Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Gel Pens Pelikan, Pilot vs cheap brand

There are many products with very different price points and you can't just wonder, why the difference? You can tell yourself, it is the quality what you pay is what you get. But really?
I am bringing in to the ring an incredible threesome of gel pens.
Pelikan Soft Gel, Pilot Super Gel and no name brand Forster.

Cold start test. 

After a long period of sitting on the shelf. It is the first test because I had to get them started.
Pelikan, Pilot Super Gel 0.5 had no problem starting right away. Pilot 0.7 had some issues and Forster needed convincing.

writing with gel pen Pelikan Pilot Forster

Line width and saturation. 

I am testing only general purpose writing colors (blue, black)
Black color, test between Pilot 0.7 and Pelikan. I can say that Pelikan produces a hair skinnier line (the size is not advertised) and it seems to be a little less saturated compared to Pilot 0.7 mm
gel pen line width and color saturation
Blue color, test between Pilot 0.5 & 0.7 and Forster. Forster does not specify the width but is around 0.5. It is a lighter blue compared to Pilor but nice color. The width is very close to Pilot 0.5. The 0.7 mm Pilot has a darker color and a thicker line.

Bleeding

I tested all this on cheap copy machine paper, because it is most likely to use this pens in an office environment where this kind of paper is the norm.
No surprise the thinner the point less bleedthrough.
Worst performance order:
Pilot Super Gel 0.7 black. Bleedthrough but can be used
Pilot Super Gel 0.7 blue. Bleedthrough but can be used
Pilot Super Gel 0.5 blue. It has decent performance and can be used
On the same place Pelikan Soft Gel and Forster with very little bleedthrough.
gel pen bleed through copy paper Pelikan vs Pilot


Comfort and ergonomics

The best in class is the Pilot, which has a grip section with smooth circles spaced closely. It is comfortable and you can use the pen for long hours
Second is the Pelikan with a rubber insert. It is at the same level with the plastic body. It feels good but I do not think offers to many benefits.
Last is the Forster which has the grip identical with the rest of the barrel just a bit thicker. It is not uncomfortable to use but for sure they cut some corners to be able to produce them for cheap. It has a sharper edge if you're gripping the pen close to the lead.
gel pen ergonomic

Writing experience

The writing is the most important aspect of the pen after all. I can say that all right ok, but my opinion is that Pelikan is the smoothest. Pilot has a bad feel to it, it's like the ball is wobbling inside, it does not seem a quality assembly. And this aspect is true to all of the tested Pilots. Even the Forster felt better to me.

Quality

Forster is cheaply made, the cap is not as secure as the other. Also, the clip cannot be used as if you pull it slides out of the cap. This is not valid for all the ones I have only for the blue color. But it shows that the quality control and the design are not the best.

Value

This is a very interesting section. Because I don't think it is a surprise to anybody that the quality on a cheap no-name brand is lower compared to Pilot or even Pelikan.
But the real question is a cheap product a good value to the customer. Well, it can be a very good value sometimes.
In this case, I think you get 90% of the quality for a lot less money
cheap gel penIt's not the most scientific test you can make but sometimes you need to simplify the process and admit that your mileage might vary.
How long will the pen write depends on the level of ink inside. Of course, other factors influence the mileage, like the line thickness, reservoir diameter, and ink viscosity. So the 0.5 pens will last longer than 0.7.
But to compare the pens (0.5) without writing until the pen is out of ink I measured the ink inside. I assumed the diameter and viscosity of the gel holder are similar so I did not take this into consideration while doing the measurements. Pelikan and Forster do not say the line thickness but I consider them to be a 0.5 as they are very close to the Pilot in width.

BrandInk levelPriceInkPrice
cmeurcomparisoncomparison
Froster9.70.24benchmarkbenchmark
Pelikan Soft Gel10.70.64+ 10.3%267%
Pilot Super Gel9.90.99+ 2%413%




In this situation, Forster is cheaper by a mile. It holds less ink but it is cheaper between 2 and 4 times than Pelikan and Pilot. That in my book is called a good deal. But there is a catch. The ink levels between my Forster pens vary a bit. One of them has 1.5 cm less than the one I measured. Another one is 0.9 cm less. So this is not very consistent. But even if I would redo the test, and I would use the one with the smallest amount of ink the test will still look great. The Pelikan would hold ~ + 30% more ink but still costs 2.67 times more. The Pilot would hold around + 20% more ink and would still cost more than 4 times as much. So you can buy for each 2 Pelikans 5 Forsters, And for each Pilot 4 Forsters.
Annoying is the fact that not all pens are filled up as they should be, and again this is the lack of quality control with this ones.
All discomforts aside they are good value. Pelikan is the second on the list and Pilot get the disappointing 3rd place as the product is very expensive, and the writing experience is not as good as the cheaper products tested.



Friday, May 11, 2018

Review Faber Castell Grip 1345 mechanical pencil

faber castell 1345 review 0.5 mm
Faber Castell 1345 Grip II, 0.5 mm in blue
Faber Castell Grip 1345 is one very nice mechanical pencil. It is made in Japan, and it comes in 2 lead sizes. The 1345 is a 0.5 mm and the 1347 is 0.7 mm.
There are 14 available barrel colors to pick from. The Faber Castell green, a traditional burgundy, dark blue, black and other very nice pastel colors.
I have, and will review the Faber Castell Grip II model, 1345 (that is 0.5 mm) color blue.

Because the pencil is made out of plastic it is a light mechanical pencil, but it does feel good and solid in the hand.
Faber Castell has put thought into the pencils design. The barrel is made out of a glossy plastic. On the barrel, it is embossed with gold like paint GRIP 1345 0.5 the Faber-Castell logo and name.
After more ware and tare I will say how the writing is holding up.
The top part of the barrel is brushed so it has a matte finish to it. This makes the pencil more interesting and shows that someone has put thought about the design of the pencil.
The clip is metallic, elegant and feels secure.

The clicking mechanism holds a very long twist eraser. The plastic seems soft to the touch and has a chromed trim near the eraser. The advantage of this system is the long eraser, and the fact you twist to reveal it, so you do not risk losing the cap. The eraser has 3 cm of usable length so it will last. Even this is a cool feature too have, and the implementation is nice I will not give it extra points, as I am one of those guys who doesn't like using the erasers on the mechanical pencils. Not because they are rubish. I do not use them as I do not like the worn look, it makes the pen less appealing.
This way I enjoy a "brand new" pencil everiday.
The downside because of this long eraser is the feeling system. Because this eraser section is so long it is harder to put the leads in.

faber castell 1345 review 0.5 mm blueThe tip of the mechanical pencil is conical and made from a chromed metal. It offers a retracting and sliding sleeve, so it makes for a pocket safe mechanical pencil. The retracting and sliding sleeve does not have a wabble to it, when you write it feels just a regular non retractable sleeve.
Because of the conical tip, it's not a drafting pencil, it is intended for general use. The pencil comes with spring lead protection, meaning if you press harder on the lead, the lead will be cushioned by a spring. This works if you have a more vertical way of holding the pencil.
I like the way the sliding sleeve works (this is a feature also named "automatic" on some mechanical pencils). When the lead is used and the sleeve will hit the paper, and so it will slide back a little bit, revealing the lead. This means you can use the advance system less and the lead will be far less susceptible to break. But not all "automatic" pencils are created equal. Some of the problems this system encounters are: too much pressure to slide the sleeve, sleeves that do not have the right angle and not enough polish making them scratchy. I would give the Faber Castell Grip an 8.5/10 score for this feature. It works almost perfect.
The advance mechanism makes a nice clicky sound when pressed. The lead advancement is on the low side. 5 clicks will offer 3 mm of lead. In comparison, the Rotring Tikky (version 3) puts out 4.5 mm.
The grip section is made out of soft rubber. It is very comfortable and nicely integrated into the barrel, but I suspect it will have a relatively short life. It seems a bit soft and it has a moves a bit under pressure, I think with time it will become looser. This is the drawback of the rubber grips. They are comfortable but not durable, and can be annoying to feel it move in hand. Other problems that might appear is the hardening of the grip to the point it is uncomfortable, it cracks, or the rubber becomes sticky.

All this makes the Faber Castell Grip 1345 a very nice mechanical pencil, that I am happy to use as my daily writer.