It seemed to have everything I look for in a pen – a wide, comfy barrel, a nifty unique design and an incredibly smooth tip that wrote with little effort. Plus, at less than £2, it was priced right. It got a lot of use in those first few weeks, mostly in spurts, as I jotted down quick notes and whatnot.
But then, I had to fill out a thick packet of medical insurance papers. You know how that is, pages and pages of tedious detail. It took a couple of hours and by the time I was finished, I was considerably less enamored of my Stabilo COM4gel.
The problem lies in the bedrock design of almost all Stabilo pens – the ergonomic shaping.
The COM4gel has a triangular grip that is supposed to encourage proper finger placement. Like a lot of great ideas, it sounds better than it actually is.
I don't know about you, but my grip tends to drift as I write, especially the deeper into thought that I get (or, in the case of those insurance papers, the more bored). The pen moves, fingers move, etc., and that triangle grip suddenly becomes extremely uncomfortable.
No matter how many times I paused to adjust my hold on the pen to the proper placement, it always seemed to end up turned slightly so that one of the triangular edges was digging into my finger. And since I tend to squeeze the pen a little harder than necessary, it became quite uncomfortable. By the time I was finished, I actually had a red sore spot on my middle finger.
And that is incredibly disappointing because this pen is nearly perfect in most other respects.
It is one of the smoothest writing – if not the smoothest – gel pens that I own. The medium point hardly feels like it's touching the paper, yet it makes a bold line with clean, consistent ink flow that neither skips nor clumps. And, as mentioned earlier, it has an interesting design that makes it stand out (in a good way) from other pens of its type.
My only complaint, other than that unforgiving triangle grip, is that the pen is made of a lightweight plastic that feels more suited for children than the adults Stabilo is attempting to reach with this pen.
To be honest, I'm not yet sure what to do with the COM4gel. For now, it will keep its spot on my desk as a daily pen for short and simple writing tasks. It's just too good not to get regular use. However, unless I make a concerted effort to change the way I hold my pens, it just doesn't seem practical for more extended writing.