First Impressions: 9/10
It's not a large pen, but it's a great size for a shirt pocket. The packaging is beautiful, although it was a pain to get the adhesive tape off the plastic case.
Appearance and Design: 9/10
The clip is welded on in two small spots (see pictures) to a small arm, and I'm not sure how durable this will prove to be. I could be wrong, but that's my concern. Everything else seems to be top-notch quality. The way TWSBI captures light in this pen is really admirable. Posting the pen is luxurious.
Size and Dimensions: 10/10
I needed a pen that would fit in my shirt pocket for times when I don't want to carry a case or my bag. It's longer than the Kaweco Sport and provides a more sizable grip section. Posted, it's a perfect EDC writer. It fits in my smallest shirt pocket perfectly.
The piston system works well and draws up at least 1 mL, although I haven't measured it scientifically. Everything fits together well. This pen was made to post and does so very well--truly a leap forward for TWSBI. I wish it wasn't possible to screw the cap on with the cold clip sitting against my hand. It takes a bit of practice to avoid that.
Nib and Writing: 8/10
The nib is M and write a line similar to the Lamy 2000 F, although more dry. Whereas the 2000 writes about 9/10 wetness, the Mini writes about 5/10. I haven't flushed it or anything yet--just filled and started writing--so it may improve later. So far I've written about 10 pages worth of notes and have had zero skipping and zero startup issues. The steel nib is smooth but lacks the springiness of a gold nib. That's okay because it's 1/3 the price of a Vanishing Point or 2000. Still, as far as my nib preference goes, this ranks about 8/10.
That's a good score for a pen that costs $50. You definitely get lots of value for money here. I highly recommend this, especially as a student pen. Get the Classic so you know your ink level but don't have to look at the mess of the inner cap. Stick it in your shirt pocket and enjoy writing.
Now... on to the photo tour...
After I raised my pennies and found some encouragement, I pulled the trigger finally and ordered my TWSBI Mini Classic from GouletPens.com (no affiliation, just a very satisfied customer). I also ordered a bottle of Diamine Ancient Copper to keep it company during the journey south.
As you can see, the Goulets don't mess around with packaging.
It looks like TWSBI uses an icon style code. Classic is half transparent, half black. I'm guessing the fully transparent style would have an open circle and the fully black would have a dark circle. This has nothing to do with the quality of the pen, but I thought it was neat. I was the kid in kindergarten whose favorite subject was ABAB patterns.
As you can see here, TWSBI's packaging is tight and efficient. The Goulet's really didn't have to go as far as they did. This baby was well packed for the journey to my desk.
Here it is in the case. I love the way TWSBI incorporates light into their designs. See next picture.
As I was saying, the way TWSBI captures light in their designs is really innovative. I admit I was a TWSBI skeptic for a long time, but seeing this in person is such a different experience. You can almost see in this picture how the diamond design gives it a prismatic effect. The black ends (specific to the 'Classic' style) hold it all together and ground this pen. It's a pleasing design and not overly voyeuristic--as pens go, anyway.
Here it is posted. The O-rings make securing the cap very soft and luxurious. I think more pens need to appropriate this design. It really helps to reduce the sense that it's "just a plastic pen" as so many critics are quick to point out. It's like the adjustable trunk opening on a BMW--not strictly necessary, but little touches like this show that the designer is both creative and attentive to the user.
All I had at hand was my Lamy 2000 for a size comparison.
As you can see, posting the Mini makes it a very comfortable size. The balance seems to remain comfortable as well--something TWSBI has finally got right. For reference, this is my first TWSBI but I make this conclusion about balance based on trying the Vac 700 and Diamond 540 at a pen posse meetup. Seems like they've finally decided to pay attention to the quality of posting. That's not a criticism. It posts brilliantly and feels much more gentle than any other pen I've posted. They took their time but they got it right.
View through a loupe: this is the M nib. It writes similar to the Lamy 2000 F nib. Sorry, I don't have a writing sample photo, but you can get the idea if you look at the Lamy 2000 F writing samples and figure that the Mini is about 5/10 to the 2000's 9/10 wetness.
Another view of the nib. It's beautiful. For a steel nib, it really feels nice and looks great.
Here you can see the shape of the tipping. This works pretty well, although some may prefer the stubs. For my purposes, the round tip is well done and conducive to a wide range of writing angles, which is just what you need when you're a full-time student or a busy professional.
Here you can see the feed fins. They seem to work very well and keep the ink flowing, although the wetness is a little dry. My Lamy 2000 writes about 9/10 wetness. That's just about bleeding through thin paper and feathering like crazy on my fibrous thank you cards. By contrast the Mini's wetness is about 5/10. It's wet enough to write, but feels a little dry. The effect with Ancient Copper is that the ink looks a little more pale orange than it does in the Lamy 2000, where it comes out as a nice and rich orange with a blush of red-brown. I may need to adjust the flow to make me happy, but the factory wetness without any flushing (am I crazy?) has at least been functional--no skips and the feed never needed to rest during four pages of notes.
The cap button is lovely. I was expecting something a little more two-dimensional and mediocre, but this is really nice. I'm actually comfortable having such a bold cap logo sticking out of my pocket since it doesn't look cheap.
In their wisdom, they mounted the clip far enough away from the cap to accommodate thick fabric. It's tight and works well. I should also note that the length is just perfect for even my most shallow shirt pocket. It's about 1cm shorter in the pocket than the Lamy 2000. I consider both pens ideal for shirt pockets.
Find all these pictures in higher resolution here: http://www.flickr.co...157632505822312
Thanks for following along,
I attended a lecture today, so I used my 2000 and Mini side-by-side. Here is a picture so you can get a sense of how similar the line widths are between the Lamy 2000 F and TWSBI Mini M
click here for higher resolution: http://www.flickr.co.../in/photostream
Edited by tomgartin, 02 March 2013 - 22:33.