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.

20140903-000555.jpg

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.

20140903-000600.jpg

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.

Advertisements

Review – Uni-Ball Vision Elite Bold Black, Blue, and Red

When looking at the Pilot Precise two weeks ago, it occurred to me that there might be people who don’t have Pilot pens available, or don’t like them, so I looked into a different set of pens that have similar features. And I found the Uni-Ball Vision Elite Bold, in Black, Red, and Blue.

20140618-005609.jpg

The body and cap are simple and smooth, with a nice white-to-grey fade, a conical top, and a rounded bottom. The clip is metal with a few divots and is very tight. The top of the cap has the color of the ink and there are a few windows below to allow you to see the feed. On the barrel, the brand is stated twice and the model once, but there is no size information. Removing the cap exposes a transparent yet grip-covered feed, and the conical tip to a standard metal roller-ball point.

20140618-005616.jpg

The three inks aren’t too special in properties. The black is a thick, nice color. It is a warm black, fairly formal, etc. The bold line on all of these pens is enough to bleed through on cheaper copier paper, but the ink dries surprisingly fast. The blue is a dark blue, again fairly formal. It’s almost a navy or a blue-black color and it works well in most situations. I’d say it’d even work well for some artistic endeavors. The red is fairly bright and red, but it isn’t eye-hurting. It is a very deep, nice color, but it could still be considered aggressive. It is also good enough to have some artistic potential.

20140618-005621.jpg

The point is nice, and it writes smoothly, especially in the bold I have here. There is a lot of line variation, though, meaning drawing is a bit harder (or easier, depending on how you look at it). Like I said, there is some bleed-through, but not much. The writing is dry almost instantly from when I pick up the pen, which is amazing and leads to a much smoother writing experience.

Overall, the Uni-Ball Vision Elite is a great little roller-ball with quite a few office applications. The colors are nice without being overbearing, and the writing experience is fast and clean. Artistically they are limited, having little line consistency, but on the color side they have potential. They’re a nice set of pens.

 

Review – Pilot Precise v5 Black, Blue, and Red

Times are tough if one wants to write smoothly and precisely on a budget. Technical pens wear out fast, and fountain pens cost money and time to maintain. I use both, but sometimes I just want to write easily and precisely without all of the maintenance and hassle. This is where the Pilot Precise series of pens come in. Today I’ll be looking at the v5 set in black, red, and blue.

20140603-232945.jpg

The cap and barrel are simple and straight. The cap has nothing on it but a simple metal clip that does its job well but can bend easily. The barrel has the necessary info about the product and an ink window so that if ink starts to run low you can get a general idea. Removing the cap shows a transparent section and feed system, which is more for being cool looking than any sort of functionality regarding ink level. At the end of the section is a series of plastic step downs that lead to a metal rolling ball tip. At the bottom of the section is a small clear plastic window that allows one to easily see if there is little or no ink left in the pen. The transparent section and barrel are both a slick plastic, but provide enough surface area that slipping off or letting go of the pen is not an issue.

20140603-232950.jpg

The tips of the pens write fairly smoothly. Older ones get a bit stiffer, but even on the extra-fine v5 they are never scratchy. The rolling ball delivers a nice “precise” line to the paper. Although it does have more variation than a technical pen in width, it has less than a standard ballpoint does, and it doesn’t blob. Like I said, writing is smooth: almost as smooth as a fountain pen, but not quite there. I’d say they are wonderful for writing (especially if ballpoints cramp one’s hands) but are not as good for drawing. Still better than a ballpoint, though.

20140603-232940.jpg

The three colors I have are Black, Blue, and Red: fairly standard colors with a fairly standard execution. The black is a warm black (this is an older pen, and Pilot may have changed formulas. The other two are brand new.) and noticeably less saturated than the thicker v7. The blue is quite dark, darker than most other Pilot inks, and quite work-appropriate. It’s almost a deep water blue, but not quite as dark as, say, Bic blue. The red is bright, bright to the point of being aggressive. Don’t grade papers with it unless you really want to say they’re wrong. It shows up almost from across the room and is quite a contrast to the deep red body of the pen. I’d say it has the fewest practical applications of the bunch. All of these inks are liquid-based and soak into the paper, meaning that they take a bit of moisture to run, but when they do they never stop. The red is the worst in this case.

In the end I’d say simply that these pens are great for writing, and all right for drawing. They aren’t the best but are great and ubiquitous for what they are.

 

 

 

 

Review – Pilot P-500 Rollerball Pen

When I was a kid I loved the stationery section, and office supply stores were like candy stores to me. One day at one of these stores (Office Depot?) my parents bought me a pack of pilot P-700s which I loved and used for almost all of middle school and some of high school until they all got lost or dried up. I liked them so much I only did personal work with them and not any regular school work. Recently I found a P-500 (one size smaller) in a store and decided to see of they were really as good as I remembered.

20140326-015133.jpg

The cap of the pen is clear, with a little black bit in the top.There is a visible small black bit inside to keep it dry. The clip is metal and very tight, it’s got a ball on the end and very easy to slip into a pocket. It has a 0.5 printed on it to denote the size. The barrel has all necessary information printed on it (extra fine). There is a granite texture covering it with a clear end ball. The grip section is ribbed and very grippy for how slick the plastic is. There is a gradual slope to a very thin metal rollerball point. The section is clear making the ink supply visible.

20140326-015140.jpg

The line is an extra fine (0.5mm I’m guessing) and is advertised as being precise, which I have a hard time believing with any gel ink pen. Maybe it’s just my hand, but when writing or drawing with a gel or liquid ink pen everything just slides all over the place. This pen is no exception, though I will say that it puts ink where you tell it to put ink and nowhere else, and does it very consistently.

The inks color is black, almost the same as the pilot G2 black but a little warmer and a little lighter. It is a very good black for almost all writing and drawing purposes. It doesn’t cover well, but who uses an extra fine pen to cover anyway? The ink is very consistent and really nothing special in any of its properties otherwise. It flows as well or better than one would expect from a pen of this price-point.

Overall, these are great pens, both for writing and drawing, but they are not technical pens and cannot replace them for a finished product. They are comfortable to hold and smooth writing. Just better enough than other pens to justify their price. They are a good in-between or starting pen, but not to be used for a finished product.

 

 

Review – Pilot G2 Colors – Black, Blue, Red, Green, and Purple

I don’t believe I have talked about G2 Pilot gel-pens before, I will do a full review later, but first I want to talk about most of the different colors that they come in. I have collected 15, and will split them into three groups, the first of which is the “normal” colors of black, blue, red, green, and purple.

ink tests

Starting with the black: it’s black, there is literally nothing special about it. It is a bit of a warm black, and it goes on smooth. It doesn’t have any magnificent qualities, it is just an all-around black.

Now for the blue, which is a fairly dark but basically standard blue, very similar to the black. It is probably one of the darkest standard blue pens available, and it is a fairly cool blue, like a deep lake. Again, though, it has nothing particularly special to offer.

The red is a medium red, which is a bit different. Most companies go for either an eye-bleedingly light red, or a deep red that is much more pleasant. As far as reds go this is in the middle, but it certainly isn’t neutral. It has no tint of pink, and is most definitively, starkly, red.

The green is surprisingly dark for a standard green. It’s almost a grassy color, and not the light, lime-ish color most other companies associate with green (it’s like the cherry flavor of pens). It is definitely green, but is unoffensive and pleasant. It sticks out, though, making it seem like one of those “replace red because it hurts people’s feelings on grades” pens (I’m no psychologist, so I know nothing about whether that is good or bad, it’s just what I thought of). I think it’s nice.

And finally the purple, which is the black sheep of the normal colors. It is a light, almost violet or deep rose color. It is warm and goes on a bit less smoothly than the other colors here. I really don’t like it, it’s just far too light, and it doesn’t go with the deep other colors at all. It really won’t stick out on a paper either, so it’s just kind of there, it has no natural color akin to it, so it has limited art utility as well.

Overall these are a very good set of office colors, and if you’re just looking for some smooth-writing different colors that aren’t too wacky, I’d look here first. But they do all have limited art potential, so you may want to delve further to get just the right color in that case.

 

 

Review – Pilot Precise v7 Black

Smooth writing is something quite a few people desire, for both writing and sketching. Fountain pens are some of the smoothest writers available, but they have some convenience issues. And regular ballpoints require too much force for some people to write smoothly. Pilot’s Precise line of liquid ink roller balls are meant to fill this gap in the pen market. This is the V7 black version.

20130814-004318.jpg

The pen body itself is straight, nice on the fingers, not slippery, but polished. All necessary info is printed on a label on the side, along with an ink window so you can view your supply, of which there is a lot. There is quite an interesting, fountain-pen-like feed which is clearly visible under the grip. It keeps up well with the writing. From there, there are some strange ribs leading up to an extended point with a rolling ball.

The cap is simple: straight with a nice clip that works well and says “Pilot”, Though it does have some strange indents, it posts well.

20130814-004325.jpg

The V7 point is 7mm, which is shocking, I know. It is very smooth. It dispenses ink handily and never skips unless it is dry from not putting the cap on. I also find it is less prone to get away from you as some of the other rollerball pens with fine points I’ve used are. The ink itself is quite black. It dries quickly but not immediately. It does get grey after some wetting or smearing, but this isn’t much of an issue.

So overall this is a great “take everywhere” pen, for both artists and writers. Though I would recommend it more to artists because of the nature of the tip and liquid ink. I find that in sketching it pays to move fast, while in writing it doesn’t. Either way it’s a comfortable pen that writes super smooth and lays down a nice line of fairly black ink. It’s worth a look at least.