TUL Pens – Serious Ink

8 09 2015
I really need to get my nice big scanner set back up again, so I can easily to writing samples bigger than a playing card again

I really need to get my nice big scanner set back up again, so I can easily do writing samples bigger than a playing card

I received an email from the new representative of the Office [Max/Depot] mecha behemoth advising me that I needed Serious Ink, which I pictured to be a very large bottle of black ink with a stern-faced, possibly dead individual on the label. No, apparently that’s not what Serious Ink is. Serious Ink refers to Office Depot‘s line of TUL pens. Would I like a free sample to review? Sure, I said, as long as these are somehow different from Office Max‘s line of premium TUL pens I reviewed before.

Obviously these are different, they came in their own suitcase

Obviously these are different, they came in their own suitcase

No reply from my Office DaxMepot liason, but this thing showed up on my doorstep (in the arms of the UPS guy, whom my dog viciously barked at). The previous set included a marker pen, a rollerball, a gel pen, and a ballpoint. This set included a pencil, a rollerball, a gel pen, and a ballpoint.

Literally, the same ballpoint

Literally, the same ballpoint

As before, the ballpoint delivers dark, super smooth ink performance in a somewhat bland-looking package. Put the ballpoint refill in the previous TUL line’s gel pen body, and then we’d be talking. But in spite of being the same ballpoint, the refill on this new one tends to sometimes rattle, which is definitely a step in the wrong direction.

The little keys that came with the little suitcase, by the way, do not work.

The little keys that came with the little suitcase, by the way, do not work.

They’ve taken everything I liked about the look of the previous gel pen and completely done away with it, the beter to match the less-inspired design of the ballpoint. The gel ink remains smooth and skip-free, but still has spots where it takes too long to dry. Not very left-handed friendly. This is the medium point size—I’d like to try this gel pen in fine.

Oh rollerball. You have liquid ink, but are not a fountain pen. I never know what to do with you

Oh rollerball. You have liquid ink, but are not a fountain pen. I never know what to do with you

I will give them credit in that the designs of this new set seem to go together a lot better, particularly the gel pen and the rollerball. Again, I’d like to try this in a fine; my handwriting just looks too thick. The medium rollerball seems to write much more consistently this time around, and the dry times are decent—much better than the gel pen.

I'm not very picky about mechanical pencils. Either it works, it's a Uni Kuru Toga, or it's a useless piece of garbage

I’m not very picky about mechanical pencils. Either it works, it’s a Uni Kuru Toga, or it’s a useless piece of garbage

Now this looks like it matches the design of the TUL gel pen that I liked before. I love the long rubbery grip, and that the lead and tip can be pushed back into the nose cone when you need to travel. And almost an inch of twist eraser! No complaints; it does everything a mechanical pencil should and in no way fills me with any rage.

By our powers combined, we are OFFICE INK DEPOT SERIOUS MAX

By our powers combined, we are OFFICE INK DEPOT SERIOUS MAX

Design-wise, the pencil is the clear winner for this TUL group. Performance-wise, the day goes once again to the TUL ballpoint. The refills between the gel body and the ballpoint body are compatible with one another, so I’ve now gone back to my first set and put the ballpoint refill in my much more beloved gel body. Now my life is complete.

TUL Writing Line – Available online or at your nearest amalgamated Office Depot/Max.

Thank you to Office Depot OfficeMax for providing these samples free for review. Please consider adopting a slightly less unwieldy name though. 

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Pilot B2P Bottle to Pen Gel Ink Pen – 0.7 mm – Blue Ink

13 09 2013
Now I just need a bottle made out of recycled pens and the cycle will be complete

Now I just need a bottle made out of recycled pens and the cycle will be complete

I’ve had this pen for a while, resting first in a general all-purpose “To Review” drawer, and then, around when I moved, I promoted it to the smaller, elite “Cool-Looking Pens to Review” drawer. And there it sat in all my laziness until an inquisitive nudge made me realize I still hadn’t reviewed this pen.

Warning: do not fill B2P with water. Results will not be satisfactory.

Warning: do not fill B2P with water. Results will not be satisfactory.

I like the look of it. The nigh-gimmicky plastic-bottle-reproduction body works for me, right down to the bottle label. It’s cute, it’s clever. I appreciate the feel-goodery of a product containing 89% recycled content. This is an all-around improvement over the standard G2.

Needs a tiny nutrition facts table.

Needs a tiny nutrition facts table.

But I find the hard plastic body uncomfortable to write with for any significant stretch. If you write like a normal human being, with a tripod grip, it’s likely this won’t be such a problem for you. But if you write like me, with the ungainly grip of a ridge-browed troglodyte, you may find this pen uncomfortable.

I wonder if there's a significant difference in blue vs. black Pilot G2 ink performance. Maybe my problem all along is I've been using black, when the acceptably mediocre champion is blue.

I wonder if there’s a significant difference in blue vs. black Pilot G2 ink performance. Maybe my problem all along is I’ve been using black, when the acceptably mediocre champion is blue.

Quality control, in my experience with the Pilot G2 refills, is the pen equivalent of playing Russian Roulette with a gun that’s 80% loaded full of writing-killing, poor performance bullets. Maybe I’m just a particularly unlucky punk. But in this pen-stance, the G2 refill has thus far written without any major hair-pulling problems. Nothing phenomenal, nothing atrocious. In keeping with the Be Green branding, the pen is easily refillable with any size or color G2 refill you happen to fancy (I would suggest the 0.38mm refill, as it is the only G2 that has not consistently brought me despair).

The multi-packs should come in a reused plastic water bottle, full of B2Ps. Genius. Pilot, you may now shower me with your moneydollars for this marketing gold.

The multi-packs should come in a reused plastic water bottle, full of B2Ps. Genius. Pilot, you may now shower me with your moneydollars for this marketing gold.

It may not be entirely comfortable for me, but I like the direction this B2P takes the G2. It’s a thoughtful design, both aesthetically and environmentally.

You can find these pens in box stores, at JetPens, and on Amazon.





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 Signo 207 BLX Retractable Gel Ink Pen – 0.7 mm – 4 of 5 Colors

28 05 2013
No brown-black, sorry!

No brown-black, sorry!

When you’ve got a good pen in your lineup, it’s important to keep the body fresh and modern (or at least keep it from being the pen design equivalent of padded shoulders (or fetid swamp water)). Or, more accurately, it’s important to me, maybe you, and probably absolutely no one else in the general market.

Any scrap of novelty in standard American pens is exciting to me.

Any scrap of novelty in standard American pens is exciting to me.

As soon as I saw these babies at my local office supply store, I snatched them up. I didn’t see brown-black, but red-black, green-black, blue-black, and purple-black were all there. Compared to the regular Signo 207, there are only a few major differences, biggest of all being the BLX clip is plastic instead of metal (presumably so it could be a stealthy matte black).

Yeah, that's definitely cool enough to be worth sacrificing structural integrity.

Yeah, that’s definitely cool enough to be worth sacrificing structural integrity.

I just find plastic clips inherently suspect, as I’m certain all they’re there for is to one day break off. And why isn’t the nose cone the same matte black? Why is it glossy black? Why isn’t everything matte black? Who decides these things?

The brooding Batmanesque colors of the Signo line

The brooding Batmanesque colors of the Signo line

I do like the body; no longer a translucent barrel, the BLX features a color fade to black that isn’t too tacky. The grip is the same as the standard Signo 207.

Now, when can we expect 0.5mm? 0.38mm? Approximately never?

Now, when can we expect 0.5mm? 0.38mm? Approximately never?

One of my biggest problems I’ve had happen when writing samples for reviews with some brands of gel pens is that the dry ink will somehow come off the page onto my hand and get redistributed back on the page. Pentel’s EnerGel line is a particular offender. I didn’t have any of that happen on this writing sample with the Signo 207. The writing is smooth and the colors are gorgeous (this purple-black is my new best friend). The ink is also allegedly resistant to check washing and other such grandiose claims you can find printed on the back of a standard blister pack. Not yet being of criminal mind, I’m not sure how one goes about attempting to wash checks (and I’m pretty sure that’s one of those google searches that gets you put on a watch list), so I can neither confirm nor deny this claim of the ink’s properties in that regard.

And they are technically refillable! (I’m not sure where one necessarily gets such refills though.) The refill size is comparable to the Jetstream retractable or the Zebra Sarasa retractable refills, so you could, for example, put this refill in the body of the Zebra Airfit Jell or the Jetstream Alpha Gel Grip, and have a fantastic hybrid fancy body Signo BLX.

You can find these pens in most big box stores, at my local office supply store (Office Supplies and More), and JetPens also carries them.





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





Zebra Sarasa Push Clip Gel Ink Pen – 0.3 mm in Blue-Black and Purple

11 02 2011

Look at all this delicate lineage. Not hereditary lineage, I mean...actual...lines. Lineination. Linetasticality.

I figured it was high time to get back to basics, basics being defined as metaphorically chewing your ear off (typing your eyeballs off?) with tales of pens I absolutely love. Why, hello there, Zebra Sarasa Push Clip; I do believe you qualify for this.

This week, reality has decided that the best way to nearly accurately represent the color of the pens is for the paper to look...pink. Fine. We'll say it's a premature salute to a silly holiday. That holiday being known as Pinksgiving Dayween.

The Push Clip gel pen is one of the cheaper gel pens JetPens offers, but don’t be put off by affordability–this is a great pen. The body is a lightweight plastic with a rubber grip–pretty no frills in this department. I haven’t been able to beat these up long enough to give you an idea of what kind of durability this plastic holds, but c’mon. This pen costs $1.50. It could break after a month and I’d still feel like I was getting my money’s worth (for the record, I’ve had these about a month, but they do not seem on any kind of course toward breaking).

WILD CLIPPING ACTION

This pen has two big draws for me, the first being a dead giveaway in the name–the clip.

I don't actually recommend doing this.

I normally don’t use pen clips because I’m afraid I’ll break them. They always seem so fragile and plasticky. The exception to this is clips with hinges, like the Push Clip here–these pens are made for clipping. And that, my friend, is just what I do with them. I clip them on my books, my fingers, my face, my wallet, whatever. I’m sure I’ll eventually break one of these clips trying to push the boundaries of just what I can and can’t clip these pens onto, but the pen will still be useful, and if I really want the clip it’s not much coin off my purse to get another one.

The second stand-out feature of this pen is just what you’d expect from a pen–how it writes. This 0.3mm gel pen writes thin, but never feels scratchy. It isn’t jetstream-butter-smooth, but I’ve never felt my writing performance hindered by the fact that this pen is an 0.3mm rather than, say, an 0.5mm.

No stabbing, no blobbing, and no roughhouse mobbing.

I love using this pen, for writing and sketching. When I write, my handwriting looks almost halfway decent, and the thinness of line is excellent for sketching, shading, doodling, and just generally making marks on the page. I’ve never had the ink skip or blob or call me bad names. I especially like the use of the ^ shape for the tip of the pen, rather than a | shape. This is just a personal preference (/accidentally stabbed myself with a Hi-Tec-C-once); there are certainly uses for needle-tipped fineline pens. Uses which I will surely expound upon when I’m reviewing a needle-tipped pen. The main thing I like about the ^ shape is that it feels sturdier, like I can use this as a workhorse kind of pen. I have no problem quickly jotting things down with this pen–nothing in the micro-tip construction slows down the writing process. I feel like this can be a problem with some micro-tip pens, but it’s not a problem here.

The ink comes in very rich colors that accurately match the accents on the pen itself (though I would disagree with Zebra; this is more of a fuchsia or heliotrope than a purple). The plunger makes a very satisfying click. Nothing rattles when I write. I…I’m trying, really I am, but I can’t think of anything I don’t like about these two pens. If you like pens of 0.5mm and below, and don’t already own a Zebra Sarasa Push Clip, you really need to evaluate your life, and fix this situation.

CUE DRAMATIC ITALIAN LOVE SONGS TO THE SWEET WASHING MELODIES OF HEIRLOOM ACCORDIONS.


Zebra Sarasa Push Clip Gel Ink Pen – 0.3 mm – Purple at JetPens

Zebra Sarasa Push Clip Gel Ink Pen – 0.3 mm – Blue Black at JetPens





Pentel EnerGel Alloy RT Gel Ink Pen

27 12 2010
Words!Pictures!WHOA

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.