So my (paper thin) justification for buying this was that I needed another pen to take with me to formal events because with the best will in the world to my Rotring Core (my daily driver for 9 years now) it does not really fit into that environment! As a cash strapped student that lacked the confidence to buy vintage I decided that one of the Chinese pen vendors on fleabay would probably furnish me with a suitable amount of pen for my money. While avoiding the gaudy tat that seems to be all too prevalent among Chinese pen manufacturers this little gem rather took my fancy and a month later a package turned up with the 508 inside!
Appearance and design (8/10)
First an foremost the usual disclaimer about looks being a very personal thing. I know I have my own idea of what makes a pen look good, but you are free to disagree .The Baoer is classically styled and my pen is finished in glossy black lacquer with chrome trim. The cap bulges in the middle with a ring either end and then the barrel tapers gracefully to a third chrome ring at its thinnest point before thickening slightly at the end. There is a single metal "jewel" on the top of the cap. I like flat top pens and the changing diameter looks very nice to my eyes. Removing the cap reveals the section has the same finish as the barrel and tapers out at the end. The nib is steel and engraved with the Baoer logo and some patterning. While not ornate I think it strikes a good balance. The clip is nicely shaped too, all subtle curves like the barrel. I find it makes for a very nice looking pen overall.
Construction and quality (8/10)
The cap, barrel and the section are made from the same metal coated in lacquer. I think it is aluminium because of the light weight, although it could be thin brass. In either case it feels solid and I don't have any worries that it will get broken. The threads between the barrel and the section feel solid but there is some slop. Because both are metal I am not worried about cross threading, a pet peeve I have with a lot of pens. The clip slides well over the material of my shirt pocket, with no snagging. Externally the finish is excellent, with no flaws in the lacquer or flaws in the chroming, internally there is a ding in the lacquer on the thread section. It does not bother me, especially considering the price. While it maybe doesn't feel as tough as the Rotring I am not worried about taking it out an about with me.
Weight and dimensions (7/10)
Overall this pen clocks in at 5 ¼" capped, 4 ¾" uncapped and 6 ¼" posted. The barrel is about ½" in diameter and the section tapers with an average diameter of 3/8". It weighs 30 g capped but only 16.7 g uncapped. I get cramp using heavy pens for extended periods, so this suits me. Quite a lot of the weight is in the cap so the Baoer feels light and well balanced in the hand when not posted. However, when you post the cap (which slides home with a reassuring click) it becomes rather top heavy for my liking. I would say it is a medium sized pen. I find the section pleasant to hold and although I have not used it for an extended period yet I don't think it would be uncomfortable to do so.
Nib and performance (7/10)
I got this pen with a fine nib, I don't know what other varieties are available. The nib is steel and has no flex to it and initially I thought it was rather scratchy. However, I now realise the nib was starved of ink, I washed out the converter with a little detergent and it now produces a medium wet line with royal blue quink. The pen starts easily after being left unused for a week or so and it can be left with the cap off for a couple of minutes and pick up without trouble. I don't get any bleed-through or feathering. I must admit I tend to use medium nibs more so it is not so good for me, but it still gets a place in my rotation.
Filling system and maintenance (6/10)
The pen is fitted with an utterly bog standard c/c system, I am using the piston converter that came with the pen and it works fine after flushing. However I can only get 2/3 of a full tank of ink, so I might replace it with another in the future. I also mark it down on the capacity, which is obviously less than your average piston or eyedropper.
Cost and value (9/10)
I got this pen new on fleabay for $1.98 plus $5.98 shipping from China, which I reckon is pretty good going! I have no idea what the going rate for it would be but a pen of this quality for $2 is pretty difficult to argue with whichever way you cut it!
Conclusion (45/60 overall)
I am very happy with the Baoer! It fulfills all the specifications I had for it, namely looking good, being cheap and working reliably with the minimum of fuss. The only thing that stops it getting more use is the large number of other pens I have that also cry out for some use! I would certainly buy it again and would thoroughly recommend it, although I can't vouch for quality control and I have heard it can be a bit suspect on Chinese pens.
Edited to include photos, 5th May 19:33
Edited by thefenlander, 05 May 2012 - 18:35.