Posts Tagged ‘review’

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.

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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?

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Or like this? No. You RTFM, Ana.

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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.

More J. Herbin Mini Bottles

J. Herbin Mini Ink Bottles

I love the look and miniature size of the J. Herbin mini ink bottles which has lead me to purchase a few colors every time I place an order at Jet Pens. Its just enough ink to enjoy without having an excess. A lot of J. Herbin’s inks are light, bright and floral-y so a little bottle for letter writing or a special occasion is just right. And I’m not stuck with a vat of it if its not a favorite.

The latest four colors I picked up make a case on both sides of this. The Violette Pensee and the Larmes de Cassis are colors I think I could use. The bright, vivid color of the Violette Pensee will be a fun summer color and the Larmes de Cassis is a dusty, reddish purple that is a color I am always attracted to — a tertiary, complex hue. So, I feel like these were good investments. The Gris Nuage and Boutan d’Antan were a true waste of fund. Gris Nuage is so light when wet as to be practically invisible. Boutan d’Antan was not much better though both dry darker but it doesn’t help much if you can’t see what you’re writing. So, those two were ink fails as far as I’m concerned.

J. Herbin Mini Bottles are $4.75 each and all standard J.Herbin inks are available in the mini bottles so there are 30 colors to choose from.


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.

Ink Review: Kaweco Summer Purple

Kaweco Summer Purple Ink

Kaweco Summer Purple is one of my absolute favorite ink colors. It’s a dark, muted, complex, plum-y purple. More eggplant purple really. When watered down, it reminds me of lilac blossoms. At full-strength, its a subtle, sophisticated purple-black. The closest color comparison I could make is the Rohrer & Klingner Scabiosa. However, with the Kaweco Summer Purple, there’s no concern about the iron gall and potential damage to your pens.

Summer Purple doesn’t have a ton of shading but with wider nibs, you get a little color variation. You may decide this is a good thing or not. When writing notes and project planning, I’m less inclined to want a lot of shading as it can affect overall readability. But a little bit of shading can be nice. I think Summer Purple hits a pleasing balance between feeling too flat and being too shading-y for everyday use.

Kaweco Summer Purple is a color that is not too fussy but still adds a little pizazz to your writing. If you’re just dipping inky toes into colors beyond blue, black or blue-black, Summer Purple is a good option.

Kaweco Summer Purple Comparison

I think the closest comparable inks are Rohrer & Klingner Scabiosa and Private Reserve Ebony Purple. J. Herbin Poussiere de Lune, Noodler’s Purple Heart and Diamine Grape are all a little bit more reddish purple — less violet, more true purples. If you like your purples with more red, than I recommend these instead.

Isn’t it amazing how much variation exists in ink colors? From subtle to shocking differences at every hue in the rainbow. This is why I love inks!


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

Ink Review: Kaweco Midnight Blue

Kaweco Midnight Blue ink

Kaweco Midnight Blue is one of the blue-blackiest blue-blacks I’ve ever used. At first glance, it appears to be nothing special since its a dark blue black with little-to-no pizazz. But on second glance, this is a workhorse ink. Its not the hot, new color or the “in” ink for 2015. Its a classic. It’s trend proof. Its a beautiful alternative to black ink or a plain blue. Its deep, dark and true to its purpose.

Even on Rhodia paper, Midnight Blue dries pretty quickly. The longer I used it, the more I warmed to this ink. Its like a good comfortable cardigan. It might not be the flashiest thing in your ink closet but I suspect you’ll find yourself coming back to it again and again because it works well and in lots of situations.

Kaweco Midnight Blue Ink Comparison

I used to think that Lamy Blue-Black was my go-to blue black but when I see it side-by-side with Kaweco Midnight Blue, I have to say I prefer the bluer hue of the Midnight Blue ink over Lamy’s more violet undertones.

Kaweco Blue Black is quickly moving into my favorite blue-black and, with its reasonable price (approx. $17.50 for a 30ml bottle), it might just stay there.

My only gripe is the funky label wrap on the bottle. No matter how many ways I try to remove the wrap sticker, I end up with unsightly label residue or weird bits. I keep ink bottles for a long time and I like to keep my favorites on display but the unslightly label shards mean the Kaweco inks are going to be kept out of sight until I find a good method for removing the labels. Which is kind of sad because I like the shape of the Kaweco bottles a good deal.


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.

Review: Midori Traveler’s Notebook: Regular Size

Midori Traveler's Notebook and InsertsFull size

I finally invested in a classic, full-size Midori Traveler’s Notebook. This seems to be the one that people love with unending passion so I decided it was time to take the plunge. I found a seller on Amazon that was selling the notebook at a reasonable price (approx. $40) and then I ordered an assortment of refills and accessories from Goulet Pens.

Also pictured above are the two notebook refills I got from Banditapple last year which will, of course, fit perfectly in the MTN.

Midori Traveler's Notebook Full size

One of the most pleasing things about Midori products is the packaging. It is lovingly packaged and feels like a gift while at the same time, being reusable and/or recyclable. The notebook comes in a plain paperboard box and the elastic can be reused on the notebook as a replacement if you prefer the neutral color or snap the original cord. Inside, the book comes in a cotton bag which can be used for storing the notebook or reused for some other purpose.

The initial package includes one blank notebook. That’s it.

For some folks, the sheer cost of the MTN, for what seems so simple and easy to replicate with a home leatherworking tool kit (and includes so few additional pieces in the initial purchase) might dissuade one from making the purchase. I considered making one myself but determined that in the grand time-versus-money debate, I had more space credits than time to mess around with trying to make my own.

Midori Traveler's Notebook Full size

Upon opening the package, I did not notice any excessive odors accept for the light smell of tanned leather.

The simplicity and understated beauty of the Traveler’s Notebook is hard to deny. And the long, narrow size is a lot more appealing than I had anticipated. I know a lot of folks like to add charms and other accoutrements to their MTN but I’m holding off until I am sure how much I’ll use it.

After embracing the ring-bound planner as my method for planning and organization this year, it took awhile for me to figure out how or why I would also use a MTN. This is hot on the heels of all those OTHER notebooks that are currently lying fallow.

Of course, I also wanted to know what all the hullaballoo was about and there is a lot of appeal in the ability to customize what types of writing surfaces I will carry contained in one “book”. So, I decided to use the MTN with just two notebooks to start with: one for knitting projects and planning of said knitting projects and the other for blog planning, ideas and notes.

Midori Traveler's Notebook Comparison

The photo above shows the whole collection of leather notebook covers I own. From left to right; Midori Traveler’s Notebook: Star Edition, Passport Size, Zenok Leatherworks Field Notes Sized, Pelle Journal Regular Size and finally, the Midori Traveler’s Notebook Full Size.

Midori Traveler's Notebook Comparison

The rivet (for lack of a better word) on the spine of the Midori notebooks is a metal disc that can stick up a little bit when trying to lay the notebook open flat but with some manuevering, it will lay on its side making it less noticeable. The Zenok spine is the least intrusive for sure but does add the extra piece of leather.

Midori Traveler's Notebook Full size

On the first pages of the Midori branded notebooks is a place to write a title, description, date or other info before the regular paper stock starts.

Midori Traveler's Notebook Full size InsertsFor the sheer purposes of research, I bought four different refill notebooks in order to do reviews of the paper stocks. I purchased the Kraft brown-014 (which is actually standard writing weight paper in a lovely krafty hue), grid, sketchbook and the “light” paper. The MTN standard refills (blank-003, lined-001, grid-002) have 32 sheets/ 64 pages but the light paper – 013 contains 64 sheet/ 128 pages. There’s a lot of good reviews about the light paper being especially fountain pen friendly so I look forward to trying it out. The sketch paper-012 has only 24 sheets/ 48 pages but is much heavier weight paper designed to accept watercolor as well as lots of inks. The sketch paper has perforated pages while the other books do not.

There were a few inserts I did not try as they were more planner-based like a page-a-day diary and weekly planners in a couple formats. But there is some appeal to have notes and planning contained in one book.

I added a zip pocket insert-008 and I made 6-pocket folder from a file folder using this video tutorial from PoketFullofVintage. Turns out the file folder tutorial works better with an A4-sized filer folder but I made mine works okay, just shorter pockets.

I’ll be doing follow-up reviews specifically about each of the paper types but the fact that there are so many choices is part of the appeal of the MTN. Also, there are lots of tutorials for making your own inserts as well as sources for printing inserts for specific tasks from sources like My Life All in One Place as well as sellers on Etsy.

Overall, I really like the size and shape and I like the weathering that the leather is getting in just the few weeks I’ve owned it. Yes, I drank the Kool-Aid but it is tasty, tasty, Kool-Aid.

 

Review:Kaweco Zequenz Notebook

Kaweco Zequenz Notebook

The Kaweco Zequenz notebook is a very different take on a notebook. Its actually two notebooks held together by a z-fold PU leatherette cover. One side is a light brown, the reverse is a dark brown. Around the middle is a wide dark brown elastic with a leatherette embossed logo that creates a pen loop section on the elastic.

Kaweco Zequenz Notebook

Kaweco Zequenz Notebook

Sorry for the slightly out of focus image but its the only shot I took that shows the elastic removed completely from the notebook. This is a plus for anyone who finds the attached elastics on Moleskine-style notebooks annoying. However, I’m concerned I’d misplace the elastic.

Kaweco Zequenz Notebook

Here you can see the z-fold style cover that attaches the two different notebooks. One side is filled with lined paper and the other side with blank paper. The paper is the same shade of white in both books and the same weight, just one is lined and one is not.

Kaweco Zequenz Notebook

There are 60 sheets of paper in each book and the whole notebook is under one inch thick.

Kaweco Zequenz Notebook

The line spacing is a bit wider than I usually prefer at 7.5mm. I like 6-7mm but its a nice middle ground for the size of the notebook and general preferences. The ruling is a very fine line in grey so its not distracting and should not interfere with most ink colors or graphite darknesses.

Kaweco Zequenz Notebook

Its a pretty small notebook overall, an A6 (148x105mm or 5.8″x4.1″) which makes it pretty portable, perfect for notes on the go, meetings, or travel journaling. Potentially, one side could be dedicated to work notes and one to home notes or two specific projects. There’s a lot to be intrigued about this notebook set-up.

Kaweco Zequenz Notebook

I’ve read other reviews (search Pennaquod for “Zequenz” to find all the other recent reviews) about this notebook and a lot of people seemed really disappointed in the ink handling — especially for a company know to sell a wide assortment of fountain pens with lots of nib sizes. So, for me, I went into the testing expecting the worst. As a result, I was pleasantly surprised. The paper is super smooth making it pleasing to write upon.

I started the tests with fountain pens and didn’t see any feathering or terrible bleeding but I did not put it to the limits. There was a little softness with some pen/ink combos but I made a point to test with either a Kaweco pen or Kaweco ink and the paper held up pretty well.

Kaweco Zequenz Notebook

From the reverse side, you can see a little show through and I suspect a darker ink would have shown some bleed through but overall my results were not as terrible as I had been expecting. The paper is definitely better than a Moleskine notebook and its a soft white instead of the yellowy ivory color so that’s something.

Kaweco Zequenz Notebook

Where the paper really seemed to shine was in testing everyday gel and rollerball pens and pencils. Pencils were particularly nice on the super smooth paper. I can see where sketching on this paper would be quite pleasing.

Kaweco Zequenz Notebook

Again, there’s a little show through on the reverse even with the non-fountain pens but not so bad that I wouldn’t use both sides of the paper.

Kaweco Zequenz Notebook

What I did notice was that my Sport Series pens did not fit into the pen loop very well, at least not securely enough for me. That was super annoying.

Kaweco Zequenz Notebook

Full-sized Kaweco pens like the Dia II and Student fit snugly but do fit into the loop. I suspect the Special series is too slender to fit the loop so the pen loop on the elastic has limited uses. I would probably just use a clip on the Sport series pens, and clip it to the elastic band.

Overall I’m intrigued with the Zequenz. I appreciate that Kaweco tried to do something different with their notebook but I feel like a few of the decisions made in production were iffy at best. I think I’d prefer the Zequenz to be a customizable system. At present, there’s just one option with the notebook and if you don’t like one or the other paper format, you might just walk away from the Zequenz altogether. I’d like to to be able to choose a real leather cover rather than PU and for the books be slip-in inserts. That way I could choose which two notebooks and/or replace one side or the other as needed. Then notebooks could be offered in plain, lined or grid, and maybe a heavier stock specifically for fountain pens. If the elastic either had no pen loop or I could choose between a small, medium or large loop, that would also be preferable. Am I just envisioning a z-fold cover version of a Midori Traveler’s Notebook? I might be.


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.

Review: TWSBI Diamond 580 in Christmas Green

TWSBI 580 in Christmas Green

I bought myself a little green Christmas present in the form of the TWSBI Diamond 580 in Christmas green color ($50). The body of the pen, where the ink reservoir is, is still transparent but the cap and piston end are a lovely green color. It’s not a kelly green which I thought it might be but rather has just a hint of blue making it very unique color — like tender blue spruce maybe. The color tickles me.

TWSBI 580 in Christmas Green

I’ve owned a Diamond 540 and the 580 is pretty much identical in size, shape and weight. Since I gave my 580 away awhile ago, I can’t do a side-by-side, but to the naked eye, there is no distinct design difference. I think they just improved the materials to eliminate the cracking issue in the early 540 line.

The 580 shipped in the same cardboard outer box and clear plastic inner box that my 540 and TWSBI Mini arrived in. I like the packaging. Its pleasing to look at without feeling too over-the-top.

TWSBI 580 in Christmas Green

I ordered the 580 with an F nib and it has ended up being smoother than my previous EF nibs. I was pleasantly surprised with how smoothly it wrote and didn’t feel all that much broader than the EF.

TWSBI 580 in Christmas Green

TWSBI 580 in Christmas Green

The 580 in green is another fine product from TWSBI. If you’ve been considering adding a TWSBI to your collection, the 580 is a great option and is available in a lot of color configurations.

Book Review: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying UpIn the wake of the new year, I decided I might try to read up on how to get more organized. One of the first books to come into my field of vision was The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. Its a thin volume with a very repetitive set of instructions on how to best de-clutter and the order in which to tackle the task.

As I was reading it, there were some keen observations. I specifically liked thinking about her suggestion to “hold each item in your hands and ask yourself if it brings you joy”. While this is appealing in theory, the practical application is not. I read Tif Fusel’s review of this book and her husband’s response: “my leaf blower and lawn mower bring me no joy, i do not need to hold them in my hand to know that. shall i thank them, then get rid of them so we can slowly be buried under a pile of yard waste?” And this, is the crux of my issue with the whole book. There are lots of things that we keep in our homes that bring us no joy — snow shovels, for example — but that we need to keep for those moments that require their use. We might be required to dress in a certain way for work that may provide us with no joy but is required like a suit or uniform. Though I suppose from the book, we could glean that we should limit how much this un-joyful stuff should take up in our homes and our hearts.

However, we also keep many things in our homes that bring us no joy, that we hold onto out of obligation (“But grandma gave it to me for Christmas!”) and things we think we might need one day (I really want to learn to arrange flowers, needlepoint, whittle, play the harp, etc). These are the things that Ms. Kondo is trying to convince us to unburden ourselves of keeping.

There is a large focus in the book about weeding out excess clothing, books and papers that is at the core of many people’s personal clutter. She did not go into any detail about how to balance the clutter of work-at-home offices or anyone with a specific hobby that may occupy a good deal of space. She filed all of this in her “miscellany” category which I think is a bit short-sighted.

As a product blogger, much of my excess is in the form of piles of notebooks, pens, inks and other office supplies.  I have some ideas about how to remove a lot of the excess from my stash but it will require time and effort on my part which is why I haven’t tackled it yet. Sadly, for me, its not laziness but a limit to the amount of time I have to accomplish MANY tasks and a need to prioritze which gets done this week and what has to wait. I think that applies to many people as well. Whether its cleaning out a clothes closet or sorting through bank papers — how much time to we have to devote to these tasks rather than spending time with friends, family or a favorite book.

Ms. Kondo also talked repeatedly about removing bags upon bags of garbage. The environmentalist in me got itchy at the idea of all this stuff ending up in landfills. As I attempted to integrate some of her ideas into my own life, I made bags and boxes for charity and put my paper shredder to use so that most of the paper materials I got rid of could be recycled. I’ve already taken three bags to charity and four boxes to the second-hand bookshop and that’s just the tip of my efforts to get rid of excess.

In the end, the perspective that she provided about thinking through what we own and why we hold onto things was enlightening. And her parting message is that by clearing away the detritus — those unloved, ill-fitting, no-longer-interesting things from our lives — we leave room for new things and new experiences. This is that part that was appealing.

Review: Platinum Preppy 0.2 EF Fountain Pen

Platinume Preppy EF 0.2 fountain Pen

Whenever someone mentions a cursory curiosity in fountain pens, I recommend trying a Platinum Preppy. Personally, I find the nib to be fine enough on the Platinum Preppy not to scare away a new user accustomed to rollerballs, ballpoints and the occasional gel pen. And at $4, its the financial commitment equivalent of a venti mocha at Starbucks. But now, there’s another option: the Platinum Preppy 02 EF, an even finer version.

For me, the Preppy 02 is a good entry into the world of needle fine Japanese fountain pens. And its cost is a more like a venti peppermint mocha with an extra shot ($5). So, still… not a huge financial commitment.

Platinume Preppy EF 0.2 fountain Pen

With the introduction of the Preppy 02 EF, Platinum is re-branding the whole Preppy line. Instead of having tinted nibs to match the ink colors, all the Preppies will have silver tone nibs and the ink colors will be indicated by the design details on the pen. I preferred the aesthetic looks of the old Preppy design but I’m willing to overlook the aethetics for a $5 EF Japanese nib. Because, let’s be honest, Platinum decided to use the mass market disposable pen approach to the graphics on the new Preppy line. I’d rather the clear plastic show the inner workings than mucking up the whole pen with silvery printed graphics. But that’s just me.

Platinume Preppy EF 0.2 fountain Pen

If you’ve not tried the original Preppy, its a fully plastic pen with a Platinum fountain pen cartridge. Some people do modify these pens to be eyedropper pens though I don’t know if the new design will support this (I haven’t looked for holes in the plastic that would inhibit this use). Its a fairly lightweight pen with a cap that will post to give a bit more weight to the pen. The clip is also plastic but its pretty sturdy for being plastic and looks similar in construction to the original Preppy.

Platinume Preppy EF 0.2 fountain Pen

In writing tests, this pen performed exceptionally well. I used the stock cartridge that shipped with the pen and started writing. It is a tiny bit scratchy — not rough in writing but I could hear the sound of my writing on the paper as a “scritch, scritch” which I suspect is a result of how fine the nib is. But I really like it. I’m a little ashamed to like writing with a $5 pen so much when I have a cupboard full of much more expensive pens. But this is a good pen to try if you’re curious about an ultra-fine Japanese nib. It won’t be for everyone but at $5, its worth taking it for a test drive.

I purchased mine from Goulet Pens but other retailers are starting to stock the Preppy 02 EF so you have options. In the meantime, if you preferred the look of the original Preppy pens, go grab them now because all the Preppy line will be replaced with the silvery painted versions soon. I suspect the markers and highlighters will also get the updated look. Ugh.

Review: Nock Co DotDash Pocket Notebook (and Giveaway)

NockCo DotDash Pocket Notebook

The big news just before the holidays was the launch of the new NockCo DotDash Pocket Notebooks. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on these. Everything NockCo has done thus far has been excellent and I expected no less from these pocket notebooks.

NockCo DotDash Pocket Notebook

Inside the front cover is space to include personal information and notes. There’s also a message at the bottom that if the notebook is found, to contact NockCo directly. I’m not entirely sure what NockCo will do but if you include your name and contact info, they might be able to cross-reference with your order history and reunite you with your notebook. So best fill this in!

NockCo DotDash Pocket Notebook

A set of three books is just $9, each book opens at the top like a reporter pad and features white 50lb paper with the DotDash grid pattern in a light grey color. Each pad is 3.5″x5.5″ and includes 48 pages and bright yellow card stock covers.

The pads will fit easily into NockCo’s Maryapple and Hightower folios with easy access to your notes without removing the pad to write your notes.

NockCo DotDash Pocket Notebook

NockCo DotDash Pocket Notebook

On the inside of the back cover is the printing information. These are first editions, for what its worth.

NockCo DotDash Pocket Notebook

In writing tests, most of the pens I tried wrote well on the smooth stock. There was a little softening on the wider nibbed fountain pens but no true feathering or splining (you know, those shoots of ink caught by the fibers in the paper that often happen in Moleskines?)

NockCo DotDash Pocket Notebook

From the reverse, there’s some show through mostly with the fountain pen inks. In a flip pad though, the likelihood of writing on the reverse side of the paper is pretty slim. I sort of wish the pages were perforated to make it easier to remove pages.

NockCo DotDash Pocket Notebook

Overall, I really like these pads. I do hope that there are other colors offered for the covers in the future. The bright yellow is fun but other colors would be fun.

Now…

THE GIVEAWAY: I have an extra set of three DotDash notebooks available to giveaway. Leave a message in the comments and tell me what color covers you’d like to see next (or if you love the yellow ones) to be entered to win.

FINE PRINT: All entries must be submitted by 10pm CST on Tuesday, January 13, 2015. All entries must be submitted at wellappointeddesk.com, not Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook, okay? Winner will be announced on Wednesday. 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. This giveaway is open to all readers.


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

 

Review: Super5 0.5mm Italic Stub Fountain Pen

super5 fountain pen in black

I recently purchased the new Super5 0.5mm stub nib fountain pen in black on a whim. I have some 0.6mm stub nibs pens from Nemosine and my beloved Esterbrook Falcon is about that width as well so I was looking forward to trying another pen with this diminutive stub. My handwriting is small and being left-handed, any stubs larger than a 1.1mm don’t always make proper contact with the paper for me or cause all my letters to fill in so finding that sweet spot in the stub category is pretty limited. And since the Super5 is just $27.95, how could I not give it a try?

super5 nib close-up

Super5 is a relatively new entry into the fountain pen, at least in the US. From the photos on Goulet Pens, the pens look kind of plastic-y but in reality, the pen feel surprisingly sturdy. ON the scale, filled and capped it weighs 24g and 19g uncapped. That’s right between a Lamy AL-Star (22g) and the Lamy Studio (28g) so its a pretty solid pen. It turns out the grip area is metal which gives it solid weighting to the tip. The body and cap are plastic but the clip is also metal. So overall, its not as low-budget as I might have expected.

The clip seems solid and the pen snaps closed tightly with a click. The overall shape is a long tapered bullet which in not unappealing but the plain black with a big logo on the side doesn’t make it my favorite pens to look at. Then again, a Pilot G-2 is a great writer and is an ugly pen. So, looks can be deceiving.

super5 writing sample

In writing, I had no issues with this pen at all. I loaded the blue ink cartridge that shipped with the pen (a standard European short cartridge in blue) and started writing. It wrote smoothly with the lightest of touch in all the wonky angles that this lefty uses.

I miswrote that its a 0.6… Super5 = 0.5mm, at least for now. It sort of reminds me of a medium sized nib without the iridium tip roundy-ness. I get a nice mix of thick and thin stokes rather than an overall roundness in a regular medium nib.

super5 writing close-up

If you’re looking for a new kind of nib at a reasonable price, this is not a pen to be overlooked. Its performance is excellent even if its overall aesthetics wouldn’t win a beauty contest.

Word.Notebooks: Polygons and Indigo

Word. Notebooks in polygon and indigo

Back in 2013, I reviewed the Word.Notebooks but have not spent much time with them since. The original assortment in Camo, Orange and Kraft colors didn’t inspire much loyalty from me but when I saw the indigo series and the polygon series, I was moved to gives these more consideration. I liked the look of the indigo and polygon books and they seemed to be doing something different from Field Notes.

I’ve also recently started to employ the Bullet Journal system to my to-do lists and notetaking so the Word. Notebooks seemed like a good fit since they use a checkbox-and-line layout on the pages.

Word. Notebooks indigo

The indigo series includes two Japanese asanoha pattern books and one indigo dotted polygon design.The covers of these books are kraft colored cardstock with a navy indigo and opaque white litho printing.

Word. Notebook Polygon

The polygon design books are available in 3-packs of either orange, blue or grey or a mixed pack of one of each. I went with the mixed 3-pack so that I could experience all three color options. The colors in this set remind me of orange sherbet, ice blue mints and milky tea. These covers are printed on bright white cardstock making the colors pretty bright instead of the traditional kraft coverstock.

Word. Notebooks comparison

Inside both books feature the same lined paper in bright white with light grey lines and the Word. Notebook bullet system. There is a key to their notetaking system on the inside cover though I’m inclined to integrate the Bullet System iconography instead. The lining is light enough to be useful without being distracting.

Word. Notebooks polygon paper Word. Notebooks indigo paper

As mentioned in my previous review, the Word. Notebooks do a decent job with most regular pens and writing tools. Fine line fountain pens don’t feather or bleed too badly, there’s slight showthrough but not too bad. With pocket notebooks, there can be a trade-off between price and portability versus fountain-pen friendliness. To get paper that is fountain pen friendly is to either increase costs, dry time or thickness which reduces the portability and quickness of using a pocket notebook.

That said, overall, the Word. Notebooks are a pleasing option for a pocket notebook. If you are looking for a book specifically for lists, its a win-win.

Three-packs of Word. Notebooks are available for $9.99 per set from their web site.

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: Pilot Custom 74 Fountain Pen (F Nib)

Pilot Custom 74

There have been a lot of sturdy little boxes that entered my life in the past couple of weeks. Let’s just say that the Pen Addict Podcast Annual Gift Guide episode was hell on my wallet.

Pilot Custom 74

Inside the simple paper sleeve with the big P logo on it was a clear window box so that I could marvel at my new Pilot Custom 74 fountain pen before I could even touch it. I purchased the clear demonstrator model with the fine nib during one of Pen Chalet’s epic discount sales.

Pilot Custom 74

The packaging was sturdy without being ostentacious which seems appropriate for a pen like this.

Because most of the pen is plastic, its quite light overall. Its just 15gms filled and uncapped and 24gms posted and filled. I found the pen comfortable to use unposted at 5″ long. With the cap posted, the pen is almost 6.5″ long which is a little unwieldy for me. Its not a particularly wide body so I think its a good option for people with smaller hands or looking for a pen comparable in diameter to a Sharpie marker. The Custom 74 might be a smidge wider than a Sharpie but you get the idea.

Fountain Pen Weights

Pilot Custom 74

The pen feels quite sturdy but I wonder if the demonstrator clear is not as pricey looking as it could be. When my husband saw it, he said “You paid how much? It looks like a $20 pen!” I think Mike’s blue one looks a little fancier than the clear. I did explain that really what I paid for was the 14K nib but it would be nice if it actually looked like a higher tier pen. That said, let’s talk about the performance.

Pilot Custom 74

I immediately filled the pen with Kaweco Paradise Blue using the CON-70 converter that shipped with the pen. Its an unusual cartridge converter that somewhere between a vacuum mechanism and a push-button system. I’ve never had a converter like it. To see it in action, check out Brian Goulet’s video on filling a CON-70.

There is lovely etched filigree on the nib and it looks very fine indeed. The nib alone looks like  a million bucks.

After a less-than-stellar experience with the Pelikan M205 with the gold nib that Mike loaned me, I was a little concerned that the gold nib on the Pilot would be equally underwhelming. Boy, was I in for a surprise!

Pilot Custom 74

On my standard Rhodia test paper, it writes like buttah. I felt so relieved! The Paradise Blue ink shaded nicely even with the narrow fine nib. And it is fine, but because there is a little spring in the nib, I get a little line variation too.  I am definitely starting to understand why this is such a popular pen.

Pilot Custom 74

This sample above was written in my standard, over-handed left-handed writing method. Looks good but I wanted to try to flex this a little bit which required trying a more “under handed” method… and by that, I mean I needed to change my writing position and work from below the line I’m writing on.

Pilot Custom 74

I was able to get some pleasing shading with just a little bit of pressure. I did not flex a lot since this is not really a flex nib pen per se and I didn’t want to break the tines. Overall, the ink color is darker for me when writing from below the line but the smoothness was the same. With a darker ink, I think I wouldn’t notice much color difference between overwriting and underwriting.

I’ve been loving this pen. I’ve used it all week on office paper, in my Leuchtturm1917 notebook, on Rhodia paper and pretty much anything else that passed in front of me this week. The fine nib even held its line cleanly on cheap office paper which was awesome. Its a great introduction to 14K nib modern pens and has restored my faith in 14K nibs for sure.

Pilot Custom 74

Review: Rotring 600 0.5mm Mechanical Pencil

Rotring 600 0.5mm mechanical pencil

During the whole Black Friday hullabaloo, Jet Pens had a special offer for some of the Rotring Mechanical Pencils. It was an offer too good to pass up as I’d always wanted to see what all the fuss was about so I went for it.

The Rotring 600 0.5mm mechanical pencil ($33)  came in a taste, simple black, triangular, cardstock box with the Rotring logo stamped in red and white foil on the end. When I pulled the tabs on the bottom of the box the whole thing unfolded. Good packaging and yet not over-packaged. Totally recyclable box too.

Rotring 600 0.5mm mechanical pencil

Inside was the matte black finish version of the classic mechanical pencil. Initially, I was worried that the pencil would look and feel too masculine, too tactical but when I held it in my hand was when it all became clear. The knurling on the grip is super fine so it did not feel harsh or prickly, just slip resistant. And the pencil is spectacularly well-balanced. It did not feel excessively heavy and yet it felt sturdy and solid. The Rotring 600 is an all-metal body as opposed to the less-expensive 500 model ($18) which features a plastic body but metal grip and cap.

By pulling the click button on the end out and twisting, I can change the lead hardness label to an assortment of common sizes (HB, B, 2B, 2H, etc). This is the reason to have more than one — one loaded with a softer lead and one loaded with a harder lead. Win win!

Rotring 600 0.5mm mechanical pencil

The 600 is the lesser expensive version that does not feature a retractable tip. The Rotring 800 has a retractable tip but I decided to start with the lower priced model and see if I liked the pencil before I considered upgrading to the retractable 800.

The tip has a short thick support that is part of the body of the pencil in black plus a longer-than-usual tip sleeve that creates the feeling of having exposed a good deal of lead without actually needing to have that much lead out. This eliminates the likelihood of breaking the fine 0.5mm lead.

Rotring 600 0.5mm mechanical pencil

The lead the pencil shipped with was a smooth HB grade and made the writing experience a pure joy. The feel of this pencil in the hand is really extraordinary. I get why this is such a coveted tool.

I completely forgot that under the click button is a teeny tiny eraser. But really, pairing a Black Pearl with the black Rotring 600 is the classy way to go.

The Rotring 600 is available in 0.35mm, 0.5mm and 0.7mm lead sizes and replacement knurled grips ($11.50 each) are available so its possible to change the lead capacity of your pencil without having to buy a whole new pencil.

Review: Kaweco Sport Skyline Fountain Pen in Black F Nib

Kaweco Skyline Black F nib

The Kaweco Sport Fountain Pen is one of my favorite tools. With the introduction of the Skyline series this year featuring silver hardware, its rocketed to the top of a lot of lists for good quality, reasonably priced fountain pens.

Of the Kaweco Sport Skyline fountain pens, the black model is the most classic of the three colors currently available.

Kaweco Skyline Black F nib

The logo on the cap, the end cap and the nib are all silver tone but all maintain the looks of the classic Sport line.

Kaweco Skyline Black F nib

I got the fine nib model and it features the same scroll work etching on the nib that is on other models of Sport fountain pen. It really is a lovely nib, especially at the price.

Kaweco Skyline Black F nib

In writing, the Kaweco Sport Skyline in Black performed as expected. Ink went down easily from the first fill and the nib is smooth. Since its a steel nib, its not the most flexible nib in the world but for everyday writing, its a great option.

I received the Skyline in black within days of losing my Guilloche 1930 model Sport. While not the same pen, the Skyline in black did fill a gap in my heart.

Kaweco Skyline Black F nib

If you’ve never tried a Kaweco Sport fountain pen, the Skyline series is a great place to start. Prices for the Skyline series start at about $25 with the EF nib selling for a few dollars more.


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.

Review: Conklin Duragraph Cracked Ice Fountain Pen (F Nib)

Conklin Duragraph Cracked Ice

Inside this large paper board box is a reasonably priced fountain pen treasure.

Conklin Duragraph Cracked Ice

After removing the outer shipper, there is a matching leatherette box of epic size… the suspense and tension builds.

Conklin Duragraph Cracked Ice

Opening the spring-loaded lid reveals a white satin bed that reminds me of a coffin but contains a beautiful Conklin Duragraph fountain pen in the Cracked Ice finish. Tossed into the coffin is a plastic baggie with two standard international cartridges filled with blue ink.

Conklin Duragraph Cracked Ice

Once I disposed of the coffin box, I finally get to see the Duragraph in the cracked ice finish in all its glory. It reminds me of tumbled stones with glossy black caps and silver hardware. So pretty!

Conklin Duragraph Cracked Ice

I got the fine nib with the expectation that Conklin uses the European nib sizing. The nib looks pretty fine! Engraved on the nib is “Conklin Toledo USA” and a tiny “F” on the side of the nib. Its a stainless steel nib and it does not have much flex to it.

I was able to get a two-tone fine nib which are currently out of stock at Goulet Pens. There is a black fine nib available or a two-tone medium. The 1.1mm italic stub option is available in silver tone.

Conklin Duragraph Cracked Ice

The cap will post on the end of the pen but it makes it very long — 7 inches!

Conklin Duragraph Cracked Ice

Upon opening the pen, I discovered that a standard cartridge converter was included with the pen. Pretty impressive for a pen that cost a mere $44.  I filled it with some Kaweco Caramel Brown ink which I thought might look coordinated with the exterior of the pen.

Conklin Duragraph Cracked Ice writing sample

When I put the nib to paper I was totally blown away. Its a smooth, fine writer — finer than most European/USA nibs and there is a sharpness to the nib that gives it a slight italic quality, even at this fine nib size.

Fountain Pen Weights

Capped and filled, the Duragraph weighs a substantial 26gms. Uncapped, it is just 15gms which is just slightly heavier than a posted Kaweco Sport. For me, pens under 20g,s are the most comfortable so the Duragraph is definitely in the sweet spot and being 5 inches unposted makes it long enough to be useable for me.

Conklin Duragraph Cracked Ice Writing sample

The Duragraph is definitely one of the best pen surprises of 2014. The price point is perfect for a gift, the nib sings and the looks are top notch. This is a pen that you should definitely add to your wish list and maybe even pick up one for a friend or family member. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

The Duragraph is also available in Amber and Forest Green and nib sizes are fine, medium and 1.1mm italic. I will definitely be ordering a Forest Green model too.

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!

 

retrakt-tu-tone11

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!)

retrakt-tu-tone13

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.

Book Review: Kind Regards: The Lost Art of Letter-Writing

Kind Regards: The Lost Art of Letter-Writing

While I’ve been under the weather, I’ve been catching up on my back log of reading, including Kind Regards: The Lost Art of Letter-Writing by Liz Williams. Its a pretty book with short pieces about the history of letter writing as well as common references, quotes, books and movies where letters feature prominently and other tidbits about our favorite paper missives.

“Letter writing is the only device for combining solitude with good company.” – Lord Byron

This book is definitely for the letter enthusiast though it will not probing new information on the subject. As a gift to a young person, it might spur them to start writing but does not necessarily provide compelling analysis or deep investigation about the topic. Kind Regards is written in short blubs, often less than a page, which makes it easy to thumb through or read an entry or two over coffee in the morning.

Williams clearly loves the written word and provides enough interesting facts to inspire me to tackle that pile of incoming correspondence again. If you’re looking for a little something to nudge you back on to your letter-writing path, then Kind Regards: The Lost Art of Letter-Writing might be the ticket.

Ka-Week-O! Review: 14K Gold BB Nib

Kaweco 14K Gold BB Nib

Have you heard about the new 14K gold nibs available from Kaweco? Ooh la la! I got the chance to try out the BB, double broad nib. By eye, it looked like a stub nib, wide and flat but when I put it to paper, it created a wide soft line. Not hard edged at all.

Kaweco 14K Gold BB Nib

The ink just poured out of this nib. It really was quite wet and super smooth. There’s a little bit of a spring to the nib but as you can see from the writing sample, it doesn’t actually flex. I suspect it has as more to do with the overall broadness of the nib than how flexible the gold nib is. I’ve never used a BB nib before. It was a lot of fun but with my small writing, it might be a bit too much nib for me.

Kaweco nib size sampler

As I was testing all these Kaweco pens this week, I was able to compare the line widths of all the various Kaweco nibs I had on hand. I have almost the full gamut available (just missing a B and the calligraphy nibs). I’ve often commented that there is very little difference that I can see between the Kaweco steel EF and F nibs and, from the sampler page, I think that stands true. It also makes it abundantly clear how much wider and darker the BB 14K nib is.

The BB nib I received is a full unit, not just the nib so, out of the box, its designed to fit onto the higher-end Kaweco fountain pens like the AL-Sport, Luxe Sport, Special, Allrounder, Elegance, Student or the Dia2. It could probably be wiggled out of the housing to fit into a standard Sport but since its a nib that will retail for around $100, is it really something you’ll add to your $25 Sport?

The 14K nib is available in the full range of sizes: EF, F, M, B and BB. There is a two-tone version available in M only.

Overall its a gorgeous nib and speaks to Kaweco’s commitment to advancing their pen line, staying true to its historical roots and listening to the numerous requests of its loyal users. And that makes me very happy.


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.

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.

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