My Lanbitou fountain pen was acquired on Ebay. It was my first fountain pen followed soon after by more and pricier pens. My motivation for getting this pen was that I wanted to see how I liked fountain pens. It had been so many years since I'd used a fountain pen that I wanted to be sure that I really wanted to have a good one.
1) Appearance & Design 5 – It is unlikely that this pen will win any design awards but it's not unpleasing, either. The barrel of the pen is shiny black and feels substantial. The back of the pen has a metal band that receives the cap when posting. The cap is painted in a black & white honey comb pattern. The clip is quite tight and fairly strong. It sports a clear blue "gem." I'd have left the gem off were I the designer but, to each his own. The pen leaves the impression of being of unexpected quality and durability. A score of 5 as the pen looks "finished" and is attractive but doesn't rise to the level of unique or impressive in appearance.
2) Construction & Quality 5 - The cap is of metal and is lined. The cap shows no seam. The nib is stainless steel. The barrel of the pen has weight to it and feels substantial. The pen came without any problems or flaws and the nib wrote just as it should right out of the package. (I wish I could say the same in regard to pens for which I've spent 200 times more.) This is a pen made of materials of moderate quality but with good quality control and fairly good design. Score of 5.
3) Weight & Dimensions 8 – This is a large pen that doesn't seem oversize. I'm one that likes a pen with just a little heft to it and, for me, this has good weight. The barrel is of more than average diameter - larger than a Platinum 3776 but a little smaller than the Pelikan 800. The attached photo shows the Lanbitou next to a Pelikan 800. Score of 8 as the 603 does deliver a lot of pen.
4) Nib & Performance 6 – This pen comes with any nib size or style you like so long as you like a steel nib of fine-medium width. The nib is not scratchy but it is a little toothy. I can pretty much guarantee that the pen is 100% iridium free. However it writes well and leaves a clean, somewhat wet line. If you like a pen that communicates a little, you'll like the Lanbitou. It will give you a constant murmur as you write, which I find I don't mind at all. I've used the pen on a variety of paper and, perhaps cognizant of it's humble origins, it writes on pretty much any paper without putting on airs. A score of six in that the pen is versatile in working well with different paper and reliable in its writing. A 6 reflects the strong functionality of the 603 and the attractive writing it produces but takes into account that the performance doesn't match most pens available in the marketplace.
5) Filling System & Maintenance 6 - This is a converter fill pen. The converter is fairly light duty and all plastic. However it has no leakage and draws and hold ink without problem. The converter is not large but is capable of holding about 3/4 of the capacity of my Platinum 3776. The pen can generate three to four pages single space without the need to refill. Everything in this pen can be disassembled except the nib. I give the pen 6 points for having a reliable, working converter of adequate but not generous capacity.
6) Cost & Value 10 – This pen cost 99 cents. I can't buy a decent cup of coffee for 99 cents. The shipping cost another $1.99. So, total cost, out the door is $2.98. It amazes me that I can get a fully functioning, reliable, beautifully writing pen for about the price I'd pay in a parking meter for one hour of parking. This pen is a steal. It gets a full ten points. In fact, if it cost anything under $10 I'd give it ten points. This pen costs less that some disposables!
7) Conclusion & Overall Score, 40 of Possible 60 - In buying this pen, you are not paying for any prestige. There are no exotic resins. There is no hint of ebonite here. The nib is not even gold plated. What you get is a very usable fountain pen for pretty close to nothing. It performs vastly better than my expectations. Would I buy it again? Would I recommend that other's buy it? Sure. Believe it or not, when I used this pen at my office a co worker said, "That's a very nice pen." They were right, it IS a very nice pen.
I am enjoying my Lanbitou and use it almost daily. The Lanbitou gets more than it's share of the "dirty" jobs. Right now, its loaded with Noodler permanent ink because I don't want to possibly clog up my more valuable pens. The Lanbitou is doing it's duty addressing envelopes and signing legal documents. It is also my traveler pen. When I take a plane, the Lanbitou is in my suitcase because it is both a comfortable writer and it is expendable. That is a very handy combination.
Edited by PatientType, 16 July 2009 - 18:38.