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?

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.

Zebra V-301 Stainless Steel Fountain Pen

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Zebra V-301 Stainless Steel Fountain Pen

Up for a look this time is a brand-spankin’-new fountain pen offering from Zebra, which was kindly sent to me from Canada by Halden J., a Twitter acquaintance! This pen is due out for US release some time in the Spring of this year, but I guess they had an earlier release date in Canada, where it can be found at Staples.

So, as for my opinions of the pen. I took some photos, opened the package, then took some more photos before actually loading an ink cartridge in the pen. s with all the fountain pens I use, I turned it up on its end (nib down) and left it for five minutes in order to facilitate ink flow. The ink is fed through a wick nib feed (which may present some difficulties when it comes to flushing it out and using another ink color) which, I was soon to discover, did not feed ink quickly at all.

After five minutes or so, I posted the cap only to find that the cap does not post firmly  and rotates and bounces on the end of the barrel (although this may be a fluke) and that the pen would not yet write. So, I thought the feed might be a little slower, so I left it turned upside down for another 5 minutes or so, and finally, after some furtive scratching on a piece of Rhodia paper, ink flowed from the nib.

I thought this might be the end of the problem, but I was soon to discover that this happened every single time I stopped using the pen for more thn a few moments. It was almost as if the ink was drawn back up the wick feed into the cartridge, leaving me with a dry nib each and every time.

The ink itself is decent. It’s a grey/black ink that dries very quickly (a little less than 5 seconds, which is great for lefties) and doesn’t bleed through the paper. The nib is a medium stainless steel nib, which is a bit more broad than what I’m used to and lays down a good amount of ink. The grip is a bit of a disappointment, since it’s made completely of a hard plastic with bumps and no rubber coating, which promotes the “death-grip” while writing. The barrel and cap are made of stainless steel and are actually just a copy of Zebra’s stainless highlighter range that came out last year.

So, we have a decent refillable (although only with Zebra’s cartridges. So far, converter/international cartridge attempts have failed, at least by what I’ve seen around the web) stainless steel fountain pen at a relatively decent price (I believe it was about $3.89 Canadian, which equals out to $3.94 US). Although there are several issues (ink feed problem and loose cap), and I can’t really see myself personally using it everyday, it might work well for others.

Pilot B2P Retractable Gel Pen

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Pilot B2P (Bottle-to-Pen) BeGreen 0.7mm Retractable Gel Pen

Today’s pen, much like Tuesday’s redux Sarasa SE, is just a redux of the Pilot G2 in an eco-friendly format. However, unlike the Sarasa, I can say that I actually could enjoy using the B2P. While there’s no grip to speak of, the grooves in the side of the pen (reminiscent of the grooves in a water bottle) make the pen easier to keep ahold of.

The ink refill is simply a 0.7mm Pilot G-2 Gel Refill (which is most likely why only 89% of the pen is recycled content), which writes relatively well, but is a bit bolder and smears a little too easy for my liking. As I mentioned above, most of the features of this pen revolves around the fact that it’s the first pen to be made from a recycled water bottle, not around the inventiveness of a new ink system or any other new features. While it was slightly enjoyable to write with, I’m not going to go out and purchase a 20-pack to use at school, work, or just while writing at home, since it’s basically just a Pilot G-2 in a recycled shell. But maybe I can replace the G-2 refill with something more to my liking? Hmm…

Zebra Sarasa SE Model 0.7mm Retractable Gel Pen

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Zebra Sarasa SE Model 0.7mm Retractable Gel Pen

So today, for the first time in this blog’s history (at least to my knowledge), I have managed to be one step ahead of both Dowdy of PenAddict.com as well as Brian of OfficeSupplyGeek.com. Neither of them have yet to review this fine writing instrument, so I shall claim first on it (unlike the 101, which OSG reviewed just hours before I went to post my review).

The pen we are looking at today is basically a standard Zebra Sarasa gel pen which has had several modifications (all which were wanted/decided upon by the consumer, based upon over 50,000 people who were surveyed). The new features include a textured (small raised dots and three liens) grip, engraved metal clip, and the brand and size are painted on the barrel, rather than on the clip (see side-by-side comparison of an original and an SE in the gallery below.

Other than those minor changes, it’s still a Zebra Sarasa. The only things that have truly changed are purely cosmetic. The ink is still the same, and although I like Zebra’s ink, it smears a bit too much for me (being a leftie). The new grip is relatively comfortable, although I’m not perfectly sure about long-time use. Otherwise, I’m not sure I can truly see the point of paying $6.99 for 4 souped up Sarasas. Sorry Zebra, I’m gonna have admit that I don’t really like your Special Edition Sarasas. Better luck next time…

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