I’ve previously written about what I’ve referred to as the beauty or drive-by review. I think it’s better called a first impression review, which lacks the derogatory inference of the terms beauty or drive-by. Though, I do believe that such reviews are inferior to reviews with lengthy use supporting the opinions of the reviewer.
This in the front of my mind as I have two reviews in my queue that if I had reviewed them after writing only one page right after purchase, my review would have been skewed overwhelmingly favorably. Now that I have at least a month of use on these pens, I have different feelings. I have written in my Field Notes, composition notebooks, assorted cheap paper at work, my sketch books, and other paper, and the results have varied wildly. I’ve also subjected each pen to long writing sessions, brief notes, being uncapped for brief and longer distracted periods. Each method of use gave me a better of idea of how the pen felt and worked. Also the longer review period gave me a better idea of the longevity of the pen. I can better answer, “Will this pen last?” or “Is this pen a value?”
If I chose to place emphasis on quick initial impressions, as in my TWSBI Eco(nomical) first impression “review”, I should label them as such. Can I accurately report on a pen or pencil if I have only used it for the single sheet of paper I used to write the review? Or should I hold myself to a higher standard and use the damn thing for longer? If I only use the pen/ink/pencil in a Field Notes/Rhodia/composition book/Hand-Book sketchbook, how am I telling people about the performance? I’m not, I’ve only got the one point of comparison.
I know that the standard has been set that reviews on pens and pencils are done on one sheet of paper by one manufacturer, but it’s a simplistic precedent and one that those of us who do reviews should revolt against. There is a division between reporting on the aesthetics of a tool and it’s overall performance. I fully believe that the performance of a pen/pencil/paint/paper cannot be done with a single written page.