While there’s a huge variety to Paper Mate’s line of Inkjoy pens, the Inkjoy 550RT is the only one which is “designed for fun.” At least, that’s according to Paper Mate’s marketing department. In reality, however, there’s nothing that’s exactly “fun” about the 550RT, but it still manages to be a decent, disposable ballpoint pen.
Really, the design of the Inkjoy 550RT is nice but also relatively plain. Each end of the barrel is covered with a rubbery grip that narrows towards the pen’s middle, creating a very subtle and relatively comfortable hourglass shape. It has faux-chrome accents, a sturdy clip, and a clicker that’s reliable, though not terribly robust.
The ballpoint ink is surprisingly smooth and smear-free, and it dries darker than what you’d find with a cheaper ballpoint. Although it’s not quite up there with the Pilot Acroball or uni-ball Jetstream, it’s still a worthwhile product if you’re looking to buy a handful of ballpoints for only a few bucks. Only, you should be sure that your expectation for “fun” isn’t set too high.
If you walk through a stationery aisle every now and again, it’s likely that you’ll have at least a passing familiarity with the Pilot Dr. Grip. At my corner store, for example, there’s always one situated alone and awkwardly, hanging between a row of BICs and a row of store-brand gels. Well, Dr. Grip, the time has come to take you off the rack and out for a spin.
Despite the small amount of shelf space it’s often given, the Dr. Grip has its fair share of fans out there. It’s a thick pen with a large and rubbery grip, which makes it quite comfortable to write with. In fact, it is probably intentional that the pen’s name, Dr. Grip, suggests a somewhat therapeutic product.
The Dr. Grip’s ballpoint ink is surprisingly good too, darker and smoother than most – it comes close to the nice ballpoint ink of Pilot’s Acroball. Still, for a pen that is geared toward comfort, a smoother gel or rollerball ink might have worked better. Regardless, it’s a nice pen overall, and if writing tends to make your hand cramp up, the Dr. Grip is a pen worth considering.
I received this Lamy Dialog 2 rollerball pen as a gift for my birthday last year (thanks, Dad!), and with online listings at $100+, it’s probably the most expensive pen in my collection so far. However, that hasn’t deterred me from taking it out of its case a handful of times. I’ve used it both at home and taken it to work, being careful not to leave it sitting anywhere unprotected for too long.
The Dialog 2 was designed by Holscher Designs, a Danish company founded by architect Knud Holscher, which specializes in industrial designs. It is a beautifully machined pen, made of stainless steel with a finish of palladium, an element commonly used in jewelry. It has a great weight and even balance, and the barrel has a good thickness, making it a pleasure to write with and hold. But the most interesting and impressive design element of the Dialog 2 is the retracting mechanism.
When the tip of the pen is exposed, the metal clip lays completely flush with the barrel of the pen. To retract the tip, twist the pen at the midsection, and a spring-loaded clip will simultaneously pop out. It’s a very neat design that ensures against clipping the pen to your pocket with an exposed tip, preventing stains to your shirt or pants. Just don’t set it down on your desk un-retracted because this mechanism can also make the pen a rolling hazard.
The only real downside of the Dialog 2 is the ink refill. It’s a nice refill with a dark ink that writes very smoothly, but it’s a proprietary design by Lamy that is only offered in medium and broad tip-sizes. If, like me, you like finer-tipped pens, you’re out of luck. I’ve yet to find another refill that will fit.
Overall, the Lamy Dialog 2 is a great pen for its unique and innovative design. At its price point, it’s not the type of pen I’d ever be comfortable throwing in a backpack or clipping to a notebook. It will likely spend most of it’s time in its case on my bookshelf. It has, however, become the first pen I reach for whenever I need to write my rent check.
Although I didn’t like the Paper Mate Liquid Flair for writing, it turns out that it’s a pretty great pen for drawing and coloring. It’s comfortable to hold, and the medium, felt tip does a great job at filling in areas. Though smearing and bleeding can definitely be an issue, it might be worth the trouble for some of the bright and vivid colors.
This set comes with seven colors (plus black): blue, red, green, pink, orange, turquoise, and purple. Some of the colors almost look like highlighters, which isn’t something I tend to like. But the red, blue, and purple are dark and vivid – great colors.
If you’re doing detailed work, this might not be the pen for you – the medium point and the smearing issues would make it less than ideal for that application. But for general coloring, it does a great job. Each pen also has a different design on the barrel, which is a nice touch.
I don’t have much experience writing with brush pens like the Kuretake Bimoji, but I was quick to learn that they take a bit of skill to use. Writing with the Bimoji is a lot like writing with a fine-point permanent marker; its porous tip narrows to a point, creating a line width that varies depending on how you angle the pen in your hand. Consequently, the handwriting of an inexperienced brush pen user can look very sloppy, but once you got the hang of it, the Bimoji is a really fun pen to use.
The Bimoji stands out among all my other pens both for how it looks and how it writes. Using a light touch, it can create a really unique style of handwriting with clean lines and no bleeding. But despite the nice rubbery grip, I found it difficult to write with this pen for very long. At a normal writing angle, the lines produced by this medium tipped Bimoji are too thick, and contorting your hand to write perpendicular to the page is a difficult position to maintain.
Really, the Bimoji brush pen is for artists (and for writing in Japanese characters). I personally couldn’t stop doodling all over my notebook with this pen, so I’d suspect those who have drawing skills might downright love it. Maybe a fine-tipped brush pen would be more appropriate for writing, but for now this Bimoji will have a place as my go-to doodle pen.
- The review at Natto Soup mentions that the cap posts on the end of the barrel in a strange way. Honestly, I wasn’t even sure that the cap was intended to post, so I just kept it off to the side whenever I used it.
- JetPens has a short video of somebody writing Japanese characters with the Bimoji, and it’s beautiful – it looks like art.
- Pocket Blonde’s review mentions that the extra fine tipped Bimoji is good for writing.