To be honest, I haven't used an erasable pen since 5th grade, and at that time they were horrible.
Apparently, a lot has changed. Erasable pens don't have to be incredibly difficult to use and marginally useless when it comes to writing and erasing. The Pilot FriXion is a gel ink pen that uses friction to remove the ink. I don't even pretend to understand how it all works, but I do know that the experience is much more pleasant than the previous generations of erasable pens. If I had these as a student when erasable pens were mandatory, I wouldn't have grown to hate the phrase "erasable pen" so much. Even now, I'm trying to use that phrase frequently in an attempt to rid it of the awful taste it leaves in my mouth.
The FriXion ink is surprisingly smooth when writing – very similar to other Pilot gel ink pens (but not quite) like the G2. The particular model I'm using is called the Ball Knock Design series, and it features a 0.5 mm point. When you first write with the pen, you can detect a slight drag from the point, but if you can remember to press very lightly then that issue almost disappears.
Writing with the pen is effortless. It doesn't take much pressure at all to put ink on the page, and I haven't seen any skipping or gunking that was extremely common with the old erasable pens. This part still blows my mind. I'm impressed by how well it writes for an erasable pen. It doesn't beat a Pilot Juice or an Acroball or any other permanent gel or hybrid ink, but this is an erasable ink and it's done pretty great so far.
So, it writes fairly well, but how does it erase? Well, I would sum it up as, "Meh." Erasing is easy – one or two strokes across the ink usually does the job, but it never completely disappears. You can always see the trace of what was written before, and that makes me a little perturbed. If it's supposed to be erasable, then I expect it to be erasable like a pencil. Sure, you sometimes can see the writing from an erased pencil mark, but it's much harder to detect than the FriXion ink. This is obviously a personal problem that I need to deal with; if you're in the market for an erasable ink pen, then the FriXion gets the job done with no hassle or frustration. It's a great erasable pen.
The top of the pen contains the rubber tip used for erasing, which is convenient and works well. I was stumped when I first used the pen as to how to operate the retract mechanism. Pressing on the rubber tip (where a knock normally is) doesn't do anything. After a few seconds of looking around the pen, I realized it's the clip that acts as the knock. Takes a bit of retraining to use the clip instead of the top of the pen, but it works well when I remember to use it properly the first time.
There is a tip on JetPens about the temperature-sensative nature of this ink. Apparently, erased ink will reappear if it gets cold enough (lower than 14 degress Fahrenheit), which could be fun to play with but unfortunate if you didn't want that to happen. Just something to keep in mind. I didn't test it out – I take their word for it.
Overall, this is a great pen and I'm really impressed by how far along erasable ink has come in a few years. If you're looking for an erasable pen, this is a great place to start.
(JetPens provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)