Appearance & Design (10/10)
This is a classic design – black resin with gold trim – and I must say it is quite all right with me. I like simple pens (well, maybe except the Homo Sapiens) that are designed with emphasis on performance, rather than looks.
I love the pen's appearance. Perhaps the gold trim is a bit too shiny but otherwise then pen looks great!
Construction & Quality (10/10)
I would say the pen seems to be constructed of high-quality resin, everything seems perfectly in place, the threads work beautifully, as does the piston. The nib is so perfectly cut, it's almost unreal. Most of the pens I've tried have had a small imperfection here or there, but this pen was definitely manufactured with the highest of tolerances – that much is clear. The resin also seems to be more resistant to micro scratches than my 146, but maybe that's just an illusion. It also has a somewhat softer feel than the 146, but that's a very odd thing to say, I know.
Weight & Dimensions (10/10)
Very similar to the 146, and that is perfect for my hand. It's is my ideal size and weight, so I am going to give it 10 points. I like it better than the 146 posted because it's better balanced – the 146 is a bit top-heavy, but only very slightly.
Nib & Performance (9/10)
My pen purchases (apart from being crazy about pens, in general) are typically motivated by wanting a writer to fill a particular need. In this case, I needed a pen for everyday writing, journaling, etc., so I needed a fine nib with decent flow. This pen fits this description perfectly.
The nib is smooth with a touch of feedback. It is a labeled as “H M” (hard medium) but it's visibly finer than my 146 fine nib. It writes very well, out-of-the box, laying down a fine / medium-fine line with good flow (7/10) and a good ability to increase flow and line width with increased pressure. This nibs behaves almost exactly like my 146 nib.
Compared to the Pilot Custom 74 and 823, the nib is not as perfectly smooth, but that does not bother me. In fact my Pilot nibs have been almost too smooth, some of them skidding across really smooth paper, esp. Clairefontaine. This pen writes very consistently and very reliably. I like it a lot, since it's supposed to be my daily writer. I have tested flow with Waterman's Blue-Black (Mysterious Blue), which is a pretty standard ink that many people use in reviews.
The ability to increase flow with increased pressure makes this nib very good for bringing out shading, provided the ink is suitable for it.
Filling System & Maintenance (9/10)
The piston moves very smoothly and the knob stays put throughout daily use. Some of my piston fillers would have a knob that is almost too loose, but this one works perfectly. Some reviewers have noted that this pen has somewhat disappointingly small ink capacity. I haven't tested it myself, but in daily use, the pen last long enough, but that's pure anecdotal, and not measured properly.
One thing I haven't mentioned is that you can very easily remove the nib and the feed for cleaning and/or adjustment, should you need it. That's a nice bonus for me, particularly for cleaning. I prefer not to tinker with my nibs, unless it is absolutely necessary. This pen required no adjustment at all. No need for a visit to a nib meister or purchase from a seller who adjusts the nib prior to shipment.
Cost & Value (9/10)
I think this is an amazing value. I bought it from a reputable seller from Japan, then pen arrived quickly, and the price was very good, indeed. This makes it a huge bargain compared to the 146. It's still a somewhat expensive pen, over $200, so I cannot give it ten points for value.
Conclusion (Final score, 57/60)
I have also tried Platinum Century #3776 and Pilot Custom 74 and Custom 823. I think this pen is better than the first two, and in the same class as the Custom 823. The Platinum's nib is a bit too stiff for me, and the Custom 823 is just so smooth that I find it difficult to control. So, overall, out of all the Japanese pens I've tried, this one is my favorite. The 146 has been a pen that has continued to grow on me, the longer I've used it. I have a feeling, the Realo is going to be the same.
Edited by akustyk, 05 January 2013 - 16:49.