Tuesday, December 24, 2013

JetPens Giveaway! (Two Chances to Win)

Before we get into the details of the giveaway, I've included links to my reviews of these items as a little recap of each. I've also included a link to the corresponding product page if you're interesting in picking one up (that and you can enter to win the item outright). 

Pentel EnerGel Tradio

I love this pen, I really do. One thing I can ding it for is that it tends to dry out between uses, so you will receive this, wonder why it's not writing well, and will then remember that I suggested that you write in circles until the ink flows. If you use this pen all of the time, I'm sure it will behave. I dig the retro appearance, including the little submarine window, and you can change out the refill with a few other types of cartridge, so that's a huge bonus.

$9.50 at JetPens 

Pilot Acroball 1.0 Ballpoint, Black

I think the Acroball is hugely underrated, as is the Dr. Grip. I'm not saying the Acroball isn't popular, because it is, but I'm surprised it's not more readily available and talked about. I've said it multiple times before, but I think the grip on the Acroball is second to none. You can get this pen in a variety of colors, tip sizes, as well as a multi pen format.

$2.50 at JetPens

Zebra Sarasa Push Clip 1.0 Gel, Blue-Black

An industry-leading gel pen, and for good reason; this pen is a joy to write with - the ink is opaque and smooth, the ball leaves consistent lines on the page, and this pen is available in loads of different colors and sizes. This blue-black offering was exceptional, by the way.

$2.20 at JetPems

Pilot Frixion Erasable Gel, Black

The Frixion was surprisingly fun to use - and the erasable ink feels a bit spy-like. The fine point wrote very well, and the fairly washed black ink was not undesirable in this case; the grey character of the ink alludes to a lack of permanence (but you can, so I've heard, bring the ink back with cold). I enjoyed this one very muc, and I'd still love to try the Frixion Point, too. 

$3.80 at JetPens

Uniball Jetstream BLX 1.0 Ballpoint, Green-Black

We all know the Jetstream line, but you may not have tried the BLX variant that offers traditional colors, such as green, brown, purple in a combination with black, resulting in professional colors that have a less conventional, fun undertone. As you'd probably expect, this Jetsream wrote very well, and the green-black was a welcomed deviation from my normal color choices. 

$2.60 at JetPens

OHTO Fude Ball 1.5 mm Liquid Ink, Red

If I had a more graceful hand, I'm sure I'd get more use out of this one. I like the pinkish-red color, very romantic. And the 1.5 mm ball a very different experience - like a pin ball on ice (smooth is what I mean). 
I'd like to check out the black, possibly as a good signature pen. 

$2.50 at JetPens

Pilot Cavalier Fountain Pen, Fine (not revewed)

I bought this one and never got a chance to review it. It comes with a converter, too! There's some toothiness that needs correction, and I'd rather not ruin the pen by adjusting the tines too much, so I am passing this one off with the rest of the herd. 

$49.50 at JetPens

Some of these items I received at no charge to review, others were purchased. I'm dong this to both give out some cool goodies, as well as to generate interest in some of these items on JetPens. I'm working on a sponsorship and would like to continue to write honest reviews and send out most of the items I try, so that's why this giveaway is a bit different.

There are two ways you can enter to win:

1. Leave one comment on this post. Please enter a name of some sort so I don't have to announce 'Anonymous' as a winner. This will count as your first entry.

2. Place an order at JetPens and leave a comment with your order number. I don't care if you order something for a dollar, but the order number must be placed as of today or afterward. By commenting with your order number, you qualify for a second entry in the giveaway.

  • Only U.S. residents will qualify for this giveaway. I don't mean to exclude any international readers, but I have read about several instances where people are simply not receiving their packages from international sources, and I don't want anyone to be disappointed if these items are held by Customs. 
  • Entries will be accepted between now and 11:59pm, December 31st. The winner will be posted within a few business days afteward. 

Thanks for reading, good luck, and Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Monologue Ruled Notebooks

Grandluxe was kind enough to send me a variety of notebooks to try (stay tuned for some giveaways), among them being the Monologue line. Shown above are four different sizes, and colors, of the their 'ruled note book'.

As you can see from the information on the back, these are Made in Malaysia. The paper is cream, acid-free, 80gsm. The build quality seems on par with many high-end brands, and the range of colors and sizes available would appeal to just about any taste, so long as you don't mind the format (elastic band, faux leathery-type material, etc.).

I tried a variety of writing implements, and the writing experience was quite nice. There was some feathering with the liquid ink pens, but liquid ink pens almost always feather, which is the primary reason why I tend not to like them, though I love some of the hybrid ink pens that are out there.

As one might expect, the Sharpie was visible on the other side, as were the liquid ink pens. Everything else that I used would allow you to use the other side of the page, though some of you may not mind writing over bleed through like this. I cringe just thinking about that.

For my preferred color preferences, the orange was pretty sweet, and I do like the elastic bands. When I use notebooks like this, I stash cards, coupons, loose paper, under the band. It keeps me organized.

For better or worse, the elastic band is tight enough to make indentations in the cover. I don't think the band is on there crazy tight or anything, and I like knowing that it's secure, so long as it holds up over time. We shall see. 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

OHTO Fude Ball 1.5 mm Red

According to JetPens, the OHTO Fude's application is inspired by the Japanese tradition of writing cards for the New Year, and I can definitely also see using this for Christmas cards and Valentine's Day, editing/markup/corrections or, as I suggested, using it for love notes. :)

The reason for all of this conflicted confusion? That big ol' ball is just as menacing as HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey. It's ginormous, and you can see that it means business. The color it puts down could be a tad darker for my tastes (in my opinion, the color is a bit on the pinkish-red side). 

 The grip is smooth and displays the ink comb/regulator inside. The 1.5 mm designation is proudly displayed on the side of the barrel.

Look at that bubbly red ink - a dramatic appearance for a stick pen. I'm not sure how long the ink in this pen will last, especially given the diameter of the ball, but this pen is also not refillable, which is unfortunate.

 The refined brushed aluminum clip adds contrast to a fairly wild barrel pattern, what with all the diamond shapes and what not. The writing experience was delightful - on Rhodia paper - but a 1.5 mm liquid ink roller ball is not going to play well on all paper, nor will it align with everyone's taste in pens, but it's a unique experience that I think a lot of people will like just because it's so different. I will probably check out the black ink version at some point because it will be a more practical color for my needs.

At $2.50 a throw, it's not necessarily a "must try", but it meets a specific need and is a lot of fun to use. I received this one as a free sample from JetPens, but I always promise to tell it how it is.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Zebra Sarasa Push Clip 1.0 mm Blue Black

The only area where I dinged the Push Clip is in the barrel; at $2.20 a pop, I'm not complaining. Even if I have concerns about long-term durability, I have yet to have one of these fail on me.

Regarding the photography, the blue component of the blue black color may not be evident from the picture, but it's a solid blue black in real life, and I'm quite pleased how the color looks on the page. 

In the realm of gel pens, I'd imagine that the Sarasa line is somewhere in the upper echelon in terms of popularity and, overall, hitting all the right points - it's affordable, available in many different colors and sizes and, most importantly, it provides a very satisfying writing experience.

I'm still trying to get accustomed to the line width in using 1.0 mm pens, and I write small, so my letters often ooze together, but I do enjoy breaking out of my normal .38, .4, .5 range to play with a bold, inky pen. The ink even dried surprisingly well for the amount of ink that seems to be hitting the page - perhaps it's just the opacity of the ink itself. Some gels do not dry quickly even in the smaller point sizes *cough* G2 *cough*, but this one still takes a bit longer than, say, the EnerGel. 

Not only have I not experienced any globbing or smearing with this pen, I haven't stained my pants pockets with the retractable point, which has happened before, and those jeans become yard work jeans.

The defining characteristic of this pen, as the name would suggest, is the clip - it's large, pivots on a spring, can grab larger things than most pen clips, things like clip boards, your Sunday crossword, coworkers, your glasses, etc., which is good, because this is a pen that you want to bring with you places. There's also the Zebra icon indicating the pen is manufactured with recycled materials, an added bonus.

Zebra got it right with the Push Clip, and I'd have no problem recommending this one all day long. I have quite a few of these, my favorites being viridian green, cobalt blue, and brown, in the .4 mm size.

This was a sample sent courtesy of JetPens, where I purchased my other Sarasa Push Clips (they're not as easy to find as many other gels).

Monday, November 4, 2013

Retro51 Hex-O-Matic Giveaway Re-draw!

I didn't receive an e-mail from properiusz, so the new giveaway winner is Comfortable Shoes Studio! Please e-mail me your mailing address within one week to receive your Hex-O-Matic Ballpoint. 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Uniball Jetstream RT BLX 1.0 mm Green Black

I'd venture to guess that most "pen people" have experienced some variation of the Jetstream at this point, but you may not have tried the relatively new 'BLX' model that features ink that is a blend of black with colors like red, purple, and green. 

It's difficult to capture the subtle green component, at least with my proficiency using a camera but, even in person, the exact color is a bit elusive. My fiancee thought that the color might have been a dark blue with hints of grey, but I thought it was a definitely a green component, though it looks blue black in the sample. 

 Shown above, you can see the difficulty that the ball occasionally had in putting ink down on paper. This is an Ampad Gold Fibre Quadrille Notepad, and I guess it's just one of those things one must accept with larger diameter ballpoint tips.

 The overall construction of the pen is excellent for the money. Everything feels solid and long-lasting. I like how the plastic near the top is tinted to an approximation of the ink color. The whole package is professional, modern, and well executed.

The grip area is basic, yet effective, and the barrel shape doesn't restrict how you hold the pen short of the clip occasionally getting in the way.

 The final verdict is that this pen is great in most areas and could use a bit of improvement in the line consistency, but that wouldn't prevent me from giving it a solid thumbs up.

Note: I received this pen at no charge for review.

Retro 51 Hex-O-Matic Giveaway Winner Announced

The winner, with lucky comment #5, is prosperiusz! 

You'll have  one week to e-mail me your address before a new winner is selected. Thank you, everyone, for participating. The turnout was excellent, and I'd also like to thank those of you who shared the giveaway on your social media. Stay tuned for more giveaways soon!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Retro 51 Hex-O-Matic Ballpoint Giveaway

The Retro 51 Hex-O-Matic Review that I did continues to be one of the highest traffic postings to date. It's been sitting on my shelf, and I'd like someone to have it, so I'm going to give it away!

  • Leave one comment on this posting to enter for the giveaway. You are limited to one entry, and duplicate entries are prohibited. 
  • Only U.S. residents will qualify for this giveaway. I don't mean to exclude any international readers, but I have read about several instances where people are simply not receiving their packages from international sources, and I don't want anyone to be disappointed if these items are held by Customs. 
  • Entries will be accepted between now and 11:59pm CST, on Saturday, October 26. I will post the winner at some point over the weekend.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Pilot Acroball, Medium 1.0 mm, Black

Among Pilot's numerous ballpoint offerings is the Acroball, also known as the EasyTouch Pro in the U.S. I reviewed this pen before in the .7 mm verision, and it's still one of the best ballpoints on the market.

Of all of the grips that I've come across, the Acroball is easily among the best. It's grippy, it doesn't limit my preference for holding the pen near the point, and it just feels right.

Pardon the less than stellar pictures. It's extremely difficult for me to knock this pen on anything, with the exception of occasional globbing. Outside of that, there are some spots of white in the line consistency, but I have yet to find a 1.0 mm ballpoint that doesn't exhibit that tendency from time to time. That being said, this is a gel-ballpoint hybrid ink, so it's way smoother than your average ballpoint, and the black ink is also more opaque (less washed out and grey looking that many economy ballpoints).

Though I much prefer the .5 size, I think everyone should try the Acroball, especially if you have finicky notebooks that don't play well with your fountain pens and liquid ink options. JetPens sent this over to me, at no charge, for review.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Random September Giveaway Winner!

The lucky winner of the Random September Giveaway is Webster, with comment # 12. Congrats!

You have until Friday, September 27th to e-mail me your physical mailing address or a new winner will be selected. Many thanks to all who entered, and stay tuned for more reviews and giveaways. :)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

My E.D.C. for September 17th

I know many of you are into E.D.C. or your 'Daily Arsenal', and here is a very common combination for me:

- Pentel Graphgear 1000 .5 mm: Right now mine has Uniball Nano Dia HB or B, and this is easily my #1 favorite pencil. I also love the Kuru Toga, but it doesn't have a retractable sleeve for pocket carry. This pencil feels good in the hand and it's very durable.

Found on JetPens or Amazon

- Uniball Signo DX .38, Black: Time and time again, I come back to this for my primary pen of choice. The performance is insanely good (better than just about anything else for my writing style). I tend to write small, and it uppercase letters, so this really fits in the bill in terms of consistent performance, precise lines, and an overall feel that is hard to believe for a few bucks. Even people I know that don't like sub-micro point (under .5), still love this pen. Oh yeah, and it comes in a range of point sizes and a bazillion colors.

Purchased mine through JetPens

- Doane Utility Notebooks: It's these or Field Notes, and it's been that way for about three years. I don't use fountain pens in either one, because they have porous, fibrous paper, but they take everything else very well. If I'm not using a gel, then it's going to be a pencil or ballpoint (or some new-fangled hybrid ink). The grid + lines format works very well for my writing style and organizational approach.

Can be bought online via doane paper

- Swiss Army Knife, Tinker: The Tinker is great. The things I use most on it are the knives, the bottle opener [beer is good], the Philips head screwdriver, and the tweezers, but there's an awl if you need to puncture some leather. Eh, why not? You can get this thing for under $20, too. You need one, you just don't know it yet.

SAK Tinker on Amazon

- County Comm Pico Widgy Pry Bar: Though it mostly gets used for opening packages, having a pry bar offers, well, the peace of mind that you have prying capabilities on your key chain. How many people can say that? Probably not many, and maybe it's just a cute/manly accessory, but it's also nice for man slivers and the like.

 County Comm Pico Widgy Pry Bar

- FourSevens Mini QAA: It may not be practical for everyone to carry a light, but I like working on computers, I enjoy late night hikes, and I tend to be clumsy at night, so having a dedicated light is always helpful. Sure, you can use the light on your smartphone, but it's nice to have a different source when batteries are low.

My model is discontinued, but you can find a similar version, and many others, at FourSevens.

- Chapstick: I live in Minnesota, and it can go from 80 degrees Fahrenheit to freezing in less than 24 hours, so it's essential here.

What is your E.D.C.?

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Random September Giveaway

It's been awhile since the last giveaway, so here's a random one for you. Each item that is hyperlinked means there's a corresponding review from yours truly. Please share the giveaway with others - your support is appreciated!

TOPS Idea Collective Journal (Amazon)
Uniball Signo RT, Red (available at just about any big box store)
Pentel Vicuna - Purple  (JetPens)
Bic Velocity Gel (available at just about... anywhere)
Uniball Vision Elite, Blue Black (JetPens)
Pilot Frixion Erasable Highlighter (JetPens)

  • Leave one comment on this posting to enter for the giveaway. You are limited to one entry, and duplicate entries are prohibited. 
  • Only U.S. residents will qualify for this giveaway. I don't mean to exclude any international readers, but I have read about several instances where people are simply not receiving their packages from international sources, and I don't want anyone to be disappointed if these items are held by Customs. 
  • Entries will be accepted between now and 11:59pm, September 20th. I will post the winner at some point over the weekend.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Pedigree 600 Series Colored Pencil (Blue and Red) - Empire Pencil Company

One of the reasons for my less-than-frequent posting over the last few months has been because my fiancee and I have been dealing with my father's estate (he passed away in February). On a lighter note, I came across this 2-pack of pencils from what is likely the late 50s or early 60s.

I initially thought he pack was open, but it appears that plastic had just become brittle and was a bit crushed from its years being moved from junk drawer to junk drawer. Though I am less of a pencil guy than some of you out there, I am a sucker for retro items, especially writing ephemera.

At any rate, since the pencils were accessible without destroying the packaging, I slid one out this evening to try it.

 I am not sure how many pencils were made by Pedigree (Empire), and I wasn't able to find much out about the company even. According to a preliminary search, Empire purchased Berol, which was acquired by the Sanford corporation (Newell Rubbermaid), per Wikipedia -> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berol

Using a toothy notebook, I wrote out a few lines, and both sides of the pencil write like a dream. I'm not sure if this was meant for any particular trade (drafting, accounting, etc.), but I could see myself using these without complaint. These are advertised as being like a crayon, and that's exactly what it felt like - a bit waxy, but very smooth, and the consistency was way better than any crayons I've used before.

For their age, these are a sweet. I haven't decided what I'm going to do with these, but I will probably pass them off for someone else to review or include them in an upcoming giveaway.

If you have experience with, or knowledge of, the Empire Pencil Co., please leave a comment!

Pentel Slicci Metallic - .8 mm, Violet

Besides the Uniball Signo and the Pilot Hi-Tec-C, the Pentel Slicci line of gels is one of the most popular options available on the market, and for good reason. Sliccis are available in a range of tip sizes and colors, and the needle point tip is incredibly sturdy. What's more, the writing performance is excellent. Though I have seen the 'Metallic' ink options, I hadn't tried one until this sample was sent over by Pentel. 

I'm not sure if all Sliccis are part of Pentel's Recycology line, but this one is made of 87% recycle plastic - a nice piece of mind if you buy and use a lot of pens and feel like you need to feed your addiction with greener options.

Being metallic, the writing sample was difficult to photograph, and the perceived ink color changes quite a bit depending on the angle and light with which it is viewed. These writing samples were taken today in a Minnesota sunset - your results may vary. 

The bottom line? I can see a lot of people liking the Metallic Sliccis. If you haven't tried a Slicci, make a point to find give them shot. The barrel is a bit thin, but they are worth taking for a spin either way. You may have difficulty finding these in the big box stores, but you can find them online at JetPens.com

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Schneider Xtra 805 .5 Black and Xtra .5 Red

Pen friend Yeswanth kindly sent me these two Schneiders to review, and it's taken me a few months to take them for a spin. 

Assuming you were not able to read all of the writing sample, the bottom line is that these pens do exactly what they were designed to do - reliably put ink on the paper at a low cost. I don't personally love liquid ink pens, the reason being that they typically do quite poorly on cheap paper (feathering, bleeding). Conversely, liquid ink also offers the risk of smudging due to a lengthy drying time on premium papers, and this often holds true for fountain pen inks as well, but I give fountain pens lenience for being older technology. 

As for the Schneider themselves, they are thin, light, needle point pens, and the ink is very bold. The red ink reminds me of Shaeffer Skrip Red, and the black is like any dense, opaque black. 

One big point to note is that the black, 805 version performed much better than the red, and I couldn't discern any major difference in the pens beyond the caps/clips - the red Schneider has a metal clip vs. the all plastic clip of the black (see below). 

I always enjoy trying new pens, and though these don't meld well with my personal preferences, I can see a lot of people loving these pens, much like Yeswanth, who sent these to me, does. If you've tried these, let me know what you think of them.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Pentel Twist-Erase Click .9 Mechanical Pencil

I never thought construction cone/safety orange was a really fun color until I started getting into fountain pen inks and Rhodia products, but now orange is one of my first picks, so I love the look of this mechanical pencil from Pentel.

I'm not sure if I ever owned a .9 mechanical before this one, and I'm still not sure how I feel about something between my beloved .5s and a 2mm lead holder. A .9 is comparable to sharpening a wooden pencil, writing a few lines, and then writing - it's a bit fat for my writing style, but it's perfect for sketching, large notes, and the lead is a helluva lot more resilient to breakage. 

I've been using this one at work to sketch markups for our drafter, who then turns the drawings into CADs (we manufacture medical and industrial carts, primarily). 

One huge different between the Twist-Erase line of Pentel products vs. other mechanical/drafting pencils is the huge eraser. This is by no means an 'emergency eraser', and the refills are easy to find. I didn't get a chance to do a writing/erasing sample, but most of you are familiar with quality erasers, and this one does a pretty solid job (not as perfect as the super premium erasers, but it's priced right). 

I will say that if you are not erasing in the direction the eraser is pointing, e.g., in a circular motion, you may end up twisting the eraser back into the pencil. You can hold onto the collar to prevent this from happening, or you can just erase with the eraser - kinda hard to describe but, if you get one, you'll figure it out.

The mechanism to extend the lead is conveniently placed next to the grip; this is efficient, and I like it. I'm not sure where other people typically weigh in on this, but I find shaker pencils to be a needless amount of spectacle and effort to get a get a pinch of graphite, but maybe it's me that's weird. At any rate, the mechanism on the side is better than a shaker mechanism. :)

I thought the ergonomics on this were pretty comfortable, and I was able to write very close to the point, just as I like it; it makes it easier to write small, which is what I prefer. The build quality is solid, and I thought the clip was adequate. This pencil is part of the Pentel Recycology program and, as such, is made with recycled content, in this case 59% recycled plastic. This is a good pencil.

Retail price is on these is $2.99 and, to fulfill the obligatory disclosure, I received this one at no charge from Pentel. You can see their product page for this at, http://www.pentel.com/store/twist-erase-click-mechanical-pencil-1497