Notes: The Lihit Lab Teffa pen case is a great option for those looking for a grab-and-go solution to carrying all of their stationery essentials. The case is small, yet organized and can fit a surprising amount of stuff inside. Everything in the photo above fits into the case without bulging or jamming anything in there. I’m very happy with the amount of stuff that this case carries with ease. The inside dimensions are large enough to accommodate both large and small writing utensils, and plenty of them. The case has some nice details, like a double zipper and rubber patch. The zippers are smooth and feel like they’ll last a long time, I’m not worried about long term durability issues. There are also two small pockets on the front of the case, the larger one is ideal for business cards. This makes it especially easy to grab one or two without opening up the whole case.
What makes the Teffa unique is the internal divider. It allows you to separate items if you wish, but also allows for more organization. This case is great, but not without a few downsides. The pen storage section has no protection between pens – I wouldn’t be putting my Nakaya in there. The pens are in contact with each other, so be mindful of what you keep in the case. I’d hate to see a machined pen knock the finish off of a Pelikan or scratch up a Montblanc.
I like this pen case quite a bit. It’s a great solution for grab-and-go. I find it especially useful when switching between bags. It’s also pretty great for moving from my desk at home to at work, or from my desk to the couch. The Teffa is reasonably priced at just under $15, and the construction is nice for the amount they’re asking. I’d definitely recommend the Teffa for lugging around those pens that you might not mind dinging a bit!
My past experiences with TWSBI have been hit or miss, mostly on the miss side. I was impressed by the price point of the ECO, but it just didn’t click with me. My old Diamond 540 was plagued with cracking pieces, I’ve given up emailing customer support. The Mini was cool, but once again, it just didn’t get used. My Vac700 was a very poor writer, and in my opinion, not very comfortable in hand. So I’ve had a good amount of experience with several of their pens. I figured the “AL” version with aluminum parts would be more durable, better looking, and overall more reliable. Read on to see how the 580AL has held up to over a year of ownership and use!
Appearance and Packaging:
The TWSBI 580AL is a sharp-looking pen. I’ve always loved the way the Diamond series looks, and in my opinion, it’s even better with the blinged out updates. There’s an aluminum grip section that’s made of two pieces, and an aluminum piston rod and mechanism. It definitely looks more premium than the old 540 and 580s. The faceted barrel is crystal clear, allowing you to see whatever ink you have sloshing around inside. In the photos, it’s filled with J. Herbin’s Emerald of Chivor – an awesome ink to have in a demonstrator. TWSBI has won awards for their packaging, and this one is no exception. The box is made of plastic, with the pen sitting on a pedestal inside. It looks very Apple-esque and I like it. Overall, the pen looks great, and has an awesome presentation. It would make a great gift, and it looks great on my desk.
Filling System / Nib Performance:
The filling system in the 580AL is an integration piston mechanism. It’s fully removable, whether it be for cleaning or tinkering. This updated aluminum piston replaces the plastic version seen on the standard 580, but I don’t believe it’s much of an improvement. I’ve had the piston get stuck (like REALLY stuck) a few times, and it’s definitely an annoyance. It’s nerve-racking to have to apply pressure to the piston knob, not knowing if it will give way and shoot out ink everywhere. It looks great in there, but I think the plastic version on my 540 was much smoother. Please let me know in the comments if you’ve had similar experiences with your TWSBI’s aluminum piston.
I went for the medium nib on the pen. TWSBI uses western nibs, so the line width was right about where I’d expect it to be. The 580AL didn’t go un-modified for long. Straight out of the box, I found the pen to be a bit dry and I knew it could definitely have been smoother. While at the DC show in August of 2014, I had it adjusted by Mike Masuyama. I requested that the pen have increased flow, and be smoothed a bit. He informed me that the slit in the nib was not perfectly centered, which is what was causing the sub-par flow. After a few minutes on the grinding wheel, the TWSBI was writing perfectly. Given that the pen was a reasonable $65, investing another $30 in a perfectly smoothed nib wasn’t a bad decision. Steel nibs in this price range can be hit-or-miss, but luckily they’re easily fixed.
TWSBI’s 580AL weighs in at a comfortable 32g. It’s nicely balanced, and provides a good amount of heft. It weighs enough so you know it’s there, but not too much to the point where it will tire you out. The grip diameter is comfortable, and flares out just a bit before the nib. I have found the aluminum to be slippery though. There’s no texture to the grip and it tends to get slick. If you have sweaty hands or prefer to a tight grip, be wary of this one. I prefer to write with the pen unposted, but it is capable of posting. There’s a silver ring on the back of the pen that the cap securely posts onto without interfering with the piston. For me, it makes the pen very off-balanced and way too long. If you want a TWSBI that posts, definitely consider the Mini. The molding on the plastic pieces is nicely done, with no visible seams or blemishes. It’s polished to a high-shine and smooth to the touch. The materials appear to be quality, but time will tell if they start to get the signature TWSBI hairline cracks over time.
Price is reasonable
Comfortable in hand
Looks awesome when paired with interesting ink
M nib was dry and scratchy out of the box
Piston has stuck multiple times
Slippery grip section
I’m very on the fence as to whether or not I like the TWSBI 580AL. There’s just about as many Pros as there are Cons, and my experience hasn’t been great with TWSBIs in the past. At $65, this pen is not terribly expensive, but it’s also not in the “impulse buy” range. I’d definitely say that I like the pen, but I don’t love it. Since getting the nib adjusted, it’s been much better. It doesn’t see a ton of use, but for some reason I’ve held onto it. There aren’t enough negative aspects as to not recommend the pen, but there aren’t enough positive aspects to suggest it either. Overall, this pen is really a true middle ground fountain pen for me. Not bad, not great, really just okay.
First off, I want to say that this review is different from all of the other reviews on the site. The images you see throughout the post were all shot on film (Kodak Gold 400, with a Nikon N50 and 50mm 1.4G lens) and scanned with minimal color correction. Since we’re all here for analog writing in all its glory, I wanted to take it one step further. It was definitely a cool feeling to finish off the roll of film, hear it wind up, and take it out of the camera knowing that there were physical negatives of a review in there. It made me shoot the review much more carefully, as it does end up costing an extra bit of money and effort in doing so. That being said, I enjoyed the process and I’m definitely going to be playing with film more in the future. Anyway…on to the pen!
The Platinum 3776 has always been in my sights, but I’ve always opted for another pen in the price range before jumping at this one. Why? I’m not so sure, maybe it was the gold furnishing? When the Black Diamond came out, I was definitely more intrigued. The translucent black body and rhodium trim is super classy, and just muted enough to grab my eye. It looks awesome right next to my Sailor Pro Gear Imperial Black and Lamy 2000. There are plenty of things I love about the pen, some I like, and even a few I’m not so huge on. Read on to find out how the 3776 fared!
The 3776 comes in a nice presentation gift box. It’s nothing crazy, and nothing in the packaging implies that the Black Diamond is any more special than any of the other 3776 models. The pen itself is a rather classic looking cigar shape, having been in production in a similar form since the late 1970’s. Theres nothing extraordinary about the pen, but it looks great. The cap and tail are nicely rounded, resulting in a tapered cigar shape. Inside the cap is Platinum’s unique “slip and seal” technology to prevent the pen from drying out. Essentially there’s an internal cap that creates an airtight seal with the grip. Above the internal cap is a spring, which ensures that there’s a tight seal. Over the course of using the pen, I haven’t noticed any drying, but I haven’t exactly let this one sit for extended periods of time.
I really like the simple look, especially with the silver trim and ever-so-slightly see through black body. The translucency of the cap and body are only visible in bright light, or when backlit. I think it’s the perfect balance of being “translucent” and “full on demonstrator” – it’s understated just like the rest of the pen. The cap band has some text imprinted on it, and it’s bordered by a thinner band on the top. Overall, I think it’s an awesome looking pen.
Nib Performance & Filling System:
The Japanese broad nib is smooth, wet, and just a tiny bit springy. In my opinion, it’s an ideal nib. The line width is similar to a Western medium, which is right inside my comfort zone. The writing on the nib looks rather plain, and I’m not a huge fan of the typeface used on it. The rest of it is quite cool though, I really love the heart-shaped breather hole and lines that run around the perimeter of the nib. The size of the nib fits the proportions of the body well, not looking too big or too small.
The 3776 fills via converter or proprietary cartridge. The included converter is high quality, and has a decent capacity. I really wish that the gold accents on the converter were silver, so they’d match the rest of the pen…oh well.
The pen is definitely comfortable to write with for extended periods of time. Actually, I’ve had a hard time putting it down… I’ve only kept a few pens inked up over the past month or so (I bought my first house, moved, did a bunch of freelance work, man I’m busy) and this pen I’ve actually refilled as soon as it’s emptied every time. The pen is comfortable posted or un-posted, but I prefer writing with the cap on the back. It adds a nice amount of weight and balance without throwing off the feel of the pen.
The one thing I’m not thrilled with is the finishing of the pen. For a $150+ pen, the finishing should be as close to flawless as you can get, but that’s not the case. The grip of the pen has some very obvious manufacturing lines from injection molding. They’re not terribly noticeable when writing, but just knowing that they’re there irks me. The rest of the pen has no noticeable issues, perhaps they just crank out the grip sections on different machinery and just call it a day. It’s not a make-or-break issue for me, but definitely worth noticing.
SUPER smooth nib
Color is killer
Good balance/feel in hand
Pen shouldn’t dry out
Rough finishing on the grip
The 3776 is a good pen, but it doesn’t really achieve greatness. The picture above shows it next to Pilot’s Custom 74, which is very, very similar. I prefer the build quality of the 74 is just a bit more, Pilot tends to have excellent finishing. The nib on the 3776 is great though. When it comes down to it, I slightly prefer the 3776. Why? I’m not sure, but I find myself reaching for this pen more often than any others at this time. Would I recommend it? Absolutely.
Disclaimer: This pen was provided to me as a review unit, free of charge, by Pen Chalet. 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!
Notes: This little book has been my go-to spot for doodles and notes. It’s small in size, I love the ruling, and it looks cool. The paper tends to feather a tiny bit with fountain pens, but I don’t mind it. The notebook is sturdy and the wire-o-binding has held up to being thrown in a bag and bounced around. I’ve gone through three full Doane Flap Jotters, so I figured I’d give this format a try. The paper inside this book isn’t quite as friendly to fountain pens as that in the Flap Jotter, but it’s not bad. If you’ve been looking to try out Doane Paper, definitely consider this capable little notebook.
Starbucks Roastery Edition
3 – pack
Line, Graph, and Dot Grid ruling
#50T bright white paper with grey ruling
Map and coffee facts for each region on the back
For any of you who follow me on Instagram, you may have noticed that I enjoy coffee a little bit… Field Notes and Starbucks have teamed up again for some exclusive books – this time it’s a three pack of books, one for each of the coffee growing regions of the world. They’re very similar to the Unexposed Colors Edition in feel and looks. Admittedly, I bought these primarily to take coffee notes in, not to use them as an everyday pocket notebook. They’ll live in my cabinet with the rest of my coffee gear and come out when I get new beans in or to take roasting notes.
The #50T paper inside should hold up to ballpoint, gel, and maybe a finer rollerball alright, but don’t expect it to be the friendliest to fountain pens. I like that the pack includes a lined, graph, and dot grid book, it’s a nice touch. I thought I was seeing things, but upon further inspection, the staples are actually white. Another cool detail!
It’s rare that I pay more than retail for a Field Notes (I’m not THAT hardcore of a collector), but these were definitely worth adding to my collection. Since they’re only available at the physical Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Seattle, they have to be purchased second market online. Currently, the going rate is around $30 – not bad for something that crosses over into two of my hobbies as well as these books do!
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