Pentel Hybrid Technica Gel Ink Pen – 0.3mm – Black

13 08 2011


I think I’ve seen some tweets bouncing around that favorably mention the Pentel Hybrid Technica. I’d never noticed the Hybrid Technica in stores before—either the packaging was uninspiring, or the pen wasn’t actually there. But through the magic of tax-free weekend, my eyes were opened and I spotted a whole cup full of Pentel Hybrid Technicas in all sizes at my local pen store. Naturally, I went with the most lethally sharp and minuscule tip available.

It's what's inside that counts!

Honestly, I assumed this was just going to be another impulse-buy write-off, another plastic body for the graveyard drawer of mediocre pens. The design isn’t much to remark on; in terms of appearance, it looks like a very close cousin to the Uni Signo DX. Line width clearly marked on the top, the better to see when jumbled up in a pen cup, little bit of branding…nice and standard, but nothing worth wasting anymore sentences on.

Note the lone frill over on the right--a keyhole in the cap where you could thread something through, perhaps to wear as a necklace.

For writing, it’s not my pen. It’s just too scratchy when writing; I’ve probably got a hundred other pens I would use before I’d want to write with this one. But I absolutely LOVE this pen for sketching and doodling.

WARNING: Walk, do not run, while carrying an open Pentel Hybrid Technica. Failure to comply with this public safety recommendation may result in eye injury, loss of morale, death, and or compromised national security. Thank you.

The lines are sharp, thin, and precise. It’s easy to make quick and light guidelines as well as slow, dark, deliberate lines. I should have just left off the writing part and done all doodles, because the doodling was fun.

Don't you like the way the cone sort of flares out at the bottom? Makes me think of very old telephones, for some reason.

And, as an added bonus, the Pentel Hybrid Technica body perfectly fits the Pentel Slicci refills. If you’re like me, and feel like writing with the Slicci body is akin to writing with skinny little twigs, then our problem is solved. Here’s an acceptable body that can house the exceptional (or at least better than average) Slicci refills. Even if the Pentel Hybrid Technica doesn’t come in more colors (though I hope it does), I can always keep this body and rotate in the Slicci rainbow.

This is exactly how the Hybrid Technica looked when we met eyes, and the pen whispered tearfully, "Oh! Please take me with you!"

Once again, I’m reviewing something I got in my local pen store, Office Supplies and More, that is not as easy to find online (read: not carried by JetPens). Luckily, Pentel carrries the Hybrid Technica in their online store with sizes ranging from 0.3mm to 0.6mm. Apparently, as of the time of this writing, Pentel also has free shipping on all orders over $20 (until September 16th), if you’re into that sort of thing.

Pentel Vicuna Super Smooth 2 Color 0.7 mm Ballpoint Multi Pen + 0.5 mm Pencil – Sky Blue Body

29 07 2011

I think if it had a highlighter too, you'd have everything you need for school in terms of writing instruments.

I think this is the last sample from the recent batch of goodies JetPens sent me. Poor thing got overshadowed by my excitement over the Jetstream alpha gel grip and the new Pilot Petit series.

Sky blue is a great color, just not as exciting as electric purple or epileptic orange.

The body’s comfortably sized, not too thick (a typical problem for some multi pens). Light plastic, smooth rubber grip. The rubber in the grip is NOT made of the typical debris-magnet material, meaning I need not worry about recklessly throwing the Vicuña into bags, pockets, sandboxes, etc. The grip has small, recessed ridges (ravines?) for better traction. I don’t have traction problems when using pens, so I can’t speak to how effective this design is.

Something is missing here

The plungers work well, no complaints. But what do you not see on the end of this thing? AN ERASER. I thought it was pen law that every multi-pen with a mandatory pencil component had to provide an eraser or face heavy fines from the Council of Regulatory Administration of Pens. Maybe no eraser is better than an insultingly dinky eraser, but I think I would have appreciated at least a token effort in the eraser department.

The weapons at your disposal

The black ballpoint was suitably smooth, but I had problems with the red. You can see up there how there’s red ink gunk caked around the rollerball. There’s clearly something not going right there, and the result is that the red was far too often being reluctant to put ink on the page. A smooth ballpoint should have no skipping; it should certainly not have so much that it’s a noticeable problem. I don’t know if the problems I had with the red ballpoint were a fluke, or a common problem.

I do not recommend writing with the barrel off.

They weren’t very good serious doodle pen components; you can see in the writing sample how streaky and icky thin, light lines often looked. Not a problem that came up in writing (except for the aforementioned red problems). The mechanical pencil performed its task as a mechanical pencil should, and I noticed nothing to complain about.

I do like how they've got the name underneath the translucent grip. Nicely done.

Is this the best smooth-ballpoint-and-mechanical-pencil multipen? Probably not—the competition in the smooth ballpoint category is fierce, and I think the Zebra Surari multi pen has the lockdown as best in the lower price tier. But I don’t think you’d be disappointed in picking one of these up. It’s thin, light, pleasing to the eyes, and if it weren’t for that red ink component and lack of eraser, I’d recommend it without any caveats.


Thanks again to JetPens! :)

Pentel Vicuna Super Smooth 2 Color 0.7 mm Ballpoint Multi Pen + 0.5 mm Pencil – Sky Blue Body at JetPens

Pentel Slicci Gel Ink Pen – 0.4 mm – in Brown, Purple, & Dark Purple Ink

7 05 2011

Maybe if I bemoan the terrible color quality in these scans enough times, the scanner will shape up. Also, maybe it will stop making mysterious smudges even AFTER I clean the glass. Or maybe I am just dreaming.

I’ve apparently decided that this week is gel pen week. And not just gel pens, but gel pens that I’ve had for a while and then also forgot about for a while. At least this story will end somewhat happier than the previous review this week.

Look at em sitting there, acting like they are all peaceful and whatnot.

I got these pens when I was on a color kick, buying up as many sources of brown and purple ink as I could find. I’d heard a lot of popular openion favoring the Slicci, so I felt pretty good about ordering it.

Lined up like civilized office products.

I’m gonna get this out right out of the gate: the barrel is too small for my hands, and I can barely stand it.

Another pen where, in some theoretical universe, you can just buy refills for the barrel. I would rather buy other barrels for the refill.

The small barrel is a plus for some people, especially those with small hands. But for me, it feels like I’m writing with a little knitting needle. I don’t really know what to say; the slim barrel seems pretty integral to the design. It’s not Pentel’s fault that I have big hands (or at least, not small, delicate hands). It would be nice if there were a bigger barrel option, because I like most everything else about this pen. I’m thinking of trying the Slicci multi pen in the hopes that it has a comfortably wide barrel.

Shiny! Spacey! I mean like space-age, not like these pens cannot pay attention.

Whew. Glad to get that off my hands. Now I can get into what I like about this pen. Design: not the typical bright white and cheerful color minimalist scheme I typically go for, but I like the metallic theme. Simple, consistent, and, I can’t say this enough, shiny. Gotta love shiny.

And though I like the colored metallic on the ink refill, I am a bit disappointed that the dark purple and regular purple have the same metallic purple on their refills. Visual cues are useful. It’s only a matter of time before I take these pens apart, mix the refills around, and end up putting the wrong refill in the wrong barrel. THIS IS A TRAGIC SITUATION THAT COULD EASILY BE AVOIDED.

Ability to take off into the skies may not be included.

The translucent purple plastic on the caps is also the same on both purple pens. Of course, the opaque plastic differentiates the colors effectively, so THANKFULLY we won’t have any catastrophic cap switching conundrums. While we’re on the cap, I will note I was surprised at the amount of paper the clip was able to hold. Plastic clips always make me nervous, as I’m convinced it’s only a matter of time before I break them. I figure they can’t hold much paper or they’ll instantly break into little pieces. So maybe this isn’t an impressive paper capacity on the Slicci’s part so much as it is a reflection of how rarely I use plastic clips on paper.

Also of note: even though these pens are so thin, both in barrel and tip, they still feel sturdy. This is why I compared them to knitting needles rather than toothpicks; I don’t feel like I’m in danger of breaking this pen, just that it’s too uncomfortably small.

Sharp-tipped and conspiratorial. What are they plotting? What inkly mischief do those rollerballs portend?

What I was really impressed with when it came to the Slicci was obviously writing quality. The colors were very rich, I daresay even delicious, and great for sketching. For writing, I’d rank them only as being at the acceptable standard for what I consider a good pen, as I had some issues with a weird semi-scratchy feeling on the tip of the pen several times when writing. I don’t know if I was writing at an odd angle, or if perhaps some small fiber or dust was getting caught in the very tip of the pen, or if microscopic kittens were being generated by the friction of  the pen on the paper and their tiny atomic claws were snagging the page; I just know that I had this issue with two out of my three pens. The motions of sketching, however, didn’t bring this tendency out.

What I’d really want more of these pens for is for colorful doodles and drawings. Writing quality, for me, wasn’t extraordinary enough to earn the Slicci a top spot in my writing pantheon (especially not with this barrel), but these colors are fantastic, and I want more of them. Perhaps I’ll try to find a different barrel that these refills might fit in, or I’ll give the Slicci multi-pen a try. The sketches, using all three pens together, just came out looking so nice! Think of what bring and fantastic things I could draw with the full range of colors. But the multi-pen doesn’t have all the colors that the full-size regular Slicci pens have. I need a bigger barrel, Pentel! You’re killing me here.

The colors also go nicely with a wide range of environments, like your desk, or, pictured here, nature.

Good pen, great sketcher…but me and the Slicci…we’re just physically incompatible. Sorry, baby. It’s not you, it’s me. :(
Pentel Slicci Gel Ink Pen – 0.4 mm – Purple Ink at JetPens

Slicci Gel Ink Pen – 0.4 mm – Dark Purple Ink at JetPens

Pentel Slicci Gel Ink Pen – 0.4 mm – Brown Ink at JetPens

Pentel Selfit Silicone Gel Grip Ballpoint Pen – 0.7 mm – Green Grip

29 04 2011

Featuring a small sideways guest doodle by my friend Alicia. Hers is the top doodle on the leftmost column of doodles, next to the biggest drawing. I had no choice; she stole my pen.

This is a pen I don’t use enough. I’ve had it for a while, buying it after reading a review at the Pen Addict, and I’ve since proceeded to go through cycles of re-remembering that I own this pen and that it delights me.

Please ask yourselves, and Pentel, why this is not available in American stores.

The whitish barrel is actually an ever-so-off-white pearlescent color, with shiny silver accents playing off the subtly sparkly green clip and grip. The overall design is clean and appealing. I’m not sure exactly how you’d categorize this style that tends to appeal to me—fun & functional, playful, modern, simple, whatever it is—but this is definitely another pen after that aesthetic.

PENTEL DO YOU HATE AMERICA? D: Seriously, why is this not in stores? Market it to the hip, note-taking set. They will eat it up like silicone-based technocandy.

Throughout several months of traveling, in and out of pen cases, the Selfit has held up well. No signs of being dirty, damaged, or abused by the daily grind. Fingerprints will show on the metallic accents, but not on the grip (unless, you know, your hands are covered in ink). I can’t tell if the metallic accents are metal or plastic; biting on them and tapping them on the table has also yielded inconclusive results.

What is that, Selfit? You want to take nothing but blurry and awful pictures? Geez, I guess, since you have been such a good pen, you can have crappy pictures.

We’ll save the best for last, and go over the writing quality first. It’s a pretty good ballpoint—the basic standard of decent. The tip would get pretty messy during use, which I think is what lead to all the problems I had with blobbing, especially in the sketches. In spite of the blob problems (bloblems), the pen wrote pretty smoothly—not one of the top performers in this category, but still decent. I didn’t have to press the pen down excessively, or really use much of any force, to get a sufficiently medium-dark and consistent line. If I pressed harder while writing, I could have gotten a much darker consistency of line, but all my fountain pen use has started to ruin my ability to cling desperately to the barrel of a pen while trying to carve through the paper. My writing sample is what the pen looks like with a fairly medium to light touch. With a bit of a heavier hand, you can have some decently dark writing (though not as dark as a Jetstream. I am comparing the two right now, staring intently at lines on pieces of paper). No smudging problems apparent, and the Selfit performed well while sketching. This pen isn’t some crapstick wrapped up in gimmickry; it’s a decent pen on its own.

Look at it. So squishy. Just wanna smoosh it. SMOOSH THE GRIP. Press your thumbs to the computer screen. Good, it feels nothing like that in real life.

Of course, the main attraction (and justification for the price tag) is that strip of silicone right there. The grip is said to contain 4000 gel beads and pieces (I have not counted, and thus cannot verify this number). Every time I show someone this pen, I joust it toward them whilst exclaiming “SQUISH IT! SQUISH THE GRIP!” and after they return from their protective cowering spot, they too are delighted to find how appealingly squishable this grip is. Even when I’m not writing, I have something to play with and keep my hands busy. Squish. Squish. You can feel something different in the way the grip moves beneath your fingers—I assume that’s the gel beads.

Best grip, or BESTEST GRIP? Given that I have never really tried any better grips (yet), we will go with BESTERESTEST.

Obviously, this grip was not designed for you to just sit around all day poking at it; it’s meant to be used. What I really like about this grip is how it molds to any sort of hand position you want to write in. It’s truly a one-size-fits-all grip in terms of grip shape. The shape conforms to you, but isn’t locked in any permanent shape. When you let go, the grip slowly returns to a state of evenly-distributed equilibrium. You’re never stuck with any one grip position. Anyone can pick up the pen and have a grip that is suited for their hand positioning. Now, I do know there’s some differences out there in what people want from a grip in terms of squishiness. I don’t grip that hard, and I find this gel grip to be great. I have a coworker who holds this pen with a death grip, and finds the squishiness to be inadequate. Yes, if you hold this pen hard enough, all the beads will escape from under your fingers and you will essentially be left gripping the barrel through a thin bit of rubber or whatever this green thing is. If you are a hardcore gripper, I’d recommend something with a firmer grip. I have no problem maintaining a light grip and putting pressure on the pen to write at its darkest, but for some people this might not be a thing you can do.

I love the feel of this grip, and I feel it would be insanely marketable to note-taking students and anyone else in academia. MAKE THE GRIPS IN SCHOOL COLORS FOR MAXIMUM PROFITS. I just don’t know why this isn’t being offered/pushed in the American market (certainly not where I am).  Dear Pentel: please love America too. This pen is great and it would warm my heart (/lighten my wallet) to see it in stores.

One day, Selfit, we will meet in the pen aisle, and it will be a joyous day.

Pentel Selfit Silicone Gel Grip Ballpoint Pen – 0.7 mm – Green Grip at JetPens

Mini Review: Playing Favorites

27 03 2011

For some reason, I decided to go through my pens, and for every brand where I owned two or more products, decide which product of that brand was my favorite. First, let’s meet the contestants. For brands where I only owned two products, I put both in the picture here, except for Tombow–I forgot to put my Apro Airpress in this picture. IT IS TOO LATE TO FIX THIS NOW.

Disclaimer: I am tired. But I am doing this mini-review anyway.

Here are your contestants. From left to right: Tombow, Kuretake, Platinum, A. G. Spalding, Tachikawa, Sharpie, Zebra, Pilot, Uni-ball, Pentel, and Sailor.

I proceeded to make drawings with the winning favorite of each brand, in an order that is completely incongruent with the picture above.

First up: Kuretake. Your winner:

The waterbrush wins! The waterbrush also is incapable of making art by itself. We are all very saddened by this.

Next, Tombow. Like I said, I forgot the Apro Airpress, but don’t worry; it wouldn’t have won anyway.

The Tombow Fudenosuke twin tip brush pen wins! This is the pen I used for my first hourly comics day. Its performance on that day earns it this coveted winning spot.

Platinum was a category of little contest–between the fountain pen and the sign marker, in spite of a broken cap, the fountain pen takes home the victory.

If only your plastic weren't so brittle, Platinum Preppy, you'd win other contests of my heart, instead of merely beating out a marker pen that I have no use for.

Tachikawa featured a battle between two different colors of the same style of scratchy, paper-fiber clogging and collecting fountain pen, and the far superior comic dip pen nib and holder. Sorry, frustrating fountain pens, crow quill wins every time.

I also enjoy how this reminds me of a baseball bat. (Ink used is Noodler's Bulletproof black)

In spite of being the most thick-writing “fine” nib fountain pen I’ve ever marked a page with, the delightful style of the A. G. Spalding mini fountain pen gives is a leg up over its mini-ballpoint brother. Ink used is a Rotring cartridge, because the one it came with was even worse, even wetter. Dear A. G. Spalding: THIS IS NOT A FINE NIB PEN. Please stop living in denial.

What a suave and adorable little fountain pen! It has some problems, but nothing that sheer adorableness can't overcome. This is also the working principle behind cats.

Sharpie has put a lot of effort into its products, especially in their willingness to innovate in the past few years. What I’m saying is, blah blah blah I like the Sharpie pen, and though I prefer the grip on the retractable pen, it worries me too much that I’m going to accidentally deploy the pen in my bag. So, the Sharpie Pen with Grip takes the Sharpie category.

Around this point, you may notice that my desire for some much-needed rest started to creep into my drawings.

I think we already knew that the Zebra Sarasa Push Clip 0.3mm blue-black gel pen was going to take the Zebra Cup. None of my other Zebra products even made it to the competition picture, because they were not competition.

I'm excusing this poorly drawn nonsense due to having done some decent doodles on the actual review of this pen.

I own three types of Sailor fountain pen, and yet, the cheapest remains my all-time favorite. In fact, it may be my favorite pen out of all pens. Every time I make a JetPens order, I try to remember to throw another one of these pens into the order, because they have allegedly been discontinued, and one day there will be no more. I’ve tried refilling one of my Sailor Ink-Bars so far (with much mess), but the ink I used (Noodler’s Bulletproof black) just isn’t the same and doesn’t dry as fast. :( Sailor, why would you cancel my favorite pen? Whyyyyyyyyyyyy?

Sailor Ink-Bar, you are the winningest winner of everything that has ever won my heart.

Now we get to the final three categories–also some of the biggest three sources of pens in America. For each brand, I had trouble deciding which writing utensil within each of these final three categories would be declared my favorite.

The Pilot semi-finals: Pilot Plumix italic nib fountain pen, Pilot Hi-Tec-C Coleto Me 4 component multi pen (3 mechanical pencil components, 1 eraser), and the Pilot Fineliner

It was a tough call, but ultimately this Hi-Tec-C Coleto Me multi pencil won the day with its stylish body, complement of pencils, and onboard eraser.

Not winning: my attention span for this task

Uni-ball also had a trifecta of star products. The decision, again, was quite difficult.


In the end, my love of the smoothest, butteriest ballpoint pen just edged out the wonderment I hold toward the Kuru Toga. But only just.

So rich and smooth and creamy and delicious.

Good things allegedly come in threes. Three great pen companies, each with three great contenders for favorite product…that makes nine. So that adage is a useless lie.

The Pentel semi-final was dominated by art products: the Tradio Pulaman "fountain" pen, the Jolt (with Pentel's Stein blue lead), and the Pocket Brush Pen for Calligraphy

Due to my continuing lack of mastery of the Pocket Brush Pen (my fault entirely), the win ended up going to the much easier to master (or at least seem competent with) Tradio Pulaman.

Unfortunately, by this point, I could only draw something weird.

And there you have it. Favorites (as of the time of this writing) have been declared! Many pens came very close, and really, just about every one of the pens I own is pretty terrific (except for the Sharpie Liquid Pencil–but that is a review for another day). Let’s have a round of applause for all our contestants, and an extra round of applause for the actual winners. Yay!

Your winners! Also pictured, your losers! And my cold coffee! And my breakfast plate! Hooray!

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.