Pilot G2 0.38mm vs. Uni-ball Signo 207 Ultra Micro

24 09 2013
It's like an arcade game, with less quarters

It’s like an arcade game, with less quarters

There’s a big, wide world of micro-tipped pens out there, but when it comes to what’s available in physical American stores, choices are limited. So it’s high time for a showdown between the two most commonly available retractable micro tip pens: the Pilot G2 0.38mm and the Uni-ball Signo 207 Ultra Micro (in blue).

Imagine the sound of two pens clicking aggressively at each other. That is the soundtrack to this review

Imagine the sound of two pens clicking aggressively at each other. That is the soundtrack to this review

I’ve laid out my thoughts before on the design of both of these pens. Comparing the two is like trying to determine the winner in a noodle-armed slap fight. No one really wins, and we all feel a bit silly.

Are these really both 0.38mm? They don't look the same size.

Are these really both 0.38mm? They don’t look the same size.

What it really comes down to here is writing. The Signo 207 has lighter ink, and it appears to write thinner than the Pilot G2 by an almost microscopic factor. But the Uni-ball Signo 207 is occasionally plagued by some odd feeling at the tip when writing, something I can’t properly put into words. It’s not scratchy, it’s not like there’s any problem with the flow of ink, but there’s something, some slight something, that is at times getting in the way of 100% smooth writing.

And the Signo does a lot of this. See those near-railroads?

And the Signo does a lot of this. See those near-railroads?

The Pilot G2 isn’t exactly perfect either. It isn’t scratchy, but it feels ever so slightly slower when writing compared to the Uni-ball, like some kind of microresistance is involved—but the performance is more consistent, both in terms of the feel and the quality of the lines being laid down. The vertical line of my Ts with the Uni Signo 207 betrays an occasional tendency to deposit less ink in the middle than the sides of the line. The Pilot G2 does it too, but less often.

This has the makings of an excellent family crest. I'll get the castle fixed up and have it printed up on some flags and armaments.

This has the makings of an excellent family crest. I’ll get the castle fixed up and have it printed up on some flags and armaments.

If the Uni Signo 207 could get itself together and always write without that weird feeling to it, then in spite of its annoying grip it would be the clear winner. Both of the pens I’m using for this comparison I’ll admit are a few years old, brought back into use for this review, so even if age has brought the performance down it should have done so equally, because I got these pens around the same time.

For its consistency in performance, I declare the Pilot G2 0.38mm the winner of this fight.





Uni-ball Signo 207 Battle – Blue Ink

19 09 2013
Do not believe the faint refrains of advertising media; bolder is NOT better

Do not believe the faint refrains of advertising media; bolder is NOT better

First, a disclaimer: I only bought the bold (1.0mm) and micro (0.5mm) Uni Signo 207 gel pens new, because I already had a regular/medium (0.7mm) and an ultra micro (0.38mm) in blue in my horde. As much as I love wasting money, I decided to cheapskate it this time and so, if any incorrect conclusions are drawn because half of these pens aren’t brand-spanking-new, I apologize. Please lodge any complaints with Uni-ball, since in spite of my undying love for their Jetstream, they have not yet seen fit to shower me with freebies.

The most straightforward, boring picture of the lot. My apologies.

The most straightforward, boring picture of the lot. My apologies.

Overall, the Signo 207s are virtually identical except for two overt things: the iconic clip—

You'd be able to recognize that clip even on your grandmother's old black-and-white notebook-sized television

You’d be able to recognize that clip even on your grandmother’s old black-and-white suitcase-sized television

And the color of the labels printed on the clip and the barrel.

 Why pretty silver for the big bad 0.7 and 1.0mm pens? Why the slightly less attractive gold for the more lovely-writing 0.38mm and 0.5mm?

Why pretty silver for the big bad 0.7 and 1.0mm pens? Why the slightly less attractive gold for the more lovely-writing 0.38mm and 0.5mm?

As far as the design goes, I’m keen on everything except the grip. It’s not a mind-bendingly beautiful look, but it doesn’t need to be. They look slick, and they make the pen cup they’re in look put together. Professional yet disposable (though they are refillable, most casual pen users will likely toss them once they’re empty). My big beef is with the grip. I do not like all the little raised ovals.

Little ovals of sheer annoyance

Little ovals of sheer annoyance

It has been well established that I simply cannot learn the ideal tripod grip. I constantly revert to my ill-advised multi-finger ergonomically-challenged grasping. The little ovals get pressed into the base of my thumb, which gets annoying over time. The Premier 207 body with its Alpha Gel grip doesn’t have this problem, but this isn’t a review of that pen.

IT IS SO AMAZING UNLESS YOU ARE COLORBLIND OR FOR SOME REASON HAVE A BLACK AND WHITE COMPUTER MONITOR

IT IS SO AMAZING UNLESS YOU ARE COLORBLIND OR FOR SOME REASON HAVE A BLACK AND WHITE COMPUTER MONITOR

I almost forgot the secret bonus difference—like the G2s, it appears the tip of each different size of Signo 207 gets its own color.

Shout out to this nose cone design! Do like. Goes well with the clip.

Shout out to this nose cone design! Do like. Goes well with the clip.

So how do they all write? Doing my best to ignore the discomfort wrought unto me by these cursed little ovals, the ink flow on all these pens seems good. No problems with skipping or the pens not writing. Looking very closely, you can see a problem with uniformity of line.

Choo-choo all aboard the almost-railroading express

Choo-choo all aboard the almost-railroading express

The ink deposits thicker on the sides, thinner in the middle. It never gets to the point of full railroading, but it worries me.

Top: biggest vs. smallest. Bottom row: ultra micro vs.  micro, micro vs. medium, medium vs. bold

Top: smallest vs. biggest. Bottom row: ultra micro vs. micro, micro vs. medium, medium vs. bold

The ultra micro is thin and crisp, but there is an occasional odd feeling at the tip—it’s rare, but it’s there. It’s not scratchy…I don’t quite know how to put it. The micro strikes the right balance that the ultra micro falls just short of—the micro isn’t as thin, but there’s no weirdness to it when writing. It’s smooth, without having a large tip (which leads to messy-looking handwriting for yours truly). The 0.7 is smooth, but we’ve crossed the threshold—my handwriting doesn’t look as nice. And the bold? Now we’re totally off the rails. This pen requires DRY TIME, especially on smooth paper. And it looks SO. MESSY. No thanks.

I like Uni Signos, but the 207 isn’t my favorite in the Signo line. It doesn’t write as nicely as other models I’ve tried. But as far as the 207 goes, the 0.5mm micro Signo is the best of the bunch.

Available basically everywhere, including but not limited to office supply stores, corporate leviathans, select gas stations, the inside coat pocket of a shady individual hawking last minute back to school deals sometime in August, and multiple sources online.





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.