The fine folks at OfficeMax sent me a selection of their new and improved TUL pens last week. The set included the TUL rollerball, ballpoint, gel pen and marker pen. Prices start at $5.99 per 4-pack of gel pens up to $17.99 for a dozen of the ballpoints.
Aesthetically, the TUL brand pens are quite pleasant with minimal branding and simple black-and-silver colors. The gel and ballpoint are retractable deisgns while the rollerball and marker pen are standard cap designs. All have simple metal clips to keep pens secure in pocket.
The first thing I noticed using the tools was that they were all very usable.
The rollerball created a deep, wide black line. It took a little time to dry because it laid down a lot of ink. It is a bit wide for my preference but is a good solid medium rollerball. At best, I would describe it as water resistant but definitely not waterproof. If you need a stash of rollerballs for your office, its a good option.
I immediately loved the line quality of the fine Marker Pen. It had a firm felt/fiber tip and a dense ink color. This was my favorite pen of the bunch.
The TUL gel pen was a medium width blue ink pen that wrote very smoothly and was notably waterproof. My only gripe was a little give in the pen tip. It was not seated tightly in the casing giving it a little play. I find a lot of retractable tools do this so maybe most people are not as bothered by it as I am. Otherwise, the gel pen was a good tool.
The ballpoint was another story — but take it with a grain of salt as ballpoints are seldom a hit with me. There was A LOT of play in the pen tip of the ballpoint and even after a few minutes of writing, the ballpoint had developed the squidge of inky debris around the tip requiring that I wipe it off on a separate piece of paper to avoid a clump on the paper. Do I have issues with ballpoints because I’m left-handed? I don’t know but generally speaking, we are not on speaking terms. That said, it did write quite smoothly and evenly for a ballpoint.
Once I tested the writing quality of each, I wanted to compare them to their more familiar rivals.
As soon as I was using the marker pen, I knew it was trying to compete against the Sharpie Marker Pen and the Marvy LePen, and to be honest, the TUL Marker Pen outperformed both. The ink color was darker and pretty waterproof. The line weight of the marker pen was comparable to both as well, its just the ink was a much deeper, richer black.
The TUL ballpoint was quite smooth so I put it head-to-head with the Uni-ball Jetstream. While the ballpoint wrote smoothly for a ballpoint, when compared to the Jetstream, it was no competition. The Jetstream writes like a gel pen. If I didn’t know better, I’d say it was a gel. So, while the TUL is a good ballpoint, its not reached the magical place that the Jetstream has.
I usually have trouble getting rollerball pens to write (I think its another left-handed dilemma) but the TUL rollerball worked for me with no problems. When I put it up against the most common rollerball I could find, the Sanford Uni-Ball rollerball, the TUL rollerball outperformed in a big way — at least for me.
Sadly, I did not have a good gel pen rival to compare the TUL blue medium gel to so I had to settle for the Sarasa 04 grey — which is a bit like comparing apples to bananas. That said, the TUL gel pen is a smooth writer and, because of the wider point, was not at all scratchy on the paper the way some of the finer gel pens can sometimes be.
SO… who would like to win a set of these pens? Leave a comment below and tell me which pen you’d like to compare with a favorite in your arsenal.
FINE PRINT: Voting ends at 10pm on Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012 (US Central Time). You do not have to be registered in this district to vote. All entries must be submitted at wellappointeddesk.com, not Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook, okay? Winner will be announced by Friday. Prize is being shipped directly from TUL/OfficeMax. Winner will be selected by random number generator from entries that played by the rules (see above). Please include your email address in the comment form so that I can contact you if you win. I will not save email addresses or sell them to anyone — pinky swear.
PS: Big thanks to TUL/OfficeMax for letting us review their products and provide a set to giveaway to our readers!