Monday, November 23, 2009

Uni-ball Alpha Gel Pencil Slim

After much time away, I am finally back! It's been a while since I've visited this blog, but I hope to slowly get some long-overdue reviews back up so please be patient with me.

The first of a long list is my lovely Uni A-Gel Slim...


Overview: FYI, this pencil writes with 0.3 mm lead, not the usual 0.5 mm. This means that the lines will be both thinner and not as dark. I originally purchased this pencil to do my Chinese homework with, which makes sense because Chinese characters are fairly complex to write, therefore thinner pencils help a lot. For regular writing, the lead might write a bit too light for general writing. However, I do have a friend who prefers 0.3 mm lead even for general note-taking so I wouldn't disregard it right away. I will have some photos up next month for people to compare 0.3 mm and 0.5 mm lead.

If you are looking for a 0.3 mm pencil, this one's worth a try, although it may not be the best out there. It's comfortable to write with, thanks to the squishy gel grip, stylish, and is available in many colors through JetPens. However, it may not be worth the $12 price tag. Although the body looks metal from the photos on Jetpens, it's actually plastic with metal parts. As long as you're not throwing your writing utensils all over the place though, durability shouldn't be a problem. Design-wise, the body is a very attractive silver, but my favorite parts are the glossy plastic pink parts because they're just so pretty.

- lightweight
- stylish
- many different color options available
- comfortable to write with (very squishy grip!)

- a bit overpriced in my opinion (only $3 less than my Jetstream multi-pen, which feels much heftier and has 4 pen colors + pencil)
- plastic body feels a bit cheap
- grip attracts dust easily

Overall: A pretty, comfortable, and lightweight pencil. If you have never used a 0.3 mm lead before, you might want to try a cheaper pencil that uses this size lead first before buying this one. For instance, the Kuru Toga comes in a 0.3 version and is little more than half the price of this pencil (I'm actually a bit curious about trying it myself!). Some drafting pencils also take 0.3 mm, and might have more weight for those who prefer some heft (the same friend I mentioned above loves her Pentel Graphgear 1000, which is $15 on JetPens). I am providing these other suggestions in this review because when I pick up this pencil, I would imagine it as cheaper than $12. That being said, I am satisfied with mine.

Rating: 8/10 cookies

I read in a review on the JetPens page for this product that the 0.3 mm lead can be hard to find. I actually bought a whole bunch at my local Utrecht art supply store. They were even on sale at the time so I only paid 75 cents per pack! So if you want to try 0.3 mm lead, check Utrecht or anywhere that sells supplies for architecture students, because you will definitely find a plentiful variety of lead there.

Signing out,

- Emily

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Uni-ball Signo DX 0.28 mm



Overview: Despite looking fragile at first (this pen writes VERY thin!) this pen has actually proved to be pretty hearty. Of course, if you drop it and it lands on its tip, that is a different matter altogether, but I've been using it on a regular basis to take notes during 70-minute classes and it has never skipped or clogged yet. The tip is made of steel, making it very sturdy. It is also more of a cone shape, rather than the needle tip you get with Hi-Tec-C's and Slicci's. The ink is very dark and visible, despite the thinness of the lines. The grip is comfortable - not too hard or soft, with light circular dimples - and when the pen is posted, the weight is very even. All in all, a wonderful value!

- VERY thin lines
- sturdy tip
- has not clogged yet for me, although I've heard that it does
- good, clean design
- rubber grip makes lengthy writing comfortable

- I've heard that it clogs from time to time - if this happens, try submerging the tip in rubbing alcohol (if it happens to me, I will document the cleaning process for you to see)

Overall: A $2.25 pen with only one downside? Obviously a must-have. The ink is dark and the body is very durable. If you plan on buying this thickness, I advise either blue, blue-black, black, or red because the lighter ink colors will be virtually invisible with such thin lines. Personally, I'm getting another black and a blue-black once my next paycheck comes in!

Rating: 9.5/10 special turnips

Signing out,

- Emily

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Pen Addict's Giveaway

Want to win a 6-pack of Pilot FriXion Color-Pencil-Like Erasable Gel Ink Pens? Then go over to The Pen Addict and leave a comment. It might also be nice if you mentioned that I referred you so people know this blog exists, but of course that's optional. *winkwink*

Signing out,

- Emily

What is a drafting pencil?

Ever since I saw the drafting pencil section on Jetpens, I've always wondered what exactly makes a drafting pencil different from just your average mechanical pencil? Additionally, what's the deal with all these "leadholder" doohickeys you also see?

After doing some Google research, I found my answer. For those who are also new to high-quality writing implements, I thought I'd share a bit of this newfound wisdom. Lead holders were actually the first graphite pencil in history and were "fabricated to avoid the blackening of the fingers that accompanies handling graphite by inserting a small rod of the substance in the end of what was essentially a hollow stick." The lead holders that exist today are a continuation of their historical forebears. At the most basic level, they are mechanical pencils with really thick lead refills.

So what differentiates a drafting pencil from a mechanical pencil? Here is a short list summary of the differences between the two:

Drafting pencils:
  • longer sleeve (around 3-5 mm) - in mechanical pencils, this is the tip where the lead comes out. The longer sleeve on a drafting pencil allows it to glide better along a ruler or template;
  • available in many different lead sizes, including 0.3 mm and 0.9 mm, as well as your usual 0.7 mm and 0.5 mm;
Mechanical pencils:
  • shorter sleeve (around 2 mm);
  • normally, models are only available in either 0.5 mm or 0.7 mm lead sizes;
Drafting pencils are most commonly used in architectural/art settings, although I know many student friends who just use them as high-quality mechanical pencils. I myself am debating whether to add a nice drafting pencil to my next Jetpens order as well!

Signing out,

- Emily

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Uni-ball Jetstream 4&1 Multipen

Price: $15

: This pen works pretty much like any multipen. Push down any of the "clickers" of a colored stripe and you get the corresponding ink color; push down the clip and you get the pencil. To advance the lead on the pencil, you first push down the clip so that the pencil is selected, and then you push down the clip again until you feel a click. The barrel is plastic, with a rubber grip at the bottom, and the clip and point are metal. Like most multi-pens, this one is thicker than most pens. I'd estimate it as about 2 mm larger in diameter than your average pen. Personally, I did not find this to be a problem.

- Very smooth ink flow
- Ink color is vibrant
- Pen design is very appealing, although due to the thickness, I wouldn't use it in a professional setting.
- The rubber grip is firm, but offers good traction.

- Small eraser. Jetpens sells refills, but I'd just use an entirely separate eraser.
- Weight seems to be concentrated at the top of the pen.
- It took me some time to figure out how to refill the pencil lead. Jetpens has a good tutorial, but it still took me a good 30 minutes or so to get it. Then again, I did feel really stupid when I finally figured it out.

Overall: A good pen for students and casual business use. For $15, it's a little expensive but considering it will replace almost every other pen you own, I consider it a good value. I know I use mine every chance I get!

Rating: 9/10 awesome cakes

(yes, that's right - awesome cakes)

Signing out,

- Emily

Saturday, February 21, 2009

First Pen Order!

I just got my first order from JetPens about two weeks ago. My friend recently got me hooked on writing implements, and hooked is exactly what I've been ever since. I'm pretty sure my friends are sick of all my talk about pens, so I've decided to start this blog to share my love with more people. What you see here is a Uniball Jetstream 4&1 multi-pen, 4 Uni-ball Signo DXs, and a Sura John and Mary pencil pouch to keep it all in! I've been using all of this loyally for the past two weeks, so stay tuned for some detailed reviews.

Signing out,

- Emily