are equivalent in price on the corporate supply website my office uses). Every ballpoint pen should be as good as this.

I dont think there is a better ballpoint pen. Certainly not one that can perform better.

Uni-ball Jetstream Ballpoint Pen – 0.5 mm – Basic Series – Black at JetPens

Pilot Precise V5 – Extra Fine in 5 Colors

1 04 2011

I should have just made this page all sketches and leprechauns. Who needs words, anyway?

It is apparently disclaimer week for me, because I have a disclaimer for this post as well: I am currently traveling (probably at a speed of around 65mph), and had to do my pen pictures from my cozy little bus seat. So, if the picture quality is somewhat lacking this week, please blame the poor suspension system of this vehicle I’m sardined into.

Black! Red! Green! Purple (I swear it's purple)! Blue! Also...Maryland? Probably Maryland.

I picked up the 5 pack of these (for once, a set of pens easily available at probably any major office supply retailer but NOT on JetPens) so we can get all the colors out of the way in a single review. I loved drawing with this pen–ink flow was perfect, though when writing I did feel some slight friction drag. This might be a left handed thing, since I’m pushing the pen across the page rather than pulling, but this is why buttery-smooth writing pens make such a big difference to me. I also didn’t have any problem with ink getting picked up off the page, carried around, and deposited elsewhere on the page via the side of my hand.

You can easily tell the pen colors apart based on the body. This is the only nice thing I have to say about the body.

My only problem with this pen (aside from the slight (ever so slight) drag while writing) is the body. Look at it. It looks like the 1990s distilled into a single writing instrument. I mean literally, I’m pretty sure I have some of my mom’s POWERFUL BUSINESSWOMAN pens from the 1990s, among those several old Precise V5 or V7 pens, and they look exactly the same. This is a cylinder with a clip on it. It also has no grip, for those of you who find grips crucial. This model is primarily for the purpose of having a pen that makes its marks well, but has such a cheap aesthetic that, if it walks out of your pen cup in the hands of a coworker, it’s no big deal.

IT'S WHAT'S INSIDE YOU THAT COUNTS. BEAUTY IS ONLY SKIN DEEP. Except with pens. Being a pen is like being in a beauty pageant that never ends.

There is one design element I like: the colored tips. Those are pretty neat-looking.

My judgments against this pen are completely superficial, which is good–I feel like a lackluster exterior is much easier to fix than a pen that looks neat but writes like crap. And I know there are several other Precise V5 models–I think I’ve seen a nicer looking retractable version on the shelves that would be worth checking out. As long as it writes as nicely as this model. But that will have to be another review!

Pentel EnerGel Euro Needle-Point Gel Ink Pen – 0.35 mm – Black

24 03 2011

I swear I cleaned the scanner before I used it. I cannot explain why that giant smudge is there. I should really get my own scanner/ one that isn't 7 years old...

Having played with an EnerGel before, I decided it was time to continue sauntering down needle-point micro-tip lane and go straight for the 0.35mm version of the EnerGel pen.

The sparkly blue plastic is evocative of a state fair bumper car (no actual bumping allowed)

By printing "Recap after use." in English on a Japanese pen, I think Pentel is indicating just what they think of the intelligence of their average English-speaking pen user. But maybe the Japanese on there says that too. I'm just speculating conspiratorially.

This pen is another entry in the plastic lightweight class (firm plastic that still has a little give to it; not brittle), with a metal clip, metal tip, and several nice little design accents that make it stand out.

Note: when I'm trying to determine what kind of plastic a pen is made of for these reviews, I typically chomp on the pen. In public. I make myself even weirder for the enrichment of your knowledge.

Like the gill-slits showing off the smoky semi-transparent grey plastic beneath. No function (to my knowledge). Purely design. And I love it. Anything that differentiates a pen from being a long, simple cylinder is a step in the right direction, in my book. The labeling on the cap is also useful, provided you have this pen in enough sizes that differentiating between EnerGels is something you’d need to ever do (as this is the only EnerGel I have in this design, the utility is somewhat lost on me).

I’m currently torn as to whether I’d like to see the barrel itself come in other sparkly color options; the blue is classy enough as not to be garish, but I could see an expanded color barrel line quickly devolving into a brouhaha of tween-branded, gaudy-looking, eye-corrupting, sparkle-rainbow-pukefest. Perhaps if the line were restricted to [color]-black barrels (blue-black, violet-black, burgundy-black, green-black, black-black) then the EnerGel could remain respectable but add a touch of individualization.

As long as the sparkly EnerGel never gets a tie-in with the Twilight monstrosity, then I'd still be okay with neon-colored tween EnerGels

The cap clicks onto the end of the pen to post, which is nicely reassuring. You know then the cap is in place. It’s not going anywhere. I just shook this posted pen in front of my coworkers to prove this very point. And the cap, as I just mentioned, did not go anywhere.

This needle tip is sturdy enough that I don't have my typical unfounded fears that I'm going to break the tip of the pen

The grip is a shiny-sparkle-metallic-colored rubber matching the body of the pen. Comfortable enough; or at least, not of discomfort, which I’d have noticed. What was uncomfortable, however, was the plastic ridge above the grip, where the plastic of the cap meets the body of the pen. After writing for a while, I was particularly aware of the discomfort it was causing me, and found myself wishing I had some way to take the ink cartridge out of the pen body and move it to the EnerGel RT body (I have not, as yet, found such a way). This is one of my biggest complaints with this pen. Maybe it’s just a problem with how I hold my gnarled left hand as I write my hooked scrawlings, but at the end of the written review I was glad to give my thumb a rest from the pressing plastic.

I also like these weird shapes happening here. What is this? Totally unnecessary. Unnecessary is what I love.

As for the actual writing performance, this is just a finer-tipped version of the other EnerGel I reviewed, with all the same benefits and problems. It writes dark and smooth, but puts out maybe the teensiest bit more ink than I think a pen of its nib size should. I did not experience faster drying times from this pen more than any other pen; drying times seem almost entirely at the mercy of the paper used. And though the writing remained pretty crisp all through dragging my hand across the page, my skin still picked up and moved ink particles around the page–if you look closely (maybe you can’t actually see it in my scan, but I can see it as I obsessively press the paper to my eyeballs) you can see that bits of ink have been smudged onto white spaces. How the letters remain crisp in spite of this flaw is probably dark wizardry.

Do not be lured by Pentel’s claims of this pen being “Ideal for Lefties”–this is not the Holy Grail we’ve been looking for. What this pen is, is it’s a good gel pen with a nice, fun, yet professional design. Another good contender in the micro-tip category, just watch for ink getting picked up on your hands, and hopefully you won’t have the same problems with the grip that I have. The only thing that could make this pen better (without actually changing anything about its production) would be if it were generally available in American chain stores (hint, hint, Target, you’ve been getting a good selection going lately, you should think about picking up this pen, hint).

Pentel EnerGel Euro Needle-Point Gel Ink Pen – 0.35 mm – Black at JetPens

Pentel EnerGel Alloy RT Gel Ink Pen

27 12 2010

In hindsight, I think I should have drawn some sunglasses on here. Should you find yourself interested in legibility, click on the picture.

Aside from accidentally bending this page when scanning (not sure how I managed that), I’m quite happy with how this review came out. I wasn’t expecting to get good sketches out of this pen, but as long as I’m not doing tiny drawings, this pen does nicely. No blobbing of ink on the tip. But look, why don’t I try to talk about this pen in a more logical, perhaps less haphazard way?

Sleek. Silver. No nonsense. A business pen's business pen.

We met in your typical office supply store; I can’t tell you now whether it was Staples, Office Depot, or Office Max. All I know is that I locked eyes with this pen, and its discounted price of $4, and I knew that we were meant to be together, after a small monetary exchange. The combination of sleek and matte silvery metal gives the pen a look of subtle class that a solid covering of only one or the other wouldn’t achieve. The pen isn’t very heavy, resting in the palm of my hand, but has just enough weight when held for writing. I don’t know what to say about the textured grip–it is neither irritating nor impressive. Metal texture grips always confuse me.

I know what you're thinking. This image is crappy. Look, just focus on the plunger end, okay? This picture is all about that.

The plunger has a satisfying click. Even better, the plunger has a spring mechanism that pushes the plunger back up after it’s clicked; even when the nib is deployed, the plunger stays up, meaning none of that annoying plunger rattling that some click pens are plagued with.

Look at dat sexy plunger. I JUST WANNA CLICK YOU BABY

The neverending curse of the left-handed individual.

The ink isn’t waterproof, but I was impressed with how resistant it was to bleeding through the page, and how crisp my writing remained even as I was obviously picking up ink and moving it around the page with my hand. You can see some of the ink on the side of my hand here, and I suppose if you look close enough you can find it in the writing sample. It would be nice if it didn’t move ink like that at all, but it’s certainly much better than the abominable smudge-messes I’ve produced while, say, writing with a Pentel RSVP (which used to be my favorite ballpoint pen, until I realized what awful messes I was making every time I wrote with them. This was also before I discovered Jetstreams).

You won't find blobs of ink here

This particular pen is 0.7mm, and I eventually intend to give some 0.5mm EnerGel a try. I found its writing consistent, its ink a good shade of black. The pen started writing after probably months of me not using it. It isn’t any sort of artistic go-to, but it suffices in a pinch (read: boring business meeting). If I need to pack a briefcase with something professional looking…well, frankly, this is probably the most professional-looking, full-size, serious business pen I have. But, if some intimidating corporate-type uses my pen and keeps it forever, I won’t go broke getting a new one.
Pentel EnerGel Alloy RT Gel Ink Pen at Office Max

I am going to assume that maybe I got this pen at an Office Max, considering they were the only site with a link to the pen.