Posts filed under Pen Reviews

Ti2 TechLiner Pen Review

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I first came across Mike Bond's pen designs when he sent me a prototype of the Ti2 Pen. It provided a strong, sleek housing for my favorite Pilot Hi-Tec-C refills and I found myself enjoying what he did with the pen. Mike reached back out again recently to show me his latest design - the Ti2 TechLiner Pen - and I was eager to give this pen a try, but not for the reasons you may think.

When Mike first sent me the pictures of the Ti2 TechLiner I expressed a concern to him: "What is up with the truncated nose cone? I don't think I like that." I went a little more in depth in my email and Mike explained his choices around the design. I still wasn't quite sure about it but agreed to look at a prototype. I got the pen in hand a couple of weeks ago and learned one thing very quickly. Never judge a book by its cover.

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I am more than impressed by the Ti2 TechLiner. The build quality and design are top notch, making for a good looking, comfortable feeling product. And the nose cone design? I kind of like it. It's a feature, as they say. It gives off the look of a technical drafting pen, like various rOtrings or the Sakura Pigma Micron. I was concerned that visually and functionally it wouldn't work for me, but I was dead wrong.

Another item I was wrong about is the use of magnets to secure the cap on both ends of the pen. I've felt in the past that magnets are gimmicky, but these are strong and give off a great snap when capping and posting. They are very well done.

Mike has decided to use the Uni-ball Signo 207 as the refill model for the Ti2 TechLiner. I like this choice because one, I am a fan of the refill, and two, it is available in 0.38 mm tip sizes, my preferred ultra-fineness. Plus, there are other similar refills that should fit, like the Jetstream.

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The best endorsement I can give a pen like the Ti2 TechLiner is to put my money where my mouth is. The Blackwash finish looks amazing but is a little out of my price range at $120. The Gonzodized, on the other hand, is a finish I don't own in any other pen and I was able to get in on the Early Bird for $75. I look forward to seeing this pen in person.

The Ti2 TechLiner has already met its funding goal with three weeks left in the campaign. If you are a fan of good design and the Uni-ball Signo 207 refill then this is a project you should check out.

Big thanks to Mike Bond for sending me this prototype for review.

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Posted on April 18, 2014 and filed under Kickstarter, Ti2 TechLiner, Pen Reviews.

Lamy Studio Steel Nib Fountain Pen Review

Unlike a lot of people, my first fountain pen wasn't a Lamy. I didn't try one out until my third fountain pen, after a Sailor and Kaweco. My first Lamy was a Lamy Vista with a fine nib, and it's a great pen. Since then, I've bought more pens by Lamy and have been very happy with them. The Studio follows that line of customer delight.

The Studio is somewhere between the (relatively) inexpensive Safaris and AL Stars and the timeless 2000. At less than $90, it's not a scary jump into the more costly pens, and you already know if you'll like the nib since they use the same ones.

Keep in mind that I'm reviewing the steel nib version of the pen here. Brad reviewed the gold nib version a few weeks ago, which is about twice the price.

Look and feel

First things first. Personally, I think this is a really attractive pen. I love the sleek matte finish and the polished grip section and accents. I've said it before, but I really have a soft spot for aluminum bodies, and the Studio does a great job using the metal.

I've heard people complain that the grip section is slippery because it's so smooth. There's absolutely no texture to it. I don't have a problem with the way it feels. I think it's quite comfortable, but that's just me. I do get annoyed with all of the fingerprints, though. Being a polished metal, it attracts fingerprints like pen addicts to open inkwells. That's a minor annoyance that's easily solved with a quick wipe down.

My other major complaint is with the clip. It looks really nice and sports a unique design, but it fails to serve its real purpose with any ease. It's an extremely tight clip and has been difficult with every sort of object I've tried to clip it to. Whether it's my shirt pocket, a Nock case, the front cover of a Field Notes book...it resists with an ornery stubbornness. I usually have to move the clip to the side a bit to provide a tad more room for the object to slip between the clip and the cap body. Fine. I can live with that, but there's a downside to that method as well. Sliding the clip across the cap creates a mark in the matte finish. Major bummer, but not a deal-breaker. Just be aware.

Apart from those two annoyances, this is a great pen. It feels great in my hand, has a solid but useable weight, and catches quite a few compliments. The cap posts very sturdily with a satisfying click so you know it's ready.

It's sleek, black, and understated.

Writing experience

Like every other Lamy I've used, this pen writes like a champ. Excellent flow and smooth writing right out of the box. The Studio comes with a converter (unlike other Lamys in the lower price range) that holds the same amount of ink as the regular Lamy converter. The converter included is the silver and black Z26, which I'm thinking of swapping out to use in my Vista.

One issue I've had so far is that there's quite a bit of nib creep with this particular pen. I've never seen this issue with other Lamys (not as much), so I'm wondering if it has something to do with the capping system. I'm not sure what it is, but it doesn't hinder the writing experience.

I've used this pen for long writing sessions, and it doesn't create any fatigue and it remains comfortable the entire time. It's an absolute joy to write with.

If you're a Lamy fan, this is definitely a great addition to your collection. Apart from the sultry black, there's a very refined royal blue that looks equally as classy. JetPens only offer a fine and extra fine nib with the Studio, but you can swap the nib out with any Safari nib.

(You can find more from Jeff online at Draft Evolution, Twitter, and App.net.)

Posted on April 16, 2014 and filed under Fountain Pens, Lamy, Pen Reviews.

Yasutomo Y&C Stylist Marker Pen Review

As a purveyor of plastic tipped pens I like to think I know what I like in pens similar to the Yasutomo Y&C Stylist Marker Pen. Sharp lines are key, which goes hand in hand with a firm plastic tip. Color brightness and comfort are secondary, but still important. The Yasutomo Stylist Marker covers all of that with surprising ease.

I almost didn't add this pen to my cart at JetPens, considering the poor perfomance of the Yasutomo Stylist Gel. It was a scratchy writer and is poorly designed in the grip area. While the Stylist Marker has some barrel design concerns (which I will get to in a moment), the writing performance is so good I am willing to overlook them.

You cannot make a plastic tip pen too firm in my opinion. To give you a baseline, the Kuretake Zig Cartoonist Mangaka is very firm, while the Marvy LePen is very soft. The Sakura Pigma Micron is right in the middle. The Stylist Marker is right up there with the Kuretake.

Looking at the writing sample, the edges of my lines are very sharp, which I love. That is what a firm plastic tip will give you. In no way did I expect to find performance like this from this pen. The only thing left to determine is durability, which will come with time and use.

It's not all roses for this pen though. The barrel design could use some improvement, especially regarding the clip. Mine fell right off after receiving it and I tried to shove it back on as you can see in the image below. That didn't work, so I just trashed the clip. It is comfortable to hold and write with otherwise.

I don't normally have good luck with unknown brand name pens but the Yasutomo Y&C Stylist Marker Pen is a keeper.

(JetPens is an advertiser on The Pen Addict and I received this product at no charge.)

Posted on April 7, 2014 and filed under Pen Reviews, Yasutomo.

Zebra Fortia ST Cap Ballpoint Pen Review

One of the latest releases at JetPens, the Zebra Fortia Ballpoint is a surprisingly good entrant in the less than $10 ballpoint category.

This is a classically designed pen. There is no show to be seen, no flair to be tossed around. The Fortia is all business because sometimes that is what you need. Rock your favorite Hello Kitty multi pen in your cube, but swap it out for the Fortia when you head into that meeting. Your boss doesn't understand the depths of your addiction, so no need to own it until the time is right. These are the things us addicts must consider.

The Fortia features a glossy plastic barrel with a metal inner sleeve to give it a nice weight when writing. The design of it reminds me of a wider Pilot Hi-Tec-C Cavalier. Like the Cavalier, the Fortia hides a refill worthy of excellent housing. No, it's not Hi-Tec-C quality, or even Jetstream quality, but for a standard ballpoint it is very good. Smooth, clean, and dark - can't really ask for much more. I generally enjoy Zebra's ballpoint refills and this is no exception.

Should you rush out and buy a Zebra Fortia? It falls into the situational use category for me. It's not game changer, but rather a solid offering if you have the need for this style of pen with a ballpoint refill. For only $8.50 I'd say it provides good value.

(JetPens is an advertiser on The Pen Addict and I received this product at no charge.)

Posted on April 4, 2014 and filed under Ballpoint, Pen Reviews, Zebra.

Parker IM Liquid Ink Roller Ball Review

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If there's one thing I know about myself, it's that I'm a sucker for metal barrel writing instruments. This is the reason I flicked the Parker IM rollerball into my cart one day when I was browsing through the different rollerballs on JetPens. It's the only Parker rollerball on JetPens, so I thought I'd give it a try. In short, I love the design and aesthetic of the pen, but not the refill.

Aesthetics

The Parker IM has a really pleasing look and feel. I opted for the gunmetal finish, which is a dark gray with a silver sheen. The accents look like chrome, although they probably aren't real. The clip on the pen has the classic Parker arrow shape, which is a nice touch. My favorite part of the pen is the all-metal grip area – this is a huge plus for me. I love pens with metal grips.

The pen is a little on the heavy side, but it's not noticeable unless writing for more than 20 minutes or so. I usually write with it unposted anyway. The pen looks classy and feels well-built.

And then I tried to write with it.

Writing performance

I was greeted by poor ink flow and a really scratchy sound when I tried to write. It sounded like I was writing with a nail, and the ink trail looked like I was using a ballpoint pen that hadn't been used in a few months. It was skippy and faint. I was perplexed.

A little background info that might be helpful here: I hold my pen in the "standard" grip. The grip rests on my middle finger, and my thumb and index finger hold it in place. The angle of the pen to the page is usually between 40 and 60 degrees. From my knowledge, that's a fairly common and universal grip.

I couldn't write with the Parker unless I held it perpendicular to the page – 90 degrees – any deviation would result in the scratchy sound and feel. This was frustrating, so I put it away for a bit. I wondered if there was something I did wrong. Did this pen have some sort of seal on the tip like some of the gel pens? It didn't look like it.

After fiddling with some other pens, I had an idea. I put the Parker refill through a similar process as smoothing a fountain pen nib. Figure eights and infinity symbols on varying grades of grit while holding it at a 45 degree angle.

To my relief, a few rounds of smoothing produced a better (not perfect) result. It was closer to what I was expecting, but still scratchy. At least the ink was flowing well now. And, wow. This ink flows. It's extremely smooth and bold ink. Parker calls this a "medium" point, but I would call it a bold. It looks like a 1.0 mm line on the page.

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My only guess is that I received a refill that wasn't quite ready for retail. Maybe there was too much metal around the roller ball that was causing the problem? Seems like that might be the case since a little grinding made it better.

But really, who's going to do that to a roller ball? These are the types of refills that just work straight away. I considered buying a replacement refill, but decided it wasn't worth it. They're the same price as the Schmidt refills used in the Retro 51s, but I'd much prefer those to the Parker. The Zebra R-301 is only a few bucks and delivers a stellar performance.

Instead, I set out to find another refill that I could retrofit into the body. It's pretty universal and will accept a Pilot G2 size or a Pentel Energel with very little fuss. I used a 0.25" piece of tubing from the kit I received with the Retrakt to provide the right amount of spacing for the refill. Perfect.

Conclusion

I'll continue using the Parker IM, but not with the Parker refill. For now, I have several better options that produce smooth, silent results on the page. Maybe one day I'll try another Parker refill in this pen to see if I got a lemon, but I doubt it.

JetPens sells several colors of the Parker IM roller ball. With the experience I had with it, I can't really recommend it unless you're prepared to do some retrofitting or tuning.

(You can find more from Jeff online at Draft Evolution, Twitter, and App.net.)

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Posted on April 2, 2014 and filed under Parker, Pen Reviews, Rollerball.