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Pen Review

  • Staedtler Lumocolor 318 Permanent Marker - Review

    Markers have come a long way since New Yorker Sidney Rosenthal's invention in the 50's. With a wide range now available for use on just about anything in the home, office or studio, from something as simple as labelling a few CD's to art & graphic work there's a marker for everyone.

    The Staedtler Lumocolor 318 Permanent Marker is available in a choice of 8 colours including bright yellow, orange & violet along with a black & brown which are lightfast so no need to worry about your favourite sketch fading if left by the window. Should you need a marker for outdoor use the black ink is also weatherproof.


    The Lumocolor has been around for over 60 years & some of its benefits include

    • Suited for use with overhead projectors
    • Smudge-proof
    • Waterproof
    • Quick drying – well suited to left handers
    • Low odour ink which is xylene free
    • Airplane safe
    • Dry safe ink (marker can be left uncapped for days without drying out)

    These markers can easily be refilled by inserting the tip of the marker in the top of a Lumocolor refill station bottle, they will attract ink to a maximum level making it impossible to overfill. Once refilled Staedler say the marker will last for 3 to 4 hours but I've not been able to test this.

    This Lumocolor 318 has a fine tip that writes around a 0.6mm line, I found it comfortable to hold & whilst my use was confined to writing I can confirm it lived up to the smudge-proof & waterproof claims. Other reviewers that have undertaken more artistic pursuits say the marker works well for handmade animation on celluloid & they are transparent enough to project the colour brightly as opposed to opaque alternatives that block light & appear black.


  • Uni-Ball Signo UM-120 Gel Ink Pen 0.7mm - Review

    Since uni-ball engineers designed the first metal tipped rollerball in 1979 they have continued to produce high quality writing instruments to meet all requirements.

    I usually opt for a retractable pen, as much for the clickability factor as convenience, but the Uni-ball Signo UM120 Gel Ink Pen is awaiting a review so I'll see how it fares.


    This stick pen contains uni's renowned Super Ink, well known for its resistance to water, fading & chemicals making it tamper proof so not a popular choice with fraudsters. I found this smooth ink to be quick drying with not a smudge in sight unlike some gels, neither did it bleed through the page.

    The Signo UM120 is available in 8 different colours including a vivid orange, pink & this light blue one I'm putting through its paces. The caps & end stoppers are colour coded with the ink & although the transparent barrel on mine seems to reveal a darker blue the end cap proves an accurate guide.

    Having noted the 0.7 displayed on the cap I expected a medium tip to write a wider line, but wasn't at all disappointed by the writing experience. This Signo was very light & fairly comfortable to hold even though it doesn't have my preferred rubber grip. The slight step between the silver nose & raised area on the top section of the barrel did prevent my fingers slipping, having said that I'm not sure how long it would be before I tired being conscious that I needed to exert more pressure than I would with a more defined grip.

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  • Berol Finewriter Pen - Review

    The Berol Finewriter is as the name suggests a good all round writing pen. It could also be used for sketching or drawing & the long tip would make it ideally suited to use with stencils & templates. This felt pen has a green plastic barrel with silver text displaying the logo, the end cap is colour coded with the ink & fits snugly on the barrel when posted.


    The Berol Finewriter Pen in my hand has blue water based ink, it is also available in black, red & green. It's comfortable to hold & whilst the grip section has very subtle, almost invisible, ridges by way of a grip section, it does stop my fingers slipping past the barrel.

    The 0.4mm tip glides across the page & writes a very smooth line. I would be more than happy for this pen to be close by for everyday use & could as easily write a long letter as jot down a short note or shopping list. The lack of a pocket clip would probably dissuade me from using it away from the desk as I hate having to rummage through a bag of belongings in search of something to write with, preferring my pens to be clipped to a notepad for easy access.

    Berol have a wide range of products including colouring & writing instruments, they offer great value for money making them a favourite with children & adults alike.

  • Staedtler Tradition Pencil Rubber-Tip - Review

    In today’s world, it seems some people think that nothing is worth doing manually, armed with their smart phones & the like that perform with speed, electronic gadgets are their preference. Where creativity & brainstorming are required however there will always be those that turn to a pen or pencil.


    There is also the case for looking after the environment, when it comes to the many gizmos we hold dear that are upgraded at a rate of notts, what about all that plastic that has to be disposed of? This leads some to conclude “a wooden pencil has to be much more eco-friendly” doesn't it?

    An time honoured pencil can always be found on my desk, with its distinctive black & red striped body & hexagonal shape, the Staedtler Tradition Pencil Rubber Tip is ideal for writing, sketching & drawing.

    With roots back as far as 1835 Staedtler are one of Germany's oldest industrial companies, they remain popular through their ability to innovate & develop their products, in their words living up to the description “efficient for ecology.“ The production of the Wopex is a prime example, using their unique extrusion technology the company have created a pencil from a natural fibre containing 70% wood sourced from sustainably managed forests.

    Not withstanding our pursuit of innovation the Tradition Pencil is still sought after, it wears evenly is easy to use & sharpen with the added benefit of a handy eraser on the end. It's made from
    a special lead which is super bonded making it less likely to break.

    I found the Staedtler Tradition to be very comfortable to write with, it was light in the hand, I can vouch for the strength of the lead as it didn't break once (surprisingly as I'm know for being heavy handed with everything) & was probably thanks to it's super bonded formula. The eraser also proved to be super efficient when required.

    For me the Tradition is more appealing to the eye than it's stable-mate the Norris & although its a few pence more expensive I recall rows of them in the stationary cupboard at school & in countless offices in the late 70's & 80's, not sure that would still be the case today, if anyone knows any different please let us know.

    The humble pencil has been in existence in the lives of our ancestors for more than 300 years & with recent stats suggesting over 81% of Germans using them on regular basis & pencil sales increasing in the US looks like they're here to stay.

  • Edding 400 Permanent Marker Bullet Tip - Review

    Edding are well known for offering a wide range of top quality markers. Renowned for their expertise on the marker front for over 50 years, the company strives to solve problems through innovation providing products for a wide variety of uses.


    Grouped into a number of categories that include Creating & Decorating, Colour & Play & Organising & Marking. The Edding 400 Permanent Marker comes under the Professional heading & is a permanent marker with a fine bullet tip.

    This marker will write on pretty much anything you want it to including

    • Paper
    • Cardboard
    • Metal
    • Glass
    • Plastic
    • Wood
    • Ceramics

    The ink has low odour & is free from xylene, a toxic solvent that can irritate the eyes & cause headaches amongst other things, as well as benefiting from being quick drying. Having a fine bullet tip meant I was able to create a few iffy looking stencils by way of a written example, art has never been one of my strong points as you will see! This marker is smudge proof (which I can vouch for) it's also waterproof & lightfast. The tip is durable but can be replaced with 400N nibs, they can also be refilled with ink.  I did wonder if anybody does this as the marker is a reasonable price so I'd probably just get a new one.

    Available in a wide range of 10 colours as well as the standard black, brown there are several bright shades like pink, violet & yellow to choose from which I think makes them as suited to art & creative pursuits as it does to marking work tools as demonstrated on edding's web site.

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  • Pilot G2 XS Pixie Mini Gel Ink Pen – Review

    Plenty has been written about Pilot's popular G2, famous the world over for its smooth writing gel ink.

    As I picked up a mini version in the Pilot G2 XS Pixie I was impressed to see that this little pen had the same comfy ergonomic grip section with the same barrel diameter as the standard version although the barrel is only 11.3cm in length & it weighs in at 118g.
    This retractable compact rollerball has a 0.7mm tip writes a 0.39mm line & has positive push button with no annoying rattles, the sturdy pocket clip is the same as the full size pen.


    Available in a choice of 8 colours Pilot claim “you will be delighted by the fluidity of its ink and the intensity of its colours” sadly this wasn't my initial experience. I have to say I was a little disappointed with the performance of the little violet Pixie.

    When putting pen to paper the ink didn't flow, neither did the tungsten carbide ball glide across the page. Unfortunately rather than help me put the thoughts in my head down, I was distracted by the appearance of the text on the page finding it scratchy, skippy & messy.

    Thinking about it & to provide a fair critique I suppose I do tend to scribble notes when preparing to review a pen & after completing my written review the page didn't look too bad.

    This is the type of pen I'd use if I had a small purse, bag or pocket space only, it would be fine for jotting a few notes whilst on the go but writing a manuscript would be out of the question.

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  • Uni-Ball Eye UB-185S Needlepoint Rollerball Pen - Review

    The Uni Eye UB-185S is a liquid ink rollerball from one of the key players in the market. available with black, red, blue or green ink, I am using a green one & although the needle tip is finer than I would normally use I have been pleased with its performance whilst catching up with some overdue correspondence.


    I still like to send handwritten letters, yes it can be more time consuming than firing off an email but I like the fact that I can pen a line or two anytime anywhere without being confined to sitting at a desk. I also find myself giving more thought to the content than I do when multi tasking at a keyboard, finding it hard to resist jumping from one screen to another.

    The fine 0.5mm tip of the Uni-ball Eye UB-185S Needlepoint Rollerball writes a line width of 0.4mm, the pigment ink has all the benefits of Uni's Super Ink

    • Water & Fade Resistant
    • Tamper Proof – once on the page ink can't be removed
    • Quick drying as ink is low viscosity
    • Smooth fast fatigue free writing – due to unique ink delivery system

    The pens barrel matches the ink colour, it is split into 4 sections, one is peppered with small dots another is transparent which enables you to keep a check on the ink level. The cap is solid green with a matt sprung chrome pocket clip with the length & flexibility to attach to a large notepad without breaking.

    I found this to be an ideal everyday pen that was a pleasure to use.



  • Uni POSCA PC-5M Marker Medium Bullet Tip Review

    Uni-ball have been creating a wide range of products for over a century. The POSCA range offer something for everyone when it comes to Arts & Crafts, from the full blown artist to the occasional hobbyist. The POSCA PC-5M Marker has a medium bullet tip that will produce a 2.5mm line.

    Uni Posca PC-5M Light-Blue

    These markers have long been a popular choice with Uni customers & have had continued success since 1983, so much so that they have a web site dedicated to POSCA. If you pay a visit you can expect to find news, competitions & a host of creative workshops. There are instructions for homemade magnets, kites, paper mice & much more, all designed to help everyone get the most out of the range.

    The POSCA PC-5M are a multi purpose water based paint marker with pigment ink. There are diagrams on the side of the pen to get you started. Once I removed the plastic it took a while for the paint to emerge, I guess I got a little impatient as I made the mistake of shaking the pen vigorously without replacing the lid! The inevitable happened & paint went everywhere, this did however give me the chance to test the non-permanent claim.

    I can report that the series of bright blue dots was easily removed from my hands & desk, it also came out of my clothing after a spin in the washing machine.


    • Write on most surfaces including fabric, glass & metal
    • The ink doesn't seep through paper
    • Non-permanent therefore easily removed
    • Resistant to fading & water
    • Odour free
    • Useful for scrap booking, interior design, graffiti artists & architects. These versatile markers can be used for almost anything.

    The POSCA PC-5M is available in a wide range of vivid colours, 33 to be precise.

  • Pilot Frixion Ball Erasable Rollerball - Review

    As the oldest manufacturer of writing instruments in Japan with branches throughout the world, its no surprise that Pilot have several collections on offer, one of which is the Frixion range. Known as the Frixion family they even have their own web site where you can read all about them including the secrets of the ink that allows you to correct mistakes by erasing & immediately re-writing without leaving a residue on the page.


    One member of the family is the Pilot Frixion Ball BL-FR7, an erasable rollerball with a 0.7mm tip that can be refilled with BLS FR7 refills. These pens are available in eight vibrant colours, I am putting a blue one through its paces.

    The eye catching design consists of a large silver pattern on the barrel reminiscent of a tribal tattoo. The cap hosts the branding along with a pocket clip, which is not very flexible & feels as though it could be susceptible to breaking with frequent use.

    I like the fact that the Frixion Ball has a nice rubbery grip, it's also well balanced & comfortable to use. My writing experience was positive, this rollerball is a smooth & easy to use. I have noticed that some people have criticised both black & blue ink colours as being too light, I can obviously only speak for myself & comment on the blue ink but didn't have a problem.

    Now on to the eraser, as I like to post the cap on my pens the fact that eraser was on the pen itself was a little annoying. That said, with cap removed & the eraser in action I found it did a sterling job, leaving no trace of text or debris behind. This proved to be the case not just on freshly written text but also on writing at the top of my page.

    All in all a pretty positive review, I can see that erasable pens have a place. Ideal for the odd correction as it beats reaching for the tippex, although I wouldn't want to rub out a whole sentence.

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  • Pentel Handwriter Pen - Review

    Mention learning to write & I immediately think of children, but the fact is adult literacy classes are frequently advertised. I recently read that as many as 1 in 5 in the UK & almost half of Australians struggle with the 3 R's, many argue that it's down to teaching methods as much as anything else, but that's another story.

    Pentel Handwriting Pen - S575

    With this is mind I find it interesting that many “handwriting pens” give the impression they are targeting children, their appearance suggests they'd be more suited to the classroom than the office. One exception is the Pentel Handwriter Pen - S575, it has a sturdy plastic 0.5mm tip which is as useful for those honing their scripting skills as it is for heavy handed writers like myself.

    These pens are available with black, blue, red & green water based ink, they have a vibrant purple barrel with colour coded end caps & a small subtly placed tab at the top of the clip.

    I have used a notebook for as long as I can remember, I don't recall those early days of learning to write or making a switch from printing to cursive letters, so to my mind it can't have been that difficult. When I want to record my thoughts the quickest way is usually to grab a pen & pour my thoughts out through good old joined up writing, so I'm saddened to see that in some areas of the education system at home & abroad cursive writing looks close to extinction as printing & computers are favoured. Although I love my iPad, it will never replace pen & paper, I think there is room for both & what will happen to graphology? Handwriting analysis can say so much about a person, oh well I suppose that's what some call progress!

    Pentel Handwriting Pen Written Review Pentel Handwriting Pen Written Review

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