Review: Pentel Finito, Porous Point, Extra Fine

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It was practically a foregone conclusion that I was going to like the Pentel Finito, a fine-tipped, porous-point pen. Like other porous point pens, such as the BIC Intensity or the Sharpie Pen, the Finito produces a clean line that manages to make any handwriting look neater. It’s fully disposable, but it has the benefit of being a little thicker than an average plastic-bodied pen. So, it’s comfortable to use and seems fairly durable.

Unlike most porous-point pens, the Finito uses a feed system that helps keep the ink flowing smoothly, but having a feed sometimes can help a little too much. Given that it’s labeled as an “extra fine” pen, it produces a thicker line than one might expect. The Finito also suffers from some smearing and bleeding issues, though nothing I’d consider out of the ordinary.

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It’s a good pen and one that I’d recommend, but, in my experience, the Finito is difficult to find in stores – I had to order a box online. On the other hand, the Pilot V Razor Point, a very similar pen, is quite common. So even though the Finito is a bit longer, thicker, and sturdier than the V Razor Point, you might as well grab whichever you can find at your local drug store instead of shelling out extra money for shipping fees.

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Extra Links

  • A review at A Pen a Day says that the Finito bleeds through paper less than the Sharpie Pen. That’s probably true, but expect bleeding from both if you’re using thin or cheap paper.
  • The Pen Addict also laments the fact that the Finito can be difficult to find and complains of massive ink flow and bleeding. I wouldn’t call the ink flow “massive,” but, as I noted, I definitely wouldn’t call it “extra fine” either.
  • Art Supply Critic did not seem too pleased at all, calling thing Finto “mediocre.”

Review: Uchida Reminisce, Gel Ink, 0.7mm

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Given its name and the fact that I found it in a craft store, I get the feeling that the Uchida ‘Reminisce’ is intended for scrapbookers. Though the full name, as far as I can tell, is the Marvy-Uchida Gel Excel Reminisce, and though its acid-free, archival ink could be good for scrapbooking, it can really be used just like any other gel pen. In fact, it has a rubbery, soft grip running the length of the barrel that makes it quite comfortable for general writing.

It’s a nice pen overall, though at $2.50 the cost of the Reminisce is probably on the high-end for its category. The ink flow can sometimes run a bit heavy and skips out on the rare occasion, but it works flawlessly the majority of the time. The cap posts snugly, and the clip is tight and relatively durable for being made of plastic. Additionally, large ink-windows are positioned on the side of the barrel, making it convenient to see when the ink is running low. And in case that isn’t enough, the Reminisce’s packaging also boasts of ink that is “smudge resistant when dry” (though I’m pretty sure that’s true of every pen I’ve ever used).

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The Reminisce isn’t the sort of pen I’d suggest bulk-ordering or driving across town to find. Even if you’re looking for a scrapbooking pen, almost any gel will do a similar job, and good ones like the uni-ball Signo and the Pentel Energel are likely easier to find. Still,  if you happen across one, I think the Reminisce would be worth grabbing off the shelf.  And if you don’t like it for its performance, hopefully you will still appreciate the great curly-cursive logo printed across its barrel.

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Inch x Inch Button Club

When I was in high school, one-inch buttons were all the rage. I had a small collection of my own at the time; a collection that has, sadly, been mostly lost to time. Still, whenever I’m in a coffee shop or otherwise walking around town, I enjoy spotting the occasional backpack or purse plastered with the tiny buttons. Perhaps that’s why my interest was piqued when I learned about Inch x Inch (via a post on the Three Staples blog) a couple of years ago.

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Inch x Inch is a monthly button subscription service whose proceeds go to charities that support youth art education. Every month, Inch x Inch finds an artist to create a new 3-pack of one-inch buttons, and for $50 those buttons will show up at your door for a year. I really enjoy the day each month when the little, yellow Inch x Inch envelope appears in my mailbox.

Since Inch x Inch collaborates with so many artists, it’s always a fun surprise to see the design variations. I’ve gotten buttons with little skulls,  donuts, and pig snouts, for instance. But one of my personal favorite sets is from the month Aaron Draplin (of Field Notes fame) created a pack done in his “Thick Lines” style.

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In the time that I’ve been an Inch x Inch subscriber, I’ve formed a small tradition. Every month I choose one of the new buttons and attach it to my work bag. Others I often give away, and the rest go into a box that houses a rebuilt button collection. Of course, the charge could be made that subscribing to a monthly button service is a bit frivolous, but the fact that the money goes to a good cause at least provides me with a decent excuse.

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Notes on Black Ice Field Notes

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It’s hard to know where to to begin with Field Notes’ 33rd quarterly edition (winter, 2016). In a snapshot, it’s the typical 3.5″ x 5.5″ pocket-notebook with 48 pages of 70#, line-ruled paper. But with this notebook, which Field Notes has named the “Black Ice” edition, there’s actually a lot more going.

This notebook has a hefty 100# cover stock that is stamped with a dull, reflective foil. The cover shows cracks and scratches with wear, but somehow never seems to leave smudges or finger-prints. It ostensibly represents the shiny, gray coloring of a thin layer of ice on asphalt. It’s a clever design, though not one that’s easy to photograph.

Oddly, there’s also a lot of orange with this edition – the orange spine,  the glossy inside-cover section, and the ruling that lines the header section on each page – which is perhaps an ode to the Field Notes creator, Aaron Draplin. Not that I’ve got nothing against orange, but I don’t see how it makes much sense with the “Black Ice” theme. A dark gray would have worked better, in my opinion.

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The most unique feature of the Black Ice edition, however, is the use of PUR binding, a first for Field Notes. Instead of stapling the pages together, each leaf of paper is glued into the book, and the spine is then covered by an orange, rubbery hinge. The obvious advantage to PUR-binding is that it creates a much tougher spine for the notebook, though it also adds some bulk and prevents pages from easily laying open. As someone who typically keeps these notebooks in a back pocket, the extra bulk isn’t ideal, though I wouldn’t describe it as particularly cumbersome either.

Overall, anyone who uses Field Notes is likely to enjoy the Black Ice edition, though it doesn’t personally rank among my favorites. The bulkiness of the PUR binding can be a little annoying, and I’m not in love with the use of orange. On the other hand, the reflective covers look good, the pages are hefty, and it’s a durable little book. No doubt this edition will find a lot of fans, but I wouldn’t be surprised by the fact that it also has a few detractors.

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Additional Notes

  • Of the 30 “Practical Applications” listed in the notebooks’ inside-back cover, my favorites are the following: “02. Curling Rosters”; “24. Plunges Polar-Beared”; and “27. Bells on Bob Tails Rung”
  • With the Field Notes quarterly subscription, this edition came with a couple pieces of wrapping paper and gift labels. It was a smart assumption by Field Notes that these notebooks, released prior to Christmas, would be gifted. Though, I used the wrapping paper I received to wrap other gifts.
  • Check out some other good Black Ice reviews at Fountain Pen Follies, Lead Fast, and Nerd Gazette.

Review: uni-ball Vision Elite, Rollerball, 0.8mm

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At 2 to 3 dollars apiece, the uni-ball Vision Elite is a pen that’s positioned at the top-end of the inexpensive, plastic market. It’s the sort of pen you’d expect to be handed at a car dealership just before signing a lease agreement. It contains a dark ink, has a sturdy clip, and features a thick, robust barrel. However, the most impressive thing about the Vision Elite is its ink – advertised as “super ink” – that barely smudges or smears at all.

On the other hand, the ink doesn’t flow all that consistently, and this 0.8mm tip provides a much bolder line than I expected (although, uni-ball does make finer-tipped versions, at 0.5mm and 0.7mm). Additionally, I should mention that I had problems with the cap, which would constantly pop off whenever I tried posting it to the end of the barrel. Though, these “designer series” versions of the Vision Elite, which differ only in aesthetics, do look pretty snazzy.

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If you’re looking for a fairly inexpensive, low-smear rollerball pen, then the Vision Elite is a good choice. If you can tolerate some smear, then I’d recommend checking out the Pilot Precise instead. Or if you’re okay with a gel pen, then the uni-ball Signo 207 contains similar low-smear ink as this pen. But overall, the Vision Elite is a decent, smooth and comfortable pen, even though it wouldn’t be my first choice.

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Extra Links

  • Art Supply Critic has a review that features the red and blue versions of the Vision Elite. He mentions some bleed through issues, which will definitely happen on thinner paper.
  • Here’s a very positive review at The Clicky Post. It’s mentioned here that refills for the Vision Elite can be purchased separately, though you’ll spend about the same amount of money if you just decide to buy a new pen.
  • And, of course, this was reviewed by The Pen Addict. It’s mentioned here (and in the pen’s advertising) that the Vision Elite is airplane safe. Though, honestly, I’ve never had a problem with pens exploding on airplanes. So I’m not sure that this is a unique feature.