Showing posts with label no-name. Show all posts
Showing posts with label no-name. Show all posts

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.


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.


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.


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
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.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Tianhao mechanical pencil

tinhao 0216 chinese mechanical pencil

At the last visit at the local supermarket, I saw this mechanical pencil somewhat copying the design of the Pentel Graphgear 500, that came along with a pack of 20 2B leads, all for 0.50 $. If interested you can see some more look-alikes in the post Copy cats.

My thoughts were, I can not go wrong with the package, if the mechanical pencil is crap, at least I get an almost free pack of leads.

The design of the mechanical pencil is interesting, I would call it nice. I like the fact that the grip is a separate piece of plastic with a silver color while the barrel is black.

The mechanical pencil looks ok with the condition you look from a distance. At a closer glance, you see the pencil has a bend in the shaft. The fixed sleeve is a little larger than the diameter of the lead so there is play in the lead, and this causes the lead to break a lot. Also, the lead advances too much at every push. In combination with the soft, easy to break leads it came with it is a disaster to write.
But I found later why the sleeve is so larger, maybe ...
The led it came with branded as microled even though is 0.5 mm it is larger, or at least some of the mines are. I tested various leads in the post "Mechanical pencil lead", including the one that came with this pencil to see if is there a real difference in quality between known brands that have decent quality products and cheap no name leads. Biiiig mistake. I used a Rotring Tikky and first the lead broke. Not a tragedy but it got stuck in the sleeve and I could not get it out. It was stuck like glue in. I had to use a needle and pliers to push the led out. After a bit of struggle, it came out with a plastic bit that is inside the sleeve of the Rotring Tikky which has the role to keep the lead tight with no wobble when you write.
It does not come with an eraser, but this is not a problem for me as I do not like to use the erasers that come with my pencils. Not because they are not capable, but because I do not like the look after use. I always have an eraser block with me.
The clip rotates around the barrel and does not inspire confidence. But I think this is the greatest feature of the mechanical pencil. At least you can have the hope of losing it sooner rather than later. But probably this will not happen as the clip is not that problematic.

In conclusion, the mechanical pencil is bad and it's not usable.

chinese mechanical pencil tinhao