After reading Rands In Repose’s The Gel Dilemma, all of the pen talk on Daring Fireball, and even Omar’s By the Numbers on pens, I will admit that I am a Pilot VBall Grip Extra Fine kind of guy.
I’m not sure it’s the best pen I’ve ever used, but I tried all out of the pens in the campus bookstore one day and this is what I came up with. The campus bookstore is one of the last vestiges of the office supply stores where the pens are in cups and they have writing pads right there, encouraging you to try the wares out. I now forget which pen I was replacing at the time, but the criteria are always:
- Fine or Extra Fine/Micro. I can’t deal with a point larger than 0.5 mm.
- Feel. Had to work well on the sample paper in the pen section. I hate feeling like I can’t try out a pen in modern big-box office supply stores — even though I’m sure they wouldn’t mind if I opened one of the bulk boxes. I wouldn’t mind if the pen had a little more heft to it, but I’m willing to sacrifice because every priority has its own weighting.
- Looks. The appearance of the pen is ultimately a deal-breaker for me.* The Vball Grip looks reasonably snazzy, but I will admit that it’s probably a little too futuristic for me.
- Cap with a clip. No clicking. Preferably, the clip should be a flat piece of metal that won’t bend or tear out from the pen, but more pens veer towards having plastic and/or pointy, stylized clips. Ugh.
- End cap. Must not pull out easily, and I’d prefer it be a continuous body. (My dentist wants me to eliminate this criterion from the list.)
I like the idea of gel ink yet I don’t think this pen has it. I’m happy with it nonetheless, since the feel is right and the writing is smooth.
I wish the Extra Fine model wasn’t white. I much prefer the silver of the Fine model, and the black color of the Bold one is even more pleasing to my eye. But, apparently, Pilot perceives the need to differentiate the points by style and color, and I will simply have to despise them for it.
The Fine point model is almost as good for my writing as the Extra Fine; I can work with it. The Bold tip is simply too fat and just splashes ink all over the page. During a sale at OfficeMax, I picked up a pack each of Fine and Bold, so I know of what I speak. The Bold ones sit unused, perhaps lost — they felt like markers.
- This appearance problem is even more true for highlighters. I’ve tried all of those out, too. Companies must have decided to make them as garish as possible. And why can’t we buy orange highlighters without getting a pack of every other color?