First, a quick picture of both, along with a Parker 51 to give an idea of their size.
As you can see, the Shule is a bit skinny. Not a problem for fans of slimmer pens, but those with big hands may find it a bit offputting. I’d consider it the weaker of the two, myself, but it’s still a bargain.
Here you can see the nibs on both.
More of the image above, this time providing handwriting samples.
The Shule is a bladder filler (though presumably a squeeze filler rather than a real aerometric device) and has a hooded nib, both of which are points in its favour. Where it falls down a little is its nib. This is a long way from being scratchy, but is rather less smooth than the Huashilai, and is also a little dry to boot. Its possible that both problems might work out with a little scribbling, or a different ink, of course. I may even try brown bagging it.
The nib does have a possible plus, in that its very fine indeed. All the other Chinese pens I've used lay down an intermediate line, somewhere between a European or American fine, and the fat medium you get from a modern Parker or Waterman. The Shule lays down a much finer line, and is narrower than any of my other fine points. Depending on what you're planning to use the pen for, this could be a very big plus. The barrel of the pen claims a 0.5mm line, and that sounds about right, though I don't have a fineliner of that size to hand to check it against.
The other flaw is the metal section. I can get on with these reasonably well, but I know that some people out and out hate them. While this isn't a problem in itself, it doesn't combine brilliantly with the pen being so thin. It's not actually uncomfortable, but it could become a trifle fiddly with prolonged use if you have large hands.
These issues aside, the pen is phenomenal value for money and it looks rather good. Word elsewhere on the forum is that the other colours look better still, and I won’t argue with that. The design also, I suspect, doesn’t look all that Chinese. The slanted top to the cap, for instance, is reminescent of the current low end Watermans. I also like the clip a lot. It may prove flimsy in the long run, but I like the fact that it uses a roller after seeing a few Jinhao's with clips that are almost guaranteed to fray or even rip your shirt pocket. The pen’s finish is also nice. The simple chrome on matt black works well, and the matt finish is very attractive. There isn’t a hint of bling here, so the design is simple elegant, and tasteful. There's nothing wrong there.
I’m sure for some, the fact that it’s a bladder filler alone will raise it head and shoulders above a lot of the competition. The notion of a pen with an integral filler for the pittance it demanded (I actually paid less for this, with postage, than a Pilot or Pentel disposable would cost) is very seductive. If it wasn’t for the nib and the skinniness, this would be wonderful. As it is, it’s still rather good, and an argument that you don’t always get what you paid for. When you consider that the ugly, plasticky school pens you can get from a discount stationers cost more than this little number, it takes your breath away.
The Huashili 600 is a lot blingier than the Shule and perhaps a more Chinese looking design as a result. The high gloss finish is prone to fingermarks and smears, and I’m not entirely sure about the jewels in the cap end and the clip. It looks striking, though. It’s well worth the fiver I paid for postage, never mind the ninety five pence it cost.
The 600 was incorrectly described on the ebay listing as having an integral filler. In fact, this is untrue, it simply comes with a converter stuck up its backside. There’s nothing wrong with this, and the fact that a converter is included with a pen of this price is nothing to be sniffed at. It’s a solid looking thing, and looks rather less plasticky and cheap than the one in my Jinhao Confuscius Memorial, though it also appears to have a slightly smaller capacity.
The pen is fatter than the Shule and so feels more comfortable in my hand. I like the section, which is textured plastic, finished in a gridded pattern. Where it scores over its competitor hugely though, is its nib, which is wet and smooth. Not in the same league as my Jinhao, but certainly comfortable to write with. There are no problems with the feed that I’ve detected, which is another plus. If we’re going to be honest, that’s all you really need from a pen, and everything else is just the icing on the cake. The Huashilai does a good job of delivering this. I’ve used more comfortable pens with smoother nibs, but they’ve always cost more. For the pittance this cost, it being any good at all already puts it ahead of the game, and the fact that it seems a rather decent pen as well is a massive bonus.
As for the matter of cost, both of these went for less than a pound. This was off ebay, so your milage may vary, but I got the Shule for 99 pence and the Huashilai for 95 pence. In both cases these were the starting bids. The Huashilai was shipped from Hong Kong, so I paid another fiver for postage, which isn't too unreasonable, and still leaves it cheaper than an Inoxcrom in practice. The Shule's seller was in the UK so postage for that one cost another 75 pence.
Neither of these is as impressive as my Confuscius memorial, but also neither costs as much. That, like the rest of the Jinhao memorials is a stunningly good pen for the money, it's wonderful nib easily compensating for a few minor problems. Neither of these pens is as good as that, though both are so cheap that they make Jinhao look pricey. I think the Shule deserves a 6 and the Huashilai a 7. Neither is brilliant, but both are perfectly serviceable and well worth the pittance they cost.
Shule 2212: 6
Huashilai 600: 7
Edited by MYU, 03 April 2009 - 15:36.