1. First impressions: 8/10
Very good - it comes across as a cheap Parker clone type of pen. A sort of hybrid of a Sonnet and a Parker 25. It just looks like an altogether better proposition than the Tesco pen I previously reviewed. It comes in a cheap tin box ("comes with a high quality metal case" indeed!) with two international sized cartridges. All for less than the price of a pint.
2. Appearance and finish: 6/10
Quite a nice light bronze satin aluminium finish, with polished cap band (wide like the modern Sonnet) and clip, along with dimpled ends to the barrel and cap. The section is also polished chrome. There are no colour variations available AFAIK. With one of my examples however, there is considerable play (about 1mm) when the cap is snapped on. Its not about to fall off, as the point at which it engages stretches over a few more mm and has a fairly strong 'catch point'. The biggest problem may be the fact that the cap not sit securely when posted and easily falls off.
There is also a matching ballpoint, which I haven't bought (or intend to).
The pen is vaguely similar to a Hero 711 in chrome which I bought for $14.99, but has a better nib to the Hero from what I recall of that pen.
These pictures show the comparison between the Asda pen and a Sonnet I recently acquired, just to give some idea of scale more than anything.
3. Design/size/weight: 6/10
The pen is 22g and 15.5 cm posted, or 13g and 12cm without the cap. It is narrower than a Sonnet, the barrel is 1cm in diameter at the section end tapering to 8mm. The section itself is 9mm tapering to 7mm with a slight collar at the nib end. The thin and shiny/slippery section might not be so good when the weather warms up. Not likely to be a problem in the UK then.
4. Nib design and performance: 4/10
Two tone stainless steel nib with iridium and average medium sized tip. In use it is very pleasant, with fairly smooth writing and a hint of tooth. Flow is fairly wet.
5. Filling system: 7/10
Takes short international cartridges. Comes with 2 cartridges (or 3 if you get lucky and there is an extra one in the barrel like I did).
6. Cost/value: 8/10
At £1.99 (4 USD) I think its a bargain. It's perfectly useable as-is, or indeed cheap enough so you can practice nib smoothing or grinding with it. I bought a second for that very purpose, but have as yet not embarked on that.
7. Overall Opinion: 7/10
This is a perfectly acceptable pen for beginner or someone needing a reasonable pen for some donkey work. The only criticism would be the loose cap - while it has play it I don't think it would come off if clipped into a pocket, but I wouldn't want to risk it. The fact that it doesn't post securely may be a problem for some. It's certainly no worse than the Hero 711 I mentioned above. possibly better in some respects (looks, price). It may even be a Hero in disguise, who knows?
Edited by garyc, 18 January 2008 - 18:22.