Category Archives: Review

Review: Uniball Signo 207 Multicolor 8-pack

The Uniball Signo 207 is a staple pen. You can pick one up at any office, box, drug, or grocery store in the US. The multicolored sets are available at office supply stores across the US. A standard multicolor pack includes red, blue, and black. There are a total of 8 colors. 5 of those colors are only available in the 0.7 or medium point. The colors are identical across their range of gel inks, so if you want to sketch with a SIgno 207 then switch over to a Signo DX you can. This is great news if you want to sketch with these pens.

Uniball reports that the Signo 207 RT “forms an indelible bond in paper” and reports them to be “fade- & water-resistant, acid-free ink.” If you’ve been reading this blog for any period of time you know what I think about acid free claims.* Fade and water resistance are much more important for those of us who use these pens for sketching. So a few things to note about these pens. The black is a solid everyday pen- great for writing, making notes, bullet journaling, and sketching. I’ve recomended it over and over and over again. It’s a great pen. Additionally so are many of the other colors. However, when you use these pens on good paper the ink doesn’t bond well with the fibers of the paper. So when you add water, or highlighter, it lifts and smears. I have found that this is much much worse with the colors, any of them. The black adheres the best of the lot, but every other colors I’ve tested with a variety of highlighters, smears. Adding water causes lifting and bleed of the ink.

Sketchbook paper with less sizing does well. My Leuchtturm1917 didn’t fare well. The ink smeared and I had to use a blotting sheet to keep the ink on one page. The colors are great for bullet journaling but not in a Leuchtturm1917.

Overall, I find the colors great for sketching and writing. I can use the bright red or orange for calling out a note or coloring a box. Further, the writing experience remains smooth and enjoyable from first to the last click. The ink is great on crappy paper, it bonds well but doesn’t drain out of the pen. I also enjoy these for sketching but the water-resistance of the colors is less than that of the black ink. Use the variety of colors combined with water with caution. Test first.

Review: Pentalic Traveler

Let’s just cut to the chase, the Pentalic Traveler is a fabulous sketchbook or journal. Let me tell you why.

The cover is made of soft touch vinyl. It feels really nice for vinyl. I purchased a softcover version. The covers are held shut when in transit by a sturdy elastic the same color as the vinyl. Mine is red, bright cherry red. Inside there is a lengthy satin red ribbon, in the same shade as the rest. I heat sealed mine.

The end sheets are cream. In the back there is a pocket for assorted loose bits and bobs you might add to your sketchbook as you are traveling. THe pocket is roomy. The soft cover allows you to stuff even more into the pocket than a hardcover.

The book block is smythe sewn, sturdy and flexible. The paper itself is fabulous. It’s smooth but with enough tooth that pencils fair very well. Fountain pens and dip nibs glide across the pages. Surprisingly the 74 lb recycled sketch paper accepts watercolor washes with ease. The paper cockles a bit but in the end looks better than most sketchbooks in this price range.

Overall I was very surprised at the performance of this sketchbook. Every media I used performed well and looked great on the cool white page. At $7.49 and 160 pages it’s not a bad price for a pocket sketchbook. It’s sturdy and full of great paper.

Review: Sharpie Clear view Highlighter

I’ve been wanting to review a highlighter with a view window tip for ages. I picked up a 2 pack of the Sharpie version during the BTSS clearance for super cheap.

The highlighter is classic neon yellow, my least favorite of the highlighter colors, but a classic shade. The ink lays down wet and even. I hate it when they squish out a blob of oozy wet ink then dry out as I lay down a line. The chisel tip is just the right size to get a line of text in an average textbook or in my pocket notebook.. the tip can be flipped to achieve a narrow line. The tip does not mush down even with a heavy hand. To test this I gave one of the highlighters to my wife and she used it as she read cases for work. Usually, I don’t like to use a highlighter after shes touched one for more than an hour. Hers was perfectly usable after several days of use.

Which brings me to another point, despite its diminutive size these things have a decent amount of longevity. My wife often burns through a highlighter or two PER week. This one lasted a week.  So there is a decent amount of ink.

The shape is flat and prevents rolling. They remind me of the Stabilo Boss highlighters in shape and size. It isn’t my favorite but it does the job well enough.

The cap is flaired and acts as a convenient pen stand so the pen doesn’t dry out in use. The pen is dry out resistant. I left it uncapped for about an hour and it was fine. This also means that if you lose the cap or toss it into your bag uncapped it’s going to make a huge mess.

The tip does allow me to see what I’m highlighting and I really do like it, though these are kinda silly. The see-through tip feels like a gimmick to me and unnecessary.  But the tip does hold up much better than other highlighter tips. It doesn’t mash or bend, and I like how usable the tip remained even after heavy use. That the tip is made of mostly plastic with a firm but smooth tip seems to make a great deal of difference of the longevity of the highlighter. Overall, I love these, but not for the see-through nature of the tip, rather for the longevity of the tip, which is a byproduct of the see-through plastic.

Review: Zebra Mildliners

If you follow bullet journaling on any social media you are likely familiar with Zebra Mildliners. I admit my FOMO was so strong on these that when I saw a set at Target priced well above my budget I almost put everything in my cart back to spend $20 on a handful of not-highlighters.

I’ll be blunt, the Mildliner is a dual-tipped marker. It’s a really nice one, but at the end of the day, it is a marker. The ink is translucent enough that you can see any writing you are highlighting.

The core point of the Mildliner is that they aren’t highlighter bright. The colors are muted and mild on the page. The shades do pop off the page but function as almost any marker might. I picked up 3 Mildliners in the loose stock at Michael’s. At $1.99 each or more in a set these are pretty pricey little markers. Loose with a coupon at Michael’s brings these into an affordable price range.

In terms of performance, I find both tips suitably sturdy. I’ve only used mine for a few days but they haven’t crushed or deformed in my use. I don’t generally have a problem with mushing chisel tips but I do with bullet tips. But the bullet tips have stayed at a nice fine point. I have found that I quite enjoy the bullet tip for making a few notes or underlining notes in my pocket notebook. The size of these is nice too, it is close enough to a regular pen that it will fit into a regular pencil case, so you don’t need to find an extra long case, I’m looking at YOU Tombow Dual Tip Brush Markers!

I’m biased, but I picked up 3 colors I knew I would like and use, so I like the colors and they work well for how I use highlighters. Which is to say, that I use highlighters for minor emphasis in my notes- underlining some of my text or by circling notes. I also use them in my bullet journal to denote weekends and other important events. I need to figure out how I’m going to use mine in my “side-hustle bullet journal” (SHBJ) and what I’m going to denote with them.

In use, they smear with the same inks, pencils, and pens as any other highlighter. So expect that if you use waterbased inks or fountain pens that you’ll get smearing. IF you want to use pencil stick to HB or F grades for less smear, those 2b and Blackwings are going to get graphite all over the place.

Overall I think that the Mildliner performs wonderfully and the colors are great. They are just different enough that finding these shades in another brand of marker is going to be a pain in the rear. Frankly, any chisel tip or bullet tip marker will perform similarly, but finding a chisel tip marker that is in a compact package with these colors is going to be difficult. The closest you’ll get to these shades is the Tombow Dual Tip Brush Pen. But that has a brush tip which many will find hard to control, though is great for the same purposes as the Mildliner.

I like these, but I also guaranteed my like by purchasing only the 3 colors I knew I’d use in my bullet journal or in my lifelong learning quest. The best place to purchase these is at Jetpens.  Their prices are the best online and their sets are at the best price I’ve seen. You can also get them at Michael’s from the singles display at the register. Which is the best price I’ve seen in person. I’ve seen the 15-color set at Target during BTS but not since.

Review: Story Supply Company Morning LE

I reviewed the standard Story Supply Company (SSC) pocket notebook and pencils over here. Plus I’ve picked up and reviewed their collab with CW Pencil Enterprise called “the Pencil Pusher” over here. They began as a Kickstarter and have evolved into a small but growing company that makes their own notebooks in a small shop in York, Pennsylvania. I love this little company.

There is a lot to love about this company. First, their LE game is on point, their summer 2018 edition “SMR” is a gorgeous series of orange and yellow shades across the cover of a notebook. It perfectly evoked the hot August sun.  

The Fall 2018 LE, “Morning” is muted and gorgeous. I don’t know how many of you have needed to get up super early in the morning in the fall and happened to look out across a field or lake. Watching the fog lift and the changes in temperature occur is really gorgeous, and the Story Supply team captured that feeling in this cover. It’s a grey to black gradient but done a little differently to get that fog like feel. I love it. Inside is a lighter grey version of the gradient plus some printing.

The cover stock is thick and beefy, it’s some of the thickest cover stock available in the pocket notebook game and it is the one to beat. The thick cover stock makes this a great notebook to use for notes on the go-  the sturdiness of the covers means you can actually write in hand without a great deal of bending.

Inside the covers are 48-pages of thick creamy paper. It’s smooth but toothy enough that all my pencils respond well on its surface. Fountain pens do pretty well on this paper as well. It’s thick so there isn’t a great deal of show through. I had no feathering or bleed through, but the largest nib I used was a medium and most of my inks are well behaved. Rubber stamps do well on this smooth but toothy paper.

Overall, the SSC notebooks are top notch and are just amazing to use. At $11.99 their pricing is standard for materials that are anything but. The combination of quality and durability can’t be beaten. You could buy another brand but why? If you want to test them out without buying an LE their regular notebooks are $10, but they also have sales on older editions for $10 as well.

SSC donates notebook and pencil sets to schools in need. You buy a pack of notebooks and a kid gets a notebook and pencil set of their own.

Review: Pilot G2 mini

I picked up a 4 pack of the G2 Mini pens on a whim. The 4-pack was affordably priced and held regular blue, bright blue, red, and purple. The G2 minis perform just like their full sized counterparts- smooth most of the time and best on junky paper. On nice paper (Studio C, Tomoe River) it has a tendency to skip a bit and for the tip to feel rough.

I find mini pens of this size to be just a tad too small for longer term writing. They are okay for filling a box or two in my bullet journal and a quick note here or there. Writing more than a page in a pocket notebook puts a great deal of strain on my hand and is tiring.

I think these are great pens to toss into a bag for occasional quick notes or for children. I’m using the bright blue and purple to introduce my nephew to better stationery.

Review: Uniball Signo DX 0.38 Capped

The Uniball Signo DX is often replicated but never quite repeated. In the past you could only find the DX on import sites like JetPens (You can still get them and refills there) last year (2017) Uniball started to bring the DX to the US! You can’t get singles but you can an eight color multipack at most major office supply chains, like Staples.

I picked up my 8-pack at my local Staples for around $12. Not a great deal. The only package you can find in the US is the 8 color pack. My local Staples hides these on the bottom shelf in the Uni section of pegs.

I’m not gonna lie, the DX is a favorite pen of mine. First it is is a classic design often imitated (remember that Pen+Gear monstrosity I posted about?) Infact Staples has its own version of this venerable pen.

The tip provides smooth writing and sketching experience. The ink flows well but not overly wet. It’s close to perfect. The ink is also lightfast. I’ve tested many of the colors and not even a shift in direct August light. The ink is also waterproof/water resistant. Which means it is great for sketching and overlapping watercolor washes. Urban sketchers, here’s a great pen for you.

True to Uniball USA’s typical antics, the refills in these pens is labeled UMR-1 instead of UM-151. The colors are identical to my imported pens. Refills are available on JetPens from $1.35 up to $2.50.

These are great pens, and the basic 8-color set is great for sketching, adding a black to the mix would be quite helpful. But I find the lighter brighter colors to be great for under sketches. Anyway, I’ve missed the US launch of these by a year, but they are still a fabulous pen to add into your sketching and bullet journal tool kit.

Review: Capped Gel InkJoy

Paperhate released the capped version of their lovely InkJoy gel ink pen during the 2018 Back-to-School season. The packages of the capped are similar to the retractable with the same assortment of colors.

The refills are interchangeable between pens. Which is, I guess, a useful piece of information. I noticed it so I share with you. The pens perform exactly the same, that is to say, the ink is flawless and flows well and dark and lovely. I love these refills.

The biggest difference that I notice between the two pens, other than the addition of the cap is that the tip or nose of the capped version is hard plastic while the retractable version is rubberized. The translucent colored cap clicks onto the hard plastic nose with an audible click, and stays put. The cap posts deeply and securely. In use what I really like about the depth of the post is that it doesn’t put the pen off balance or extend the length of the pen enormously. It posts as deep as it caps. It’s secure and stays put in my use.

Overall, if you like a capped pen over a retractable pen, this is a great gel ink option. Refills are available on Amazon and the pen is pretty comfortable. I find the capped version to be very comfortable, if anything more so than the retractable.

These are available just about everywhere. I’ve seen them in Walgreens, CVS, Walmart, and Target. If you can find them on sale or get them with a coupon, snatch them up. The InkJoy gel is a great pen.

Review: Pilot Precise V5 RT

The Pilot Precise V5 has been around since the dawn of my stationery awakening and is a favorite of mine. I like it for just about every task- writing, notes, sketching and doodles. It is a great pen.

Until I saw these on the shelf I’ve always bought the capped version. I don’t know if I simply wasn’t aware of the retractable version or if it wasn’t available. Regardless, I have them now and I’m never going back.

The design of the pen is simple and parts of it hearken back to the capped version- the grooves in the nose and swirly silver on the color, and translucent colored plastic. The similarities end there. The rubberized grip has DX-like divots. THe knock reminds me of the Signo 207. It has a long drive down to extend the tip and click into place. It does have a satisfying click noise. The clip is a futuristic wrap around that clips tightly to the placket of my shirt or a notebook. It wiggles from side to side and feels loose when it’s not clipped to anything. It’s not, it has a sloppy feel.

Overall the Precise V5 RT is a great update to the capped version of the pen. You won’t lose a cap and the ink is fabulous. It does respond and feels more like gel ink than liquid ink. I’m okay with that. Anyway, you can get these on Amazon for around $2/pen. There are entire tubs of 48 of these pens- black and multi colors for around $55! They are also available in just about any store from Target to Walmart to Staples to the local grocery chain.

Review: Pen+Gear Gel Ink Stick Pen

Pen+Gear might be Walmart’s house brand but it has contained some surprising quality. I snagged the Pen+Gear Gel Stick Pens (GSP) n a whim from the clearance section post Back-to-School season. Cost in clearance was around 50 cents. Regular price is a few dollars. They are made in China.

In the package are eight 0.7mm pens. Each pen has a grippy rubber grip with circular divots to improve the grip. The tip at the working end is metal. The tip unscrews to reveal a pretty standard stick pen gel refill. Each refill has a different amount of ink. You can see the differences in the images of the package. The refill doesn’t last very long. It took less than a half week for me to blow through one at my day job.

The ink itself is nicely dark, doesn’t grey out in the middle, and has really nice flow. Some of my pens were perfectly wonderfully smooth, others were scratchy and felt gross on all paper. The ink seems moderately waterproof. I do not know if it is lightfast. I have not tested it.

The cap snaps closed securely and with a nice click. It posts in the same manner. All of it is nicely secure.

Please ignore the words. This was the one good pen in the package.

You might recognize the design from several sources- the design is a direct rip off of the Uniball Signo DX stick gel pen. It also looks like the Staples Stick Gel pens, which I suspect are made by Uniball. Frankly the Pen+Gear GSP looks as though Walmart passed a Signo DX and said, “Scan this, but change everything just enough so we don’t get sued.”

Honestly, while the Pen+Gear pencils and notebooks are a steal these aren’t. You have to find the pens that work smoothly and contend with scratchy tips to do so. Even if you need a cheap waterproof sketcher you can usually walk into any store (here in the US) and pick up a 2 or 3-pack of Uniball Signo in black for not much more and have almost guaranteed smoothness and success. The Pen+Gear GSP is a pass from me.