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.”


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

Ink Drop Soup: Yoropen, Back Again!

27 08 2014

Remember the Yoropen?

This pen probably has more in common with some species of tropical, exotic bird than it does with other pens

It took about 8 minutes of scrolling back through my media library to find this

I mentioned when I reviewed it that there was a metal version. Little did I realize at the time that Yoropens had been pretty much discontinued since about 2008/2009, operations shut down…but they are back, and trying to get started up again through Kickstarter.

Image from the Yoropens Z3 Kickstarter

Image from the Yoropens Z3 Kickstarter

The Z3 is an updated version of the old metal Yoropen (the Z2) in a big way: instead of requiring only special, odd, proprietary ink cartridges, the inside has been redesigned to be able to accommodate generic refills after they’ve been bent appropriately by an included mold.


Image from the Yoropens Kickstarter

I’m excited to see the new Yoropen Z3 in action, and Yoropen has reached out to me to send me one to try once it’s ready; keep your eyes open for a review in the future. In the meantime, the Kickstarter is live if you’re looking for a different pen from a company with previous success that’s trying to get back in the game.

Yoropen Z3 on Kickstarter

Ink Drop Soup: Someone Buy Me One (HMM RULE/ONE Kickstarter)

16 05 2014

This Kickstarter for the HMM RULE/ONE is so close to almost funded with six days to go…and it looks so sweet…look at it!

It’s magnet close (a feature that was added thanks to backer feedback), and the refill is Uni 0.38! And it’s black anodized aluminum. And you can use it like a bookmark thanks to the teardrop shape. And you can put in a lanyard loop. UGH I WANT ONE. Someone else go fund this thing all the way so maybe one day I can get one when I’m not so poor.
EDIT: they’ve reached their funding goal! …and I went ahead and backed them anyway. Ramen dinners and cool pens ahoy!

HMM RULE/ONE by HMM PROJECT on Kickstarter

Eco-Essential Pen and Pencil Set

7 05 2014


Pen is Pilot Hi-Tec-C 0.5mm black refill. Can you believe I still haven't reviewed the basic Hi-Tec-C? Not yet anyway.

Pen contains Pilot Hi-Tec-C 0.5mm black refill. Can you believe I still haven’t reviewed the basic Hi-Tec-C? Not yet anyway.

Kickstarter has launched quite the Renaissance of pen bodies, mostly focused around the popular Hi-Tec-C refill (and why not, with all the colors and sizes it comes in). Now, I don’t keep my finger on the pulse of the Kickstarter pen community (because if I did, I’d be broke and buried in a mound of Hi-Tec-C bodies) but I don’t think I’ve seen another pen body on Kickstarter so prominently featuring wood. But then, I don’t pay much attention.

It is okay to drool. My cat does it all the time. But she usually isn't looking at pens.

It is okay to drool. My cat does it all the time. But she usually isn’t looking at pens.

The look is Ikea-chic, hip and minimalist, the aluminum in a tasteful matte finish, the sustainable bamboo luxurious. The Eco-Essential utensils are lightweight, but strong. It looks and feels like a quality product.

Can also be used as emergency Olympic Rings. If you pretend that orange is yellow.

Can also be used as emergency Olympic Rings. If you pretend that orange is yellow.

Customization begins at the cap. Do you want a flat top (with logo), or would you like a capacitive stylus? I prefer the flat top, as I’ve got no end of capacitive styluses in my life, but I appreciate the option. And what color accent would you like? I’m partial to this deep, beautiful blue.

I will admit, sometimes when I'm posting it takes me more than one try to align the threads properly

I will admit, sometimes when I’m posting it takes me more than one try to align the threads properly, especially on the pen

Both the pen and the pencil have twist-on posting/closing caps (one full revolution to open and close, about a quarter revolution to post). The grip unscrews just below the threads to either access the pen refill or pencil insert (which you can pull out to put more lead in, or you can also pull off the knock button on the outside end which honestly seems a lot easier and likely more what they were intending). The pen refill, I will note, is a tight fit when you’re screwing the grip back onto the body, but it will go back to being flush with the grip. Just keep tightening.

What other refills might fit this body? How the heck does the little spring included to adapt the G-2 cartridge to fit even work? These are mysteries for another day

What other refills might fit this body? How the heck does the little spring included to adapt the G-2 cartridge to fit even work? These are mysteries for another day

The pen is almost like air in my hand. Because everything is so lightweight there’s little difference for me between writing with it posted and unposted. Sometimes I think I’d like for the grip to be knurled, for better grippability; other times I’m pleased with the smoothness and wouldn’t have it any other way. The grip lines up perfectly with my hands such that I’m not on the threaded ridge, but your grip may vary. The only thing that would make me happier would be if this were a silky-smooth Jetstream refill, because my love of Jetstream knows no bounds.

For as much as you'd pay for this pencil, I'd expect significantly less critical flaws

For as much as you’d pay for this pencil, I’d expect significantly less critical flaws

Now, as much as I admire the pen, I do have some unfortunate things to point out about the pencil that lead me to suspect it was envisioned as more of a matching afterthought than its own stand-alone product. Post the cap on the pencil. Congratulations, now you can’t advance the lead. That’s pretty crucial for a pencil. Yes, I could just not post the cap, but then why bother even having the threading? Why include an option that renders the pencil practically unusable? The only advantage to not posting the cap is then you’re less likely to accidentally use the stylus as an eraser, since there’s no eraser on the pencil. The pencil is beautiful, but the functionality is lacking. This is the result of asking, how do we turn the Eco-Essential pen into a pencil with the fewest structural changes possible? And I get that. Keeps costs down I’m sure. But the end product suffers for it. Are there self-advancing lead mechanisms that would work in this body? Perhaps design a special knock-cap for the pencil?


So pleasing to hold and behold

So pleasing to hold and behold

Go for the pen, especially if you’re a Hi-Tec-C refill fan (like I mentioned, it also takes Pilot G-2 refills but we know how I feel about the G-2). The Eco-Essential is an attractive and professional pen body. I kind of want to crash a fancy business scenario just to bring this pen with me. Anyone got any important board meetings I can drop in on? I have a suit and impressive array of office supplies, which I’m pretty sure is all you need.

The pencil, on the other hand, I would pass on, unless you just really want a matching set. If that’s the case, it will match quite beautifully.

Thank you to ISHUJA for providing this sample set for review!

Ink Drop Soup: Billet Pens Kickstarter Electric Blue Update

10 12 2013
A most glorious color!

A most glorious color!

Just a quick update to the giveaway and Kickstarter for Billet Pens & Markers — there’s now an electric blue option! It’s currently limited to 10 pens and 5 markers, so if you were holding out hoping one would appear, here it is!

Premier Pen P1 Black

14 09 2012

More Kickstarter glory!

I was never a particularly great fan of the Pilot Hi-Tec-C line—I enjoyed a few iterations in the line, but the basic model’s aesthetics failed to tickle my fancy. But I still wanted to be one of those cool cats that’s in love with the Hi-Tec-C, so I dropped Jacksons to get in on the Premier P1 pen Kickstarter campaign, and here we are.

Worth every little Lincoln I paid for it.

This is a sexy, professional pen. I feel like I need to move to the big city and land a corner office just to be the kind of with-it young person who should be using this pen. At the very least, I ought to buy a briefcase and quit wearing jeans to work.

I may look like a hobo, but my pens are classy

I don’t even know where to start with the design love. This is as minimalist as it gets—no branding on the body at all—and it matches my Kaweco Liliput. The finish is as smooth as satin.


The weight is wonderful. The maintenance is simple. The only problem is figuring out what to do with the cap when you’re writing, as there’s nowhere to post it.

The cap would probably fit up your nose or in your ear, but that is neither professional nor a good idea, and will likely end with you in dire need of medical attention.

No rattling, no movement of the refill—the P1 was perfectly machined to hold its Hi-Tec-C refill in place.

Like an aluminum glove

The effort was undoubtedly worth it—Steve Black’s attention to detail in this project has turned out a fantastic body for a great refill that I can now properly appreciate. Bravo, Steve! Well done!

If you missed out on this Kickstarter, keep an eye out on the Premier Pen website and sign up for the mailing list to be notified when the P1 starts selling to everyone!

The X-Pen +prototype+

30 08 2012

My tiniest writing sample yet

This will be my first review of a prototype. Arash Malek emailed me out of the blue, asking if I would be interested in reviewing one of the prototype samples from their Kickstarter campaign, and like always with these kind of review requests (seriously, are these trick questions? who says no?) I said yes.

I guess I should have used normal items of scale, like rulers or coins. Too late now!

My first reaction was a delighted “OH MY STARS AND ENVELOPES; IT’S A TINY PEN!” I love small pens with an eye toward everyday carry convenience. Other notable pens that activate this joyous whimsy include the Kaweco Liliput, the Pilot Petit1, the E+M Workman Pocket Clutch lead holder, the Hi-Tec-C Slim Knock—but this is the first compact felt tip pen I’ve encountered.

You haven’t seen photoshopping this poor since the dawn of the internet

Let’s talk about design. It looks like a battery. Or a robot cigarette. Probably both! (Stay away from cigarettes, kids, robot or otherwise. Except for this X-pen; it’s not actually a robot cigarette.) It’s strange and I like it. I’m not an engineer, but if I were designing a hip-and-with-it engineer, this looks like the sort of pen I would have ever in the hands of that engineer.

Hexes aren’t just for witches and wizards

As you probably know (unless you hate science and fun), magnets are one of the coolest things discovered for the human technological arsenal (sorry to be speciesist, but how many aardvarks using magnets have you seen?). The cap closes and posts with magnets. I cannot stress enough how satisfying it is to close the cap. Yes, it’s also very functional and keeps the cap securely in place, but most importantly it’s way more fun than it really should be. I find myself idly opening and closing the cap just for the fun of it. Functionality bonus!: the hex on the cap unscrews the hexamabob that holds the refill in place.

Note: there’s no finish on this round of the prototype, so the steel sleeve in the front is starting to rust a bit—this was noted to me by the makers before I got the prototype, so I’m not concerned.

You may recall my discovery of the Pilot Fineliner, and my delight in its performance. Well, though my sample came with a Pilot Razor Point refill, you will be delighted to note that the X-pen also takes the Pilot Fineliner tip/refill. MOST EXCELLENT.

Boring ordinary Pilot Razor Points

The Razor Point refill itself is quite nice—though I feel like it takes perhaps a couple of words to warm up, after that it’s nice and smooth, no drying out or whatever other problems exist in the felt-tip writing world. Even though it’s short, it’s long enough even unposted for a normal writing experience; and even though it’s pocket sized, it’s thick enough (thicker than the original Pilot Razor Point body) to be perfectly comfortable.


From what I’ve seen in this prototype, I think the X-pen will be an excellent pen (IS THAT WHAT THE X STANDS FOR HMM?). It’s very exciting to see some pennovation that goes beyond just another body for Hi-Tec-C refills. Thank you to Arash for providing me with this sample!

Check out the X-Pen Kickstarter campaign, and get in on it while there’s still time!


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