Review – INC PenMark Permanent Markers

As someone who bolts to the stationery section of every store I enter, every once in a while I just have to dive into one of the budget options there (I say that like cheap crap isn’t something that I have innumerable piles of). And if you do this at Dollar General you’re very likely to end up with something made by INC, a brand I’ve looked at before that produces writing utensils that function. Is their current foray into permanent markers, the PenMark, any good?

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The bodies are a simple design. The body is a cylinder with a foil label that has minimal information printed on it. The cap mostly continues this cylindrical motif until its end, when it slants off at a slight angle. The clip is plastic and unsurprisingly molded into the cap (for safe keeping). At the other end there is a hexagonal step-down for posting, which the cap nicely clicks onto. Underneath the cap is a series of 3 step-downs that lead to a metal tube with a small, stiff felt-tip.

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The performance is as to-be-expected. They smell like permanent markers, and the line stays like permanent markers. The ink causes a lot of bleeding and feathering, even on high-quality paper; the result is a line considerably thicker than the “ultra fine point” stated on the package. The colors are all pleasant and readable, with the exception of yellow, which is, like most yellow, essentially useless, and they do stick to the paper and remain vibrant once applied. Water has no discernable effect on the markings, but alcohol does start to break down the dye/pigment. The lines will break down and feather under regular rubbing alcohol, and bleed through increases tremendously, but during my tests the lines actually remained legible.

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If you’re looking for an assortment of permanent marker colors on the cheap, these technically fulfill that requirement. The bodies are cheap, the nibs are brittle, the ink bleeds and is more-than-likely not archival quality. But they provide a mark that is suitably permanent on household materials (paper, tin cans, and plastic containers; they will fade, but they will leave behind a water-resistant mark) in a skinny, portable body which fits anywhere your average pen will, with a clip that holds them in place.

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Review – Sharpie Mini

I really like Sharpies, and I have talked about them a few times before. There’s a reason they’re so popular, and as they continue to become more used they are diversifying their product range. One such product that came out a while ago is the Sharpie Mini, which is, as the name would imply, much shorter than the average Sharpie.

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It has the same starting and ending diameters as the regular sized Sharpie, with an extra part on the tip that snaps on with a lanyard “ring” (triangle). Both the cap and body have been reduced in size, but proportionally the cap is larger. The clip is very similar, but shorter, and works well enough but not fantastically. The necessary information is still printed on the side.

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The size is quite small, at 3 and 11/16ths inches capped, down from a standard Sharpie’s 5 and ½ inches. Most people would find the uncapped marker uncomfortable to hold without posting, and it’s still only tolerable when it is. The odd shape of the cap and grip make it strange to hold. The rest of the writing is all the same as a regular Sharpie, with a cool black line, very permanent but not perfect (archival) qualities, a nice tip, fast drying, and the ability to smoothly put down a ton of ink.

There’s not much more to say than that they’re smaller Sharpies. And if you like Sharpies but want a more portable option, here it is. The only downsides are they are somewhat awkward to hold, and have less ink. I personally didn’t like the lanyard ring, but that just pops right on and off, so it’s no problem. I have Sharpies around with me a lot because they’re so versatile, and this is a great little thing to decrease their needed carrying size with.

Review – Sharpie Colors Part 6 – Orange, Peach, And Yellow

And now, it is time for the final (for now) part of my look into the various colors of Sharpie markers (that I own). This section isn’t quite a “nice” as the others as I didn’t have another place to put the yellow that seemed appropriate, and there aren’t many oranges. Nevertheless, let’s take a look.

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Orange – The standard orange is, like all standard Sharpie colors, quite dark. It doesn’t quite resemble the fruit enough for most renderings but is close enough. It’s not too bad on bleed-through, feathering, or shading. It’s well behaved, just not that useful.

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Peach – Peach doesn’t quite look like a peach either. It’s more of a weird skin tone. But it is perhaps a bit more natural looking than the orange. It’s pretty bad on bleeding and feathering, with shading being noticeable. But it is pretty so if you like the look you might be able to find a use for it.

Yellow – And finally yellow. It isn’t something really spectacular. It is indeed stereotypically yellow, without much of a natural bent. It is hard to read in the dark and bordering on eye hurting in the light. It bleeds through, but feathering and shading are minimal. I would struggle to find a place for it due to its unnatural hard-to-read-ness but if yellow is your thing, it certainly gets it done.

And that’s the last set of the Sharpie colors that I have. It’s probably the most lackluster set (figuratively. Literally would be the neutrals). I would struggle to find a place either in art or at the office for them, but they do help round out any personal collections and would make eye-catching signs I guess.

Most of the Sharpie colors are more useful, though. The set I have would work both in the artistic and office realm. And it offers a large enough selection of colors to keep most people happy.

Review – Sharpie Colors Part 1 Neutrals – Black, Brown, Slate Gray

I’ve taken a look at several of Sharpie’s products in the past, from their regular markers to pens and liquid pencil. But their main product comes in a large variety of colors I have not yet covered. I received a gift of a set of 24 Sharpie pens some time ago, but haven’t looked at them until now due to the fact that I didn’t know what the colors actually were. Sharpie and several other well-known pen brands are notorious for not having their colors easy to identify, so this series took more research than usual. I will say that I might not have identified all of the colors correctly, so if you see something that seems like it has been misidentified here, please leave a comment and I will reevaluate it.

With that said, let’s get to the pens.

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The first set I’m going to look at is the neutrals. There are only a few, which makes sense. But these are some of the most useful: they show on many surfaces, are not an eyesore in general, and are workplace appropriate.

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Black – Black is the gold standard Sharpie color (except for the actual gold ones) and it is very good. It is quite dark and professional. It does have a tendency to shade as most dark inks do, but if gone over a second time there are no problems. It’s pretty waterproof (they all are so I won’t mention that again), has almost no spreading or feathering, and is tied for the least show/bleed-through with navy. It’s a great, well writing color, but it can be a bit dry.

Brown – Next is brown, a color that doesn’t seem that popular (but I’ve ended up with a few, take that as you will). It is a very dark brown, distinct from black in even poor lighting, but it looks more like a gray in that case. It is also fairly dry, and thus feather- and bleed-resistant, though not as much as the black. It’s good for sorting, but not for art, really.

Slate Gray – I don’t know where the trend of having “slate gray” be standard gray started, but it continues here. This is a “just over the dark line” gray. It’s not a very natural color, and isn’t even something you’d really see in a city. It is very wet and really does feather and bleed, meaning it’s not the greatest for use on thinner paper. It is almost the same on both sides in that case, and it even goes through card stock a bit. I’d say it holds the title as wettest, and is just a boring color.

And that’s the neutral colors. They’re good for office use, and for sorting things by color, but for art applications they are limited. Next time I’ll take a look at a few of the blues Sharpie offers.

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 – Sharpie Twin Tip Fine/Ultra Fine

I like permanent markers, and Sharpies are some of the best. But there are many situations where the tip of a fine Sharpie is simply much to broad. Carrying around a second sharpie in extra-fine seems like a hassle, or vise-versa depending on which size one uses more. The people at Sharpie (Sanford (Rubbermaid)) must have figured this out at some point and so they now have multiple point Sharpies. Let’s take a look at the Fine/Ultra Fine version.

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The body of the pen is quite like a regular fine-point Sharpie. The cap is slick with a flimsily little plastic clip built in. The body is made out of a similar material and has the necessary information printed on it. Where there would usually be a rounded-off end on a normal Sharpie, there is instead a tiny cap that has a set of spines, and is much easier to grip than the other end. Pulling either cap off reveals a slick section that is nearly identical to regular Sharpie Fines and Ultra Fines. These sections are not quite slippery enough to have the pen fall out of one’s hands during normal usage. The larger cap posts very easily on the smaller one, but in a very well-thought-out design choice, the larger cap has several small studs that allow the smaller cap to in effect be posted. This doesn’t hold the cap in the most secure manner possible, but is better than the alternative of nothing.

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The tips are fairly standard. The Fine is slightly larger than a Micron 08 or about 1mm, the Ultra Fine is about 1/2 mm or about the size of a Micron 05. Both of these are large for standard writing, but for writing on boxes, other large spaces, or some drawing they are superb. The ink is standard Sharpie fare: a cold, deep black (when the marker runs dry it becomes a much warmer color) that covers well, but not the best. It is permanent and run-resistant, it stains clothes and is unpleasant on the skin. It is non-toxic for normal use, but heavily sniffing or eating would be cause for concern. Just be normal with your normal usage.

Is it worth it to get a pen with two tips? Yes, if you find a need for both. I’d suggest going with the fine more often, as the ultra fine tends to dry up faster with its smaller cap. But there is still a good amount of utility there. The thing is easy to use, and works really well. Moving, signing, warehousing, and large art pieces are where these will find their homes. And really, for a nice black permanent marker, there are few that match and none that are better.