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Parker Beta Review


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19 replies to this topic

#1 ParkerBeta

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Posted 03 November 2008 - 07:45

This is my first attempt at a fountain pen review, complete with photography, and I decided to start with probably the cheapest Parker ever sold anywhere: the Parker "Beta." This pen is made in India by Luxor under license from Parker and is probably intended for students. It sells for INR 100 (approximately USD 2), which makes it a bit of a "premium" model for students, given that there are Camlin ED fountain pens that sell for INR 11 and up! There has a been a previous thread about this pen here

I had no expectations whatsoever from this pen when I bought it based on the brand name alone. However, as this review will show, I was pleasantly surprised by the construction of the pen and even more so by the quality of the nib -- so much so that I chose it for my FPName! It's not my favorite pen by any means, nor is it a daily writer, but it does represent remarkable value for money. Without more ado, here's the review:

The pen uncapped is just under 5 inches long, and 5 3/8 inches when capped. When posted, it gets quite long: 6.5 inches, to be exact. However, it's all-plastic (except for the cap, about which more in a moment), so it doesn't feel unbalanced. However, I usually never post the cap of my pen anyway, and it feels better that way in my small hands.

The model I bought has a shiny black plastic body with bright red trim: the overall look is certainly not ultra-cheap, which is why it attracted me in spite of the blister pack it was being sold in smile.gif

DSC_3150.JPG

The cap is not the place where cost-cutting to meet this low price point occurred: a real metal clip! The clip looks identical to those on the Vector, but since I don't own a Vector, I can't be certain. Further, the snap-cap has a metal clutch-ring inside!

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However, look down on the top of the cap, where you might expect a logo, and you see the one place where Parker (or Luxor) really economized: a plain white sticker! Ugh!!

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This cheapness is inexplicable given that there is a Parker logo at the bottom of the barrel.

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The steel nib is plain and has just the word "Parker" on it, but look at the section: instead of being shiny cheap plastic, it actually has a textured surface! Entirely unexpected and very welcome at this price point.

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The underside of the nib is undistinguished, with just an "F" showing the nib width:

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Parker even includes their syringe-type converter with this pen:

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In my mediocre collection of pens, there is only one other name-brand pen in the same price range: the Sailor "Ink Pen" student pen. The two pens are very similar in size and weight, but the Parker does have a metal clip and a better cap, and of course the textured surface on the nib section, while the Sailor has shiny plastic throughout (though the translucent cap which posts nicely on the bottom and the larger nib are nice features).

DSC_3170.JPG

So how does the pen write? Very well indeed! In fact, extraordinarily well, regardless of price!! In terms of smoothness, the nib compares favorably with my Pelikan Level 1 (Level 65) and Pelikan Future, among slightly more expensive pens, and even with my Sailor Sapporo, which cost me about forty times as much! This nib is the real revelation of this pen, and the reason why I rate it so highly in terms of value for money. On Clairefontaine paper, with Waterman Florida Blue in both pens, the Parker Beta is certainly a better writer than the Sailor Ink Pen. Observe also that the "F" width designation on the Parker is actually fairly close to the Japanese "F-4" on the Sailor.

DSC_3171.JPG

To summarize: for about $2, this pen writes better than many pens in the $20 range (it's actually better than my Lamy AlStar, for example). I can only conclude that manufacturing in India has allowed Parker / Luxor to reach this remarkable price point without too many compromises in construction, and very few compromises indeed in the quality of the nib.
S.T. Dupont Defi with (steel) F nib
Montegrappa Nero Uno Linea M nib
Visconti Sterling Silver Skeleton M nib
Visconti Homo Sapiens Bronze Age EF nib

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#2 rahulg

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Posted 03 November 2008 - 09:53

Good review, I agree the Parkers made in India are remarkably value-based offerings. Though I must admit, the Vector/Reflex or Beta design never appealed to me. The nib though is a champ, at this price point.

#3 bluemoon

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Posted 03 November 2008 - 21:15

Good review. These pens are just low cost Vectors, the nib/feed assembly being the same. I consider them good school pens. One point to note, the cheap looking plastic is very durable, more likely to survive a 5ft fall than many resins, celluloids, etc..

I still have my Beta & Vectir from my school days, and yes, they still write beautifully.

"This is my prayer to thee, my lord---strike,
strike at the root of penury in my heart.
Give me the strength lightly to bear my joys and sorrows.
Give me the strength to make my love fruitful in service.
Give me the strength never to disown the poor
or bend my knees before insolent might.
Give me the strength to raise my mind high above daily trifles.
And give me the strength to surrender my strength to thy will with love. "


Rabindranath Tagore.

#4 FrankB

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Posted 03 November 2008 - 23:22

For a first review you have done very well. I look forward to your future reviews.

I think it is important for one to stay informed on what is available for school pens. They can be great knock about pens for anyone. These are also the pens that many kids learn to write with and their impressions of FP's, often lifetime impressions, are formed with them. Obviously, the better the pen the better the impressions.

By the way, I have seen the term "syringe-type converter" but I did not understand what it meant. For someone with my level of education, I can be really slow on the uptake. I learned to call these "slide converters" and I never made the association until this thread. I learned something. Thanks. Duh! embarrassed_smile.gif

#5 ParkerBeta

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Posted 03 November 2008 - 23:44

QUOTE (FrankB @ Nov 3 2008, 03:22 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
For a first review you have done very well. I look forward to your future reviews.

I think it is important for one to stay informed on what is available for school pens. They can be great knock about pens for anyone. These are also the pens that many kids learn to write with and their impressions of FP's, often lifetime impressions, are formed with them. Obviously, the better the pen the better the impressions.

By the way, I have seen the term "syringe-type converter" but I did not understand what it meant. For someone with my level of education, I can be really slow on the uptake. I learned to call these "slide converters" and I never made the association until this thread. I learned something. Thanks. Duh! embarrassed_smile.gif


Thanks to all of you who posted, for your kind words. FrankB, I didn't know these converters were called "syringe-type" either, but a knowledgeable FPN-er used that term in another thread and I figured that was the "official" terminology smile.gif
S.T. Dupont Defi with (steel) F nib
Montegrappa Nero Uno Linea M nib
Visconti Sterling Silver Skeleton M nib
Visconti Homo Sapiens Bronze Age EF nib

#6 hari317

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Posted 07 November 2008 - 19:10

Thanks for reviewing this pen, it may be very cheap but it is a good writer. I first saw this pen in Ahmedabad in 1999-2000. As others have pointed out, the nib and feed are identical in the Vector, Beta and the Jotter FP (parker 15 actually, introduced briefly here with a blue barrel and clear section).

Best,
Hari

Edited to add that the nib is made in India too.

Edited by hari317, 07 November 2008 - 19:12.

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#7 Shamouti

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Posted 19 November 2008 - 18:58

I like to add that this nib and feed is also exactly the same nib and feed found on the more expensive Parker 15 and the Vector pens. All you have to do is compare them and you'll see. Quite nice actually.

Shamouti

#8 ethernautrix

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Posted 19 November 2008 - 19:13

Parker Vector was one of the first fountain pens I bought over 20 years ago, and it still writes great (when, out of curiosity, I try it out every once in a while). It's a very good starter pen.

How about a review on that new Myu, hmm?

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#9 QM2

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Posted 19 November 2008 - 19:20

Never knew about the Parker Beta. I find the colour combination on yours very attractive!

Parker Vectors were my very first fountain pens, and as such they will always be laden with sentimental value. I say "pens", because eventually I accumulated over 20 of them...



#10 ParkerBeta

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Posted 09 December 2008 - 07:27

QUOTE (ethernautrix @ Nov 19 2008, 11:13 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
How about a review on that new Myu, hmm?


Great idea! However, troglokev's M90 review says it all better than I could, so I'm planning instead to do a comparison between my M90, an NOS Myu matte black that I just got from Stan's latest sale, and an NOS Murex currently winging its way across the Atlantic from another FPN-er. Hmm, should I include the Parker 50 Falcon that I'm hoping to pick up tomorrow from the post office, and turn it into an integral-nib fest?

BTW, a very short review of the new Myu -- get one ASAP! If I were forced to live the rest of my life with just one pen, I'd choose this one!

Edited by ParkerBeta, 09 December 2008 - 07:28.

S.T. Dupont Defi with (steel) F nib
Montegrappa Nero Uno Linea M nib
Visconti Sterling Silver Skeleton M nib
Visconti Homo Sapiens Bronze Age EF nib

#11 ntheo

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Posted 09 December 2008 - 10:00

Hey

Does anyone know any site that sell these pens?

Thanks

#12 troglokev

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Posted 09 December 2008 - 10:25

QUOTE (ntheo @ Dec 9 2008, 09:00 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Hey

Does anyone know any site that sell these pens?

Thanks


The MYU or the Vector?
I can help with M90 stockists.

... and thanks for the kind feedback, ParkerBeta. I look forward to reading your comparison extravaganza!

Edited by troglokev, 09 December 2008 - 10:28.


#13 The penner

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Posted 26 December 2008 - 10:09

I've got the same pen.
One day I got a hunch and tried to smoothen the nib even further with sandpaper. Well, this might seem impossible for someone who has actually used this pen.
And good heavens, it actually got smoother.
The pen came in a calligraphy set. Not much of a set really, just the regular pen and the calligraphy nib. It also had two ink cartridges.
The broad edged calligraphy nib is the only one I have thus far, so I can not compare it. It was a bit scratchishly toothy at first, but after trying the sandpaper trick it was much better. However with frequent use due to my dedicated practice, it has gone blunt but is still very usable.
K.M.J

#14 ralphawilson

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Posted 26 December 2008 - 12:39

Excellent review, ParkerBeta! I especially like thorough reviews of humble, unpretentious pens like this.

"The surface is all you've got. You can only get beyond the surface by working with the surface." ~Richard Avedon


#15 shrujaya

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Posted 26 December 2008 - 14:16

Hi all...a very nice and detailed review...high time that this pen received some attention...also, a kind of perspective on low priced pens, that tells that there is a lot to see and write than just the price...It is after reading the review that I noticed a lot of things about the pen...I have two of these pens...one of the same kind and the other is blue with black trim...the syringe on the black and red is damaged, but the blue and black one is still in working condition... these are my earliest FPs and used to write well...though I dont use these pens, I have cleaned and kept them in reserve...

Thanks ParkerBeta for a detailed review and really informative photos...

Shrujaya


Writing and posting about fountain pens exclusively on www.jaisiri.blogspot.in ... recent posts on Hema Pens (Hyderabad), Haul at Majestic (Bangalore), and Asoka Pens (Tenali)...

#16 soham parkhi

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Posted 16 August 2014 - 12:34

Hey

Does anyone know any site that sell these pens?

Thanks

you can get these on amazon.com



#17 benn093

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Posted 06 October 2014 - 21:42

A good point made above is that a good student pen will likely persuade the user that fountain pens are worth sticking with.  I wish that these Parkers and other offerings from the many manufacturers were more widely available in North America.  I remember, many years ago back in the UK, we were given a simple writing set (by, I believe, the Royal Mail) that comprised of some writing paper, envelopes, stamps and a cartridge pen (Platignum?) to encourage us to write either to family or to pen friends.  Would that Canada Post or the USPS would be so forward thinking!  I still write about four or five hand-written letters a week.

 

A great review.  I wish I could get hold of some to try and to share with some of the young people that I work with!  Although I own some good, almost expensive pens, I seem to end up putting what is basically a student pen in my bag every time I travel.

 

Thank you!

 

Alan



#18 bob_hayden

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Posted 17 August 2016 - 12:13

A pen well worth reviewing!  At this time these are readily avaialable from India via eBay for about $5 each.  Unfortunately you may have to wait a month for one to reach you;-(  But that is true of Chinese pens as well, and my experience with these has shown much better quality control than pens from China!

 

I have had many Vectors over the years and was not very impressed.  The soft plastic body tends to split out in the area where the section screws in.  Nibs were very stiff and variable in quality.  In my experience, those from England were best and those from India worst.  So I was surprised at how good the nibs are on the Beta.  I wonder if they use Vertor nibs from England?  And perhaps the fact that the nib is not semi-hooded allows a bit more flex? 

 

I have not had any of these long enough to judge durability though the plastic seems pretty cheap just looking at it. 

 

Lamy cartridges fir in my Betas and Frontiers but not my Vectors.  This opens up a lot of options for ink in cartridges.  In the US Monteverde markets a good range of colors at about the same price as the Lamy cartidges.  For workhorse black and blue majus7777 has cartridges in bulk for less than half that on eBay.  Finally, there are the Thornton cartidges that are really cheap on eBay -- as little as $11 per hundred.  They come in blue, black, and assorted colors.  I have had flow problems in some pens with the red but I like the color.  These are very hard to puncture so you might want to get them started with an awl to save wear and tear on your pen.



#19 Dip n Scratch

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Posted 25 July 2018 - 07:18

The prices of these have gone up, but do they still come with the converter as standard?

I only have one Parker pen & it was the lack of compatible cartridges that made me go out and buy a converter very quickly.



#20 bob_hayden

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Posted 25 July 2018 - 10:49

Have the prices really gone up much?  Currently these start at around $7US on eBay here in the US of A.  I think the $2 price in the original review was the US equivalent of the price in India, which could be expected to be a fraction of the actual price to buy one in the US.  I cant speak to the situation in the UK.

 

I do not remember mine coming with converters.  Checking eBay this morning I see them offered with a converter and a cartridge, just a converter, just a cartridge, or none of the above.  The photos just show a bubble pack so I presume the pens come from the factory in all four flavors. 

 

My post above lists some alternative cartridges.  Parker cartridges are plentiful on eBay USA but mainly in black and blue.  I have a variety of colors but those seem to have been discontinued. 








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