Tag Archives: handwritten

Lamy Al-Star Fountain Pen Review

Lamy Al-Star Fountain Pen Review

Lamy AL-Star
Fountain Pen

- Handwritten Review -

  • Review Ink: Sailor Kiwa Guro Nano Black
  • Review Paper: Doane Writing Pad

Lamy Al-Star Fountain Pen Review

Specs:

  • Description:  The aluminum cousin of the Lamy Safari
  • Nib: Steel nib, Fine, interchangeable
  • Material: Aluminum body with plastic triangular grip
  • Filling Mechanism: Proprietary cartridge/converter system
  • Weight: ~22 grams filled (Cap – 10g, Body – 12g)
  • Measurements: 6.1″ closed, 6.7″ posted, 5.2″ unposted, 0.5″ diameter
  • Ink Capactiy: ~1ml
  • Price: $50.00 US on Amazon (affiliate link)

Handwritten Review Scans:

Intro/About:

Lamy Al-Star Fountain Pen Review

The Lamy AL-Star (not this matte black one I’m writing the review with) was the second fountain pen I had ever purchased. It’s surprising that it’s taken me this one to review one. The AL-Star is nearly identical to the Lamy Safari, except it’s made from aluminum. I’m definitely a huge fan of the pen (I have three of them…) so enjoy the review!

Appearance & Packaging:

Lamy Al-Star Fountain Pen Review

If you’re familiar with the looks and packaging of the Safari, you’re not going to be very surprised here. The AL-Star looks the same, but is ever so slightly wider in diameter than its plastic counterpart. It also has the love-it-or-hate-it signature Lamy triangular grip. Being right handed with a normal tripod grip, I find the pen to be very comfortable.

Lamy Al-Star Fountain Pen Review

The difference between the Safari grip and the AL-Star grip is that instead of matching the body, all of the AL-Stars have a smoky transparent grey plastic grip, regardless of the color of the pen. I think the dark plastic looks great in pretty much every body combination (the sandy metallic tan doesn’t look so great in my opinion). I absolutely love the modern design that Lamy employs throughout their entire product line, and the AL-Star is no exception.

 

Nib Performance & Filling System:

Lamy Al-Star Fountain Pen Review

The AL-Star takes Lamy’s proprietary cartridge/converter system. For the price range ($37.00), it makes sense for the pen to have a C/C system. I’ve said it in other pen reviews, I really don’t mind the C/C system because it allows me to change inks more frequently. The AL-Star has an oval-shaped window in the body that allows you to see how much ink is left in the pen as well.

Lamy Al-Star Fountain Pen Review

The AL-Star takes the interchangeable steel nibs that are seen across most of Lamy’s product line. They can be hit or miss, but they’re really easy to swap out. The steel nibs aren’t bad writers at all, and are definitely in the middle of the road in terms of smoothness and flow. I like the interchangeable system, because it allows you to try new nib widths with a relatively low barrier to entry, and makes the pen very versatile as well. I found Lamy’s nib system to be hugely helpful in the beginning of my fountain pen journey. It really helped me to dial in my nib preferences without spending big money on a pen with a nib I may not be crazy about.

Feel:

Lamy Al-Star Fountain Pen Review

The Lamy AL-Star definitely has a more premium feel than the Safari. It’s slightly heavier too. The aluminum has a nice tactile feel, and it’s nice to pick up something that’s cool to the touch (at least in the winter it is…) that warms up in your hand. The fit and finish of the AL-Star is also top notch. I used to write with my Safaris and AL-Stars posted, but lately I’ve been doing so with the cap off. The pen is definitely a bit long at 6.7″ posted, but it’s not horribly off balance should you decide to post while writing.

Lamy Al-Star Fountain Pen Review

The AL-Star also has the triangular grip section as seen on the Safari. I personally find it to be comfortable, but others with non-standard grips may find it to be unbearable. The grip does enforce proper grip, and the nib is always going to be lined up properly with the page when you’re using the grip. Again, this helped me out quite a bit in the beginning of my fountain pen days. The feel of the body is nice, but the aluminum is not quite as durable as the Safari. The finish is definitely prone to showing wear, and I’ve heard stories of people denting the body of their AL-Star with abuse. I don’t mind when pens show wear, but if you baby the pen, I’m sure it will hold up just fine.

Pros:

  • Great design
  • Swappable nibs
  • Affordable price range
  • Premium feel over the Safari

Cons:

  • The grip isn’t for everyone
  • Aluminum construction doesn’t mean better durability

Conclusion:

Lamy Al-Star Fountain Pen Review

I love my Lamys quite a bit, so I may be slightly biased. The AL-Star is a winner in my book. Swappable nibs make the pen very versatile. The minimalistic design and clean aesthetics really resonate with me as well. The triangular grip may not be for everyone, but it can really help out beginners develop a proper fountain pen grip. I have around 6 Safaris and 3 AL-Stars, and I’m definitely going to continue to add them to my collection. I would definitely recommend this pen to anyone.

Gallery:


About these ads
Rotring 800 Pencil Review  Rotring 800 Pencil Review

Rotring 800 0.5mm Pencil Review

Rotring 800
0.5mm Drafting Pencil

- Handwritten Review -

  • Review Paper: Doane Writing Pad

Rotring 800 Pencil Review

Specs:

  • Description: A top-of-the-line, retractable tip drafting pencil from Rotring
  • Tip: 4mm retractable lead sleeve, 0.5mm lead size
  • Weight: ~25 grams
  • Body: All metal construction
  • Measurements: 5.250″ retracted, 5.625″ extended
  • Review Lead: Pentel AIN 2B 0.5mm lead
  • Color Options: Black metal body, Silver metal body (Check them all out at JetPens!)

Handwritten Review Scans:


Intro/About:

Rotring 800 Pencil Review

I finally have what I think is the holy grail of drafting pencils. The all metal, retractable tipped Rotring 800 both looks and feels awesome. This is the first pencil that has made me feel like I’ve been missing out on something all along. Huge thanks to my friends over at JetPens for sending over the pencil and lead for review!

JetPens Banner
Check out JetPens for tons of awesome Japanese pens and stationery. Free shipping on orders over $25, and hitting that is pretty easy with all the great stuff they have. So thanks again!

Appearance:

Rotring 800 Pencil Review

The Rotring 800 pencil is at the top of the line of drafting pencils from Rotring, and you can really tell. The 800 could be easily confused for the 600 from afar, but the retractable tip and the gold accents set the pencil apart from the pack. The accents give some added flair and reassure the user that the 800 is at the top of the line. The 800 looks nearly identical to the Rotring Rapid Pro ballpoint, but the angles are a bit sharper and more pronounced. That doesn’t mean that they’re sharp or uncomfortable though.

Rotring 800 Pencil Review

There is knurling on both the grip and the lead tube extension knob. The entire pencil is matte black with glossy red logos. I really like the subtle glossy black “Made in Japan” logo on the back of the pencil’s body. It’s an awesome looking pencil, and it’s definitely my new favorite.

Construction and Feel:

Rotring 800 Pencil Review
Bottom to top: Rotring 800 Pencil, Uni Shift Pipe Lock Pencil, Rotring Rapid Pro Ballpoint

The Rotring 800 is the most expensive pencil from Rotring ($52.00) and it definitely feels that way. The 800 is all metal and feels as solid as a pencil can be. The 800 is a great weight – not too heavy, but with a nice amount of heft. The balance of the pencil is great, and it’s not weighted too much towards the front or back. While writing, the 800 felt very neutrally balanced. This is thanks to the all metal body, whereas in something like the Pentel Graph Gear 500, the weight is more towards the front. I wrote the entire handwritten portion of the review straight through with little to no hand fatigue.

Rotring 800 Pencil Review

The knurled grip is grippy, but not sharp. The same can be said for the hexagonal barrel – it’s nice and angular, but never digs into your hand. The top has no discernible wiggle, which can be a problem with other retractable tip pencils. Overall, I’m very happy with the quality construction and feel of the 800. It’s definitely doing a great job as the flagship model.

Writing Performance:

Rotring 800 Pencil Review

Upon opening up the 800, I ditched the included HB lead and loaded up some Pentel AIN 2B lead that JetPens threw in the package. The 2B lead is a bit softer than the HB, which results in a darker line on the page. Here’s a post about lead hardness scale with pictures showing the differences, I found it hugely helpful. The tip of the pencil has no wiggle to be reported, which is great for a retractable tip pencil. I did have one issue though, and I’m not sure if it’s due to the softer lead, or the internal lead advancement mechanism.

The lead seems to break inside the pencil, right at the point where the mechanism grips the lead. Sometimes when you press the knock to advance some more lead, a small amount of lead either falls out, or goes limp until the lead behind it catches. After doing some research on the issue, it appears that I’m not alone. This can be pretty frustrating when you’re trying to write for extended periods of time and the lead either pushes back into the body, or doesn’t extend when you want it to. I’m going to give some harder lead a try, as it may be that the softer lead is breaking more easily. Other than this, I’m very happy with everything about the pencil.
UPDATE: I swapped the lead out from 2B to a harder HB lead. There’s no more breaking, and it was as I suspected. The pencil writes just as nicely with the HB lead. Also worth pointing out, JetPens customer service reached out after seeing the review and said to send it back and they’d swap it out no problem!

Pros:

  • Awesome design
  • Great feel
  • Nice balance and heft
  • Solid retractable tip

Cons:

  • Internal lead breaking is super frustrating (see update above, harder lead stopped the breakage)

Conclusion:

Rotring 800 Pencil Review

For a flagship model, the Rotring 800 should be perfect, and it’s so, so close. Looks, feel, and construction are all top-notch. The 2B lead from Pentel is smooth and dark, but I’m going to swap it out for a harder lead to see if it remedies the breakage problem (it did!). Other reviews of the pencil are great, so I suspect that I may have a fluke, or it’s the lead. That issue aside, it’s an awesome writing instrument and looks great alongside my Rapid Pro ballpoint.

Thanks again to JetPens for sending this over to review, check out their site for more info on the pencil!

Gallery:

Disclaimer: This pencil was provided to me as a review unit, free of charge, by JetPens. I was not compensated for this review, and this did not have any effect on my thoughts and opinions about the pen. Thank you for reading!

Tactile Turn EiMIM Z Machined Pen Review

Tactile Turn (EiMIM) “Z” Pen – Review

Tactile Turn “Z”
(Formerly EiMIM)
- Handwritten Review -

Tactile Turn EiMIM Z Machined Pen Review

Specs:

  • Description: A precision machined pen with a unique lay pattern running the length of the pen, with an awesome minimalistic design and magnetic base.
  • Point: Variable – The review was done with a Zebra 0.7mm JF Gel Refill, but the Z takes G2 style refills (full list here)
  • Material: 7075 Aluminum, hard anodized in black with a TiAlN clip
  • Refillable: Yes
  • Measurements: 5.6″L x 0.436″D
  • Weight: 32g
  • Price: $75.00

TactileTurn.com

 

Handwritten Review Scans:

Intro/About:

Tactile Turn EiMIM Z Machined Pen Review
Along with the Tactile Turn Mover and Shaker, Will sent over an EiMIM Z and magnetic base over to review as well. So thank you Will, the pen now proudly sits in its stand on my desk at work. I had remembered seeing the project while it was still being funded on Kickstarter, but I didn’t back it. I should have. EiMIM has changed their branding, and are now known as Tactile Turn. The Z is now ready for order and shipping up on their website. I’m a little upset I didn’t back the project and add this to my collection sooner.

Appearance & Construction:

Tactile Turn EiMIM Z Machined Pen Review

The Z is an awesome looking pen. I have the black anodized version with the coated clip (the coating makes it darker) and the brushed steel magnetic base. The Z is beautifully machined and everything fits together perfectly. It’s hard to pick out the seam between the cap and body without looking really closely. Not only does everything fit together well, it looks great while doing so. The conical tip stays out of the way of the pen refill’s tip allowing for you to easily see what and where you’re writing.

Tactile Turn EiMIM Z Machined Pen Review

The cap is loaded with a magnet that allows the conical cap to “post” into the divot on the back of the pen. It’s not only functional and convenient, but I’ve found it a lot of fun to play with. Who doesn’t love a good magnet? The cap magnet also keeps the pen safely standing in it’s base. The custom lay pattern covers the whole pen (as opposed to just the grip section of the Mover/Shaker) and both looks and feels great.

Feel:

Tactile Turn EiMIM Z Machined Pen Review

The Tactile Turn Z is a great looking and feeling pen. The lay pattern provides added grip and a unique feel. The pen’s weight (32 grams) is nicely balanced and not too heavy. In fact, it feels much lighter than it actually is. At just under 6″ when posted, it’s not too long, and definitely not too short.

The anodizing is smooth and evenly applied and I have no complaints about it. The 0.436″ diameter is a great middle ground – not too thick and not too thin. The Z is the longest of the three offerings (X, Y, and Z) and I’m glad Will sent this one, because I think it’s the one I’d be happiest with had I chosen one. It’s very obvious that weight, dimensions, and balance were strongly taken into consideration when designing the Z.

Writing Performance: 

Tactile Turn EiMIM Z Machined Pen Review

Like most machined pens, the Z is made to take a TON of different refills. Each of these refills are going to provide a different writing experience. When I’m not using a fountain pen, there’s a good chance I’m using a gel ink pen. The Z comes with a 0.38mm Pilot G2 refill that I like quite a bit, but I opted to throw in a Zebra JF refill I had laying around. I really like the Zebra refills, they’re super smooth and vibrant. 0.7mm is on the upper end of my preference for width, but it works here. Check out the link at the top of the review to see all the refills that the Z is compatible with, I’m sure there will be at least one you like.

Tactile Turn EiMIM Z Machined Pen Review

Pros:

  • Awesome fit/finish
  • Great quality materials
  • Grip pattern looks and feels great

Cons:

  • Price is a factor to be considered

Conclusion:

Tactile Turn EiMIM Z Machined Pen Review

Great looks, high quality materials, and awesome fit and finish – what more could I ask for? The Z takes a ton of different refills, and is available in shorter models that take even more different refills. Paired with the magnetic base, the total price is $85. It is a lot for a pen, but the quality is there. It’s definitely well outside the “impulse buy” price range, but it won’t disappoint. The Z and it’s base have a permanent spot on my desk at work and I continue to enjoy not only writing with it, but staring at it all day. Thanks again to Will over at Tactile Turn for sending over the pen!

Gallery:

TWSBI Mini Classic Fountain Pen Review

TWSBI Mini Fountain Pen in Classic Review

TWSBI Mini Classic
Fountain Pen

- Handwritten Review -

  • Review Ink: Pilot Iroshizuku fuyu-syogun
  • Review Paper: Kyokuto Cambridge 

Specs:

  • Description:  An affordable, easy-posting piston-filler from TWSBI.
  • Nib: Steel nib, Fine
  • Material: Plastic with metal accents
  • Filling Mechanism: Piston Filler
  • Weight: ~20 grams filled
  • Measurements: 4.60″ closed, 5.55″ posted, 4.25″ unposted
  • Ink Capactiy: ~2ml
  • Price: $50.00 US on Amazon (affiliate link)

Handwritten Review Scans:

Intro/About:

TWSBI Mini Classic Fountain Pen Review

Admittedly, I had written off TWSBI for a while. After a continuously cracking 540 and an inconsistent medium nibbed Vac700, I figured I’d hold off on TWSBI until they worked out some of the kinks that were widely experienced with their products. After seeing their many improvements from the 540 line to the 580 line, and the new Mini model, I had to give TWSBI another shot. The Classic color scheme (black and clear) made it that much easier to pull the trigger. Read on to see if the TWSBI Mini holds up to it’s competitors!

Appearance & Packaging:

TWSBI Mini Classic Fountain Pen Review

Unboxing a TWSBI pen is always a treat. The packaging is very “Apple-like”. It’s a white plastic base, encapsulated in clear plastic. The pen is suspended above the base on two pedestals. The plastic box is surrounded by foam and safely packed into a brown cardboard box, adorned with the red TWSBI logo in the middle. It’s really a great presentation. Onto the pen itself…The Mini is a sharp looking pen. The Classic has a black grip, cap and piston knob, with a clear barrel. It’s an awesome looking combo. My favorite part is the black grip section, that usually drives me nuts trying to keep clean on a demonstrator.

TWSBI Mini Classic Fountain Pen Review

The Mini is small, but not too small. I love the demonstrator barrel and the black with chrome accents. The red TWSBI logo on the cap adds just a splash of color that works well with the overall aesthetic of the pen. It’s a great looking little pen, and it looks awesome loaded up with some Iroshizuku fuyu-syogun.

Nib Performance & Filling System:

TWSBI Mini Classic Fountain Pen Review

I was pretty nervous for this part of the review. My first TWSBI 540 didn’t even write out of the box, and my Vac700′s medium nib skipped more than it wrote a solid line. I’m happy to say that there are zero issues with the Mini’s fine nib. It’s a bit on the dry side, but that’s not a complaint. It’s silky smooth and lays down a nice fine line. The nib on the Mini is a little bit smaller than the 5X0 and 700 series.

TWSBI Mini Classic Fountain Pen Review

The nib is a good size for the pen, and doesn’t come off as too small (I’m looking at you Kaweco Allrounder). It’s definitely one of the smoother steel nibs I have used. Before TWSBI entered the scene, a piston filler in a sub-$100 pen was a rarity. The piston operates smoothly and efficiently. It’s easy to get a full reservoir of ink, and it’s fun to fill too. A great nib and an awesome filling system…so far, so good.

Feel:

TWSBI Mini Classic Fountain Pen Review

The TWSBI Mini is a smaller pen (I mean, it is called the Mini), but I wouldn’t call it miniature. Unposted, it’s a bit too small to comfortably write with. The coolest part about the feel of the mini is how the pen posts. The cap actually screws onto the back of the pen, making a super secure post that doesn’t interfere with the piston knob. The screw cap greatly helps in improving the rigidity of the pen while writing. Posting the cap makes the pen an ideal width for me. Balance is great and it’s not too light or too heavy. If you are familiar with the Sailor Sapporo, you’ll be right at home with the Mini.

They’re practically identical in size, weight, and proportion when both pens are posted. My one issue with the feel of the Mini is the metal ring at the bottom of the grip, closest to the nib. The ring has a slightly sharp edge to it, and the way I grip the pen results in some discomfort over time. Choking up on the pen a bit solves the issue, but it’s not ideal for me to change my grip to use a pen. Other than the metal ring, the TWSBI Mini feels great in hand.

Pros:

  • Improved design (grip ring) prevents cracking
  • Great looks
  • Unique packaging
  • Smooth, consistent nib
  • Great value

Cons:

  • The grip’s metal ring prevents cracking, but it may be uncomfortable for some.

Conclusion:

TWSBI Mini Classic Fountain Pen Review

I would say that I am 99% happy with my TWSBI Mini. The nib is much better than the last generation of TWSBIs I’ve owned, and they have added a metal ring to the grip to prevent cracking (although it’s a bit sharp). The Mini’s great looks and feel, coupled with it’s affordable price make the Mini an awesome pen for both beginners and collectors. The Mini did a great job at changing my mind about TWSBI. The Mini is a great little pen, that I would definitely have no hesitations recommending. Good show TWSBI, good show.

Gallery:


Pentel GraphGear 500 Review

Pentel Graph Gear 500 0.3mm Pencil Review

Pentel Graph Gear 500
0.3mm Drafting Pencil

- Handwritten Review -

Specs:

  • Description: An affordable, entry level drafting pencil with a solid grip and weight
  • Tip: 4mm pipe, 0.3mm lead size
  • Weight: ~11 grams
  • Measurements: 5.5″
  • Color Options: Brown – 0.3mm, Black – 0.5mm, 0.7mm – Blue, 0.9mm – Grey (Check them all out at JetPens!)

Handwritten Review Scans:


Intro/About:

Pentel Graph Gear 500 Drafting Pencil Review

Big thanks to JetPens for sending me over a Pentel Graph Gear 500 for review! I don’t use pencils all that often, but when I do, I definitely enjoy a good drafting pencil. The GG500 is my first 0.3mm pencil, and so far, so good. Enjoy the review!

JetPens Banner
Check out JetPens for tons of awesome Japanese pens and stationery. Free shipping on orders over $25, and hitting that is pretty easy with all the great stuff they have. So thanks again!

Appearance:

Pentel Graph Gear 500 Drafting Pencil Review

The GG500 is a pretty nice looking pencil, especially for the price (under $6.00). The 0.3mm model is brown plastic with chrome accents. The knurling is nice looking and high quality and there are four rings through the grip that visually break up the knurling nicely. The tip of the pencil is thin, making it appear a bit longer than it actually is. The clip is a bit short, but it does get the job done. I’d be wary about leaving something with a such a pointy tip in my pocket though. The GG500′s brown and silver color scheme gives off an almost vintage vibe. I like it.

Construction and Feel:

Pentel Graph Gear 500 Drafting Pencil Review

The Graph Gear is solidly built and definitely has a nice weight to it without being too heavy. The grip is solid and sturdy and there’s no wiggle to be found in the tip. The body is plasticky, but at $5.50, it’s to be expected. It’s the lightest of the three drafting pencils I have, but there’s no hand fatigue when using it. The width is on point with most drafting pencils as well. I’d love to see a wider pencil with a knurled grip, something akin to the Levenger L-Tech would be awesome.

Pentel Graph Gear 500 Drafting Pencil Review

The GG500 definitely feels like it could be more expensive than it is. I’m totally happy with both the build quality and feel of the pencil. I forgot to go into the knurling before, but it’s pretty nice. It’s very comfortable – enough “bite” to hold on to, but not enough to feel like you’re taking sandpaper to your fingers. I’m a fan of using a mechanical drafting pencil over the regular wood case ones, and the construction and feel of the GG500 really back that up.

Writing Performance:

Pentel Graph Gear 500 Drafting Pencil Review
Foreground to background: GG500, Uni Shift Pipe Lock, Uni Kuru Toga Roulette

The Graph Gear 500′s 0.3mm lead is my first 0.3mm pencil. I’m using the lead that came loaded in it (which after looking it up is Pentel Super Hi-Polymer HB Lead). I prefer something a bit softer, that produces a darker line. My comfortable range is between 2B and 4B. This HB lead is getting me by just fine until I place an order for some darker ones. The 0.3mm lead is surprisingly sharp. I’m assuming there isn’t too much surface area to make a large flat spot, dulling the lead or requiring rotation. That being said, the pencil does tend to cut into the paper a little bit, and snag more than my 0.5mm pencils tend to do. The longer 4mm lead pipe stays out of the way of what you’re writing/drawing, and is meant to make use with a ruler easier. I’m sure the sharpness can be remedied by a softer lead, and I’m looking forward to trying some out in here.

Pros:

  • Great price
  • Solid construction
  • Comfy grip
  • Tip stays out of the way

Cons:

  • The HB 0.3mm lead can dig into the page a bit

Conclusion:

Pentel GraphGear 500 Review

The Pentel Graph Gear 500 is a solid entrance into the world of drafting pencils. At $5.50, it’s definitely worth a try. There are no major moving parts in the tip, which means no wiggle in the lead. I’m happy with the look, feel, and construction of the pencil. It definitely holds up to both my Uni Kuru Toga Roulette and Uni Shift Pipe Lock, both of which were three times the price.

Thanks again to JetPens for sending this over to review, check out their site for more info on the pencil!

Gallery:

Disclaimer: This pencil was provided to me as a review unit, free of charge, by JetPens. I was not compensated for this review, and this did not have any effect on my thoughts and opinions about the pen. Thank you for reading!