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Cheap Pen Shootout, Pt. 2

cheap inexpensive pen comparison shootout

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7 replies to this topic

#1 gmcalabr

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Posted 28 June 2013 - 00:04

So here's that 2nd part of the review that I promised.  I'll include the other pens that I meant to in the first review, as well as some others that I have purchased since.  I'm doing my best to keep the reviews a fair comparison between the two groups (a rating of 7 in this review will deserve it just as much as in the previous review).

 

Baoer 519: A: 7, F: 8, V: 8, D: 7

On the recommendation of another user in Pt. 1 of this shootout, I purchased one of these in FP for myself and one RB for my brother.  Both are very nice pens, slightly thinner/smaller than I expected (for some reason).  They're a good size though, and a well built pen.  The cap clicks firmly, and the metal/laquer is all very nice.  I immediately polished the gold off of the top of the nib because I don't think it matches, but to each his or her own.  I will say two things about posting the cap on this: the cap is a bit overly heavy (not as bad as the Jinhao 159), and it's difficult to physically push the cap down on the rear post.  It won't go all the way down on either pen.  Still, it holds firmly.  Also, very much to my liking, the top of the cap screws off, allowing the clip to be bent back in case it is bent away from the cap body.  For a cheap stamped steel clip, this is a farily nicely built one with a good level of spring to it.  Oh yeah, writing: it writes well.  Quite smooth from the box, with a slightly too-dry line (easily fixed).  reliable, and it writes with little to no pressure.  Overall, can't beat $6 just to have a spare around.

 

Parker Vector: A: 6, F: 4, V: 4, D: 5

This was one of two middle school pens.  The other was a clear blue and chrome Sheaffer that was also poor.  Yeah, this isn't going to be a great review.

 

I really do like the look of the pen and nib, but the plastic is way too cheap and prone to breaking if even slightly over-tightening the barrel.  The medium is way too thick for me, but writes ok when it writes.  I admit, this was a better writing pen back in middle school, but I can't clean it up and make it write at all anymore.  For the price, it's not bad, but I've had two barrels and a cap crack on me, and the writing experience was never wonderful.  Man would I love this pen, this nib shape, if it were only relaible and the plastic were a bit nicer.

 

Picasso 916 Malange: A: 8, F: 6, V: 6, D: 7

This is a really great looking pen, somewhat in the same class (though not as nice) as the Pilot Prera.  It's modern, gets looks (namely in the brighter colors), but doesn't look too Wall Street.  This is what would go with a Banana Republic outfit.  The metal body has a good weight to it, but it's still fairly light, and the cap is not too heavy.  The laquer is well applied.  The nib is pretty, and with a little adjustment can write pretty well, but seems to suffer from possible baby's bottoming as it takes a small amount of pressure to write.  The clip is difficult to remove and quite stiff, but not terrible, and I can't imagine it being bent away from the pen easily.  One more thing, the cap does not post easily.  It seems secure, then pops because of the air pressure built while posting the cap.  It seems to take a twist forward and back under pressure to make the cap stay, and when it does, it's very secure.  Clicking the cap over the nib is also a great feeling, not like any other pen I have (though not necessarily better).

 

That said, I got the orange pen, and am kicking myself for it.  The color in reality is this awful light pastel carrot color, bad enough that I limit my exposure out of the house.  The 'Carolina blue" RB that I got for my brother is much nicer (although I wouldn't use it since UNC is my school's rival).  I imagine the white and black versions would escape this problem, and the red, pink, and green look like they'd be better picks.

 

Sailor HighAce:  A: 7, F: 9, V: 8, D: 6

I don't know how I missed this in my last review.  This was the first new fountain pen that I purchased since middle school (and since inheriting my grandfather's collection).  This is a wonderful writer, for those of us who like fine nibbed pens.  There's a feedback that this one gives that no other pen gives, it's wonderful.  It's a very light weight pen, but the slightly heavier aluminum cap feels really great posted on the back.  The pen is very simple, unassuming, clean, but still attractive.  The plastic doesn't feel cheap.  The converter is excessively expensive in comparison to the price of the pen, and it has to be a Sailor converter, but the normal ink cartridge writes for so long with the fine, slightly dry nib that I really don't mind refilling it by syringe. This pen has become my go-to BSB pen, and has held up to almost a year of the ink in the pen solid.  This and the 78G offer very similar writing experiences.  The barrel has a hole in it, so no ED conversions, although I'm sure you could epoxy that hole shut easily if you really wanted to (no real need though).

 

Noodler's Ahab: A: 6, F: 5, V: 7, D: 7

This is a great pen, but it's a specialty item, and one that needs more intensive care.  A medium flex pen at this price is impossible to find, especially one that writes a proper fine under low pressure.  But I have trouble keeping ink in the pen (1 week capped on its side or nib up and the ink is gone) and also with ink bombs (leaking into the cap), and this is a big problem as a daily writer.  The nib and feed will definitely need fiddling.  All that said, it's still a wonderful pen at this price, but you must seriously need it for flex writing (or at least write daily with the pen).  The size is very comfortable even posted, the piston mechanism is quality, and it's an easy ED converter, which is good because this will drink ink.  Also, some people have figured out where to grind the nib to make this a much easier flex pen.  Definitely worth having in a collection, but I don't trust it enough to keep with me on business.

 

On a side(ish) note, this plastic, as you know, smells.  I still like the idea of using renewable materials, and there's a nice "softness?" to it.  You're best COMPLETELY disassembling the pen and washing all plastic components many times in soapy water and leaving them out to air dry for a week or 4.  Eventually the smell will go away, and you'll be happy you bought the thing.

 

 

So yeah, 5 more affordable pens.  Of this pack, I think I'd have to go with the Sailor.  It's one of the few pens I'd take to a job interview with me because it's dead reliable, unassuming, professional but not executive, flies well, and because it handles BSB like an absolute pro.  FYI, the other pens I've taken to interviews include: Safari (Kung Te Cheng), Parker 51 (Lexington Gray).  That's a pretty short list of a lot of trust.

 

Hope you enjoy and can make use of these reviews.

 

Greg



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#2 doggonecarl

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Posted 28 June 2013 - 13:05

Thanks for the review.

 

I wish I had your luck with the Sailor HighAce Neo Beginner's fountain pen. The nib on mine was flawed-misaligned tines--scratchy to the point where it would tear paper. I have worked on it, to no avail. I know it's not indicative of Sailor, but I've been hesitant to purchase another. Your review may sway me, as I am enamored about every other aspect of the pen.

 

By the way, I have the Sailor Clear Candy, another "cheap" pen, and it writes wonderfully. But my favorite cheap pen might be the Rotring Surf.



#3 gmcalabr

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Posted 28 June 2013 - 15:29

Thanks for the review.

 

I wish I had your luck with the Sailor HighAce Neo Beginner's fountain pen. The nib on mine was flawed-misaligned tines--scratchy to the point where it would tear paper. I have worked on it, to no avail. I know it's not indicative of Sailor, but I've been hesitant to purchase another. Your review may sway me, as I am enamored about every other aspect of the pen.

 

By the way, I have the Sailor Clear Candy, another "cheap" pen, and it writes wonderfully. But my favorite cheap pen might be the Rotring Surf.

 

That's really a shame.  I'd give them another try, or at least a good adjusting and a sanding/polishing.

 

The Rotring didn't immediately appeal to me when I saw it, but I really really like the curved cowl-like shape of the section.  I think other manufacturers would do nicely to take note that you don't need a hooded nib to have the section "hover" over the nib like that.

 

Greg



#4 Rhodocene

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Posted 28 June 2013 - 20:30

Picasso 916 Malange: A: 8, F: 6, V: 6, D: 7

This is a really great looking pen, somewhat in the same class (though not as nice) as the Pilot Prera.  It's modern, gets looks (namely in the brighter colors), but doesn't look too Wall Street.  This is what would go with a Banana Republic outfit.  The metal body has a good weight to it, but it's still fairly light, and the cap is not too heavy.  The laquer is well applied.  The nib is pretty, and with a little adjustment can write pretty well, but seems to suffer from possible baby's bottoming as it takes a small amount of pressure to write.  The clip is difficult to remove and quite stiff, but not terrible, and I can't imagine it being bent away from the pen easily.  One more thing, the cap does not post easily.  It seems secure, then pops because of the air pressure built while posting the cap.  It seems to take a twist forward and back under pressure to make the cap stay, and when it does, it's very secure.  Clicking the cap over the nib is also a great feeling, not like any other pen I have (though not necessarily better).

 

That said, I got the orange pen, and am kicking myself for it.  The color in reality is this awful light pastel carrot color, bad enough that I limit my exposure out of the house.  The 'Carolina blue" RB that I got for my brother is much nicer (although I wouldn't use it since UNC is my school's rival).  I imagine the white and black versions would escape this problem, and the red, pink, and green look like they'd be better picks. 

 

I also have a 916, It's one of the smoothest pens I have. You get a lot of pen for the money. BTW you might want to flush it out, I flushed mine out before using and it starts every time. (I also have a review of it here if anyone's interested.)



#5 gmcalabr

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Posted 28 June 2013 - 22:31

 

I also have a 916, It's one of the smoothest pens I have. You get a lot of pen for the money. BTW you might want to flush it out, I flushed mine out before using and it starts every time. (I also have a review of it here if anyone's interested.)

 

Good point.  I was in a rush and being immature and went straight to filling.  Nice review yourself, and nice photography.

 

Greg



#6 NedC

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Posted 28 June 2013 - 22:53

If you are going to use abbreviations in your ratings put in a key! 



#7 doggonecarl

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Posted 28 June 2013 - 23:28

If you are going to use abbreviations in your ratings put in a key! 

From Pt 1:

 

Aesthetics, Functionality, Value, Desire



#8 gmcalabr

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Posted 29 June 2013 - 22:07

From Pt 1:

 

Aesthetics, Functionality, Value, Desire

 

Many thanks!

 

Yeah, I had that in the first review, but forgot it this time.

 

Greg







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