Review: BIC Bu3 Grip, Ballpoint Ink, 1.0mm

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In most aspects the BIC Bu3 Grip is a standard, if not slightly-below-average, ballpoint pen. The ink flow is on the sluggish side, it has a tendency to skip in and out while writing, and there’s more ink blobbing and smearing than one should expect from a $1 pen. On these points alone, I’d hesitate to recommend this pen to anyone, but there’s a little button on the side of the BU3 that pushes it into the “I’d never want to pick this pen up ever again” category.

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The button, located near the clip, acts as a retracting mechanism. The tip still ejects by clicking a knock at the top of the pen, like you’d typically expect, but you can only retract the pen’s tip by pushing the button. Why? The Bu3’s packaging states that it’s “for added convenience,” but it really isn’t convenient at all. I’ve seen similar retracting mechanisms that actually do serve some purpose – the Pilot Down Force comes to mind – but the Bu3’s retracting mechanism is, at best, mildly annoying.

Really, I’m having trouble finding good things to say about this pen. The grip is somewhat comfortable, I guess, but that’s hardly redeemable. So, unless you have no other options, my suggestion is to just avoid the BIC Bu3 Grip.

Review: Paper Mate Inkjoy 550RT, Ballpoint Ink, 1.0mm

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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.

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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.

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Review: Pilot Dr. Grip, Ballpoint, Medium Point

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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.

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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.

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Review: InkWorks Captain America Pens, Gel Ink, 0.7mm

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My excitement about the upcoming Captain America movie was obvious when I ordered this set of Captain America gel pens by InkWorks. In fact, I didn’t even care that they were technically made for the last Captain America movie, The Winter Soldier; I just wanted to inject a little Marvel into my day-to-day. Unfortunately, InkWorks puts its focus on style and forgets about usability, so my initial excitement waned as I attempted use these pens to write.

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While I do appreciate the red, white, and blue color-scheme of the dual-designs, it was definitely not worth the $8 I paid for this 2-pack. That said, the pens are moderately functional, as long as you’re okay with ink that tends to blob and skip. The grip is somewhat comfortable, and the clip has a neat wave-y design, though it feels brittle and cheap.

Regardless, these pens would perhaps go over well with kids in grade-school who love superhero movies. And if superheroes aren’t their thing, InkWorks also makes these same pens for The Beatles, My Little Pony, and the NHL’s Ottawa Senators (among others). But if you’re buying these pens for yourself to use,  don’t expect to be marveled by them (ha ha!).

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Review: Pilot G-2 Limited, Gel Ink, 0.7mm

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Pilot has produced many iterations of the popular G-2 gel pen, but the Pilot G-2 Limited is the only one I’ve used that I’d actually consider an upgrade. Rather than simply changing the color or design of the barrel, the G-2 Limited actually uses aluminum parts. This makes for a heftier, more durable pen with a very solid clip.

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In addition to the aluminum, the G-2 Limited has a rubber grip that is noticeably softer than standard G-2’s grip – and it’s also a magnet for dust and dirt. It’s comfortable, but the downside is that this rubber grip will wear down faster than the rest of the metallic barrel. Personally, I tend to prefer a more durable grip with a metallic pen, such as the knurling on the Zebra F-701 or the ridges on the Pentel Energel Alloy RT.

Maybe it goes without saying, but if you don’t like the standard Pilot G-2, then the G-2 Limited won’t change your mind. On the other hand, if you’re a fan of the Pilot G-2, then, at around $10, the Limited might be an upgrade worth getting. And with six barrel-color options (gold, silver, purple, red, gray, and blue), you’re likely to find something that matches your style.

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