Review – Bic Cristal Bold

Bic makes a lot of pens, and the Cristal is one that everyone knows about. It’s a staple of the modern world: an admittedly cheap pen that can be, and is, used by everyone. But most of the time you find the medium version (or a fine if you’re either lucky or unlucky). And those have many of the problems we associate with ballpoints. And when one is running a business or doing art, sometimes it’s more important that the pen write on the first try, and write smoothly, than have a thin line. That’s where the Bic Cristal Bold 1.6mm pen that we’re looking at today comes in.

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The body is a simple as can be: a translucent piece of hexagonal plastic with key info on the side. The base of the ball point is plastic, while the tip itself is metal. The cap is a single piece with an integrated clip that works, but isn’t the best. The cap’s only real function is to prevent the pen from marking things when set down.

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But the real thing here is the tip, which is much wider than usual Bic ballpoint tips. Bic says that it is an “easy glide” pen. And I’d agree that that is the case. The ink is super smooth, and requires very little pressure once it gets going. After pushing down for a little bit, the pen, in my experience, will be writing perfectly a quarter of the way into the first letter, so not perfect startup, but good for a ball pen. After that it’s smooth enough to write cursive easily. There are a few points where the ink breaks up, and those are unsightly, but with a little hand control they can be covered up nicely. Like most ballpoints it’s suitably waterproof. And while the pen and packaging say it’s 1.6mm, Id’ be much more tempted to say it’s simply 1mm.

Really, it’s a great little pen, and not very expensive. If you’re looking for a cheap way to get a smoother (and partially less globby) writing experience, I’d say this is the direction to go first. They don’t match liquid ink pens of any type, but they certainly do work quite well and are convenient, having replaced most of my other ballpoints right now.

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Review – Pilot BP-S Medium

For quite some time, pen companies have been trying to come out with the “superior” ink. And many succeed in varying ways. Every ink has its benefits and faults. The Pilot BP-S (which I can only assume stands for “better pen” as it uses the “better” refill) claims to have a “revolutionary” ink (perhaps when it was first made) that is very smooth and writes the first time. But all my quotation marks just make me a skeptic. Let’s look at the pen.

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The body of the pen looks like a hyped-up Bic Cristal. It’s got a similar hexagonal shape, with a black end cap that screws off for easy refilling (with the Pilot better refills). The body is clear with a minor amount of information physically molded into it. It’s enough to tell you what you’re using. The grip is series of tiny ridges that lead all the way to the metal cone tip, and are surprisingly grippy compared to the rest of the pen. The refill in this model is medium, and it comes out a ways beyond the cone. The cap is nothing to write home about, though it does have a flat surface for easy removal, which is nice.

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On to the writing. I can tell you for a fact that no pen that isn’t liquid ink will write the first time every time, but this one comes close. It does take some pressure to start, usually, and a more constant pressure to continue writing than a regular ballpoint, but the overall experience is smoother. With the right amount of pressure, the ink comes out in a consistent line, and with a little let up, a serviceable one with a few gaps. Neither of these options are more strain on the hand than a regular ballpoint. The ink is black, most of the time. Sometimes it’s more of a cool dark grey. And that’s fine for any office setting, though not really for art. It is also smudge-resistant and water-resistant, like most ballpoints, so it will survive a spill as long as the paper does.

Overall it’s a good pen. Perhaps it was better comparatively when it was first introduced. It is nothing terribly special, but it is superior to standard ballpoint offerings from most major companies. Again, just slightly. If a ballpoint is the perfect writing or art utensil for you, but it just isn’t quite smooth enough, these are probably worth a look. They certainly don’t cross over into the realm of feeling or acting like another type of pen, which unfortunately tends to happen with these “smooth” inks.

Review – Zig Millennium 005 Technical Pen

There are a lot of technical pens out there, and I’ve only looked at a few. Today I’m going to try and remedy that a little bit by doing a review of the Zig Millennium technical pen, specifically the black 005 version.

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The pen body is a bit odd. The bottom is a small, rounded piece of plastic. The barrel is silver and covered in writing. All necessary information is printed in several languages. The cap is nothing really special either: the top is flat with the tip size on what looks like a black plastic cutaway; the clip is simple, with a rounded end similar to a Pilot Precise or Uni-ball Vision. Interestingly enough, it says to keep the pen horizontal, but gives one a pocket clip. It’s the section of the pen that’s strange: it’s very small and nubby, it rounds off quite quickly and the ridges used to keep the cap in place are quite noticeable. It terminates rather abruptly into a metal end that leads to the tip. I’m not sure if one is supposed to hold the slightly uncomfortable section when writing or move back on the pen and place the fingers over the written portions of the pen, which I can feel the ink is raised up on, and will likely rub off quickly.

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On to the tip. It produces a very thin line, around the same width, but perhaps a bit wider than other brands of the same size, though that may just be the paper being used. The ink is archival quality (haven’t tested) and waterproof (have tested, is quite!) though that is to be expected from a pigmented ink. The black is quite black, and a cool black, which is nice, as many blacks tend to be warm. Writing is smooth and there are no skips or bumps with a good tip, though it will wear out after some time.

Overall it’s a good little pen, and quite comparable to the other technical pens in terms of both quality and price. I can’t speak for whether or not the rest of the line is wider than its counterparts from other brands, but that might be something to consider when purchasing. Otherwise, I’d say it’s almost entirely an æsthetic and comfort choice for the user.

Review – Pentel Handy-Line S Permanent Marker

I personally don’t have much use for permanent markers, but quite a few people do, especially for the “fine” tipped ones like Sharpies. But regular permanent markers are kinda boring. Today I won’t be looking at one of those, but at a more interesting Pentel Handy Line S.

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The pen body is kinda ugly. It’s a very straight-cut tube in black, with lots of logos and text on it (though I have seen worse text on many items). The overall design is boxy. Up near the top is a very positive clicking mechanism that feels quite robust. The click it gives off is super satisfying, as well. The clip is nothing really special. It is a bit sharp and might tear cloth, but it won’t break. Interestingly enough, there is a mechanism underneath the clip that will disengage the clicking mechanism when the clip is moved away from the barrel, meaning that if you do put it in a pocket it will automatically retract, which would hopefully save one from some of the mess that would cause. The rest of the barrel is straight and black, with some writing. There is a slight curve before the retractable point, which has a nice cover that blends in with the pen to keep the marker tip from drying out.

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The writing is quite black: I’d say slightly warm but not to noticeably so. The pen is a bit dry when it is just beginning to write, but that is quickly worked through. I will admit that I haven’t given it the most rigorous testing possible, but the ink is suitably permanent. It doesn’t smear or feather when exposed to water, and writes on many different surfaces. The ink also has a very peculiar smell that is like no other marker I’ve used, though I probably shouldn’t sniff it regularly. The body of the pen says it’s refillable as well, though I can’t for the life of me figure out how that would work, but it’s cheap enough to replace.

Overall, for a retractable permanent marker, I’d say this one hits the nail on the head. It works well in all places and has no glaring flaws. It isn’t that expensive and can be used for all sorts of things. Whether or not the features make it worth tracking one down is up to you.

Review – Up&Up Double-Sided Tape

Well, you can call me out of ideas again (but not Shirley). I’m going to be looking at tape. This time it’s the type of tape you never realize how much you need until you get some, and that’s double-sided tape. Specifically, from the brand Up&Up.

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The container is nothing special, it’s thin and plastic-y, but still flexible. The teeth are solid, and do a good job of cutting the tape. Everything is cheap but everything works on it. The tape can also be taken out and used in a different dispenser, though it is slightly thinner than regular Scotch tape and one must be careful to have it not stick to the inside of the dispenser.

The tape itself is good. The sides both stick strongly, and equally so. The tape itself is stronger than the adhesive, so it will come off before breaking. It is fairly pliable but it loses its adherence fast, so nothing that moves a lot, or will be handled, will be stuck for very long with the stuff. But really it’s for posters and scrapbooking, and for that it works superbly. It is quite transparent, but that only really matters if the things you’ll be sticking on both sides are transparent as well.

In the end, it’s good tape. It might be slightly below Scotch tape (in my opinion), but really not enough to tell. For any of its main uses it will serve well, and double-stick tape is really useful.