Paper Mate Gel Pen 0.7mm Green Ink

1 11 2011

I can't see green without thinking of leprechauns and shamrocks. Maybe this is why I don't own more green pens.

As fun as it is to review expensive, esoteric, aesthetically transcendent, and otherwise otherworldly pens, I figure it’s high time I once again review something simple. Something normal, non-pen-crazed people might recognize, perhaps even own in their pen cups: the Paper Mate gel pen.

It kinda looks like the less-cool cousin of the Jetstream Sport.

The design is unobtrusively simple; not boring, but not exceptionally eye-catching either. It’s pleasant. It’s modern (or, it’s at least not horrendously outdated).

Wavy clip. Wavy is modern.

I feel like pens on the cheap end of the spectrum need to be a bit overboard in terms of their on-product branding. You’re not going to mistake a Pilot Vanishing Point for a Lamy Dialog 3, but am I really going to know Paper Mate from Write Bros from store brand without some obvious labeling? Possibly not. And dark gray was a nice choice for the lettering.

Does any pen come out of a close up looking clean / not covered in fuzz and debris?

Most importantly, the Paper Mate gel pen does a decent job of writing. Smooth enough, no blobbing or messes, consistent ink flow, good color. Yet again, we have found a pen I think would be better for office use than the Pilot G2.

For best results, use on a backdrop of perfect leather.

I’m pretty sure I got this as a freebie sample when these first arrived new at my local pen store, Office Supplies & More, so I can’t accurately advise on price or on if you have to buy these in packs of more than are really necessary. But I’m pretty sure all the major big-box office supply chains carry them as well, if you are not fortunate enough to live near an independent retailer of pens.

Paper Mate Gel Pen profile at Paper Mate

Uni-ball Fanthom Erasable Gel Ink Pen – 0.5 mm – Green

4 08 2011

Johsts? No, Fanthoms.

I’ve been meaning to pick up the Fanthom for a while. Of course, I’ve also been meaning to review at least one of the many Pilot FriXions I have lying around, and that has not yet happened. We’ll just have to go with what I’ve got.

This picture seems to have come out way bluer than I intended. WHOOPS.

I swear this pen is actually more of a green.

The pen body is a hard, lightweight plastic, with no actual grip to speak of—there are small recessed ellipses where a grip might be, but don’t be fooled—it’s just more hard plastic. For those of you looking to build up your writer’s callous, look no further.

Uni does get one major design factor right, above and beyond the standard set by Pilot’s FriXion: the eraser is the cap, and thus, the eraser is always accessible. Pilot, for some reason, puts the eraser on the bottom of the pen in every FriXion model (except for the FriXion Ball Knock and the FriXion color-pencil-like pens) so that you cannot actually use the eraser with the cap posted. Points to the Fanthom in the eraser category. However, this does mean that as you are erasing (which, if you note the tests above, does require some persistence and occasionally some force), you are wearing away at the cap.

Don't believe what you only hope to be true--you ARE losing part of the cap when you erase.

You can see some flat spots forming on the cap, which will only get worse with continued use. But I think it’s more of an aesthetic issue than a structural one; I’ll let you know if I manage to erase a hole in the cap.

A satisfying Uni standard gel pen tip

Ink flow is pleasantly consistent. Very rarely, I’ll get less than a millimeter’s worth of railroading when I start a letter, but this happened so infrequently that I only noticed it upon close scrutiny. The ink itself has a sort of opaque, pastel, milk- or chalk-like quality to its color. It’s hard to describe, but I’ve seen it in all the Pilot FriXion models as well. I rather like it, but I suspect that this is due to some quality that makes the ink erasable, and that means that you won’t get a true and vibrant black from a pen in the current generation of erasable models from either brand.

Acceptable erasing substitutes include pocket lighters, hot cars, flame-based superheroes...

How well does it erase? On par with the FriXion, which is to say, leaps and bounds better than the erasable garbage peddled back in the 90s. I had some difficulty on the Behance Dot Grid paper, but on other papers I’ve been able to get all the ink off the page without grief or strife. Or, I should say, I get all of the ink on the page to undergo the heat-based chemical reaction  necessary to make the ink no longer visible. The ink is still on the page—just stick your paper in the freezer, and it will come back in time. Maybe don’t use this ink to write sensitive or offensive things? When you tilt the paper in the light, you can see the ink you’ve “erased”, but for note-taking and other standard writing purposes not taking place in sub-freezing or boilingly-heated environments, the Fanthom ink erases quite well enough to easily be written over.

The Fanthom is a good start for Uni-ball. What I’d like to see are more/better body options, as the current grip is far from comfortable. Picture it: Uni-ball Fanthom Alpha Gel Retractable Gel Ink Pen. You know it would sell like squishy, erasable hotcakes.

Uni-ball Fanthom Erasable Gel Ink Pen – 0.5 mm – Green at JetPens

Platinum Preppy Fountain Pen – Fine 03 Nib – Purple Ink and Green Ink

23 01 2011

I'm not quite satisfied with how the colors came out on this scan, and no amount of Photoshopping has changed this. I'll throw in a link to a really crappy picture of the review, and hopefully, going forward, I can work out something to give us a little more color fidelity here. Like, say, a new scanner. That would help.

Here’s my attempt at taking a picture of the review. This is not better than the scan; it’s just bad in all new ways. But enough with my shoddy techniques; let’s review this pen.

This pen. These pens.

Continuing in my established tradition of reviewing really cheap pens, I bring you the Platinum Preppy Fountain Pen (the purple one is mine, the green one is on loan from my friend and coworker, Betsy). This was one of the earliest fountain pens I bought, back when I was trying to figure out what all the fuss was over these fusty old devices.

The color-matched nibs are a cute touch.

I wanted a nice purple pen (which I eventually got); the color that came out of this pen, once we finally got it to work, was more of what I’d call a Fandango (a color name I have only just now learned; thanks Wikipedia). The pen was rather reluctant to write right out of the Jiffylite packaging, and I can’t recall what esoteric rituals we performed to get it to function. If you’ve ordered one of these pens and it seems dead in the water, uh, keep trying? Maybe you, too, will accidentally stumble on the solution.

Spring-loaded, the better to make irritating noises when you idly twist the cap around

The pen body itself is made of a hard plastic that is more than willing to crack–I currently have two cracks in the cap of my purple pen. At some point, they’ll surely expand enough to make the cap completely inoperable. The clip on the pen seems to be the same sort of crack-prone plastic as the rest of the pen–the sort of thing that wouldn’t hesitate to snap off if you tried to use it for anything other than keeping the pen from rolling away. There is an interesting spring mechanism in the cap, which helps to seal the nib in when closed–there’s an inner cap on the end of the spring, which the grip of the pen then pushes into. It keeps the nib safe and free from drying out. Aside from those initial starting troubles, I’ve never had this pen choke out on me. Even after months of sitting unused, this pen writes; what more can you ask for at this price point?

I would ask for an actual fine nib, is what I'd ask for.

Maybe I got a bad pen, or maybe my early attempts at fountain pen writing were nothing but heavy-handed abuse, but this is not what I’d call a fine nib. This is medium. I can’t imagine how thick the so-called “medium” Preppy nib must be. The colors are enjoyable, but everything else about this ink is terrible. It bleeds through the page, lays down thick and wet, fuzzes and feathers, isn’t waterproof–in fact, it’s probably more water than ink (again, what was I expecting at this price point?).

But you know what? It writes. And in all the time I’ve had it, I’ve been able to count on it for that. What this pen is, is it’s a good, cheap, reliable, beginner’s fountain pen. So what if the ink is capable only of either pooling up (very left unfriendly) or soaking through the paper? It’s an easy writer, and still writes even when held at awkward and nonsensical angles (which, by the way, is the only way non-fountain-pen users know how to hold fountain pens) . And it’s cheap. That’s what’s important about this pen–it writes and it’s cheap.

Have something beautiful, for the road

Platinum Preppy Fountain Pen – Fine 03 Nib – Green Ink at JetPens

Platinum Preppy Fountain Pen – Fine 03 Nib – Purple Ink at JetPens