Review – Parker Classic Pen and Pencil Set (GT)

Have your eyes ever glanced over something where you “knew” what it was but had to double take because something was just “wrong” about it? That’s what happened to me when I first came across the Parker Classic pens. I thought they were Jotters, Parker’s very popular, least expensive pen, but something was just… “off”. And indeed it was, after purchasing it and comparing it to my Jotter at home I discovered that it is a bit different (mainly in thickness), but does that improve anything?

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My version (the GT, which I think stands for “gold trim”) is a super simple design. The barrel is a cylindrical piece of stainless steel that screws together in the center. The front third tapers down to a hole, through which the nib protrudes when activated (on the pencil there is a small lead pipe here, extending the length slightly). And the back section of the pen ever so slightly tapers down to the click mechanism. Both the top clicker and the arrow-shaped clip are done in a gold-colored, chrome-like finish, and “Parker – Made in U.S.A.” is very minimally engraved at the separation (on the back half).

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The clip does a very good job, being more detailed but just as strong as the clip on the Jotter, and actually affixed to the metal and not on its own separate (if unremovable) band. The clicks on both the pen and pencil are quite satisfying, the pencil more so because it is slightly shorter (thus having less traveling distance) and more firm (it also has rings near the top to help distinguish between the two in the pocket). Because of its length, the pen one does seem a bit floaty. The pencil’s click button also pulls off to reveal a usable pink eraser (it’s nothing special), and when that is removed, the lead reservoir (for .5mm leads). The design of the pencil here means that the mechanism is fully attached to the front part of the pencil, and unscrewing the back does nothing to hinder the operation (other than making it less comfortable) or allow for any maintenance.

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I haven’t mentioned the ink/lead yet because there isn’t really much to talk about. The black, fine cartridge (standard Parker type) and HB .5mm lead the two come with is exactly as you’d expect. Relatively smooth, almost dark, and mostly break-and-water-resistant. The main difference in handling comes from the size. They are a bit longer than the Jotter, at 5¼” (pen) and 5 3/8” (pencil) long, but it’s really the diameter that makes the difference, being 1/8” smaller at their widest of ¼”. This doesn’t make them much lighter, but it does make them nicer to use for someone like me who likes smaller barrels on their pens, or is trying to store things more efficiently.

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It is an upgrade from the area of 3rd tier pens (like the Jotter, which is above semi-disposable pens, which are above fully disposable pens). It has more refined, nicer feeling, and is just as durable. But it isn’t too much of an upgrade unless you really like the slim dimensions (like me). The fact that it’s apparently been discontinued is a hint at whether or not people really thought it was worth upgrading, but I’m a fan, and at a decent price I think they are serious competition for the Jotter in the pencil case. I’m keeping mine around, and it’ll probably last me a lifetime.

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Review – Pentel EnerGel X Retractable Gel Pen 0.5 Red

Some brands can have very confusing product lines. And in the world of writing instruments, Pentel is great with product and poor with names. Today I’ll be taking a look at the Pentel EnerGel X 0.5 Retractable pen in Red. This is not to be confused with any other pen in the EnerGel line, because they all have completely different bodies, though you’d likely be able to expect the same performance.

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There really isn’t much to say about the body of the pen: it’s a transparent cylinder. The grip kinda works, but it isn’t the best. It’s much more slippery than some other grips. The clip is a bit plastic-y but does its job, although I wouldn’t trust it too much. The click mechanism is nice, solid and loud, nothing wimpy about it. And, strangely enough, the pen unscrews from the top to refill and not around the section.

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The tip of the pen is quite thin. There is a cone, but it stops a ways from the actual point. Writing is quite smooth. Occasionally there is a skip but there are no burps or blobs. The line is quite consistent as well. The red color is quite bright, but manages to not be an eyesore. It isn’t really useful for anything but marking errors or as a distinguishing color, but it does look nice. It is water-resistant, but does smear (though it’s still readable) and I suspect that it would wash almost entirely off after major water exposure.

All in all, I’d say that this is a decent pen. They cost a bit more than similar gel pens, and the writing is a bit better. I’d say it’s definitely a step up writing-wise from a Pilot G-2 but a step down in ergonomics. It’s consistent and smooth line makes it a joy, and if that’s what you want I’d say give it a shot.

Review – Bic Tech Ballpoint and Stylus

Well, sometimes now-a-days art isn’t always done on a physical medium. Tablets, smart phones, and touch-screen devices are becoming more prevalent these days and for artistic purposes your finger isn’t the most precise thing in the world. Fortunately, Bic has a solution for both mediums (maybe) the Bic Tech pen and stylus.

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The barrel of the pen is a fairly standard Bic barrel with a slightly grippy (grip) section, a hole for the ballpoint and a logo. Halfway up the pen is where things get interesting. The top half of the pen is a chrome-colored plastic which I personally don’t like but doesn’t look terrible. Just above another Bic logo in the center is the click mechanism, which is unique in its side mounting. The lever protrudes out to the side sightly, but not enough to really get caught or accidentally pulled. It has a slight curve to it, making it a great finger place and making for easy disengagement of the fingers or caught objects (again preventing accidental usage). I would say my only problem with it is it gets scratches from fingernails far too easily. The clip is absolutely nothing special, in fact it doesn’t even clip, it more just hangs on a pocket or something so that’s cheap. At the top is the stylus which I’ll talk about in just a second.

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The pen itself is nothing remarkable. It does appear to be smoother than a normal Bic ballpoint. But it is almost the exact same shade of unimpressive grey-black as every Bic pen.

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Now on to the stylus, which is the standard stylus end that has been popping up all over the place recently. It works. It is obviously not the most expensive or precise thing but it gets the job done. It is better than a finger, I can tell you that much. I can’t attest to the durability of such things, but I can say that it feels likely to break, though the pen isn’t expensive and by that time you’ve probably gotten your money’s worth out of it.

So what is the Bic Teach pen like overall? Mediocre. It does an alright job at being both a stylus and a pen, but does neither fantastically. But for the money it really shouldn’t. If you’re looking into the prospect of such a device or are on a very slim budget (or possibly don’t care) this might work for you, otherwise I’d suggest looking elsewhere.

Review – Sharpie Liquid Pencil Black

Want the bold line of a pen, but the correct-ability of a pencil? Well, good for you! Erasable pens have moved up leaps and bounds, and Sharpie has one, called the erasable pencil.

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The barrel of the pen is a clear plastic with the branding on it. The grip is a light rubber, but it is more smooth than grippy. The tip is a cone that leads to the tip which is retraceable with a click mechanism. The entire back third of the pen(cil) is the click mechanism, with an eraser and flimsily little clip. Sharpie is written on the clip, but small and indented. The mechanism is cheap, it simply sits on the back and doesn’t fit into place on the back, it wobbles and bounces while one is writing. It makes the pen feel unnecessarily cheap and plastic-y.

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The ink is black, but it is a bit thin and grey, though not nearly as grey as say, a pencil. There is nothing else particularly spectacular about it. It is fairly permanent, but it is less fade- and water-resistant than most inks, because of course it can be erased. And it can be erased. Depending on the thickness of the line it goes away completely, or to such a faint line that it is unnoticeable. It is truly a liquid pencil.

So it doesn’t exactly have the boldness of a pen, but it is more bold than a pencil, and it is erasable like one too. So if you were looking for a happy medium between the two, then look no farther. But if cheap-feeling construction and not-so-bold lines put you off, then I’d suggest looking elsewhere.