Shoplet recently sent me some Office Supplies, and this time we have a variety of BIC products for review. Let's start with the BIC Atlantis Retractable Ballpoint Pen.
In terms of looks, the Atlantis has several features that echo the name - blue, ocean-like color, wavy/wave-like lines, and, in this case, blue ink. Unlike the BIC Crystal, the Atlantis has a grip and a metal clip, which is both more functional and more professional in appearance.
Some of you may not know that Bic is a French company, so it's nice to see that these are actually made in France. The last time I used a BIC Stick Grip, it was made in Mexico, and the quality was horrible.
My favorite feature of the Atlantis is a very comfortable grip that allows me to hold the pen any way I choose. Some writing instruments have grips that prescribe how I should hold it, and I don't like that at all.
BICs are rarely in my part of my pen rotation, but this one wouldn't be bad to have to loan out or keep on in my car. At $.72, I don't have to worry about losing it, but it still writes pretty well. It's certainly better than the last BIC ballpoint I tried, but it doesn't break into the super-smooth category (Pentel Vicuna, Uniball Jetstream, Pilot Acroball). The performance is closer to a Pilot EasyTouch or Fisher Space Pen.
I know BIC has several "green" products, but this is not one of them. It is not refillable, or is it made of recycled content. At any rate, it's a marked improvement from other BIC ballpoints I've used.
This is the BIC for Her Retractable Ballpoint. Full disclosure: I instantly sighed when I took this out of the box. Why? Because the marketing clearly targets women, this pen is apparently not meant for me, which is fine; I really don't like the color or design.
Beyond that, I've read several reviews from some of my female pen blogger friends that feel that this marketing strategy is cheap pandering. Elizabeth, of No Pen Intended, wrote an especially funny review on the Bic for Her Gel Pens.
Take away males and women that don't like the design, and that leaves a very small percentage of potential consumers. It's hard not to imagine this pen being in a princess/Barbie/Hello Kitty-themed room, but I could be wrong...
One design feature that I did like was that the pattern on the upper part of the barrel becomes embossed on the grip and the conical area beneath the grip. Again, not my cup of tea, but it looks interesting.
The pack I received came with two colors, pink and purple. My camera seems to have added more blue to the purple - it looks more purplely in real life.
I was surprised to see that these BICs are made in Japan. Usually that indicates a higher level of quality and writing performance. The build quality is fine, but the writing performance didn't lend itself to a noticeable improvement beyond the BIC Atlantis I tried.
The clicking mechanism was design to be a crown-like, jeweled sort of design. Kind of cool, but it doesn't coincide with my tastes.
I did like the writing seems to be finer than the 1.0 mm tip size would indicate, otherwise the writing experience was fairly typical for a ballpoint. At $2.06, this is an expensive Bic ballpoint, and there was no mention of being refillable or having recycled content.
Next is the BIC Velocity Roller Ball Retractable Gel Pen. I wasn't aware that these existed until I received them, but I am impressed to see a larger variety of formats available from BIC. The appearance of the Velocity is most similar to the Pilot G-2 in that it has a black clip, translucent barrel/ink window, and a black grip. The overall appearance, to me, is quite G-2ish.
Like the Atlantis, these pens are produced in France, as seen on the country of origin embossing in the image above.
The grip works well in terms of providing grip, but I'd prefer if there wasn't a little rubber wall between the grip and the conical section near the tip. It's by no means uncomfortable to hold it so that your fingers are positioned on the conical section, but I write small, so I enjoy being able to get right down towards to the end. Again, not a deal breaker, but a preference.
I was surprised that the pen was a bit drier than other .7 gels, which I initially liked, but I think the pen could benefit from a faster ink flow as skipping occurred fairly often. What's more, the pen is not refillable, which is somewhat surprising for any .7 gel ink pen. That being said, this is one of the most affordable gel ink pens out there at $.77/unit.
The performance was smooth, and I think this pen would be just fine in a pinch, but I'd rather spent a bit more and get more consistency in the lines. Pros and cons, but not a bad offering for the money.
This is the BIC Mark-it Grip Permanent Marker Set. Right off the bat, I thought the look of these was kind of retro, but pretty cool overall. The names are fun, and I like that they have a pronounced grip section; they are permanent, after all, so it's probably best that they don't slip from one's fingers.
The grip is essentially just hard plastic, but the little grooves allow you to hold on to the grip section with less risk of having them slide out of your hands on onto your shirt (or whatever else you'd rather not get permanent ink on).
What I liked is that the colors are bright and very high-contrast. The price is certainly right at less than a buck a piece, but... the good news stops there. These markers are labeled fine, and I have to say that the ink spread out - well, a lot. Once the ink hits the page, even on this Rhodia Reverse Book, the line width doubles as the ink spreads. I'd say these would be good for boxes and those of you that like a super bold line, but I can't imagine why these are labeled fine.
If you want a pack of permanent markers with a few color options, you could do worse. If you actually want to write a fine line, then these are not for you.
Lastly we have the BIC Wite-Out EZ Correct Correction Tape.There are other BIC Wite-Out Correction Tapes out there, but this one is pink for the Susan G. Komen cause to end breast cancer, a cause I am passionate about as several people I care very deeply for have either overcome, or are currently battling with, breast cancer.
It's nice to see that the issue of breast cancer is not represented as empty marketing; BIC is donating funds to help find a cure.
Using the reviews for the different product products I tried, I applied the Wite-Out correction tape to each of the reviews. Unfortunately my results were not always desirable, but I think the performance depends on how slow and carefully the tape is applied.
In this example, there was some bubbling at both sides of the bottom line of correction tape.
Here's a close-up example of what I mean. If you press it down with your finger, it is a little bit better, and it certainly seems better than using liquid correction productions.
On the Velocity sample, you can see that none of the lines beneath are visible, so it works well to cover the content beneath the correction line.
As far as writing on top of the correction tape, the gel was the most consistent, but the ballpoints were the easiest instruments to use. The marker, well, didn't perform very well. I also had an issue with bubbling and some inconsistent tearing, but this was less evident if I used the product with greater care.
Here's an example of using the correction tape quickly. The ends of the tape frequently bubbled, so I'm not sure that this is the best correction product if you are in a hurry.
I do like that you can see how much is left. If you've used other correction tape products, they all look very similar. What sets this one apart is the cause it supports - Susan G. Komen - and that is it more affordable than other correction tapes out there. I prefer Liquid Paper DryLine and Tombow Mono correction tape products personally, but it's nice to have options.
Yep - a bit messy. I think that this would be a great product if it could be applied in a cleaner fashion with less tearing. I may have been hard on the BIC products I tried, but I think there are many excellent products out there to complete against. BIC does well with affordable, accessible products, but there is a way to go to meet the needs of those with discernible tastes.