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Quick Facts:
Pen Type Gel pen
Point Size(s) Ultra Fine, Extra Fine(.5mm), Fine (.7mm) and Bold
Water-resistant No – regardless of what some office supply sites may claim
Ink Color 14 – Black, Blue, Red, Green, Purple, Pink, Turquoise, Burgundy, Orange, Hunter Green, Navy Blue, Periwinkle, Lime, Carmel
Capped/Retractable Retractable
Clip Yes
Approx Price ~$2 for 1 pen. $16 for 8 color pack
Review:

I’ve been refusing to get/use G2’s since I first saw it from a coworker in the office many years ago — because they are so tacky looking. They look quite clean at first, but the clear barrel showing off the yellow/orange gel(?) at the end of the refill just looks yucky, and golden color label on the clip just looks cheesy. I just can’t picture using it. At the time, I was using “Zebra Sarasa Gel Retractable” and “Uniball Signo 207” which are both more elegant looking to me.

It wasn’t until recently that I took a second look at the G2s again. Everywhere I turn, everyone seems to be using it. Even people who are normally not picky about pens claim to like it a lot. I needed to know what they are so drawn to. So I decided to take the plunge and get one. I was at the store and saw the standard package of “1 black, 1 blue, 1 red” pens and “2 black” pens. Looking at them, I remember all the reasons the G2 did not appeal to me. As I was walking away, I noticed the package of “turquoise, purple, and pink”. I wasn’t very fond of the pink, but the turquoise looked very interesting and purple is always a good color to test (I have a theory that purple ink is the most difficult to get right based on experiences of the many purple pens that died unexpectedly on me).

Anyway, back to the review of the G2…

The grip of the pen is pretty awesome – one of the things I was suspicious about regarding the grip was the shape. There’s a slight concavity followed by a slight bump. I’ve had some bad experiences previously with pens that don’t have a straight shape grip that did not fit the fingers/hand properly – sliding/slipping in wrong direction, etc. But the G2 does not have that problem. Now that I think about it some more, it’s actually a very smart design. Usually people with smaller hands want smaller grip and they tend to hold the pen closer to the tip. Whereas people with bigger hand would want a bigger grip and hold the pen higher. By creating this increasing barrel size as you get farther from the tip, it satisfies a much wider audience than that of a straight grip. And the genius is that it tilts back out really near the tip creating a cradle for the fingers and added extra horizontal grooves to increase friction.

The flow of ink is pretty smooth and consistent – on the better end for a gel pen. The weight and balance of the pen is good. It’s a bit heavier than the zebra sarasa – which I like. It gives it a more substantial feel (i.e. less cheap). But then again, I’m comparing a new g2 with old sarasa, so may be it’s the weight of the gel ink. Hmm, let me just remove the ink and redo the test in my hand. Ok, so correction, the 2 pens are about the same weight without the ink (never realize how heavy the gel ink was). Btw, an interesting design note, the screw on the G2 is in the middle of the barrel instead of the more common placement – at the tip of the pen. This is a great design decision – making it much easier to screw on/off (because of larger surface area to hold on to) than its other retractable competitors.

Overall, G2 is a good, solid, well balanced pen. But at the same time, it is also one of the more commonly seen pens in the office. So if you don’t want to look like everyone else, or just want to add a little bit of spark or personality, get one in a unusual color that you like. I am currently in love with turquoise. (And I still hate the black and blue ones – probably for the wrong reasons, but I don’t care!!) Looking forward to trying hunter green some day.

Rating: 17/20
Nib/Ink flow 4/5 (consistent, smooth for fine point – I’m reserving the last point for when I try the other point sizes)
Design/Looks 3/5 (depends on color – for me at least)
Grip/Balance/Weight 5/5 (superb grip, great balance, good weight with full ink)
Construction 5/5 (well made, very sturdy, especially like the the screw in middle of barrel)
Official Site:

http://www.pilotpen.us/products/gel/#anchor_g2

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uniball_signo_207.jpg

Quick Facts:
Pen Type Gel pen
Point Size(s) Micro (0.5mm), Medium (0.7mm) — Could only find assorted color set in Medium point 😦
Water-resistant Yes
Ink Color 8 – Black, Blue, Red, Green, Light Blue, Purple, Orange, Pink
Capped/Retractable Retractable
Clip Yes
Approx Price ~$1.70 for 1 pen. $13 for 8 color pack
Review:

Uniball Signo 207 is a retractable gel pen that comes in 2 point sizes and 8 colors. The ones I own have no clear labels on them that tell me what point size they are. It is not until I dissembled one of the pens, read the part number off the ink refill and look it up on google that I figure out it’s medium point.

The pen is stylish and somewhat professional looking. (It’s a little more on the cute/edgy side.) The barrel is clear and slightly tinted to a dark shade, but you can still clear see the ink level. The clip seems well made (totally speculative as I don’t clip pens on anything.) The retractable “button” is quite interesting in design. It’s a color-tinted clear plastic covering a solid colored stick. Why did they design it that way? It’s not especially pleasing visually, yet it uses more material than a single piece of plastic. Don’t know, it’s not bad, just seems odd.

The grip of the pen is ok. The material used is good. There’s some texture on it which shows good intentions. But the texture is going in the wrong direction. Also, the grip is fatter than the barrel, which kills the control a bit for me 😦

Ink flow is quite good: consistent and smooth. It produces a very pleasant and fluid writing experience.

Overall a good pen, good weight and balance, good attempt at the grip, and very good ink flow.

Rating: 16/20
Nib/Ink flow 4/5 (fluid, consistent, smooth – I’m reserving the last point when I get to test micro point size)
Design/Looks 4/5 (good look for late-teens and very early twenties)
Grip/Balance/Weight 3/5 (grip material is good, bigger grip feels awkward)
Construction 5/5 (well made, should stand up to some wear and tear)
Official Site:

http://uniball-na.com/main.taf?p=2,2,3

staples_fine_blue.jpg

Quick Facts:
Pen Type Ballpoint pen
Point Size(s) Fine (estimated 0.7mm), Medium
Water-resistant N/A
Ink Color Blue (fine and medium), Black (medium only)
Capped/Retractable Capped
Clip Kinda
Approx Price $0.93 / dozen (approx $0.0775 each)
Review:

For 8 cents a pen, you can’t really complain. But I will try anyway. The look of the pen is a “Bic Round Stic” copy (which is $1.39 /dozen at officemax.com and comes in 4 colors – blue, black, red and green). The most noticeable difference is the branding, which apparently changes over time. This Staples ballpoint stick pen I own actually does not have that blue border around the words “STAPLES”. It also specifies that it’s “fine” point.

For some strange reason, the first 1-3 characters you write are always invisible. As you write more, the ink starts to catch on. But the color of the words it forms is still light and dull. I’m sure no one buys this for themselves. This pen is targeted for the office manager to get for the employees. For an extra 4 cents, which is the cost of 30 seconds of time (if your typical employee make the minimum wage of $5.25 an hour), at least get them the “Bic Round Stic”! The much better ink flow of the Bic will save more than 30 seconds of an employee’s time on just the first day of use. The lack of frustration, from a functioning pen, might actually make them more efficient.

The pen is light and has no grip, so you really have to hold on tight and push down on the paper. And beware of the notebook you are using it with. If your notebook’s lines are dark blue, like some of mine, you will see your writing merge into the deep abyss of lines. (Note to office managers, WHITE paper and light blue lines. Is that so much to ask for? Not pink… Or violet…)

Why, you ask, would someone as picky as I am buy such a pen, you ask. Well, I didn’t. I have no idea how I obtain this pen either. One day, it simply appeared on my office desk. Why did I keep it? Wasn’t I already surrounded by tons of superior pens like Uni-ball Vision and Zebra Sarasa and Uni-ball Signo 207? Yes, but this is not the purpose of this pen. Then what is the purpose? Oh, just as this pen magically appeared on my desk, I’m sure someone who borrows a pen from me might leave it somewhere else just as miraculously. Let me tell you a little story.

Back in HS, I was the proud owner of a Pilot Better Retractable ball point pen (blue, fine point). One day, a follow classmate borrowed a pen from me for a period. (I never understand how people can get to class and bring no pens. Well, I guess that was the first sign.) Anyway, after class, the person asked me if she could continue borrowing it for the rest of the day. I said yes. The next day, I ask the person for the pen back. She said she doesn’t have it on her and will have it on the next day. The day after, I ask one more time. She search through her backpack and handed me a capped black Papermate or BIC or something. I stared at it for a second, wondering whether I should tell her that my pen is blue, fine point, retractable, Pilot better ballpoint that is $1.50 at my local stationary store, that I actually had to argue with myself for spending an extra $0.50 for the retractable feature (the non-retractable Pilot better is only $1). Yes, I did. I said this is not my pen. She looked at me, confused, wondering what kind of person chase people down day-after-day for a pen and rejects anything other than THE pen. Well, she turned toward her backpack once again, searching further, and behold, my pen appears.

So what’s the lesson here? Always have a back up pen that you don’t mind losing for lending. Even with the stationary closet near by, there are still people who would ask you for a pen. Staples ballpoint stick’s a perfect gift for anyone in the office that constantly borrows your pens but never return them. You can tell them that you gave them 12 (1 for each month), and that they are not getting more from you until next Christmas (or whatever other holiday you prefer).

Rating: 6/20
Nib/Ink flow 1/5 (invisible first words)
Grip/ Balance/Weight 1/5 (no grip, too light)
Design/Looks 1/5 (copycat)
Construction 3/5 (cheap materials, the fit of the cap is a bit odd, barrel seems solid)
Official Site:

http://www.staples.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/StaplesProductDisplay?prodCatType=0&storeId=10001&catalogId=10051&langId=-1&productId=98463&cmArea=SC1:CG11:CL110001

gel-sarasa.jpg

sarasagel-asst-10.jpg

Quick Facts:
Pen Type Gel pen
Point Size(s) Fine (0.5mm), Medium (0.7mm), Bold (1.0mm)
Water-resistant No
Ink Color 10 – Black, Blue, Navy, Red, Cobalt, Mahogany, Forest (dark green), Lime (light green), Orange, Fuchsia
Capped/Retractable Retractable
Clip Yes
Approx Price $1.50 for 1 pen. $10-15 for 10 color pack
Review:

Zebra Sarasa Gel Retractable is a retractable gel pen that comes in 3 point. I have tested bold in the store and use medium point at home/office. I have not seen fine point in any stores so far.

The pen grip and clip color matches that of its ink. The main barrel is clear, so you can easily see the ink left. The dark color pens look like any other old pen – nothing distinct. The light color pens (lime, orange, fuchsia) look “fun” – which could be good or bad depending on your place of work. The red pen is just plain ugly.

The grip of the pen is very good. The rubber-like material gives it just enough grip. The shape of the grip is parallel to the barrel (no curves) which is a good, natural shape for my hand. The grip is slightly larger than the barrel, and is a very good size. (A larger grip would feel awkward to the hand).

The weight of the pen feels good. The balance of the pen is also good. (I’ll get a tiny scale one of these days to get an objective read of the weight. With a good grip, the weight and balance usually “feels” right anyway.)

The medium point that I use produces pretty consistent lines. The ink flow for medium point is good. The particular ink they use is rather “sticky”. looptop.gif (Think of ketchup instead of liquid.) What I’m saying is that nearly-overlapping lines “stick” together making corners “darker” which could make it look inconsistent.

I have never had a pen leak or pre-mature dry out thus far. It is water-based, so it’s not water resistant (as claimed and in my own test). The company also claims the pen is acid-free (which I will have to take at their word as I have no clue how to test that) and of archival quality.

Mahogany is a pretty unique pen color that I haven’t seen in other brands (which makes it a welcoming addition). Forest ink is too dark. It’s difficult to distinguish it from Black ink. (The whole point of using different colors to distinguish the different markings by them.)

Great grip and consistent ink flow makes this a good pen. Add being retractable to that and you have a great pen for moving environments (such as the subway). Color variety is probably one of the best I’ve seen.

Rating: 16/20
Nib/Ink flow 4/5 (good ink flow, ink is stickier than I like)
Design/Looks 3/5 (decent-to-cute looking depending on color)
Grip/Balance/Weight 4/5 (pretty good grip and balance)
Construction 5/5 (well made, should stand up to some wear and tear)
Official Site:

http://www.zebrapen.com/gel-sarasa.html