Posts Tagged ‘review’

Ink Review: Rouge Opera

J. Herbin Rouge Opera Ink Review

These little shooters of J. Herbin ink are just so addictive! This is the Rouge Opera ($4.75 for 10ml bottle) which came highly recommended by a friend as a “good red”. I paired it with my Kaweco Student with an EF nib. What’s black and chrome and red all over? (HA!)

J. Herbin Rouge Opera Ink Review Writing Sample

In the swab and the brush lettering, the red looked a little pinky but when writing its a good clean red. It doesn’t lean too pink or burgundy. Even with my EF nib, I got some shading which is nice.

The J. Herbin Rouge Opera Ink is also available in a larger 30ml bottle ($12) and tin of 6- European short cartridges ($5.50). Tested in Rhodia No 18 Uni Blank pad with a Kaweco Student EF.


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.

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.

Review: Productive Luddite Notebooks Part 1

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The folks at Productive Luddite sent me a massive pile of notebooks to try and share with you. When I mean massive, I mean MASSIVE. The Freestyle Really Big Notebook is letter-sized and features 800 pages. So they are serious when they say “REALLY BIG”. The Matte Black Action notebook features ten different styles of paper in ONE BOOK. So, its a complicated task to review — its like reviewing a dozen notebooks.

I decided the only way to give each notebook its proper due is to split the review into two parts. First up is the New Daily Planner ($8.99) and the Matte Black Action Notebook($9.95).

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The New Daily Planner is an interpretation of the Chronodex-style daily planner. It’s a soft cover, perfect-bound, 6″x9″ with 104 bright white pages. The cover is a gloss black cardstock with bold white lettering.

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Inside, on the first two pages are places to include your personal information and instructions on using the clockwork-style planning system.

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The first few pages include monthly and yearly planning on a clock which I am not sure how useful that would be but the rest of the book is daily clockwork pages. Because of the perfect binding, the book does not lay flat easily but the soft cover means that its easy to fold the cover back if you prefer to work that way.

Productive Luddite New Daily Planner

I tested an assortment of pens in planning out my day. There is some bleeding with fountain pens on the paper but rollerballs, ballpoints, pencils and gel pens all performed well. The paper is thick enough that with non-fountain pens, there was no show through on the reverse side of the page.

Productive Luddite New Daily Planner

I use a lot of fine and exra fine nibbed fountain pens so you can see that the ink does spread. As cool as the planning calendar is, this notebook definitely requires a specific set of writing tools for best results. I think I’ll pair it long-term with one of my multi-color gel pens like the Zebra Prefill or Uni Style-Fit so I have lots of color options and no need to worry about bleed, show through or squishy-looking writing. I might assign specific colors to specific sorts of tasks: blue for work, green for blog, red for home, etc.

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The Matte Black Action notebook has a matte soft-touch coating on the cover. I believe my husband’s exact words (as a printer) was “matte aqueous soft touch coating on coated stock”. Thank you , Mister Specific. The bottom line is it gives the book a pleasing feel similar to the finish on the Field Notes Drink Local Colors Edition. Inside the book is 100 ivory-colored pages in ten different form factors including blank, lined, grid, dot grid, and many more.

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I tested the 8″x8″ sized notebook but the Matte Black Action Notebook is available in several other sizes if square is not your cup of tea.

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Toward the back of the book is journal and list-making pages with grey printing to demarcate the header area from the rest of the page.

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In the very front of the book is a page for personal information and pages to index or tag the pages in the book. This would be particularly helpful if you are using blank pages for sketching, list pages for to-dos and lined paper for writing — all for the same project. You can list the page tags in the front of the book to make it easy to find the various pages.

Productive Luddite Matte Black Sampler Notebook

All the pages have page numbers in the lower right hand corner unless you are a contrarian left-hander that flips the whole book upside down regularly to get the best writing angle (see above).

Productive Luddite Matte Black Sampler Notebook

I tested most of the various paper styles. What I found quite exciting is that the paper was quite fountain pen friendly. I had no issues with bleeding, feathering or show through with any of the pens I tested. The paper did seem like it was slightly heavier than the white stock in the New Daily Planner so maybe that little extra weight made it epically more fountain pen friendly?

Productive Luddite Matte Black Sampler Notebook

The paper styles, though, seemed to have inconsistent line weights. I found that the dot grid dots seemed overly large for my tiny writing. I mostly wanted to play connect-the-dots with these pages. The graph paper lines seemed much heavier and darker than the plain lined paper. I quite liked the color and thickness of the lined paper which is at the front of the book so when I got to the grid and dot grid I was a bit disappointed.

Productive Luddite Matte Black Sampler Notebook

Towards the back of the book was reverse grid  and dot grid paper (grey with white lines) which I much preferred to the lines on the regular grid and dot grid.

Productive Luddite Matte Black Sampler Notebook

The great thing about the Matte Black Action Notebook is that its a great introduction to all the various forms that Productive Luddite offers in their Everyday Carry Notebook line.  All the EDC line notebooks are available in ten different sizes ranging from 4×6 up to 7×10 in horizontal, vertical, square and some variations. There are definitely lots of options!

With one $9.95 purchase, you have the chance to try all the form factors and determine which is your favorite. If you’re inclined to use some grid, some lined, some lists and so forth the Matte Black Action notebook may be the right choice for you.


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

Ink Review: J. Herbin Vert Réséda

J. Herbin Vert Réséda and Kaweco Skyline in Mint

Jet Pens recently started carrying the 10ml small bottles of J. Herbin ink and I’m absolutely mad for the little things. They are just the right size for my insatiable appetite for inks. I can fill pens several times with the quantity but it won’t stick aroud indefinitely like larger 30, 50 or bigger bottles. They remind me of bottles of nail polish — little colorful treats!

Sometimes an ink color was just meant to be paired with a pen. J. Herbin Vert Réséda is just such a color. Its a turquoise green-blue (not a blue-green) and it immediately made me think of the cool glacier mint color of the Kaweco Skyline in Mint. So, a pen/ink match was made. I bought the dainty 10ml bottle, slightly more than a sample but not the full commitment of a full 30ml bottle. I’m running out of place to store all my ink bottles anyway!

J. Herbin Vert Réséda

The color is a little bit lighter when wet then it is when its dry. So, at first, it seemed almost as light as the pen but it dries much darker and frankly, looks fantastic once dry. I did notice that in the fine nib of the Kaweco Skyline, the ink was a bit too light, even dry but when I dipped my vintage Parker Vacumatic with a slightly flexy 14K nib into the ink, I got a deeper color that I just loved.

The Vert Réséda is similar to De Atramentis Mint Turquoise but the Mint Turquoise is a bit more blue and darker. If you’re looking for a minty color that is good for finer nibbed pens, then I’d probably recommend the Min Turquoise over the Vert Réséda. Diamine Soft Mint swab is as light as the writing sample of the Vert Réséda with a fine nibbed pen so I suspect it would be too light for anything but a stub or calligraphy nib.

J. Herbin Vert Réséda

This is definitely an ink I’d recommend for nibs in the medium width and above for best results but if you’re looking for a light, bright turquoise green, it will even look pleasing in a finer nibbed pen.

($4.75 for the 10ml bottle, $12 for 30ml bottle)


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.

Ink Review: MontBlanc Meisterstück 90 Years Permanent Grey

Mont Blanc Meisterstuck 90 Years Permanent Grey

I was having one of those weeks at work where all I really wanted was a pick-me-up. So, at lunch one day, I ventured across the street to the Pen Place and bought a bottle of the MontBlanc Meisterstück 90 years Permanent Grey ($22 for a 60ml glass bottle). I bought it sight unseen (no test swab or anything), spurred entirely by how much I like the Daniel DeFoe ink and I wanted something new, different and special. I don’t know much about MontBlanc and their heritage but I was inspired by the moment, so I bought a bottle of this ink.

Mont Blanc Meisterstuck 90 Years Permanent Grey

The ink swabbed almost black so I was a little concerned that in writing, it would appear to be black. I was pleasantly surprised when I started writing with it that the ink is a watery grey-black with cool undertones (leaning a little green). Because of its lighter coloring, there is some nice shading when writing. I suspect in a finer nib pen, some of the shading might be lost. I definitely recommend using this ink with a medium nib or wider to get the full benefit of its color quality.

I don’t normally look for or purchase black inks. There are so many color options with fountain pen ink that I can’t bring myself to buy plain ol’ black. But I really like grey so I make an exception for grey inks. There aren’t a lot in my ink library so the Meisterstück Permanent Grey is an excellent addition. It is also a fairly water resistant color so it would make a good option for signing documents or addressing envelopes or anything else that might be exposed to the elements. When wet, there was a little grey washing around the writing but it stayed pretty true, enough to withstand getting caught int he rain or spilling some coffee.

This ink was tested on a Rhodia Uni-Blank No. 18 pad with my Lamy Studio with a 1.1mm stub nib.

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.

Review: Monologue Journals and Sketchbooks

Monologue journals

The folks at GrandLuxe sent me a whole heaping pile of their new Monologue journals. I received four A6 (5.5″x3.5″) sized books and three A5 (approx. 8.25″x5.5″).

Monologue journals

Even from the edges, you can see there are slight variations in each book to suit lots of personal preferences. The red A6-sized has pages that are  undersized to accommodate a golf-sized pencil tucked in under the edge for the cover with an elastic to hold it securely. The bottom two books have elastic loops to hold a writing tool. The orange book in the middle is a flip-top reporter-style sketchbook. The books and the top of the pile and the bottom are from the “platinum” line that include matching metallic edging on the pages.

Monologue journals

The books fall into two paper categories, the standard weight writing paper  (80 gsm acid-free) and the heavier sketchbook paper (140 gsm Italian high quality acid free). The black Monologue Basics sketchbook and the orange reporter-style Monologue sketh pad both feature the plain heavyweight sketchbook paper. The sketchbook paper is treated with a vegetable gel for long-lasting stability. All the other books have the lighter-weight, lined writing paper and additional paper treatment is labelled.

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From The Archive: Retro 51 Tornado Mini Crossword Pencil

Mini Retro 51 crossword pencil

The Retro 51 Tornado Mini Crossword pencil is a 1.15mm pencil lead twist in a miniature version of the larger classic pencil.

As a crossword puzzle (and other paper puzzles) enthusiast, I received this pencil as a gift so I am not sure how expensive it was originally and I was unable to find a price for this particular model but plain Retro 51 mini pencils pop up on Amazon for around $20.

Mini Retro 51 pencil size comparison

Compared to a full-sized Retro 51, the mini is tiny! Even the Kaweco Sport and Liliput look large next to it. That said, this is not a pencil I would use for long writing sessions because the clip did end up digging into my hand. However, for twiddling while filling in a crossword puzzle at lunch or jotting quick notes like a phone number or grocery list, it’s totally fine for me. But its just at 3.5″ long — without the eraser which I lost sometime ago.

Mini Retro 51 crossword pencil writing sample

The thick lead is surprisingly easy to write with and its added width makes it unliekly to break easily.  Because of its small size, it often gets tucked into a pocket in my purse so I always have a pencil with me should the need arise.

I like using this pencil enough to strongly consider getting a full-sized Retro 51 Tornado pencil. I could even get a matching Crossword pencil in the full sized model for $33 (Also available in Sudoku or Stealth Black).

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

Japanese Pencil Comparison: Mitsubishi and Tombow

Japanese pencil comparison: Mitsubishi, Hi-Uni and Tombow

I recently purchased several of the more popular Japanese wood-cased pencils from Jet Pens. I got the Tombow 2558 ($1 each) and three Misubishis: the 9800 ($0.70 each), the Hi-Uni ($2.35 each) and the 9850 ($1 each). All of the pencils are the standard HB/#2 hardness.

Japanese pencils end caps

As far as I can tell, the only difference between the Mistubishi 9800 and 9850 is the color and the 9850 has an eraser top while the 9800 has an unfinished end.

Japanese pencil comparison points

This means that the Tombow 2558 and the Mistubishi 9850 are basically a head-to-head comparison with the same price point, metal ferrule and eraser top. The 9850 is finished in a burgundy, deep red lacquer and stamped in silver with coordinating silver ferrule and white eraser. On one side it is stamped “For Office Use”. The Tombow 2558 is painted in a bright yellow gold, comparable to classic American Ticonderogas. The ferrule is a bronze color rather than silver but it is topped with a classic pink rubber eraser. The 2558 is stamped on “For General Writing”.

Despite the fact that the Mitsubishi 9800 and 9850 should essentially be the same pencil at the core, the 9850 seemed smoother on paper than the 9800. Maybe it was just my perception. I like the looks and I do like pencils without eraser caps because I almost never use them.

Japanese pencil comparison writing sample

All four pencils wrote really well. They performed light years better than the cheap, no-name pencils found at drugstores or big box stores. When compared to each other though, I found the Mitsubishi 9850 to be my favorite. It just wrote silky smooth, the finish on the pencil was good and it looked good. The Tombow 2558 was an equally good performer and had the classic yellow pencil looks to recommend it. These two performed so similarly it was hard to say if one was better than the other beyond a preference for red over yellow pencils.

I was least impressed with the Hi-Uni if only that it performed quite similarly to the other three pencils but at twice the price. I realize I’m splitting hairs when comparing $1 versus $2.35 pencils. Yes, the lacquer finish is smoother and the end is dipped in black for a smooth cap. There are other design details in the finishing of the Hi-Uni like the white dot, gold foil ring and extra glossy finish, but in actual writing performance, the Hi-Uni was quite similar to the other pencils though maybe a little bit harder and therefore a little lighter on paper.

Japanese pencil comparison writing sample

I forgot to test the erasers but since only two of the four have erasers it is an unfair comparison, right? Besides, I use a hand eraser like a Black Pearl or a Staedtler Mars anyway.

All-in-all, the Japanese sure know how to make good pencils. There really isn’t a dud in this bunch but rather just personal preferences. They all sharpened easily and cleanly with my Lefty hand sharpener and retained their points well (the photos were taken after doing the writing tests).


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.

Book: Letters To My Future Self

Letters To My Future Self Cover

Letters to My Future Self ($14.95 MSRP) is a marvelously designed little book that contains self-sealing letters and prompts to write letters to yourself. The book was designed by Lea Redmond best know for the World’s Smallest Post Service Kit.

Letters To My Future Self Inner Page

The letters fold up and include designed stamps, labels and wonderful air mail patterns.

Letters To My Future Self Folded Envelope

On the back of each page is the prompt for the letter and a place to add the date your wrote it and the date it should be opened again.

Letters To My Future Self Unfolded Letter/Envelope

When you unfold the page, there is a full sheet of paper to write your letter to yourself. They remind me of Postalettes or the WWII V-Mail. I haven’t tried writing on the paper but it feels like a good quality 80lb text weight or so. This paper will probably withstand a fine-nibbed fountain pen or any good quality gel, rollerball, or ballpoint. Pencil would be good too.

Letters To My Future Self Sticker Sheet

In the back of the book are stickers for sealing the envelopes.

Letters To My Future Self Back Cover

The book includes a dozen letters to write and the hard cover string-bound spine gives a nice look to the whole package. There is also a Letters to My Baby book and several journals for grandchildren, neices and nephews all under the category of “Paper Time Capsule“.

I think the whole collection is incredibly well done and a great way to inspire me to write some goals and some “how I feel now” to refer to sometime later. If you’re not inclined to maintain  a full-fledged journal, this may be a great way to take a letter per week or, since there’s twelve, a letter per month, and get some words on paper.


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

From The Archives: Marvy LePen

Marvy Le Pen Array

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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!

Review: Lokta Paper Goods by Monk Papers

Lokta paper is made from the fibrous inner bark of the high-elevation evergreen bushes in the Himalayans. This paper is often just called Nepali paper. Pen Boutique has started carrying a wide variety of lokta-based paper good from a company called Monk Papers including journals, notebooks, and stationery sets.

Monk Paper Computer Paper

I received a packet of deep violet printer paper cut to 8.5×11 to fit into US printers and copiers, an A5-sized hardcover journal and a boxed photo album.

The cut sheets are a deep vivid purple. I thought the dark color of the purple screamed for an opaque white gel pen and it looks fantastic.

Monk Paper printer sheets letter size

One side of the paper is smoother than the other and probably better suited to holding ink jet inks than the more textured side. Unfortunately the purple paper is too dark to be legible but I think other colors would work well and be great for invites, resumes or a typed letter.

Monk Papers Photo Album

I was also sent this festive photo album and matching storage box. Its about 8″x8″ in size. The dots are colored dots of paper attached to the cover. I think this is one of the best uses for this paper. It looks fabulous, durable and totally unique.

Monk Papers Hardcover Journal

I was also sent an A5 hard cover journal. The cover is the same color as the interior pages and the spine is covered in a contrasting colored paper . The binding is a traditional stitched binding that lays flat easily.

Monk Paper Journal writing sample Monk Paper Journal writing sample Monk Paper Journal writing sample Monk Paper Journal writing sample close-up

I experimented with a lot of different tools with this paper because my standard habit of using super-fine pens just did not work on this paper. The super-fine gel pens and fountain pens stabbed into the soft, fibrous paper. Brushes, pencils and wider rollerballs and art tools work best on this paper. There doesn’t appear to be any sizing on the paper so wet tools like brush pens and watercolor absorb quickly. I think heavy water coverage would warp the paper pretty severely.

Monk Paper Journal reverse of stock

From the reverse of the page, there’s some bleed and show-through as I would suspect from such a soft paper.

The Lokta paper is unusual enough that I think everyone should have a chance to try it but it is like other specialty papers, not all the tools you normally use will work but other things might.


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

Review: Pelikan Edelstein Ruby Cartridges

Pelikan Edelstein Ruby tin

I’d been very interested in getting some of the Pelikan Edelstein ink cartridges. They come in a lovely tin and I like having a pack of cartridges at work so that, in a pinch, I can quickly refill a pen without making a big mess.  The tin means I could keep it in my daily kit so I have cartridges handy all the time. I bought the Ruby color from my local pen shop.

Pelikan Edelstein Ruby cartridges

What I didn’t realize is that the Pelikan Edelstein cartridges are European LONG cartridges. Most of my pens, that take standard European cartridges, are not big enough for the long cartridges. I finally found one pen that could accommodate the longer cartridges, my Kaweco Student.

Pelikan Edelstein Ruby ink

Inked and ready to go, I was finally able to test PE Ruby. Its a pinky-red color with some nice shading, even with the extra-fine nib in my Kaweco Student. Its a bit lighter color than I had expected.  A Google image search for “ruby gem” reveals that rubies are a bit pinky in color when light shines through them so the name is appropriate for the color. Just, in my head, I always thought of rubies as a darker red.

Edelstein inks are good quality and flow smoothly and feel lubricated which helps validate the steeper price point.

Pelikan Edelstein Ruby ink writing samples

When compared to other reds in my stash, it does fill a gap. Diamine Wild Strawberry is a bit more orangey, and Noodler’s Mandalay Maroon is darker and probably more what my head thought of as “ruby”.

Six LONG European-style cartridges are available in each tin for $7.95 from Goulet Pens since my local pen shop does not list them on their online shop. If you’re in KC though, stop by The Pen Place in Crown Center and pick them up in person.

Review: DeAtramentis Apple Blossom Ink

DeAtramentis Apple Blossom

DeAtramentis Apple Blossom ($12.95 for a 35ml bottle) is sort of an “in between” color. Its not quite red, pink, burgundy or purple. I would best describe is as a smoky red violet. Its a scented ink, its a slightly sweet, powdery smell that is supposed to be reminiscent of apple blossoms. It was most noticeable when I was filling my pen from the bottle and less so in the pen or on paper. Once dry on the paper, it was unnoticeable.

DeAtramentis Apple Blossom

I tested this ink with my Pilot Prera which has become my go-to pen for ink samples because I can switch on the nib, mid-test and see the ink in a fine nib and a italic nib as well. With the italic stub, there was more evidence of shading but the color didn’t shift dramatically due to the wider nib.

I tried to find a similar color in my collection but I came up with a pinkier-pink (Edelstein Turmaline) and a deeper, more burgundy color (Montegrappa Bourdeaux). So, that makes me feel like the Apple Blossom really is a unique color and does remind me of those pinky centers on white apple blossoms. I like it in the same way that I like the old Noodler’s Black Swan in Australian Roses in that its a subtle, complex color.

Review: Diamine Kelly Green Ink

Diamine Kelly Green

I’ve had this sample bottle of Diamine Kelly Green set aside on my desk for months with plans to be “my next ink review”. Since December. Well, here it is. Finally.

Diamine Kelly Green Ink Writing Sample

Diamine Kelly Green is a vivid, bright green with distinctly yellow undertones. For me, this means that in light strokes or fine nibbed pens, the color is in that “sweet spot” of lime, citrus-y green that I love so much. For someone else, it could mean a bright green that has gone decidedly off.

In my Noodler’s Ahab fountain pen with the flex nib, there was a lot of shading in the writing. Some might think too much shading as the top, lightest part of the strokes is a very light yellow-green while the down strokes are a clover green. It makes readability a bit iffy.

With a regular stiff nib, the ink is much lighter overall. More Kool-Aid Limeade green than a true Kelly green.

Diamine Kelly Green Ink Comparison

I quite like the color that results from using this ink with a fine or medium nib as it goes decidedly lime. However, if you are looking for a bold true green, this will not be the one for you.

Diamine Kelly Green is available by the bottle for $12.95 and samples are $1.25.

 

Review: Mont Blanc Daniel DeFoe

Mont Blanc Daniel DeFoe Ink

I confess I did not recognize the name Daniel DeFoe when this bottle of Mont Blanc’s Writers Series Daniel DeFoe ink arrived. All I knew was that it was a shade of green. So I did what any self-respecting blogger would do, I looked up Daniel DeFoe on Wikipedia. Turns out he was the gent who wrote Robinson Crusoe as well as being trader, writer, journalist, pamphleteer, and spy. So, someone I’d like to have had drinks with at some point. Now that I’m past the history lesson, let’s move on to the ink review!

Mont Blanc Daniel DeFoe Ink

The bottle is a pleasing shape. Its classic plus it has Mont Blanc’s distintive logo mark on the cap. I think the label with the author’s signature printed to simulate the ink color is a little vague.

Mont Blanc Daniel DeFoe Ink

As I said before, not knowing who Daniel DeFoe was when the bottle arrived, I only loosely assumed the ink might be green. The vagueness of the packaging did not clear much up so it wasn’t until I dipped my paint brush into the bottle and started making lines that I had any kind of inkling what was to appear.

The color is a deep, woodsy, leafy green. It is supposed to be reminiscent of Crusoe’s island but it also reminds me of the color of military fatigue greens but a little more luminance. It’s dark and bold on the paper but with a brightness.

The more I look at the Defoe ink on paper, the more enamored I become.

Mont Blanc Daniel DeFoe Ink

When looking for comparisons, I found Noodler’s Burma Road Brown and Diamine Salamander but they are both browner, muddier colors than the Daniel DeFoe.

I have to confess that I’ve seen Mont Blanc as a company that concerns itself with making beautiful, but veery expensive things that might not always be practical. This ink, however, is changing my thinking. Its an entirely usable color with good flow and consistency. In my wide 1.1mm nibbed Monteverde Intima pen on Rhodia paper, it took a bit longer to dry than some inks I’ve used lately but dry time was comparable to a lot of the Pilot Iroshizuku inks I’ve used.

Mont Blanc Daniel DeFoe is a limited edition ink available only for one year. A 35ml bottle sells for $19. I might have to order a spare.


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

Mont Blanc Daniel DeFoe Ink

Review: Private Reserve Naples Blue Ink

Private Reserve Naples Blue Ink Review

I chose my favorite color, Private Reserve Naples Blue, from the August International Shipping Ink Drop collection and decided to go ahead and do a full review. I don’t normally go in for bright blues but this color looked like the bluest oceans. I couldn’t pull my eyes from the swatch so I had to take it out for a spin.

I tested it with my dueling Pilot Preras, one fitted with a Plumix Penmanship M Italic Stub and one with the standard M nib. I wanted to see if shading was visible in both. The shading range was so diverse in my painted title that I was hopeful to get as wide a range in the pens.

Private Reserve Naples Blue Ink Review

What I noticed is that the ink appears more like a royal blue in dark pools but as it thins out in linework, it becomes more turquoise blue instead. This showed in the shading with the stub italic nib making for some interesting emphasis. I like it. Its a beautiful color.

The ink is a bit drier than other inks so it dried fast which was nice on the slick Rhodia paper, especially with the wider nib. I didn’t have any issues with the ink being too dry with the M nib but a needlepoint nib might run into some drying issues.

Private Reserve Naples Blue Ink Review

In my head, I thought the Naples Blue reminded me of Pilot Iroshizuku Ku-Jaku but side-by-side you can see how much greener the Ku-Jaku is. The Naples Blue even gets a slight red/purple cast around the edges of the swab so they are quite different. In the fine writing sample though, the Naples Blue is a lot more turquoise so you can see the possible comparison.

Overall, if you’re looking to hold on to summer a little longer, want to dream of the bluest oceans or just need a vivid blue ink, try Private Reserve Naples Blue. Samples are $1.25 and a full bottle is $11.

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: Noodler’s Ahab Flexible Nib Fountain Pen

Noodlers Ahab Flex Fountain Pen

I have had the Noodler’s Ahab flexible fountain pen ($20) for a couple months and have tested it with Goulet Pen’s replacement nibs but hadn’t posted about the flex nib. As others have mentioned over the years, trying to use and learning to use a flexible nib pen is very different than how we use modern day pens, be they fountain or otherwise.

Over the years I’ve used a lot of different flexible nib tools. I have a few vintage pens that have some flex and I’ve used a lot of dip nib pens which are the least expensive and most flexible option in modern tools. Dip nibs are a little fiddly to use those because I frequently have to stop and dip and try to pick up my thoughts and my stroke where I left off. So there is a lot of appeal in getting the Noodler’s Ahab to work for me.

I got the Ahab in the Amazon Pearl finish but there are dozens of color options in the Ahab so there is bound to be one you like. The Amazon Pearl finish is a shimmer metallic forest green with some darker green threads in the color. Its really pretty.

The Ahab pen body feels likes plastic but is actually a celluloid derivative. This may explain a slightly acrid smell upon opening the pen. I noticed the smell most when removing the cap but it dissipated quickly.

Noodlers Ahab Flex Fountain Pen

The Noodler’s flex nib (found in the Creaper, the Ahab and the Konrad models) is split down the middle to give it its flex. By nudging the placement of the nib in the feed, its possible to adjust how much flex. However, the higher you place the nib in the feed (creating more flex) the more likely that the ink flow might become choked causing skipping or inconsistent ink flow.

Noodlers Ahab Flex Fountain Pen

In order to get the benefits of the flex nib, I needed to change my writing position from the left-handed overhand method I normally use to position where my hand is below the line I’m writing. Otherwise, the thicks-and-thins of the flexible nib are in the wrong places or non-existent entirely.

Using the piston filler, the Ahab will hold about 2ml of ink which is twice what the Creaper holds. Its possible to eyedropper fill the Ahab for even more ink capacity but I didn’t attempt that. I change my mind about ink color too frequently to want that much ink in one go. The piston filler is not a twist fill mechanism common to cartridge converters but rather a plunger mechanism to pump ink into the reservoir. It’s easy to use but might take a couple tries to get accustomed to the filling technique. This also means you must use bottled inks with this pen. No cartridges can be used.

Noodlers Ahab Flex Fountain Pen

While the pen felt light and a little plasticky in my hand, it looks like a more expensive material than some of the clear plastic pens in a similar price range.  Overall, I like what Noodler’s is doing with their line of flex nib pens and, for its small price, the Ahab is a good way to venture into flexible nibs. If you discover that flex nibs are not for you, Goulet Pen’s replacement nibs will fit in the Ahab and can turn the pen into a standard writer.


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

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.

Review: Letts of London Noteletts Notebook

 

Noteletts L6 Ruled cover

While visiting Daly’s Pen Shop in Milwaukee, I picked up a Letts of London Noteletts notebook. The Noteletts line is available three sizes, ruled or blank and in four different cover colors. I got the “L6″,  the medium size, which is 116mm x 172mm (approx. 4.5″x 6.75″) and features lined paper.

Noteletts L6 Ruled

The cover of the book is a black book cloth which collects cat hair and dust easily (pardon my dust!) but feels nice in my hand and gives the cover a bit more flex than other notebooks with  leatherette covers.

 

Noteletts L6 Ruled page spread

Inside the paper is a warm creamy ivory color with fine, light grey lines. There are 192 pages which is comparable to other books of a similar size. The line spacing is 0.25″ (6mm)  and the paper quality is above average. It feels thicker than the average notebook. I’d compare it to the paper weight in Paperblanks notebooks but the Noteletts has a bit more tooth to the paper. That might make it a little more absorbent but it also means those slippery gel inks have something to hold onto.

Noteletts L6 Ruled dated rules

At the top of each page is a place to write the date to keep your notes organized. The Noteletts branding is at the bottom of each page — a bit overkill but not too obtrusive.

Noteletts L6 Ruled Planner Pages

In the back is a 2-page monthly planner  spread. Its not necessarily enough room to be a full-fledged planner but would be a good spot to write key dates or birthdays. In the back of the book, there’s also a map with time zones, calling code info and weights and measures. I find it charmingly anachronistic to include this info in the age of smartphones but I appreciate it nonetheless. It makes me feel worldly and cosmopolitan to have this info at hand.

There is also the requisite expandable pocket in the back cover, vertical elastic closure and a ribbon bookmark with finished end. All welcome and well done.

Noteletts L6 Ruled writing sample

In writing tests, the paper is a bit heavier than the average but I knew it would not be as fountain pen-worthy as Clairfontaine/Rhodia. The paper would probably fare best with fine line pens of any variety but the show through was not terrible with the couple fountain pens I had on me today — both loaded with a blue ink, both fine European nibs.

Noteletts L6 Ruled reverse of writing

From the reverse, a little show through is visible and I suspect that a medium or broad nibbed fountain pen with black ink with definitely get more show through and probably dots of bleed through. Its not the most fountain pen friendly paper but its far from the worst. Dry time was  quite reasonable so it seems like a fair trade-off.

The price point for the Noteletts (MSRP is $13.50 for this size notebook), from the tony Letts of London, is up there with Moleskine but it carries a slightly different kind of cache. Letts of London has been making paper products since 1812 and focuses on planners (AKA diaries) and hangs its hat on its English-ness, where Moleskine prefers to tap into it Italian European-ness. I am inclined to be more of an Anglophile so if I had to pick one or the other, I’m inclined to choose the English Noteletts in part for its own heritage but also the cloth covers, better paper and lighter lines. I find the lined paper in Moleskine notebooks much too dark.

Our new sponsors Pen Boutique stock the Noteletts line as well as purchasing them directly.

Review: Lamy Accent Fountain Pen

Lamy Accent Fountain Pen & Packaging

Thanks to Fontoplumo for  sending me the Lamy Accent for review recently. I had not seen this Lamy before so it was a treat to get a “first peek” at it. Its an aluminum body with a soft sheen finish and the center grip section in a dark grey stained wood. The pen is so light in the hand that I would assume the wood is bamboo.

Lamy Accent Fountain Pen box packaging

I’m not always inclined to talk about the packaging on a pen. There’s an expectation that the more expensive the pen, the better the packaging. As the Lamy Accent is in the lower mid-range fountain pen prices, I think its nice packaging. The box is a soft grey paper board with a window that peeks to a metal embossed logo that acts as the box lock. Once unfolded the pen rests on a flannel grey flocked  paperboard wedge. Its suitable for a gift and makes me feel like Lamy cared enough about the pen and the craftsmanship in making it to send it in in a pleasing package.

Lamy Accent Fountain Pen packaging

In the other groove in the package was a standard Lamy blue cartridge which is now installed in the pen for testing purposes. The pen did not include a cartridge converter but one can be purchased for an additional 4,75€ (about $6.50).

When capped, the pen is 5.625″ long. Uncapped and unposted, the pen is 4.875″. The cap screws on to close.

The clip is a shiny silver chrome and is slightly hinged to make it easy to clip to a pocket or notebook. The only branding on the exterior of the pen is on the cap, in line with the clip hinge. It reads “LAMY” in grey-black print. The branding is also etched on the nib but that’s it. It makes for a very elegant and understated look.

Lamy Accent Fountain Pen nib & grip section

I received the fine nib and it met all my standards for a Lamy nib. I installed the cartridge included with the pen immediately and started writing with no issues.

Lamy Accent Fountain Pen posted

The cap easily posts on the end of the pen thanks to a small black notch on the rear of the pen. This creates a well-balanced tool at a sizable length of about 6.5″ . I found it quite comfortable to use posted which I don’t normally do (not even with Kaweco Sports. Seriously!).

Lamy Accent Fountain Pen writing sample

In writing, the only potential issue is that the wood grip section is not particularly grippy. I prefer Lamy pens without the molded grip area but the added plastic at the nib pushes the grip area back from the nib a bit more than most pens I’ve used. It you tend to grip your tools further from the tip or nib, this might be a great pen to try as its really designed for a higher grip. If you tend to grip lower with your fingers touching the nib, you may need to noodle a bit. I found that I rested my knuckle (at the writer’s bump on my middle finger) and my first finger on the black section above the nib and my thumb on the wood grip. It ended up being surprisigingly comfortable but took a couple tries to find the best way to hold this pen.

Lamy Accent Fountain Pen

One oddity was the way in which the pen disassembled. The aluminum section below the wood loosens the nib unit but the pen separates above the wood section. It felt like I was doing something wrong but it seemed to work and reassemble with no issues. It’s just feels a little odd.

Overall, I really like this pen. Its nicely sized and aesthetically beautiful in a modern way. The sort of classic good looks that will age well over time. Which reminds me, I’m really curious to see how this pen ages — if the wood darkens or the aluminum barrel gets any dings or scratches and how that affects its looks. Since I do not tend to swaddle my pens, give me a few months of rough use and I’ll post some photos to see if it changes at all.

The Lamy Accent in Aluminum/ Grey Wood is 65€ (about $86US) and available in EF, F, M, B and Italic 1.1mm. Don’t forget: If you enter the code WAD2014 you get a 10% discount on anything you order from Fontoplumo. This offer is good through the end of 2014.


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

The Overcast Podcast App

Overcast app screenshot

To help me get through my days, staring at pixels on a computer screen, I listen to a lot of podcasts. For the last few weeks, I have been bouncing back and forth between three different podcast apps for my iPhone: Overcast (Free, unlocked all features $4.99), Pocket Casts ($4.99, for iPhone/iPad or Android) and Instacast ($1.99). Why would I have three podcast apps installed at once? I was trying to figure which one I actually prefer.

Each app offers a similar experiences and all are an improvement from Apple’s default Podcast app. After futzing around with all three, I found myself deleting Instacast first as it was the least intuitive feeling to me. It was the first podcast app I purchased after I became annoyed with the Apple Podcast app and the first to fall short for me. I love the looks of Pocket Casts but in the end, despite aesthetic superiority, there were a few things that forced it out of the running.

I’ll cut to the chase and tell you which one I prefer and why.

Overcast is my favorite podcast app at the moment, though I still find myself stumbling around the app a little. Here’s a few reasons why I’ve chosen it over the others.

  • Overcast has feature to speed up the podcast. It helps to shorten pauses in speech and make a podcast a bit more brisk. Very handy. Audio can also be sped up a lot which sounds like everyone had WAY too much coffee, but not like Mickey Mouse. Overcast also has an EQ voice booster which helps podcasts that may not have the best sound quality.
  • There is a web-based interface which lets me listen to podcasts at my computer rather than on my phone at work. It spares my data plan, phone battery and I only have to subscribe to the podcast once (not have to maintain an additional subscription in iTunes for desktop listening). Playlists don’t carry over to the site but being able to listen to podcasts in my wi-fi-free office without getting throttled by AT&T is excellent.
  • I like that I can adjust the quick forward and quick back buttons. They are clear to understand and easy to use. Some of the other apps have the double arrows  associated with fast forward and rewind which are less clear to me that I’m jumping 15 or 30 seconds in a podcast. I don’t often need to rewind a podcast all the way back to the beginning.
  • Under “Playback” there is a sleep timer and/or play episodes continuously or one-by-one.
  • Overcast is free. I appreciate that Overcast is willing to offer this app for free to entice people to try it and listen to more podcasts. When they find the app useful and easy to use, users can unlock all features for $4.99. I upgraded the app immediately.
  • Overcast uses Twitter to recommend podcasts based on what people you follow are subscribing to. The more people who use Overcast, the more recommendations. It seems a lot of my followers/folks I follow listen to the Pen Addict and Erasable. I’m shocked!
  • In the download queue, there is a switch to toggle between using cellular data for downloads and not. Which is handy that’s it’s not buried in a preferences or settings menu somewhere.
  • My one big gripe is I wish that sliding to the left would provide a “mark all as played” option. I keep deleting podcasts thinking I am deleting an episode.

Overcast recommendation screenshot

The more I use Overcast, the more I like it. If you haven’t tried any podcast app other than the Apple Podcast app, I recommend trying Overcast. If you have your own favorite podcast app, please leave a note in the comments.

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