News,The Ampad Gold Fibre Retro Writing Pad, and the Papermate Precision…

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And, we’re back! At least for a while… As you guys know, I took a bit of a sabbatical, and also let the domain pensnpaper.com die. This was partially due to some disinterest on my part, but also because I didn’t want to pay the $20 per year domain name and mapping fee from WordPress. So, I purchased the domain of http://www.pensnpaper.net/ from my own  webhost and plan on using it instead. So, as I said, we’re back!

Up for review today is the Gold Fibre Retro Writing Pad from Ampad. This 5 x 8 pad is spiral bound at the top and contains 80 pages of perforated, 20 lb., medium ruled, ivory vintage paper. The design harkens back to the steno pads from several decades ago, and to be honest, it’s actually very aesthetically pleasing. The brown vinyl-coated cover is much sturdier than that of regular notebooks, and feels like it would hold up to much more stress.

As for the quality of the paper, it’s decent. The 20 lb. is not quite heavy enough for my liking, since all of my fountain pens either bled through or feathered. It also didn’t handle the rollerball I had with me very well. However, it’s excellent for gel pens, ballpoints, and pencils. The gel pens were especially smooth on this paper, seeming to roll ink onto the paper of their own volition with no scratchiness at all.

Next up, we have the Papermate Precision 0.5mm Mechanical Pencil. This pencil is interesting in that it’s “Precision engineered to enhance writing quality”, and I must admit that it somewhat lives up to its claim.

This pencil features a grey and white color scheme with a comfortable rubber grip. The 4mm metal sleeve gives you extra room in order to draw templates or trace around the edges of a stencil easily. The round body flattens out toward the plunger end, and I must admit, it’s also very pleasing to the eye. Easy on the hands, easy on the eyes… What’s not to like?

Pilot Birdie Switch Combo Pen and Zebra Mini Ballpoint

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Well, I’ve got some good news and some bad news… The good news is that I have some new stuff to review (Yay!). The bad news, is that I’ve decided to take a hiatus from Pens’n’Paper (Boo!)… I know, I can already hear the hissing and “buts” on people’s lips as I write this, but there are several valid reasons for my putting a pause on my blogging endeavours. Firstly, cost… In today’s economy, with me being a poor college student working a part-time job, I am already experiencing mental angst when paying out for a tank of gasoline. It’s been over a month since I’ve bought a pen or a notebook, because I simply look at the price and can’t justify purchasing it. I have over 300 barely used pens and 100 notebooks lying around in nice orderly boxes at house, and even my obsession for pens can’t overrule my super-thin wallet… Secondly, I’m short on time… Between, church, work, girlfriend, school, and the million other things I have to do, blogging just hasn’t been a priority lately, and for that I apologize. So, after I complete two more reviews, I will be taking a sabbatical. No, Pens’n’Paper won’t be shut down. I still plan on paying for the domain name and leaving it up as a resource, and perhaps even returning to it someday.

But anyhoo, enough of my pity partying, let’s get on to today’s review…

 Up for a look today are two tiny pens which were sent to me by the amazing Andrew from over at MyMaido.com. The Pilot Birdie Switch Combo and Zebra Mini Ballpoint both are extremely small and would easily slip into the pine of your favorite high-end notebook or clip onto the rings of your spiral wound.

The Pilot Birdie Switch Combo Pen is interesting in that it’s a self-contained multi-pen with a pencil on one end and a ballpoint pen on the other. In order to switch from pencil to pen or vice-versa, you simply remove the cap (similar to most old-fashioned mechanical pencils) and place it on the opposite end. The Birdie features a 0.5 mm mechanical pencil and a 0.5mm black ballpoint and also comes with a black refill for the ballpoint.

This combo pen/pencil is a decent offering from Pilot. The mechanical pencil is mechanically sound and the supplied lead is smooth. The ballpoint is a bit scratchy, but that’s something I’ve come to expect from fine-tipped ball points, so I won’t harp on it too much. My main qualm about this combo is the fact that there’s no eraser… Having a mechanical pencil is kind of pointless if there’s no eraser available, but I guess it was sacrificed due to size.

Next up, we have the Zebra Mini 0.5mm Ballpoint. This small pen features a clip retracting mechanism, so in order to retract the tip, you have to push down on the clip, releasing the spring. The ballpoint writes relatively smooth, again a little scratchy because of the fine point, and the sleek barrel is an attention-getter. This pen also came with a refill, so that when you run out of ink you can replace it and continue on.

Both of these pens feature stainless construction and are very small (see the picture where they are compared with a dime), and would not be out-of-place on any person’s notebook. Thanks again Andrew for the awesome opportunity to review these two items from MyMaido.com!

Staples (postscript) 0.5mm Mechanical Pencil

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Today, we have an affordable mechanical pencil option from Staples. At $5.49, they would make a great pencil to just have around for those times when you just need to jot down a quick note. And to be honest, even though they’re cheap, they work pretty well…

The (postscript) mechanical pencil features a slight non-slip grip on the entire barrel, a metal tip (that retract all the way into the plastic barrel, thereby lessening the chance of unintentional pokes or stabs), a decent latex eraser which erases well but leaves behind faint graphite marks, and smooth lead. As I mentioned, it’s actually a good mechanical pencil for the price and I could easily recommend them as a quick note jotter.

The Zebra MLP2 – Guest Blogger

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The first thing I noticed as I was handed extraordinary pencil, was that it was flat. Almost as flat a carpenter’s pencil, but a little rounder. And then looking closer, I noticed that the lead too was rectangular and flat. I could see already by the package that this was no ordinary pencil. No this was a Zebra MLP2 (Mechanical Lead Pencil) test taking pencil. I paused while looking at the package to ask my favoritest Pens’n’Paper expert, “What in the world is a test taking pencil?” He smiled and told me to look it up and write about it and he would give it to me to keep… Or if I wanted it I could just have it anyways (spoiled huh?) So, I looked it up, and I found that it’s number one use is for filling in answer bubbles on tests and quizzes, making your answers heavy and dark without making a hole in the paper. I also found that some people like to draw and sketch with the MLP2 as it works well for shading and has an interesting 3D effect when turned sideways. So, Anyways it was very handy to have around while studying for my GED…until I lost it. Having found it recently I shall describe it in further detail.
The Zebra MLP2 is little heavier than an ordinary mechanical pencil but very sturdy and well assembled. It would be close at hand if you really need something to chew on if you were in a jam (although I wouldn’t advise it). It fits nicely in the hand and doesn’t slide out too much. I find it would be so much better if it were to have some kind of grip to keep your hold and give added comfort, but, oh well.
The lead is kinda smudgy, but I suppose it’s supposed to be a little smudgy so that it will entirely fill up the answer bubble? The MLP2 comes with a container of lead refills and two extra erasers. The eraser works well, but the heavier you mark the harder it is to erase. And the more you erase the harder it is for you to remove the eraser and refill your pencil with new lead. All in all I really did like it and still use it often.

Chris: So there you have another review from Sarah. Hope you guys enjoyed it! 🙂

Sharpie Liquid Pencil – 0.5mm

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Pen #67.
Sharpie Liquid Pencil – 0.5mm

Having heard about these for the past couple weeks, I nearly fell over in my chair whenever “twistdfate”, a fellow pen aficionado/Twitter conversationist (check out her knitting on her Etsy page: TwistdFate) asked whether I might like to try some. Since they are not yet currently available in my area (nothing seems to get to WV until about 2 months after it’s released), I gladly accepted her kind offer, and not more than a week later, there they were in my mailbox!

So, I got them out, slightly pensive due to the negative reviews I had seen on The Pen Addict as well as Office Supply Geek, and was quickly rewarded with the same negative thoughts that both other reviewers had… While the design of a liquid graphite pencil is not exactly revolutionary, I must say that I was expecting far more from a name like Sharpie… While the design of the pen itself was sturdy and relatively comfortable to use, the liquid graphite left very much to be desired. I can even say that the Pentech Liquaphite pens/pencils did a better job at it than Sharpie did…

“Why was this liquid graphite pen so horrible”, you ask? The reason for my instant dislike was the fact that I clicked the retractable plunger and applied the pen(cil) to paper… And nothing happened… I scribbled for several seconds thinking, “Well, maybe since it was in the post and had been used before it’s a little shook up and just needs ‘reactivated’…” Nope… I scribbled for several seconds more and finally got it to start writing… Sort of… The ink line laid down on the paper was very faint and horribly skippy, and did not really improve over time (see review photo for ink sample). I will say that the ink did erase very well, but that could be possibly due to the fact that there was barely any ink laid down.

The biggest let-down of all though was that I expected more… I’m not sure what the problem was, but Sharpie must’ve been in way too much of a hurry to get this pen onto shelves or something, because the quality is far below Sharpie standards. I only hope that before the next batch leaves the factory that they figure out the problem and fix it before many other people unwittingly see the name brand and think it must be a great pen… Better luck next time Sharpie…

Final Score: 3.7/5

Uni-Ball Signo MF2 – 0.5mm Gel and 0.5mm Mech. Pencil Multi-Pen

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Pen#66.
Uni-Ball Signo MF2 – 0.5mm Gel and 0.5mm Mech. Pencil Multi-Pen

A random find at my college bookstore (and slightly surprising I might add), the Uni-Ball Signo MF2 has found its way into my “To-Review” box, so here we go…

The Uni-Ball Signo MF2 features a 0.5mm Signo Gel refill as well as a 0.5mm mechanical pencil which you select by twisting the cap/clip. While this pen is a little thicker than your ordinary Uni-Ball, it’s still not humongous and ranges in the size category of your cheap dollar store ballpoint (y’know the ones that were made so that they will fit in a bear’s paw, should a bear ever learn to write).

The Signo refill write as expected as does the pencil. Not horribly impressed, but not miffed about it either. My main qualms lie in the quality of it’s manufacture. Firstly, as I mentioned before, the pen is huge… There’s room enough inside the barrel (had Uni-Ball been a bit more intuitive) for another refill or may be even two, if they were small. Secondly, the mechanism could have used a little work. While the mechanical pencil is firm and works relatively well, the Signo refill tends to bounce up and down in the body (possibly because the mechanical pencil plunger makes not only the pencil advance, but also causes the whole mechanism to raise/lower in the body). Thirdly, and most minor, is the itty-bitty eraser. In my college classes, I would use that in a couple days…

I didn’t fill out a review sheet for this one, since I was at home and don’t have any of my paperwork with me (which also accounts for the horrible lighting), but to be honest, I was pretty disappointed. While I’ve come to expect quality from Uni-Ball pens (such as my Signo bits), this definitely falls below the bar.

Final Score: 3/5

Sun-Star Knock Free Sharp 0.7mm Mechanical Pencil

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Sun-Star Knock Free Sharp 0.7mm Mechanical Pencil

I can already hear it now… “No review?! What’s wrong with you, man?” Well, to be honest, I don’t k now all that much about mechanical pencils, since I’ve always preferred a good old-fashioned cedar pencil (complete with scent whenever you sharpen them) to a mechanical pencil… However, I do occasionally use them at work and whenever they are handier than a regular pencil, so occasionally I like to try them out… So, instead of a “full review”, you get a doodle (on Doane Paper no less) as well as some random musings.

I will admit that I like the Sun-Star Knock Free Sharp because it is shapped like a regular pencil. The body plus the plastic texture remind me of thos pencils we all had during gradeschool, y’know, the ones that seemed to be made mostly of wax without any real wood in them. However, if it wasn’t for the mechanics, I could almost trick my mind into thinking that it was a real pencil. The eraser is non-removable/refillable, which is definitely not really a plus, but I figure, should I happen to like this pencil enough, that with a knife, a regular pencil eraser, and some superglue, we could make something work…

I’m still getting used to the idea of not having to manually advance my pencil lead. In fact, I kind of miss the action of clicking the top or side and feeling the mechanics inside the pencil advance the lead for me… But, I will admit that the auto advance on this pencil works relatively well, although the “advance sleeve” rides a little low on the lead in my opinion…

Bryan over at The Office Supply Geek has an awesome and very detailed review of this fine mechanical pencil, so feel free to stop by there if my musings aren’t enough to sate your curiosity…

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