Posts filed under Better Ballpoint

The Pilot Better Retractable Pen Review

(Jeff Abbott is a regular contributor at The Pen Addict. You can find more from Jeff online at Draft Evolution and Twitter.)

Everyone has a pen or two that they feel nostalgic about, right? Something that you used in earlier days before you knew 1) that there is such a thing as "pen addicts" and 2) you are one? Yep. For me, that's The Better Retractable by Pilot with a fine point.

Way before I discovered the Pilot V5 Precise, I had easy access to this sleek 80s looking retractable pen. I'm not really sure when these pens started disappearing off shelves. I don't think I even bought any of these pens. They were always laying around, kind of like the Pilot G2 of today. I'm not sure if I'm correct, but something tells me this was a very popular bulk order item for large offices. And, like the G2, it's above the average in the category.

At the end of the day, this is still a ballpoint pen, so it's not displacing any of my favorite gel ink or hybrid ink pens, and certainly not any fountain pens. I definitely prefer this pen to something like a standard Bic ballpoint. And, depending on how you feel about Bic ballpoints, that's saying a lot.

The line from this ballpoint is really crisp. The ink can sometimes make a skippy line, but the feel is always smooth. In fact, it's so smooth that I don't enjoy writing with it. Strange, right? After using the pen for several writing sessions, I think I've narrowed down the reason that I don't like using the pen. It's a combination of a slim barrel/grip with a super slick writing experience that makes it difficult for me to use. I have a hard time controlling the pen and keeping my grip loose enough to not cause cramps.

But, that's not an entirely fair assessment. I'm using premium, glossy papers. This pen probably wasn't designed for that type of medium. This pen is probably intended on writing on the type of paper that a large office keeps on stock: cheap and crappy.

So, to sum it up, the refill in this pen falls somewhere between a standard Bic and a new Jetstream refill. It's smooth like a Jetstream, but skippy like a Bic.

Now, the design and look of the pen is what has always drawn me in. I love the way this pen looks. There are no unnecessary curves or bumps to make it look stylish or sexy–it's just a straight body with a tapered end to hold the refill. It has a grooved grip section and a nice click mechanism. The clip is really strong, and the clear body makes it easy to see what color you have (that and the colored barrel section that holds the click mechanism).

It looked different than any other pen I saw on a regular basis, and that made it attractive to me. After I discovered much better pens (first it was the Precise V5, and then the almost perfect Signo 207), I forgot all about the Pilot Better Retractable. At some point, I saw some pictures online that had the Better Retractable in it and I had to hunt some down so I could try them out again with a fresh perspective. Luckily, Amazon still carries them.

I'm glad I was able to track down and find a pen that I've always liked, but it's also funny to try something after your interests and knowledge have grown only to find that you no longer like the old thing. It's a great ballpoint pen, but there are just so many better performing options out there now.

Now, to find a great refill that fits in this plain but attractive body...

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Posted on November 5, 2014 and filed under Better Ballpoint, Pen Reviews, Pilot.

Pilot Better Retractable Ballpoint Review

Pilot Better Retractable Ballpoint Fine

The Pilot Better Ballpoint was one of my favorite pens in high school. I used the fine blue ballpoint almost exclusively, and I liked the fact it came in purple as well. There was something about the design and the fine tip that I enjoyed.

I grabbed a two-pack of the Pilot Better Retractable at Staples recently trying to bring back old memories of incessant notebook cover doodling. This was a great pen back in the day and the design is timeless. Unfortunately, the ballpoint quality has been lapped by even some of Pilot’s own products.

Because of the basic ink performance, the Pilot Better Ballpoint falls in to the “just a pen” category. The black ink is light, there is white space in the lines, and there is ink build up around the tip frequently. Have I used worse ballpoint pens? Absolutely. Can I recommend other ballpoints that are better than this? Dozens.

I understand its place in Pilot’s product line - they need an office supply cabinet filler. But when I see Uni-ball making an effort with the Jetstream 101 to have a lower cost, higher quality ballpoint, I think Pilot could do the same with this pen. How much of a design change would it take to get the EasyTouch Pro (aka Acroball) ink into the Better Ballpoint?

Make that change and the Pilot Better Ballpoint might live up to its name once again.

Posted on December 19, 2011 and filed under Better Ballpoint, Pen Reviews, Pilot.