I think that you have had a ton of good insights to your question from people (and I recognize a few from other posts) who know what they are talking about. In there somewhere you will find a point of view compatible with your own set of desires.
But now for something completely irresponsible about cheap pens from someone who doesn't know how to adjust a pen and doesn't want to learn, who doesn't want to amass a collection of cheap pens because they are good enough for the price, and who, all things considered, really wants good design.
I think that the Japanese brands at lower price have pleasing designs and are nice writers, particularly the Pilot 78 which also has some flex to the nib.
Although I have a Noodler Konrad which I bought for the 50's design and name, I wouldn't particulary recommend it for a daily writer. I also have two Kaweko Sports and two Preppys I use for drawing.
As for Chinese brands, consider the size of the home markets which they are supplying. In many cases the designs are abominable. And the sheer weight of many of the pens has to be perceived by the manufacturers as "good value for money". With two, you get egg roll.
The exception for me is the very nice Jinhao line of injection molded pens based on the Lamy Safari. These are great by anyone's standards. I like the design and the colors and have two Fps, a BP, and an RB.
I do buy the occasional Chinese pen because some one on FPN has given it a surprising write-up. I hold in my hand an Indian Club made to look like a fountain pen: the eponymous HERO coming in at 6 1/4 inches long, but well-below its apparent weight class because of the use of plastic.
I also bought a Wenrong because of the name, the copy in particularly tortured English, and the fact that when it costs 49 cents to send a letter to the next town over, $1.49 delivered was well-worth the amusement value.
I'm getting a passel of these joke/curiosity Chinese purchases together and will offer them to the world at large, or at least to one mailing address in the USA
And wouldn't you know I have thoughts on the teeming subcontinent of India. I have tried a variety of cheapos, usually eye-dropper, some squeeze-ums, or a very poorly made piston fill. They are very unsatisfying to me from the point of view of design, performance, and humor. I gave them away. The higher price lines may be better, but how are you going to know? Also, some retailers are applying very high mark-ups.
But I do have two that I bought for their back-stories. A Krishna hand-turned by 78 year=old Mr Ramishandran, and a Wilson in the model with which the Indian Constitution was written. Call these purchases 'personal interest'.
As a matter of fact, isn't 'personal interest' what pen collecting is all about. I have a collection of vintage Pelikans that can illustrate for me the progress from 1930 to 1980. I have a small squad of German school pens from the 50s-60s. I have an eleven-man team of Fend mechanical pencils from the 30s through their last throes of the 60s.
Well, as promised this has been an irresponsible stroll through my own likes and dislikes, with all their warts showing. But my end advice to you is: follow your personal interest!
Edited by Dickkooty2, 29 October 2014 - 03:33.