So I am still here, just occupied by other things. Lately I've been buying all kinds of pens to test/mess around with (I have an idea for some modern-day illumination which may or may not happen) and figured I could share what I've found. These are all less popular pens, and a lot of them are new-ish. (Most of us already know how we feel about Pilot G-2s)
Please keep in mind: I prefer fine points over bold. If you like bold points, some of my criticisms won't be relevant.
It seems that ballpoints are persona non grata
of the pen world anymore. I like them, possibly out of nostalgia, so I was delighted to find that there are indeed some nice, dependable ballpoints out there. More expensive than your standard Bic Stix, but worth it:
- Pilot Acroball: I like this one rather a lot. The ink is dark and even and very smooth, and not once have I had to "start" the thing.
- Uni-ball Jetstream: Also lovely to write with, though Uni-ball seems to have trouble with their blue ballpoint ink. I've had two of their ballpoints go bad on me, and both were blue.
- Pentel RSVP: Pentel's ink is noticeably less vivid than the other two, especially for the blue & black, but I don't mind that. If you're trying to do a pen & ink drawing with a ballpoint, the RSVP can give you a range of intensity that the others can't.
Gel pens are popular, but my experience has been hit-and-miss:
- Pentel EnerGel: Doesn't come in a lot of colors, but I've liked them every time I've tried them.
- Uni-ball Signo: Saw a couple pen blogs sing their praises and I don't know why. They smear, and the fine point ones seem too bold. One exception: the white Signo is the best white gel pen out there.
- Pilot Juice: I think these may only be available online (or in Japan), but they are fantastic. They come in every color of the rainbow, and all of those colors are clear and bright.
- Pentel Sunburst: The only one I've tried is Metallic Gold, but I like it a lot.
- Zebra Sarasa: I hate this pen. The only thing it's got going for it is the vibrant ink colors. It bleeds and smears and writes unevenly.
- Pilot Hi-Tec-C: I got this one as a multipen (Coleto), and it's pretty nice. The ink is vivid and it writes very evenly.
Three more that don't fit into the above groups:
- Uni-ball Vision Elite: This is a great pen. Seriously. I've always liked the Pilot Precise V-5, and this is like a better version: less bleeding, sturdier build, no scratching, & there's a nice palette of colors to choose from.
- Sharpie Pen: I like it more than I thought I would. The ink isn't very vibrant, but it writes nicely. It bleeds a little, but the ink dries very fast. It has a nice feel on paper, too.
- Uni-ball Air: This is a horrible pen that should never have left Uni-ball's R&D. It's the sloppiest writer I've ever used, with a wildly uneven line, and it bleeds. The only thing it's got going for it is that it's the sexiest-looking pen I've ever bought.
So there you go. Your mileage may vary!