As a longtime fan of porous point pens, I’m happy to see more and more of them in stores. I found this pen, the Optimus by Inc., in a two-pack at a dollar store, sitting beside another porous point pen, the Promarx UltraFine. And, though I’ve had issues with Inc. pens in the past, I’ve got to say that the company has done a pretty good job here.
For an average price of 50 cents per pen, the Optimus is fairly inexpensive compared to name brand porous points. It comes with a hard plastic body and no “grip” section to really speak of, but I was pleasantly surprised to see a nice metal clip. Since most porous point pens come with cheapo clips, this is a touch that I really like. The pen itself is durable enough, and the tip has continued to produce a crisp line after two weeks of continuous use.
When it comes right down to it, this is a great pen for the money. Without any specified tip size (it just says “fine point”) it won’t replace any of the fancier fine liners, and anyone familiar with a pen like the BIC Intensity won’t see anything special or new here. But if you’re looking to cut costs from your porous point pen budget, the Optimus is a good way to go without sacrificing quality.
Despite the name, it’s not an advertisement of Marxism.
Promarx is a pen brand owned by the California-based Kittrich Corporation, which produces a lot of household and office products that are sold in big box stores all over the country. The local Dollar Tree is where I found these UltraFine porous point pens, which came in a 3-pack for – you guessed it – one dollar.
As expected, the Promarx doesn’t exactly provide a premium experience. It has a fully plastic body with a cheap clip, which easily bends out of shape. The black and gray design is plain and boring, but it gets the job done. The ink is dark and fills in areas well. The line it puts down isn’t as crisp as more premium porous points, but it’s definitely adequate for daily use.
For roughly 34 cents per pen, the Promarx UltraFine is a pretty good deal. More mainstream brands that make porous points, like Sharpie or BIC, often sell them for 3 times the price. This makes Promarx UltraFine a good budget buy.
Stabilo is an old company that has been working with porous point writing tech as far back as the 1970s (when the Stabilo Boss highlighter sales began to boom). So, with decades of design and manufacturing experience under its belt, Stabilo should have the resources to create a great porous point pen. And, as a fan of porous points, I was eager to try the popular Stabilo Sensor.
The main feature of this pen is its “sensor” tip, which retracts in slightly when pressed on paper. It sounds like an intrusive feature, but it’s hardly noticeable unless you write with a very heavy hand. The product’s webpage mentions that this feature is meant to improve smoothness and comfort, but I suspect that it has more to do with extending the pen’s life.
With porous point pens, the tip is usually the first part to break down. The Sensor adds a little ‘give’ whenever too much pressure is placed on it. As far as I can tell, this feature works as intended, but it comes with a couple drawbacks. First, it’s two to three times more expensive than a cheaper option like the Monami Plus Pen 3000. It also seems to me that the Sensor doesn’t put down a line that’s quite as clean as something like The Sharpie Pen.
For me, this pen isn’t a favorite, but it’s definitely a good choice. It writes well, and it has a dark ink with minimal smear and bleed-through. It has a nice barrel design as well – both aesthetically and functionally. It has a thicker body and longer clip than most other porous points (which, for whatever reason, tend to be thin with small clips). But for anyone with a heavy hand who likes the look and feel of a porous point, the Sensor is definitely worth a try.
Ever since the Sharpie Pen began to grow in popularity, it seems like porous point pens have eaten up more and more shelf space. This, honestly, comes as no surprise to me; porous points, even the super cheap ones, tend to write very crisp and clean lines. They make handwriting noticeably nicer and neater.
The Foray Stylemark is definitely among the better porous points out on the market. It has a plastic barrel and cap, but comes with a sturdy clip and a rubber grip. It looks nice, but it’s nothing flashy. Still, it’s a step up from its competitors, which often have short caps, crummy clips, and no grip section to speak of.
In fact, I think I’ll go out on a limb and say that the Stylemark has ousted the BIC Intensity to become my new favorite porous point pen. The only issue: Foray is an Office Depot house brand. So you’re unlikely to find it outside of that company’s stores. But if you are a fan of porous point pens then it might be worth making the trip.
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.
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.
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.