Posts Tagged ‘pen’

Review: Stabilo Point 88 Mini Fineliner 0.4 mm 18-Color Set

Stabilo Point 88 Mini Fineliner

One of my friends had a set of the mini Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners in her pen case that she uses to draw and sketch on the go. I have always envied this set so I finally broke down and got my own set. I got the 18-color mini finerliners in the “sporty” water bottle for $15.

I confess that I have a huge soft spot for metal-tipped, felt-tip markers. Marvy Le Pens were one of my middle school “gateway drugs” into the wonderful world of pens. I like the slight grippiness of the felt tip that helps me slow down and write a little bit neater than with the smooth-as-glass experience I get with some rollerball and gel pens. I love the wide array of colors for taking notes and color-coding my planner and calendars so a large set of colored, felt-tip markers thrills my inner 12-year-old. If I get anymore excited about this little mini bottle of markers, I might start drawing rainbows, kittens and unicorns.

Stabilo Point 88 Mini Fineliner

The pens are shorter than the regular Point 88 Fineliner 0.4mm marker pens but the cap posts nicely so that it feels like a full length pen in use. Since I tend to wear the tips of these sorts of felt-tipped markers out long before they run out of ink, the shorter pen seemed like a reasonable option. I can also fit a lot more of these shorties in my travel case, which is a bonus.

(via JetPens)

The pens are the same width and shape as a standard hexagonal pencil. Even the color of the barrel is reminiscent of a classic yellow Ticonderoga pencil but with classy white pinstripes. The cap snaps snugly on the pen cap or the base for posting the cap.

Stabilo Point 88 Mini Fineliner writing samples

The individual Point 88 mini pens do not have color names written on them so I made up some descriptive names as I went along. Jet Pens lists official names if you’re curious. The colors were all bright and clean colors. The point size is in my “sweet spot” for nib sizes at 0.4mm and exactly the same line width as the Le Pens.

(I lost to my inner 12-year-old and drew a panda. You forgive me, right?)

My first reaction when I started testing the Point 88 minis is how much the writing experience and colors reminded me of the Marvy Le Pens. I’m don’t have a complete set of Le Pens here but was able to cross-reference the writing experience and color with at least a dozen colors and there are some very comparable shades between the two brands.

The inks are not waterproof but neither are the LePens. The Stabilo pens are designed to allow for a long cap-off time without drying out. I didn’t test this out but hope that they live up to the hype and provide me a long life of colors over the next several months.

Stabilo Point 88 Mini Fineliner comparison to Marvy Le Pen

When posted, the Stabilo Point 88 minis are a tiny bit longer than the Le Pens full length but unposted.

The same Stabilo 88 mini Fineliner marker pens are available in a soft plastic wallet instead of the goofy “water bottle” but it costs $0.75 more for the envelope rather than the bottle. My Stabilo mini Fineliner pens will end up being dumped into my regular pen case so I’m okay with the $0.75 savings. The full-sized set of Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners includes all 25 standard colors for $21.50. I might go ahead and order the full set so I can have the greys, browns and the midnight blue color which are some of my favorite shades to use. Individual pens are $0.80 each so its worth adding a few to your next order if you’re not sure you want a full set or you need to “complete” your set.

The Staedtler Triplus Fineliner 20-color set is a little bit more expensive ($25) but a little bit finer at 0.3mm. I know the Staedtlers are quite popular as well so if you find the 0.4mm to be a bit too wide, these might be a good alternative. I’m going to stick with the Stabilo Point 88s.

 

New Sponsor: Karas Kustoms

Karas Kustoms Bolt

Karas Kustoms is a small pen manufacturer that started life as a custom machine shop. When machinist Bill Karas teamed up with designer Dan Bishop, a relationship developed that eventually led to the creation of their very first pen – the iconic Render K. The success of the Render K spurred the creation of several other pens – the Bolt, Retrakt, and the latest addition, the Ink fountain pen. The pens are designed to accommodate several different refills, allowing the customer to pick and choose, and even hack, the refills to best fit their favorite Karas Kustoms pen. Even the Ink fountain pen can be converted into a rollerball pen by swapping the grip section.

Karas Kustoms CUBE

The CUBE is a collaborative design project with Mike Dudek of Dudek Modern Goods, and is the perfect accessory for your desk.

With a staff of just nine people, Karas Kustoms designs, manufactures and ships each of their machined, metal pens and accessories.

I’ve been a loyal follower and supporter of Karas Kustoms and now they are returning the favor by being a sponsor of The Desk. If you own one of their products, you are supporting a team of craftspeople dedicated to delivering high-quality, long lasting goods. And if you haven’t had a chance to try one of their pens or accessories, there’s no time like the present. Use the coupon code “KARASPENS” for 10% off your next purchase.

Thanks to Karas Kustoms for supporting The Well-Appointed Desk and thanks to all you fine readers for continuing to support our sponsors.

Karas Kustoms RETRAKT

Review: Pilot Hi-Tecpoint V5 Cartridge System

Pilot Hi-Tecpoint V5

My gateway pen was the Pilot Precise V5. I’ve always had good results with it and found it to be one of my favorite big box store pens. Sadly, they are disposable plastic pens. I had always hoped there would be a way to refill them. And now there is! The V5 Hi-Tecpoint 0.5 Cartridge System (Way to come up with a confusing naming convention there, Pilot!) is the answer.

The V5 Hi-Tecpoint uses the same Pilot cartridges as Pilot’s fountain pens which means the pen could be fit with a converter as well. I believe either the Con-20 or the Con-50 should fit but you could also syringe fill the cartridge the came with the pen.

Aesthetically, the pen is the same round, straight barrel as the original V5 Precise. The clip is plastic rather than metal though. There’s new branding graphics which I’m lukewarm about but giant graphics on pens seem to be standard operating procedure for pens under $25 so I can’t fault them for going with the trend.

Pilot Hi-Tecpoint V5

On my first test run, I removed the stock black ink cartridge and replaced it with a colored ink cartridge from the Pilot Mixable Color set for the Parallel Pens. I chose the violet cartridge. I was not sure how effective running water through it would be for removing the previous ink color so I just swapped out the cartridges and scribbled for about a half a page until the ink color shifted from black to purple.

Pilot Hi-Tecpoint V5

The Parallel ink cartridge seems to work fine in the V5 Hi-Techpoint. I had no issues with flow or feathering so I feel pretty confident that I can jump to standard fountain pen inks next. Can I tell you how excited I am about this?

If you’re looking for a refillable rollerball that can take fountain pen ink, for $3.20 this is as good an option as the J. Herbin and gives a considerably finer line. The Hi-Tecpoint is also available in the V7 0.7mm version if you perfer a bolder line.


DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Jet Pens for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Put Those Refills to Good Use

I like to liberate refills from the assorted plastic pens I have accumulated over the years. These are all those gel pens I’ve purchased over the years from Jet Pens. While I love the flow of the refills, the lackluster plastic barrels leave me wanting.

I started opening each plastic pen and discovering that they are almost always a standard sized refill like a Pilot G2-sized or Hi-Tec C-sized. There are also far more colors and point sizes available in the full pens than in most refill-only options. Red, blue and black are fine for many folks but I want to be able to choose orange, evergreen, turquoise or purple, if the mood strikes.

By hacking the refills out of plastic pens, I created  an almost unlimited supply of potential refills for my favorite pen bodies. And by using these fine gel refills, I have catapulted certain pens into EDC pens because now they are not only beautiful and comfortable but can contain the exact right refill for me.

Render K pen hack

This habit started with Karas Kustoms and the Render K and RETRAKT pens. The lengthy list of possible refills led me to create the Refill Guide and really start experimenting with trying different refills with different pens.

Render K pen hack

I even save the springs in a plastic retractable to help stabilize a refill in a machined pen. If the refill fits but is too long, trim it down with a pair of sharp scissors. Empty refills can be trimmed to add length to a too-short refill to fit into a different pen as well. With each plastic pen costing less than a couple bucks, its not a tragedy if you make a mistake.

Happy hacking!

Review: Pilot Frixion “Color-Pencil-Like” Pen Set

pilot-frixion-4

Pilot has made so many different variations of the Frixion line of erasable pens. Its a little bit confusing. There are highlighters, needlepoint “Point”, gel pens, markers and the “Color-Pencil-Like” pens. For you, my fine readers, I was willing to try these Frixion markers with the very weird description.

pilot-frixion-2

I purchased the 6-color assortment pack of the Pilot Frixion Color-Pencil-Like 0.7mm erasable gel pens ($13). The pens are plastic and have a faceted body to appear and feel a bit like a hexagonal pencil. The caps do not have clips, just a little nub to make it easier to remove the cap. The erasers for each pen are mounted on the end of the cap so that, when posted, the eraser is still accessible. The set came with yellow, red, blue, green, tea brown and black pens.

My first mistake was probably buying a pre-selected set of six since several of these colors I never would have purchased individually. Nine times out of ten, a yellow pen is useless for writing of any sort and the yellow Frixion is no exception. Because its a 0.7mm rollerball gel pen, its doubly true. The yellow is not wide enough to be used as a highlighter so it really is not particularly useable.

I would have much preferred trying an orange, purple, or one of the more unusual colors likt the gray, ultramarine blue or purplish red pens over this uninspired assortment.

pilot-frixion-1

If what you’re looking for with these pens is a pretty smooth, pretty quick-drying  0.7mm rollerball pen that erases, then these might be perfect. If you were genuinely hoping to have a uniquely “pencll-like” experience, then you will be disappointed.The pens did not seem to lend themselves to coloring large areas like I might do with a colored pencil so I’m not sure what Pilot was hoping people would do with these pens?

The product is described as “vibrant colors” but this particular assortment is very dark and solemn in tone. The red is the most vivid color in the set. The green is an evergreen color and even the blue is more blue-black than a bright royal or true blue. And the yellow is a total waste.

pilot-frixion-3

All of the pens in the set erased as well as any of the other Frixion products I’ve tried. The erasing is far superior to any other erasable pens I’ve ever used so if that’s a key feature for you, then these might prove useful.

In the end, I may have been more disappointed by the color assortment in this set than the actual writing experience. These are quite smooth and, even for a lefty, I had no smudging issues or false starts. Also, the writing experience was not “color-pencil-like” so I was disappointed by the sales pitch. They are just gel pens.

There is no cost benefit to buying a set of these pens rather than buying the pens individually ($2.15 each) so if you’re interested in trying these, I’d recommend building your own color assortment and avoiding the yellow altogether. There are other yellowish hues like the mountain yellow and yellow ochre available that might be a darker shade and more useable color than the yellow.

If you’re interested in trying some of the Frixion line, I prefer the Frixion Point 04 line and the Soft Color Highlighters. See my full review here.


DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Jet Pens for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Fisher Space Pen Hack

Sometimes the aesthetic of a specific pen is not mirrored with the refill it contains. Case in point, the Fisher Space Pen. I love the simple good looks of the bullet pen but I have no need for a thick ballpoint that can write at zero Gs. I like fine, fine, fine gel pen refills. So, I hacked it.

Fisher Space Pen Hack

With a little bit of washi tape around the barrel in key points and a trim to the end of the refill, a standard Uni Style Fit Gel Cartridge fits into the Fisher Space Pen like a champ.

I suspect with some finagling, other refills of the Pilot G2 variety might also work. More tests and experiments to follow.

Fisher Space Pen Hack


DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Jet Pens for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Pens for Notebook Testing

review pens

All this week, I’ll be publishing reviews of an assortment of notebooks. I wanted to share all the pens I used in the writing tests. I tried to use a wide variety of pens from gel, ballpoint, rollerball, fountain and pencils.

They were all oddly color coordinated too so I thought they were photo worthy. What pens do you use to test out your new notebooks? Do you do writing samples on the first page, last page or just grab a pen and start writing and see what happens?

(Do you recognize all the pens in the photo?)

Review: ALL The Erasable Pens (Pilot Frixion + Uni Fanthom)

Pilot Frixion Uni Fanthom Erasable Pens

Since delving into using a paper planner this year, one of the tools frequently mentioned in conjunction with a paper planner is the Pilot Frixion erasable pen. I’ve acquired a couple Pilot Frixion Color Markers and an 04 gel pen on my travels in Hong Kong but I didn’t really understand why someone might use one. In a standard notebook, I’m fine just crossing something out something. However, in the limited real estate of the week-on-two-pages format, having a meeting move from Monday morning to Tuesday afternoon to “no, let’s meet Tuesday morning” means that crossing out might not be the best solution. So, I’m starting to understand why folks are such loyalists to the Pilot Frixion gel pens.

Pilot offer the Frixion line in gel pen, “point” pens which seem more akin to a needlepoint rollerball like a Pilot V5 Precise or Morning Glory Mach 3, markers and even highlighters. I’m probably missing a variation but this covers a lot of pen needs. Pilot also offers Frixion colored pencils but erasable pencils are not as novel as a good erasable pen, IMHO.

Pilot Frixion Uni Fanthom

(Please ignore my misspelling of “erasable”. I do know how to spell it and I could have erased this but I didn’t notice the mistake until after I had already photographed the pages. Mea culpa.)

Pilot Frixion Gel 0.5

The Frixion erasable pens work because the heat caused by the friction of “erasing” makes the ink vanish. I received a letter this summer from a friend that was almost completely unreadable. It turns out it was written with a Frixion pen and must have either been left in the sun or out in a hot delivery truck that caused the writing to almost completely vanish. So, there’s the rub (pardon the pun). I would recommend keeping any writing done with Frixion pens to ephemeral data like calendar events and make sure that you don’t leave your calendar in a hot car.

I was worried that I might have to give up the convenience of a multi-pen if I switched to the Frixion gel pens for my planner but lo-and-behold, no. I can have my cake and erase it too with the Frixion 3-color Gel Ink Multi-Pen ($9.90).

I also noticed that Uni makes their own erasable pens called Fanthom, so I bought the 3-pack of 0.5mm with red, blue and black pens in the set ($10) to compare the quality. Both the Frixion 3-Color Gel Multi-Pen and the Uni Fanthom 3-pack use a conical rollerball-style pen tip. The Frixion pens feature a translucent rubbery “eraser” where the Uni Fanthom have a hard rubber cap that is supposed to be used to erase. The Fanthom caps just didn’t seem like an eraser to me but they worked.

Uni Fanthom Erasable Pens

The Uni Fanthom 0.5 pens had similar color in writing but erasing with the hard rubber cap left more residue and the black ink left a distinctly brownish haze on the paper. I can see why the Frixion pens are much more popular than the Fanthom.

Pilot Frixion Gel 0.38

I discovered that there are refills that will fit into the Frixion Multi-Pens that are available in a myriad of colors and some smaller tip sizes. So, I bought those too. While red, black and blue are good basic colors, the great thing about multi-pens is the array of ink colors available and I’m glad to see that the Frixion line is well-represented here.

Pilot Frixion 04 Point

I also tried out the Frixion 04 Point line available in a 5-pack ($18). When compared to the conical gel refills for the Frixion multi-pen, I liked the color intensity better with the Point pens. They more liquid ink left a slightly more contrasty color on paper which made the colors more legible, even in the lighter pink and orange colors.

Pilot Frixion Highlighter

I really liked the idea of erasable highlighters too so I grabbed a 3-pack of the Frixion Light Soft Color Highlighters, 3-pack for $4.95. Using the erasable highlighter over erasable ink leads to a completely erased page, so be warned. Using the erasable highlighters over standard gel ink (I used a Uni Style Fit Multi-Pen) left a smudgy mess. The highlighters might perform better with other types of pens for erasing so more testing is probably in order if you want to try these out. Using the erasable highlighters with text books, printouts or other documents would be a great option though. And the mild colors are bright but not blinding. I like the set a lot.

Pilot Frixion highighter smudge

Overall, I like using a specific ink color in my planner for specific activities (purple for work, green for personal, blue for general events and holidays… etc) and there are enough Pilot Frixion pen options to keep color-coding my planner while allowing for erasing as activities change, get cancelled or need to be moved.

Maybe one of our scientifically inclined cohorts will put the Frixion pens to the test? I’m thinking of Ms. Fountain Pen Physicist specifically who can put a more scientific spin to her test than I can.

Jeff over at The Pen Addict recently wrote his own write-up about the Pilot Frixion Ball Knock Series if you need more erasable pen impressions.

For more information and detailed information about all the myriad forms that Frixion pens are available in, check out Pilot Frixion Erasable Pens: A Comprehensive Guide on Jet Pens.


DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Jet Pens for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Review: Yoropen Z3

yoropen-1

This review for the Yoropen Z3 was a long time coming. When I heard about the Kickstarter project to create a new version of the Yoropen, that is designed to reduce hand strain and improve ergonomics, I was super excited to get one in my hand. When it arrived though, I had that “this is weird” reaction. I knew it was me being short-sighted so I wanted to let the experience simmer a little to get over my initial snobby reaction.

yoropen-6

It is a very USS Enterprise looking tool in metal with a grippy rubber grip and funky space capsule-with-a-tail cap. Its not a simple straight tube that I’m accustomed for pens to look.

yoropen-7

Even the refill had to be specifically designed to fit into the Yoropen with a sharp bend in the tube to accommodate the ergonomic angle of the tip-to-grip shape.

yoropen-5

The cap will post on the pen but the flyaway clip makes for a very awkward look and feel. One of the first things I noticed was how easily the grippy section picked up paper dust and lint. Its super squishy but the gritty paper dust was visually unpleasant to me. (The Grip is totally black… in the photos you can see a hazy fuzz which is paper dust.)

I let my husband take the pen for a test rive too and his first comment was “How do you get the cap off?” The cap fits very snuggly (VERY snuggly) on the pen and the cap must be put back onto the pen at a specific position as the clip rests along the grip section. The cap won’t fit on in any other way which is a little annoying. The end of the cap is also very pointy so I would not recommend using the heel of your hand to push the cap into place. Ouch.

The clip is loose enough to clip the pen to a binder or notebook cover though the grippy grip does create some friction when clipping the pen.

yoropen-3

As an AWKWARD (overhanded, hooked) left-handed writer, I had high hopes that the ambidextrous Yoropen with ergonomic grip would be a lefty dream. Of course, I didn’t read the instruction first so I found the grip a little peculiar. Do I hold the pen like this?

yoropen-2

Or like this? No. You RTFM, Ana.

yoropen-8

Ah… I needed to twist the grip section 180º to accommodate a left-hander.

yoropen-9

Ah, ha. Better.

Both in my writing tests and when my husband tried it, we both felt very lukewarm about the overall balance and feel. Its a very different writing experience that may take time to get used to. Like using a Wacom Tablet or computer mouse for the first time, the Yoropen approaches the experience of writing differently than other tools.

yoropen-4

My biggest stumbling block with the Yoropen is that I really don’t like writing with ballpoint. My handwriting looks atrocious. However, the ballpoint refill in the Yoropen performed exceptionally well for me with no stutters or smudges that I usually suffer from. So, if you like ballpoints, this is an interesting pen to add to your collection.

If you are suffering from any sorts of hand issues (arthritis or carpal tunnel), the Yoropen is definitely a tool you might want to try. The Yoropen is unusual and will be a conversation starter wherever you use it. Aesthetically, its space-age but its more Star Trek than Alien so its not scary, just unusual. (Bob says “More Wesley Crusher, less Worf.”)

I hope, in the future, Yoropen can create some gel or rollerball refills for the Yoropen because I’d like to try the pen again but the ballpoint ink just puts my teeth on edge.

The Yoropen Z3 starts at $64.99. Grip can be purchased in different colors, ballpoint refills start at $2.40 each.


DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Yoropen for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Review: Uni Power Tank 0.7 Smart Series Pen Review

Uni Power Tank pen 0.7

The Uni Power Tank Smart Series 0.7 ($3.30) is another in the growing pressurized ballpoint market. The pressurized ink cartridges are designed to allow the pen to be used in severe weather, upside and in zero gravity though I’ve not had a lot of call to test the validity of these claims. The Fisher Space Pen is the original pressurized ballpoint. I don’t own one but my husband has one that he loves and uses regularly. The Fisher Space Pen is a small compact design with a standard Parker-style refill but the refill is pressurized to be used in extreme circumstances. I have a Rite in the Rain metal refillable pen that a reader sent to me as well.

Uni Power Tank pen 0.7 comparison

The Uni Power Tank is a “disposable” pen so the entry to use is a little lower. Since its a standard plastic barrel pen, it doesn’t feel like a commitment to a pen lifestyle. I’ve previously reviewed the Tombow Airpress ballpoint pen which is a similar idea to the Uni Power Tank.

Compared to the Tombow Airpress which has a very wide, stout appearance, the Uni Power Tank Smart Series is a more streamlined pen design. The width for the Uni Power Tank Smart Series is similar to a Sharpie marker — wider than a hex pencil but not as chunky as the Airpress. The grip area is textured with some horizontal ridges but its not a particularly cushy bit.

In writing, there is no discernible difference between the Airpress and the Power Tank. If you like the funky Stormtrooper vibe of the Airpress, go for it. For me, though, I’m not a huge lover of ballpoints but sometimes I need one and sometimes I need a writing tool that is going to work after months of neglect. When I need that, I’m going to reach for the Power Tank.

I think of the Uni Power Tank Smart Series as being a very no-nonsense pen. It works in severe conditions, you can leave this pen in your car from Key West to Fargo without worrying about it exploding or leaking or ceasing to function. At less the $4, you can leave the Power Tank on the diner table on that epic road trip and not be heart broken over the loss.

Uni Power Tank pen 0.7 writing sample

DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Jet Pens for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

 

Review: Parker Jotter Ballpoint Pen

Parker Jotter Karas Kustoms Tu-Tone RETRAKT

After discussing* how much the Karas Kustoms new Tu-Tone RETRAKT reminded me of the classic, “Mad Men” good looks of the Parker Jotter (prices start at $9.50), I realized I didn’t actually own a Jotter. So, I immediately remedied that. I purchased the teal-y blue version which is called “grey-green”.

The model I purchased is half metal, half plastic. The grey-green portion of the pen is a lightweight plastic, the rest is metal. Other options of this pen are available in stainless steel ($18) or polished stainless steel ($18.50) which probably would have been a more accurate comparison to the RETRAKT but would not have featured the familiar tu-tone look.

Parker Jotter Karas Kustoms Tu-Tone RETRAKT

The RETRAKT is clearly a heftier tool but you can see that the lengths are comparable. Since the barrel on this Jotter is plastic, its really like comparing a featherweight to a heavyweight, but the slimmer barrel of the Jotter certainly makes it a more pocketable tool.

Parker Jotter disassembled

Also, the Jotter utilizes the Parker-style refill — this is the pen that started it all — so there are quite a few options for refills if blue or black ballpoint ink is not for you. So, in terms of flexibility, the Jotter holds its own against the RETRAKT.

I love the etched arrow on the clip. I’m so glad Parker has not tried to modernize or alter the look of the Jotter. It is an icon in its simplicity.

Parker Jotter writing sample

In writing, it honestly took me awhile to get used to writing with a ballpoint. I only use ballpoints when a waitress hands me a receipt to sign so I am seriously out of practice. Ballpoint, especially on this silky, smooth Rhodia paper is slick. But ballpoints are god for everyday office situations where one might need to write on a variety of paper types. And this pen sure looks better than a Bic Stic. To be honest, the stock Parker ballpoint refill is one of the cleanest ballpoint inks I’ve used.

I went ahead and replaced the standard blue ballpoint ink with a Monteverde blue-black gel ink cartridge I had. (You think my pen stash is large, you should see how many pen refills I stash! If the apocalypse comes, I’ll be able to write for a millennia with all the gel and rollerball refills I have stashed.) Again, the gel ink was super slick on the Rhodia paper but the color coordinated nicely with the barrel color.

In the end, I think I might have preferred the metal barrel models of the Jotter for a more durable feel. Or maybe the RETRAKT has spoiled me? Either way, the Jotter is a classic and at less than $10, it deserves a place on every desk.

*See The Pen Addict Podcast Epsiode #130: Stop Spending My Money – Holiday Gift Guide 2014 for the whole conversation.


DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Jet Pens for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Review: Karas Kustoms Tu-Tone RETRAKT

Karas Kustoms Retrakt Tu-Tone

In a pinch, today’s review was photographed with my new iPhone 6. Pardon any wonkiness but I had a wicked migraine yesterday and didn’t get a chance to pull everything together until today at lunch.

Karas Kustoms retrakt tu-tone in green

Behold! A pen, matched polish (before anyone asks, its OPI Gargantuan Green Grape), psychedelic office carpeting and my shoes!

 

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And its here! The amazingly cool Karas Kustoms RETRAKT in the new Tu-Tone Colors… green, of course. And its oddly, fittingly Christmas-y in it colors. I filled it with a Zebra Sarasa 0.3mm in Viridian Green to match. I suppose this means I need a red one too?

And the almost-silent retracting mechanism means that I can nervously click without making everyone in a meeting want to murder me.

retrakt-tu-tone10

The aluminum body is comfortable to hold, not too heavy and well-weighted. After the brass INK, I was worried that the RETRAKT might be too heavy for me but I think its perfect. Very much like the weight of the Render K — enough weight to feel solid without feeling like I’m carrying a billy club.  I had to doodle this twice because of a typo so I was writing for a while and the pen remained comfortable throughout. (No Command-Z on paper!)

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The RETRAKT in Tu-Tone Colors accepts any Pilot G2 style refills or Parker-style refills. Some refills might require a little jiggering to get them to fit just right but luckily the folks at Karas Kustoms include so extra parts to help with this including an extra spring, a black plug to lengtht he Parker refills and a length of translucent white piping that can be cut to length to fill any gaps. I’ve been know to cut down a too-long refill to fit as well. Finally…a way to use the great G2 refill without the cheap plastic aesthetics!

The fact that the RETRAKT can be filled with an unending array of refills, in a variety of colors, tip sizes and even style of refill (ballpoint, rollerball and gel) there’s no way you can’t love this pen. You get to make it your favorite just be picking your favorite refill.

The DISCOUNT: If you just can’t wait to see if you’ll win the giveaway RETRAKT Tu-Tone, you can place an order at Karas Kustoms today and receive 15% off your order with the coupon code “HappyHolidays” (although that code really should be “ANAROCKS”).

The GIVEAWAY: So, the fine folks at Karas Kustoms are letting me giveaway ONE RETRAKT Tu-Tone to ONE lucky reader.  You all know the drill… answer my question in the comments to be officially entered to win one RETRAKT Tu-Tone in your choice of color. Here’s the question: What do you like best about Karas Kustoms’ pens? If you’ve never owned a Karas Kustoms pen, what about their pens interests you most?

The FINE PRINT: All entries must be submitted by 10pm CST on Tuesday, December 9, 2014. All entries must be submitted at wellappointeddesk.com, not Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook, okay? Winner will be announced on Saturday. 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. If winner does not respond within 30 days, I will draw a new giveaway winner. Open to US residents only in order to ship in time for Christmas!


DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Karas Kustoms for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Review: Pentel i+ 3 Multi-Pen

Pentel i+ 3 multi-pen

I’ve got a soft spot for multi-pens. Especially Japanese gel multi-pens. While the Pilot Hi-Tec C multi-pens are often the most talked-about, followed by the Uni Style Fit line, I still find a little space in my multi-pen universe for Pentel and their Sliccie line of gel pens. The individual Sliccie pens are not much to write about with a plain, narrow, hex-shaped plastic barrel but the actual gel refill is quite good. The Sliccie refills don’t clog or dry out like the Hi-Tec Cs do. The colors available in the Sliccie line are good, they go down smoothly and dry pretty quickly so smudging is not often an issue.

When I heard about the new Pentel i+ series of multi-pens, I was very excited. The plain two-tone plastic bodies are wider and more comfortable to hold than a standard single Sliccie. Aesthetically, the i+ body is clean, simple and unobtrusive. Would a soft rubber grip be an pleasant added feature? Sure, but every Pilot Hi-Tec C multi-pen I’ve purchased has shed the rubber grip in less than a year leaving a bumpy plastic grip. Maybe it’s better to do without the rubber grip?

Each i+ pen body holds three refills and you’re not limited to just the Sliccie-style gel refills. The i+ system also offers the Vicuna, the Energel and a mechanical pencil refill. I test drove my first i+ with three 0.4mm Sliccie refills in coordinating colors of blue black, sky blue and lime to go with the Emerald Green body (which is actually more aqua mint than emerald) but it was hard to decide just which refills to use in the i+.

Pentel i+ 3 multi-pen writing sample

The Sliccie refills (despite their difficult-to-determine pronunciation) are so ridiculously smooth to use. The Sliccie refills come in three widths: 0.3, 0.4, 0.5mm in about a 10 different colors. I find the Sliccie gel inks to be pretty reliable and they stay wet in the pen more often than comparable Pilot Hi-Tec C refills, at least in my experience.

The mechanical pencil component is available in 0.3mm or 0.5mm. Both the Vicuna and the Energel refills are available in 0.5mm in red, blue or black. All the refills cost a $1.35 to $1.65 each and the mechanical pencil component is about $3. The pen bodies are $2.55 and available in ten different body colors. So for about $10, you can have a completely customized multi-pen.

Pentel i+ 3 multi-pen

I plan on adding a second i+ to my arsenal. This time I’ll get a black body with an Energel refill, a pencil and a black Sliccie refill. How would you trick one of these out?


DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Jet Pens for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Review: Pentel Energel 0.35 Needle Point

Pentel Energel 0.35 Needle Point

The Pentel Energel 0.35 Needle Point ($2.50) is a pen I can’t believe I had never tried or owned before last week. I’ve heard others talk about them but I’d never tried one. It was about time!

In the past, I’d only ever seen the larger point sizes (0.5, 0.7 and 1.0) and I knew they would not be well-suited to my left-handed tendency to smear. So, I wasn’t compelled to try them until I found the Needle Point version at 0.35mm.

Pentel Energel 0.35 Needle Point

The tip immediately reminded me of the Pilot Precise V5 or the Morning Glory Mach 3 0.38 pens — with the needle point tip and rollerball feel.

The body of the pen has a rubberized grip area which makes it quite comfortable to hold. The rest of the aesthetics of the pen are as non-descript as most “supply cabinet” pens. While not offensive, the looks are not unique or interesting.

Pentel Energel 0.35 Needle Point Writing Sample

When writing, the experience vastly exceeds its humdrum looks. Its practically glassy on Rhodia paper which means on your average office photocopy, it will write smoothly with minimum friction.

Even on the high-quality Rhodia paper, the ink dries quickly so I had no embarrassing lefty smears or smudges.

When compared to the Morning Glory Mach 3 and the Pilot Precise V5, the Energel was the smoothest on paper. The Morning Glory Mach 3 felt a little toothier on the paper, especially on slick paper, but the Pilot Precise V5 took longer to dry and caused some smudges.The Precise V5 also tends to get a little gloppy on the tip over time which I didn’t notice with the Energel Needle Point at all.

Aesthetically, the Energel is the least appealing but the writing experience more than makes up for its looks. One can hope that its so ugly no one will try to steal it off your desk.

Pentel Energel 0.35 Needle Point Comparison


DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Jet Pens for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Review: Tombow Airpress

Tombow Airpress Comparison

The Tombow Airpress is another contender in the “extreme conditions” pressurized ballpoint pen race. Other tools in this category are the Fisher Space Pen, the Uni Power Tank, Pilot Down Force and Rite in the Rain All-Weather Pens. The Airpress body design is pretty unusual. The length of the pen is relatively short but quite wide. The Airpress is just a little longer than a Kaweco Sport capped but the width is comparable to a large capacity multi-pen.

The body creates a pretty comfortable grip, despite the short length, thanks to the ridged windows on the grip section.

The clip is a large hinged clip that will attach to just about any notebook or binder cover. On the opposite side from the clip is a loop that could be used to attach the pen to a lanyard.

Tombow Airpress disassembled

Inside the pen is a small refill that would be easy to replace when the need arises. I test drove the pen on appropriately-tough Rite in the Rain notecards. Deeper in the pen body is a pressurizing chamber. By pressing the button on the end, the ink is pressurized to write upside down for up to about 500 feet.

Tombow Airpress

For the price point (about $10), the Tombow Airpress is about the middle of the price range for pressurized pens with the Fisher Space Pen being at the upper end ($20 or so) of the price spectrum and the Uni Power Tank being the lowest, starting at $3.30.

The writing experience was good for a ballpoint. I didn’t have any real issues with it and the point was pretty fine. I like the Airpress better than a lot of ballpoint pens, pressurized or otherwise though I find the body shape to be a bit too wide for my hands.

Giveaway: Would you like to try out a Tombow Airpress? I have TWO to giveaway. Leave a message in the comments and tell me what extreme writing you would do with a Tombow Airpress to be entered to win.

FINE PRINT: All entries must be submitted by 10pm CST on Friday, November 29, 2014. All entries must be submitted at wellappointeddesk.com, not Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook, okay? Winner will be announced on Monday. 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. If winner does not respond within 30 days, I will draw a new giveaway winner. US readers only this time, thanks!

DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Tombow for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Ka-Week-O! Review: Kaweco Skyline Rollerball in Grey

Kaweco Sport Skyline Grey Rollerball hack

With pens, I tend to choose silver and grey as my go-to colors since there are seldom options in green. With the new Skyline series for the Kaweco Sport line, I went straight for the Mint color. I did not pass GO, I did not collect $200 – or a grey pen.

Most people are excited about the Skyline series because they feature silver-toned nibs and chrome silver hardware instead of the traditional Sport series’ gold-toned nib and hardware. So when the Skyline series was released, lots of folks were just pleased to purchase the black or grey Skyline model with silver hardware.

Its only now that I see the appeal of the neutral grey color of the Skyline series. In an effort to expand my horizons, this time, I’m test-driving the rollerball version.

Unfortunately, the Kaweco refill was not the least bit left-handed friendly – at least not on the Rhodia paper I use for most of my testing. The Skyline rollerball refill is probably about a 0.7mm in black and I smudged for the word “go.”

So, it was time for a hack. I found a Uni-Ball Sign RT 0.38 refill which looked to be the right length in the point section but the barrel was a little too long. I used scissors to trim the end and then put the spring on the tip and loaded it back into the Skyline body. Voila!

No smudges and a great new pen!

Kaweco Sport Skyline Grey Rollerball hack


DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Kaweco for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Parker IM Premium Fountain Pen: Emerald Pearl M Nib

Parker IM Premium Fountain Pen Medium Writing Sample

Parker IM Premium Fountain Pen

When the Parker IM Premium Fountain Pen ($52) arrived I could not wait to load it with “good ink.” I installed the stock blue cartridge that shipped with it on the counter at the post office and started doodling on the back of my junk mail. Who says pens aren’t an addiction?

Parker IM Premium Fountain Pen

I got the Pearl Green version of the IM Premium, of course. No one is surprised about that. The pen shipped in a simple paperboard box with a faux velvet lining and ribbon wrap to hold the pen in place. Its not expensive packaging but its fitting for the price point.

Parker IM Premium Fountain Pen Medium Nib

The pen was only available in the medium nib which I was a bit worried would be too wide for my taste but I was pleasantly surprised. The nib is beautifully etched with a classic Parker design and super smooth. Its a steel nib but felt good on the paper and caused no issues for this left-hander.

Parker IM Premium Fountain Pen

The look of the Parker IM Premium is inspired by the vintage Vacumatics, which if I’m honest is the WHOLE reason I got it. I have one vintage Vacumatic and I love the look and feel. I am easily swayed by anything that is retro- or vintage-inspired so it was a no-brainer for me to grab this pen.

Of course, its not the Vacumatic. Besides the nod to the Vacumatic with the etched lines on the aluminum barrel (which are horizontal not vertical), the lovely etched nib (which is pretty but not the same etching used on older Vacumatics) and the arrow shaped clip (still used even on the Parker 5th line), there is nothing about this pen that makes it truly inspired by the Vacumatic. It takes cartridges or a converter, its metal not plastic or resin or whatever material was used with Vacumatics, the nib is not 14K, there is no ink window… need I go on? I do appreciate that Parker recognizes that a lot of the modern appeal is from pen collectors like us so I want to support their efforts to trip down memory lane occasionally.

Parker IM Premium Fountain Pen Medium Writing Sample

Now that I’ve said that, I really like the pen. The aluminum body is light in my hand (just 16 gms filled and capped) and the overall width of the pen is on the smaller side (about the same as a Sharpie marker fine point). I can hold it comfortably in my hand and write with it unposted. The cap will post but it makes the pen a little top heavy in my small hands. My husband took it for a spin and his big “monkey paws” found the pen a little too small for him.

  • Capped length: 5.5″
  • Uncapped length: 4.625″
  • Posted length: 6.125″

This was my first foray into modern Parker fountain pens and I’ve come away pleased. I don’t know why I thought they would be bad except that I often only see them in office supply big box stores which I associated with low cost/low quality. At the sub-$100 price point for a fountain pen, this is a really good option. The medium nib might be a breaking point for some folks but I like that it gave me an excuse to break out of my EF or F nib rut.

It’s been my daily carry fountain pen for a week now. I’m not thrilled with the blue ink cartridge included with it. When the pen has sat overnight, the ink comes out quite dark at first and then gets lighter and lighter until its sort of a washable blue/washed denim pale.  I need to swap out the ink so that I can experience this with an ink I actually like.

I should have purchased the Parker converter ($9.25) too but I forgot to check if one was included with the pen (only a cartridge is included with the pen).


DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Jet Pens for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

From The Archives: Pilot Envelope Pen

Pilot Envelope Pen Writing Sample

from-the-archivesI have been using the Pilot Envelope Pen in both the Fine and Extra Fine models for many years. These are rolleball pens. I’d most likely compare them in feel to a Pilot Precise V5 but a little bit slippier. The ink is silky smooth but because of the ink, the tip can get a little gunky. So why suffer a gunky tip? Because these pens are fine line AND waterproof and not prone to feather like a Sharpie Marker. In my writing test, the water test portion was wet with a water brush and dried. Not even a smudge!

The ink does have a bit of an odor but no worse than an alcohol-based markers and there may be some show through or bleed through on some papers but for envelopes or file folders, its not a big deal.

These do use ink quickly so buy two at a time. Stock up now before holiday card season.

Pilot Envelope Pen

I like the extra fine better for addressing envelopes since its easier to write long addresses small and neat. The fine is quite a bit broader.

Each model is just $2 and there is also a broad version and available from Jet Pens.

Art of the Day: Paper-Mate poster from 1956

Paper-Mate pen, Sioux boy with a sioux war bonnet made of pens instead of real eagle-feather. Beautifully printed in stone-lithography. Herbert Leupin was one of the leader of the Basel school and the hyperrealism style, also called "SachPlakat".

Paper-Mate pen, Sioux boy with a sioux war bonnet made of pens instead of real eagle-feather. Beautifully printed in stone-lithography. Herbert Leupin was one of the leader of the Basel school and the hyperrealism style, also called “SachPlakat”.

Original Vintage Posters keeps a fabulous assortment of vintage posters including vintage typewriter images and other vintage pens. Does your office need some art on the wall?

From The Archives: Sharpie Pen

Sharpie Pen writing sample

I can’t believe its taken me so long to warm up to the Sharpie Pen. As a Marvy Le Pen loyalist, I just couldn’t see what the big deal was about the Sharpie Pen. It’s similar in overall design; a fiber-tip pen with a slightly wider barrel than Le Pen and not available in nearly the array of colors. However, what Sharpie brings to the table with the Sharpie Pen in that’s its fairly water resistant and widely available for purchase. If what you want is a good quality fiber-tipped pen in black, you can’t really go wrong with the Sharpie Pen.

The tip is generically labeled as “fine” and I was able to compare it to an assortment of other fiber-tipped pens. I would say the Sharpie Pen is comparable to the Le Pen which is also unlabelled and an 03 Sakura Pigma Micron. Like most fiber-tipped pens, the point will blunt over time so I’ve had to make a “best guess” since all my pens are in various states of use.

Sharpie Pen

The simple shape of the pen and the clean graphics are all plusses for me. I’d prefer a nicer clip than the molded plastic provided but overall, its a good pen for the price and can be purchased at any drugstore, stationery shop or big box store. Other ink colors are available and the Sharpie Pen is non-toxic, archival and fade resistant as well.  All-in-all, definitely one of my go-to tools.

From The Archives: Pilot Precise V5

Pilot Precise V5

For the most part, rollerballs and I do not get along. Ink takes too long to dry or they skip or just don’t write at all. So, when I found my first Pilot Precise V5, it was true love. I hoarded them whenever I could find them. Now, they are readily available at every big box store, office supply shop or even your corner drugstore.

Pilot Precise V5 writing sample

When I discovered fountain pens and Japanese gel pens, I sort of forgot about the Precise V5. I think its time to re-embrace the Precise V5.

Its a simple cylindrical body pen with a silver clip on the lid. There’s no fancy silicone grip and no retractability. Just above the tip are some fins that remind me of fountain pen breather fins. The Precise V5 has a large ink reservoir and a clear window on the body of the pen to see how much ink is left.

On cheaper paper, the needle tip point tends to snag paper fibers and cause the tip to get a little gunky. A quick wipe on a piece of scrap paper or paper towel will clear up a gunky tip.

The Precise V5 is one of my Top 5 easily accessible pens. If you’re lucky, you might find the multi-pack that includes the pink, purple and turquoise ink versions. I love those!

Pilot Precise V5 tip

From The Archives: Marvy LePen

Marvy Le Pen Array

from-the-archives

Over the last four years of writing The Well-Appointed Desk, I’ve mentioned my propensity for Mary Le Pens but I realized I’ve never actually published a review. I initially discovered Le Pen in my pre-teens and it may be THE PEN that lead me to where I am today. Before finding LePens, I had only known black, blue or red ballpoints and the occasional rollerballs. Le Pens opened my eyes to good quality “felt tip” pens in a wide array of colors at a price I could afford on a teenager’s allowance. By the time I graduated from college, I found it harder to find Le Pens and I assumed they had faded from the world like so many other things. Then a couple years ago, I stumbled across them in my local art supply store and I bought just about every color that was available.

Marvy Le Pen writing sample

Ergonomically, they isn’t much to recommend them. Encased in a slim, straight, plastic cylinder with a snap cap and a simple silver clip that can easily be bent out of shape, and a nylon/fiber tip point that wears down over time, they are not in the same league as many pens I’ve reviewed over the years. But with a retail price of $1.15, these 0.3mm, acid-free, smudge-proof markers are some of my favorite pens. There are more than a dozen colors available and my favorites are the deeper, more complex colors like the gray, orchid, olive and teal. A full set of all 18 colors is available on Jet Pens.

Full set of Le Pens

Giveaway: To share my love and devotion for LePens, I’d like to give one lucky reader a full set of 18 Le Pens, compliments of Jet Pens. Just leave a note in the comments and tell me which color is (or could be) your favorite Le Pen to be officially entered.


FINE PRINT: All entries must be submitted by 10pm CST on Sunday, September 28, 2014. All entries must be submitted at wellappointeddesk.com, not Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook, okay? Winner will be announced on Monday. 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. If winner does not respond within 30 days, I will draw a new giveaway winner. US readers only this time, thanks!

Ask The Desk: A Fine-Tipped Refill for a Hex-o-Matic

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I have a Retro Hex-o-matic and looking for a refill with a fine point. Looking for something like the Schimdt easyflow 9000 but in fine point. What would you recommend?

Since the Retro 51 Hex-o-Matic ballpoint takes a standard sized Parker-style refill, you have a lot of options. According to the Epic Refill Guide, there are lots of options but since you are specifically looking for a fine point refill, let’s see what I can find…

Screen Shot 2014-09-20 at 4.09.20 PM

Fisher Space Ballpoint Refills are available in a fine point. Monteverde makes a soft-roll needle point refill and a “capless” fine point gel refill. Schmidt makes the P900 fine point ballpoint refill. Visconti offers a gel refill in fine as well.

I’m sure I overlooked a gem or two from the Epic Refill Guide but these should get you started. Check you local big box office supply store as they may carry Monteverde as well as other possible options or search Amazon.

Happy writing!

For a review of the Hex-O-Matic ballpoint, check out The Clicky Post.

(Image from Pen Boutique)

Review: Zebra Mildliner Pen in Mild Green

Zebra Mildliner Pen

Some days, I want to highlight text without blinding myself. This is only a problem that a connoisseur of pens would suffer. Who could solve this dilemma for me? The Japanese of course with the Zebra Mildliner brand of highlghters. Or would you call them lowlighters?

I added a “mild green” Mildliner ($1.50 each) in my cart with my last purchase to try it out but there 15 colors to choose from including a grey which seems perpetually sold out.

Zebra Mildliner Mild Green

Anyway, the Zebra Mildliners combine all the functionality of a standard highlighter like dual tip and the ability to highlight or underline printed text from books or printouts as well as over handwritten notes in a variety of different tools. The only issues I found highlighting over handwritten text was with my fountain pens. All those standard school tools like a Sakura Pigma Micron, Sharpie Pen or pencil did not smudge at all. Compared with a standard highlighter grabbed at random out of the nearest pen cup, the Mildliner had noticeably less smudging over handwritten notes. This would probably be equally beneficial with ink jet copies as well.

The simple logo and overall look of this pen is also a win for me. Its a nice looking highlighter. Just because a pen highlights does not mean it needs to look like a highway safety cone from the outside, no?

I will definitely be collecting more of these Mildliners. Maybe I should just purchase one of the 5-pack sets, like the Cool & Refined ($8.25)?

Review: Pocketable Pens from Zebra, Pilot and Pentel

Zebra Mini Ballpoint Pentel Slicci Mini and Pilot Hi-Tec C Slim Knock

I was in the market for a few small pens to tuck into my wallet, purse, bag, etc. So I used the need as an opportunity to compare several different mini pen options from Jet Pens. The purpose of these pens is to be able to have a pen handy at all times. These are not necessarily the tools I would choose for long letter-writing sessions or for taking notes in a long meeting. I suspect they’ll be used to jot down a quick note, a pone number or email address, a grocery list or an ah-ha moment. Even for those “I just need to jot something down moments” I still want a pen that writes well and hopefully is appealing to use and look at.

I purchased three different mini pens: Pilot Hi-Tec C Slim Knock 0.4 in blue black ($3.30), Pentel Slicci Techo Mini Gel Ink Pen 0.3 mm black ink with lime green brushed aluminum body ($8.25) and Zebra SL-F1 Mini Ballpoint Pen 0.7 mm black ink with a “mint green” body (I put “mint green” in quotes because the color is much more turquoise edging to teal then mint) ($5).

The smallest is the Zebra SL-F1 Mini Ballpoint at 3.25″ when closed. To use, the cap section pulls away from the tip and grip to extend the pen to 4.25″ (about the same length as a Kaweco Sport with the cap on) like a telescope. This pen feels sturdy and solid like it could withstand tumbling around in the bottom of a bag or a pocket. The Zebra Mini Ballpoint was the only true ballpoint I purchased but it takes a standard D1 refill so I can swap out the ballpoint ink with a Sharbo X gel ink refill. I meant to order one when I placed my order but I accidentally ordered the wrong refill so its being reviewed as is but assume it will be rockin’ the same Sharbo gel refills I reviewed in my Sharbo X. There are eight different body colors to choose from and, since it takes a standard D1 refill, there are lots of options for the ink in both color and point size.

Zebra Mini Ballpoint vs. Kaweco Sport

Next up in size is the Pentel Slicci Techo at 4.5″. It uses a traditional retractable mechanism and features an aluminum barrel with a brushed finish. Generally speaking, I like the Slicci refills. They have a little more grip on the paper than Hi-Tec C ink and tend to need less priming if they’ve been unused for awhile. This particular model is only available in 0.3mm black ink but there are six body colors available.

The largest mini pen I purchased was the Pilot Hi-Tec C Slim Knock at 4.75″. It also features a rubberized grip area and felt like the widest barrel diameter of the three. This was the least expensive option and is available in both 0.3mm (only $3) and 0.4mm tip sizes ($3.30) and a large array of ink colors. Unfortunately, if you hope to refill this model, the only refills available are in red, blue or black.

Zebra Mini Ballpoint Pentel Slicci Mini and Pilot Hi-Tec C Slim Knock writing samples

Despite being the cheapest of the three, the Hi-Tec C Slim Knock is not my favorite pen in this review. Its not the smallest or most pocketable by far. And, for the same price (or cheaper), I could purchase a full-sized Hi-Tec C or Maica. It is the only option for a retractable Hi-Tec C.

The Pentel Slicci Techo has a durable aluminum barrel but its the priciest and very limited in refill options. But its lime green so it will definitely get a lot of use for me. The orange and navy body are also really appealing.

By far, the most flexible is the Zebra SL-F1. The D1 refills make it easy to refill anywhere, the color options for the body are broad enough to suit just about anyone and it has simple classic good looks. Not to mention a minimal $5 price tag.

If you’re looking for a small, pocketable fountain pen, check out my Kaweco Liliput review, the Monteverde Poquito or any of the Kaweco Sport reviews in my Fountain Pen Reviews page.

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