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Parker Sonnet Vs Baoer 388
Posted 01 June 2012 - 13:13
Which is the better pen and is the Parker name on the Sonnet worth the extra purchase price?
The images show the two pens side by side and it is immediately obvious that the Parker is slightly smaller. The construction and materials of the two pens are, so far as can be told, more or less the same. Basically, the barrels and caps are made from some sort of composite material and both have fittings of what appear to be gold plating on brass. These differ only in detail, the cap band being noticeably broader on the Baoer.
The barrels screw onto the sections with metal threads, on both parts on the Baoer but only on the section on the Parker (one up to Baoer). However, the thread on the section on the Parker is much longer than on the Baoer, maybe to counteract the threaded part of the barrel not being metallic but turned directly into the barrel material itself.
On both pens the cap is a push fit but whereas on the Parker the cap slides on and off smoothly and silkily, on the Baoer it needs a very firm push until it clicks – needless to say it requires a similar strong pull to take it off. The clips are almost exactly similar but the Parker has six feathers to the Baoer's seven. The "jewel" on the end of the cap is slightly larger on the Parker and appears to incorporate an air vent.
Nibs and fillers
The nibs on both pens are gold plated, presumably on stainless steel. Both are marked with the makers name and on the underside, on the ink feed, the Parker has an 'F' indicating that it is a fine nib. The Baoer was advertised as medium but is actually finer than the Parker; however, there is no indication on the nib as to what its thickness is.
The filling systems on both pens are cartridge or converter and both pens come equipped with a screw type push-in converter. However, the one on the Parker has a much larger capacity (about 40% more) than the Baoer. The Baoer takes international standard cartridges but the Parker only takes their own brand. The cartridges and converters are not interchangeable between the two pens.
I have no issues with the quality of manufacture of either pen but the level of finish on the Parker is somewhat better than on the Baoer, but not markedly so – the barrel, cap and section have a smoother surface finish on the Parker giving a better tactile appeal. Whether the quality of the plating on the Parker is better than the Baoer, it isn't possible to tell.
Parker Sonnet Baoer 388
Length closed 134 mm 137 mm
Length open, unposted 123 mm 121 mm
Length open, posted 147 mm 157 mm
Weight, total 28 g 27 g
Weight, unposted 18 g 15 g
Both pens are easy to fill but as stated earlier the ink capacity of the Baoer is much less, about 2/3rds that of the Parker (there may be other converters with a larger capacity that will fit the Baoer) and this may influence the buyer. I haven't tried either pen with their respective cartridges!
When writing, both pens are very similar in performance. The Parker nib is a bit smoother but has slightly less feedback. However, both produce a consistent line, the Parker being very slightly broader than the Baoer. The Parker is also slightly wetter, but this may be due to the nib being slightly broader, but the difference is minimal. The grip on the section is, in my hands, slightly more comfortable on the Parker than the Baoer. The balance on both pens is good unposted but slightly less good posted.
How does this translate into the handwriting experience? Both pens perform adequately and are pleasurable to use even after many pages where neither show any particular discomfort or indication of drying out. Both start first time even after being left capped a few days; and even when used on poorer quality papers, e.g. newsprint for completing crosswords, both perform well.
In assessing this, one must bear in mind that the two pens are in a different price bracket. The Parker in the model I have costs around £85 (UK RRP) (other models cost between £60 and £190 RRP depending on the finish) whereas the Baoer cost £4.99 from a UK supplier with other styles at the same price. The Parker came in an attractive box and was on special offer with a free matching ballpoint pen. The Baoer came unboxed, in a plastic sleeve wrapped in tissue.
As in my previous comparison on FPN (Caran d'Ache Léman v Yiren 615), we are back to what does the cachet of a top brand name, in this case Parker, add to the decision to purchase a particular pen given that the two pens look alike and perform in a very similar manner but are priced far apart. Will the Parker be more reliable over a longer period of time, will the finish, particularly the gold plating, better survive regular use, and what does pride of ownership add? In making a decision, one has to bear all these in mind.
In summary, both pens are of an attractive design in the classic style but with a modern appearance. While there are small differences in performance as outlined above, both pens are thoroughly acceptable, workaday pens and it is very difficult to separate them as both are very pleasant to use and live with. However, my judgement is that taking in appearance, writing ability and perceived potential for durability, the Parker is overall just marginally ahead, but I am sure both would give the owner many years of service.
As a Parker fan, I would prefer to have the Parker but I am currently quite happy using the Baoer as my everyday pen for all manner of tasks. If you can afford a Parker get one; but then why not go the whole hog and buy both for the extra fiver! However, if your funds are limited, I am sure that you wouldn't be disappointed if you bought the Baoer which would give you a very good writing experience.
Posted 01 June 2012 - 13:29
In the next few days I'll be posting a comparison between these two, the Hero 5020, Kaigelu 356 and Duke 209.
Posted 01 June 2012 - 13:45
Posted 01 June 2012 - 13:59
The information on the website from where I purchased it said that it was converter/cartridge and that it took the international standard cartridges, but I didn't try it during the comparison test. However, I can confirm that it takes the small standard cartridges by Diamine and Hero, which have to be pushed in to fit by hand, i.e. not forced in by the pen barrel. There is room for a second spare cartridge in the barrel but it is loose and rattles!
I agree the sonnet is better, but the boaer is a good alternative for a knock around pen. I, however, was under the impression that the boaer was not a cartridge converter, but merely a converter pen. What size cartridges does it take?
Edited by brownargus, 01 June 2012 - 14:00.
Posted 01 June 2012 - 19:11
Posted 01 June 2012 - 19:16
I ordered a 388 based on this review.
Hope it meets your expectations. I have ordered the bushed stainless steel version!
Posted 01 June 2012 - 19:30
That nib, and the ones on the Waterman Kultures, will keep me from ever buying one of those pens. Same for some of the cheaper Sheaffer pens.
Posted 01 June 2012 - 19:57
The "MB-like" even has some flex.
Posted 04 June 2012 - 14:16
I don't know if his also applies to the Baoer but it may do!
Apologies for the errors in my comparison.
Edited by brownargus, 04 June 2012 - 14:18.
Posted 04 June 2012 - 19:48
I can confirm the Baoer is a cartridge/converter, it uses international standard carts. Plating loss seems to be an issue on mine, at the trim ring on the barrel end of the section; the cap must rub away at it with every use.
The deliciously tactile texture of hard-wearing matte lacquer and the darkest possible gloss finish with successive coats of lacquer on a brass base."
I don't know if his also applies to the Baoer but it may do!
I managed to nick the black coating (probably fine lead paint lol) on my 388's section, it is indeed brass under there.
I don't know about the Sonnet's ease of servicing, but the 388 has a very tight friction fit nib and feed. The feed is very basic!
edit - I forgot to say, watch_art's comments on the Sonnet's nib jogged this memory - I don't find the cap clip on modern Parkers very appealing. Very vague and bland.
Edited by Flounder, 04 June 2012 - 19:52.
Latest pen related post @ flounders-mindthots.blogspot.com : vintage Pilot Elite Pocket Pen review
Posted 07 June 2012 - 17:52
Edited by Ernst Bitterman, 08 June 2012 - 15:05.
Posted 22 October 2015 - 08:02
Thanks for the review!
I also have experienced both pens and I agree, in general, with your comments. However, my copy of the Baoer has a *very* bad nib: It bends with almost no pressure!
Once I changed the nib for a cheap Jinhao one, the pen was much better.
Posted 22 October 2015 - 08:58
A Baoer 388 was my first Chinese pen three or four years ago and it has performed well in that time. The nib needed a little tweaking and smoothing at the start and the lacquer has started to chip where the end of the clip touches the cap but other than that I have no complaints with it.
I bought a few more 388s a couple of months ago but the quality doesn't appear to be quite as good as the first. The clip was loose on one, the inner cap has already split on another, the metal end piece on the converter was split on a third. I don't know if this is a sign of Baoer reducing quality or if the 388 has now started to be faked, either way it was a disappointment.
Posted 22 October 2015 - 14:21
Fantastic comparative review..great job. Can you put some writing sample ?
Posted 22 October 2015 - 17:11
The 388's are very good pens. I have several and they performer well - a little smoothing is usually needed; no big deal. I have fitted one of them with a Knox no. 5 nibs - even better
People who want to share their religious views with you almost never want you to share yours with them - Dave Berry
Posted 22 October 2015 - 17:51
However, it has a few issues. None fatal, just irritating.
#1 - Many of my 388s need to have the nib adjusted to get reasonable ink flow. Some were REAL DRY. This makes it a pen that I would buy to give to others, after I adjust the nib, but not one that I would recommend a novice buy for themselves.
#2 - The inner cap on several of my 388s has cracked. This is a crack running from the bottom of the inner cap to about mid-way up the inner cap. This crack somewhat reduces the effort to uncap the pen (good). But it also ruins the cap seal, so there is the possibility of some inks to dry out in the nib (bad).
#3 - The metal to metal connection of the barrel to the section constantly gets loose. It is the only pen I have that does this. I believe that the threads on the section and barrel have too much slop in them. What I don't want to do is TIGHTEN the barrel onto the section with a LOT of force, but that may be what I have to do.
AS mentioned, because of the LOW cost, I use mine as general carry pen, where I don't have to worry/fret about loosing or damaging the pen. And the nice thing about it, is that it does not look like a CHEAP pen.
Edited by ac12, 22 October 2015 - 17:51.
San Francisco Pen Show - August 28-30, 2020 - Redwood City, California
Posted 16 September 2017 - 21:21
a short video review of the Baoer 388 here:
Thank you for watching and sharing!