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When Word Processors Are Out: What's The Best Pen? 951

Posted by timothy
from the write-only-word-processors dept.
chensonny writes "Recently I was in a situation where there was no word processor, and several of us had to write, copy and sign a big amount of paper. It was then I re-realized the need for a good and comfortable pen. I saw some friends using a Mont Blanc, others like me using a felt pen or cheap ball-point pen. What does the geeks of Slashdot use for writing?" My favorite pen is an aluminum Lamy fountain pen -- can anyone recommend a good place to order Lamy ink in the U.S.?
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When Word Processors Are Out: What's The Best Pen?

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  • by Ryan Stortz (598060) * <[ryan0rz] [at] [gmail.com]> on Sunday October 05, 2003 @02:42PM (#7137962)
    The Logitech io Digital Pen [thinkgeek.com] and the USB Memory Pen [thinkgeek.com].

    These seem to be more for the rich geek, unfortunatly I'm only a poor geek. So I just use a Pilot Gel Pen.
    • by Skater (41976) on Sunday October 05, 2003 @02:52PM (#7138058) Homepage Journal
      Be careful with Gel Pens--sometimes the ink doesn't scan.

      This has caused problems for my credit union (scanned checks show up as blank when people view them via online banking), as well as my employer (scanned documents show up blank).

      --RJ
      • by simetra (155655)
        RED is best for faxes, copies, scanning, etc. It shows up as black. Blue is the worst, esp. light blue. When I used to do a lot of faxing, I used red felt-tips exclusively.

      • link and viewpoint (Score:5, Interesting)

        by CowBovNeal (672450) on Sunday October 05, 2003 @04:22PM (#7138688) Homepage Journal

        There was a related story (sorta) to this Why Johnny Can't Handwrite [slashdot.org] a few months earlier.

        When I was in school, we had to do a buttload of writing. Then I came to college in mi. I think I did more writing in the 5th grade than I did in 3 years at college. If it wasn't on computer, I probably wouldn't touch it.
        The only stuff was signing credit card bills at convenience stores and taking the odd note in class.
        Now I've taken a break and am studying by myself(maths, phy, elec engineering). I finish a 160 page double side A4 size notebook in about 10 days. I've used up about quite a few of those notebooks(>30). Biggest problem here is not writing but motivation. But I digress.
        My hands hurt too when I did that much writing but I am used to it now. You gotta take it slowly just like the gym regimen.
        Writing is best done with a fountain pen, rolling ball or gel pens. If you are going to write a lot, ballpoint pens are the worst.
        Ballpoints are made for convenience. The viscosity of the ink is what tires the palm and elbow faster than the the rest.

        Whenever I buy a fountain pen, I buy extra nibs. If the nib is smooth, nice; otherwise I use fine sandpaper. Sometimes this works, sometimes not.
        I use Hero pens( Hero [hisnibs.com]). Its pens and nibs are cheap. Availability is not a problem.
        I've also used parker and schaeffer cartridge pens. Instead of buying new cartridges everytime, get a syringe and a nice ink bottle to refill the cartridges.
        Rolling balls are nice but nearly everybody just uses and disposes them. It is actually possible to take the nib contraption out and refill its ink. Pilot makes rolling ball ink but its not sold in the states. Each of its 15 ml bottle is good for 8-10 refills.
        Uniball's are decent too but not really suited for cursive writing.

        ---

      • Also, for documents for which you may need to have legibile originals after a few years -- DON'T use black or red ballpoint inks. Some red, and (in my experience) all black ballpoint ink spreads and fades over time, and can become completely illegible in 3 to 10 years. Conversely, most (but not all) blue ink doesn't do this.

        Oh, my fave pen? BIC "Stic", blue, medium point. Low drag without being "slippery", reliable performance, inexpensive (as little as 10 cents each), and easy on the hand. (Especially the
    • by Walt Dismal (534799) on Sunday October 05, 2003 @02:58PM (#7138114)
      I use a cheap fountain pen and human blood. (v v)
    • The Logitech io Digital Pen

      ...which is so large, heavy, and odd-shaped as to be virtually useless to write with. Sidewalk chalk would probably be easier. Semi-ok idea, horrible execution...a scanner gets the job done much better.

      While obviously not appropriate for legal/financial docs, I prefer mechanical pencils, in part because, as a left-hander, ink often doesn't dry fast enough(one wonders if this is one reason some asian languages are up-down, not left-right; it's left/right hand neutral!) I use

    • beh, gel ink is the worst of the worst. It's thick and it smudges easily. Just get a standard ballpoint Bic if that's all you can afford.
      • "beh, gel ink is the worst of the worst. It's thick and it smudges easily. Just get a standard ballpoint Bic if that's all you can afford."

        Depends on the gel pen. I now exclusively use the Pilot GTec C4 for my main writing. They're not cheap. CDN$2.99 per unit and I don't know of any USA source for them. You can only buy them in packs of ONE unless you are a supplier. (Thanks to my cousin I got a box of them for cheap.) You can get them at Staples in Canada and at numerous places in the UK and across Europe.

        The advantages of these pens are:

        - They actually do write a very very fine line. The rating is 0.2 mm and they actually do live up to it. I've seen a lot of pens that claim 0.5 mm and such but they write a very thick line. These C4's actually live up to the claim.

        - No blotching at all. I am student and I have to write very quickly in lectuers. With my Sanford Uni-Ball Vision (micro-tip) pens (which are the best IMO in terms of reliability and overall feel) when I move my hand to the start of the next line, the ink was still slightly wet and it smudged. But with the C4, it dries VERY quickly. The only time I've had them smudge is when I deliberately tried to smudge them or got water on the paper.

        The only problems are that the design of the lid is a little weak and if you like to play with the clip it can break off. ALso, when the pen is new the ink cuts off occasionally in the first couple of days. But after that it's very smooth, almost as smooth as the aforementioned Uniball Vision Micro.

        Gel ink can be your best friend, as long as you find the right implementation.

    • It's ironic that the dorkiest discussion ever held on slashdot is about not using a computer. ;-)
  • Huh? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Helmut Kool (624923) on Sunday October 05, 2003 @02:43PM (#7137965)
    What is this pen device you speak about?
    • Re:Huh? (Score:3, Funny)

      by The Old Burke (679901)
      Sorry kid but this attempt to be funny is tasteless.
      Your attitude towards writing and education and the modern nonchalant political correct mantra that "pens are unnecessary because we do have computers" strikes me as elitistic.

      There are *millions* of people that would have given their left arm just for the ability to write with a pen so they can get a decent job. Please think about those children that never will earn the privilege it is to be able to take an education.

      So before you throw away that che

    • Re:Huh? (Score:4, Funny)

      by r00zky (622648) on Sunday October 05, 2003 @03:36PM (#7138385)
      /dev/pen - it's a char device
  • Uniball (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Associate (317603) on Sunday October 05, 2003 @02:43PM (#7137968) Homepage
    Uniball
    • Re:Uniball (Score:2, Informative)

      by calica (195939)
      I have to agree. The Sanford Uni-ball has been my favorite for 15 years. Just bought a box of 12 for $7.99 so they're cheap too.
    • I agree, Definately the micro size uniball (0.2mm)
    • Re:Uniball (Score:5, Informative)

      by frovingslosh (582462) on Sunday October 05, 2003 @03:14PM (#7138247)
      Unfortunately, I find the choice of pen depends highly on exactly what you are writing on. While The Sanford Uniball fine tip is my main choice for a pen when using good paper, I find that it's useless when writing on cheap paper such as many of the rebate forms. The ink flows too well and you can't write in the required small size on such paper. In these cases I turn to a basic Bic or Papermate blue ink ballpoint.

      Since I don't really have a lot of occasions where I actually handwrite on paper any more, I hardly get to use my Uniball except for writing checks.

    • I haven't been able to leave a pen on my desk for five minutes in years without someone stealing it. No one seems to clue that those nice pens I buy are not from departmental stock cabinets, or everyone would already be using them! Then people wonder why I lock everything up in my desk, even when I'm "just" going for lunch.
  • cashiers and banks. Doctor's offices have cool pens from drug companies.
  • Pilot Precise V5 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by John_Booty (149925) <johnbootyNO@SPAMbootyproject.org> on Sunday October 05, 2003 @02:45PM (#7137980) Homepage
    These are excellent pens for the price- a 5-pack is $7 or so. Amazingly smooth and, uh... precise. Pilots are the best.

    I don't know if they make one with a big comfy grip, though, if that's what you're looking for. I'm not sure if I like those big, comfy grips, though... they sort of make me feel like I'm in nursery school again, grasping one of those crayons that seemed to huge at the time. Wait, that's probably a good thing. I'll shut up, now.
  • by c_oflynn (649487) on Sunday October 05, 2003 @02:45PM (#7137984)
    I prefer the old mechanical pencil whenever possible. Besides being erasable, it has such perks as:

    -- Use it to label disks, and play the fun game of getting conductive pencil shavings in your disk drive

    -- Graphite + Wall Socket = Fun

    -- Get to shake it when your one stick of lead finishes so the next one will catch, until you open it up to insert the lead in backwards (through the tip) because its not catching, and then when you open it the lead falls out and snaps

    -- Injecting graphite into people
    • Re:Pencil = Good (Score:5, Insightful)

      by thrill12 (711899) on Sunday October 05, 2003 @02:53PM (#7138068) Journal
      Not to mention:

      A pencil even works in a weightless environment, so we are even prepared for the future...
    • Re:Pencil = Good (Score:5, Informative)

      by nick this (22998) on Sunday October 05, 2003 @02:59PM (#7138126) Journal
      And the hard core geeks only use the Pilot retractable mechanical pencil. Like this one [glr.com].

      Pentel used to make a better retractable mechanical pencil, with a nice crosshatched aluminum barrel grip, but sadly they discontinued them.

      The Pilot is the next best one. If I can't dig up either of those, then the next best is the Pentel P205 [currys.com]. Yeah, I'm a geek, but I love my mechanical pencils. Loaded with nice soft 2B lead. Great for smudging stuff.
    • by Awptimus Prime (695459) on Sunday October 05, 2003 @03:31PM (#7138357)
      -- Injecting graphite into people

      In 4th grade, me and this other kid were poking at each other with pencils. I had a big, long thing of lead sticking out the front of mine and accidentally stuck him in the palm. It broke off and left about a 1/2 inch of lead under the skin.

      It looked really gross. He was pretty upset by the situation, but said it didn't hurt.

      Thought I'd share.

    • by twitter (104583) on Sunday October 05, 2003 @11:22PM (#7141126) Homepage Journal
      My only pencil is an Alvin Draft/Matic, 0.9mm lead mechanical pencil. [leadholder.com] It worked me through a Mechanical Engineering degree, five years of graduate school, research work and two years at a nuclear power plant. I don't have to worry about breaking it's lead and I have never misplaced it in ten years. The day I bought it, I also purchased a box of leads which are just now running out. I've worn down the brass diamond pattern on the bottom so that it simply has diamond scribe lines and it works as well as the day I bought it. I have other writing implements. Many are more comfortable. Most are better looking. None work better. I can't stand mechanical pencils with lesser leads.

      If ever you stuck the thing into a wall socket, I'd make you hold on to it.

      If you get funny ideas about sticking me with some wimpy little pentel, just forget it.

      Tell me some storries about graphite in disk drives. If you mess with MY drives, I'll crack you over the head with my Model M keyboard.

  • Try the papermate Write Bros. Blue Ink Medium. I highly reccomend it, it writes well and the color's good.
  • For my Lamy, I just got an optional cartridge that lets me refill it from standard bottled ink, instead of having to use the disposable cartridges. But considering how ink-stained my hands got back in those days, that might not have been the right choice.

    I'm thankful that I almost never have to do handwriting anymore! I only started using fountain pens for everything because I would get horrible hand cramps writing with anything that required any pressure. It always through off my physics professors when I
  • Bic - Blue (Score:2, Insightful)

    by redhairedneo (531104)
    The cheap ones. No grip, no nothing. So at least you don't feel bad for chewing it to a pulp.
  • I like the bic round stic medium or fine.

    There chead so when you loose them you don't feel bad.

    If you want a little upscale the clear pentel rsvp is also good.

    I also have a LAMY roller ball yellow. Its for special occations!
  • by pongo000 (97357) on Sunday October 05, 2003 @02:48PM (#7138014)
    Very heavy, more momentum when you write (meaning you don't need to work as hard). Buy one of those little foam gizmos that slips on the barrel, and you'll have a fine writing instrument. They're warranted for life.
  • by noewun (591275) on Sunday October 05, 2003 @02:48PM (#7138015) Journal
    The one you will find in drug stores and the like, with a colored plastic barrel and reusable ink cartridges [sheaffer.com].

    I'm a writer, so I have a bit of a pen fetish. I have used all sorts of pens, including some ver' expensive Waterman fountain pens, and nothing writes for me like the Sheaffer. It has a very smooth, very precise action and nice ink flow.

    For other purposes I use fine-point Sharpies.

  • I've never seen much point in spending a zillion dollars on something as small and easy to lose as a pen. (Unless you could get one with a built-in GPS tracker that would alert you when someone walked off with it.) My pen-du-jour can be found in the stationery section of Wal-mart or K-Mart, and my requirements are simply black ink, rollerball (easier to push than ballpoint), dries fast (I'm a leftie), 0.7mm head (to leave a nice solid black line). Also good is having a window in the side so you can tell
  • Here's one [thegadgetbox.com] on my site that can write in red or black, .5mm pencil, hilighter, and pda stylus, all in one regular-sized pen-like unit. The ultimate geek pen?
  • I still use pen and paper a lot, especially for taking notes while I read and in the planning stages of a project.
    My favorite pen is the Zebra Zeb-Roller 2000 with rubberized grip. It is very comfortable to grip and writes well. I prefer the Fine point becaus the medium tends to bleed on paper sometimes.

    Here is a link:
    http://www.cleansweepsupply.com/pages/skugroup9986 .html
  • This place [theworldofpens.com] claims to be The World's Largest Pen Store [ameinfo.com].

    Or you can always try good old fashioned Quill Pens [geocities.com].

  • They have pens in a variety of price ranges, ( about 50 bucks and up.. )

    Nice pens.. even the inexpensive ones. Free service, been in business for ages..

  • Big Fat Mont Blanc (Score:3, Interesting)

    by CountBrass (590228) on Sunday October 05, 2003 @02:50PM (#7138032)

    I have a big, fat, Mont Blanc fountain pen. Best pen ever.

    Dont bother with a skinny one, and be careful as some of them seem to leak, but if you pick one that's good then you'll love it. No idea how much they would cost now, mine was about 300 10 years ago.

    Edward

  • As a student I go through a lot of pens and I put them through hell. So far the best I've found in my price range are:

    The Pentel R.S.V.P. Med

    and

    The Pilot EasyTouch Med

    They both cost about $1 each depending on how many you buy at once. The are both good pens, but I prefer the Pilot. I've had the plastic crack on the Pentel a couple of times and that makes it awkward to write with. However, i've had no such trouble with the Pilot. They both write smothly and are comfortable to hold.

    Physicsnerd

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 05, 2003 @02:51PM (#7138047)


    * You are in the bank depositing a bunch of checks from Indonesian gardeners, and you find yourself inexplicably without a pen. There is a little ballpoint pen on a steel chain at a table inside the bank. You would:
    1. Leave and return the next day;
    2. Run to the nearest Wal-Mart and buy a Montblanc;
    3. Use the ball pen, but sign someone else's name on the checks;
    4. Not know what the ballpoint pen is.
    * Have you ever been in an argument over the actual derivation of the trade name "Duofold"?

    * When watching old movies on video, do you find yourself freeze-framing to try to get a closer look at the pen Humphrey Bogart is using? Do you in fact know what pen Humphrey Bogart was using? Would you be willing to tell me?
    * Do you own any of the following items:
    1. A pocket protector (and you're not an engineer)?
    2. A glass eyedropper?
    3. More than one bottle of household ammonia?
    4. Blotter paper
    * Do you keep a bottle of ink in your carry-on luggage? More than one bottle in different colors?
    * Do you find yourself sniffing at the end of pens (to tell whether or not they are made of hard rubber)?
    * Are your pens cleaner than your kitchen?
    * Can you identify the pens shown on the boxes of various word processing software packages? Do you feel resentful when you don't find any of those pens inside the boxes?

    Pen Geek Check [rickconner.net]
  • by reiggin (646111) on Sunday October 05, 2003 @02:51PM (#7138051)
    The Pilot G-2 07 is, by far, the best refillable gel pen for the money. Just be careful -- your fellow workers, classmates, family... ANYONE.... will walk off with them if you're not careful!
  • Pencil -- Not pen... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by trainsnpep (608418) <mikebenza AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday October 05, 2003 @02:54PM (#7138076)
    I heard once that the U.S. spent $1M developing the first pen that would write in space, and the Soviets used a pencil....

    I would much rather have a pencil not only because it's eraseable (mentioned already), but because you don't need to worry about getting it on your clothes or it exploding. I would have to vote for the Cross Classic Century Pencil [cross.com]...

    It's very comfortable, and lasts a long time. The only disadvantage is that it does NOT work as a small pry-bar...which is why I need to buy a new one ;)

    • by stevey (64018) on Sunday October 05, 2003 @03:48PM (#7138455) Homepage

      This is yet another urban myth, as explained by Snopes [snopes.com].

      The lesson of this anecdote is a valid one, that we sometimes expend a great deal of time, effort, and money to create a "high-tech" solution to a problem, when a perfectly good, cheap, and simple solution is right before our eyes. The anecdote offered above isn't a real example of this syndrome, however. Fisher did ultimately develop a pressurized pen for use by NASA astronauts (now known as the famous "Fisher Space Pen"), but both American and Soviet space missions initially used pencils, NASA did not seek out Fisher and ask them to develop a "space pen," Fisher did not charge NASA for the cost of developing the pen, and the Fisher pen was eventually used by both American and Soviet astronauts.

  • At work I can write anywhere from 20 to 100 ACR's (Ambulance Call Reports) a week. My all time favorite cheap but good looking pen is a BIC retractable clic. [bicgraphic.com]

    Not too skinny, and not too fat. Looks classy with the Hospital logo on it.
  • They have a great feel -- a nice, "floaty" feeling that feels almost like a real fountain pen (I used to have a Montblanc before someone stole it, the swine). They also don't dry out anywhere nearly as easily as a conventional BiC ballpoint. The one big downside: they scratch the paper if you press slightly too hard, which means writing on both sides of paper (unless it's really thick) is out of the question.
  • I really like the Bic Medium "Round Stick" ball point pens. (The old school white ones pens with black/blue/green/red caps.) They give nice easy to read printing, and unlike felt/uniball pens they don't keep spilling ink on the paper if you don't write fast enough. ie: you get big thick lines if you write slowly, thinner ones if you write fast, and a big blob if you stop writting for a second and leave it on the paper.

    The ball point is consistant. It glides across the paper. The best part is it's popu
  • I'm the absent-minded kind of /.er. If I lost a $100 pen (which I would), I wouldn't feel too good about it. Cheap pens all the way! Bic pens are good. I don't like Pilot, I tend to break them.
  • I always carry my favorite pen. Its design has been attributed to NASA. It's about 3.5" long, chrome metal casing. It can write upside down, under water, through grease, and its ink filling lasts approximately 100 years and has an unlimited lifetime warranty...
    Needless to say, I love this pen.

  • by JayBlalock (635935) on Sunday October 05, 2003 @02:59PM (#7138124)
    After years of using computers almost exclusively for written communication, my manual writing skills have atrophied to the point of near uselessness. My handwriting - never my strong point - now makes a doctor's look like calligraphy, and my hand starts cramping up almost instantly.

    Sad, really.

    • by sql*kitten (1359) * on Sunday October 05, 2003 @03:30PM (#7138352)
      After years of using computers almost exclusively for written communication, my manual writing skills have atrophied to the point of near uselessness. My handwriting - never my strong point - now makes a doctor's look like calligraphy, and my hand starts cramping up almost instantly.

      It's not just the physical act of writing that I can't do any more. Over a decade of using a word processor has led to me thinking in an "inside out" fashion about writing - I write say the main sentence of a paragraph, then add more before and after to fill in the rest of the point I'm trying to make. Or I write a document in a different order, perhaps writing the discussion first, then the background beforehand, then the conclusion then the introduction. Having a medium where you can't jump back and forth at will within the text, adding and moving at will, makes it almost impossible for me to compose a document by hand, unless I start off with one paragraph per page, written in the middle and take it from there, which means several drafts written out by hand before I get the final version.

      When I need to hand write, for example a personal letter, I'll often write it out in a word processor, then hand copy it!
  • How much more geeky can you get?
  • And, as a sub-question, what's a good one for us lefties? Fountain pens are sure out (I struggled with one for a while but usueally only succeeded in scratching up the paper with no ink coming out or if it did came out it gets all over my hand...)

    And pencils! Why is it so difficult to find a nicely weighted metal pencil? You go in a store and all they have are big fat plastic things with massive rubber grips. Give me something skinny but heavy (right now I'm using Zebra pens/pencils - they're the best
    • Re:Lefties? (Score:3, Informative)

      by Bostik (92589)

      Try a Parker. I've worn out one pair (a pen and a pencil) and now am going through my third set. The first one got lost at some time. No fuss, the pair is just plain smooth steel.

      Parker's website [parkerpen.co.uk] doesn't show the very basic model I use. The closest match in both style and size would be their 'Inflection' set. Around here, you can find these basic items in any decent bookstore that sells study and office supplies.

      And to your being a leftie, the ones I'm referring to are completely round and symmetrical.

  • whatever I find on the ground. It may not work well in a work environment, but at a school, kids are always losing writing utensils. Of course, it's not always great. One time, I almost had to take an exam in gold pen...
  • by Apreche (239272)
    My favorite pen ever is the Pilot GX300. It is excellent in shape and feel on the hands. However, the Pilot G2 has the nicest point and it glides on the paper niceley. I plan soon to do some super geeky pen modding. I will use the ink and point of the G2 in the body of the GX300. And possibly add an LED. It is retractable, so the LED can go change from red to green every time I click it.

    ph33r.

    If I had a lot of money I would probably have some fine point personalized parker pens. They are teh awesome.
  • I've always bought Lamys since my first one. My collection now includes the thin aluminum pen/pencil set that looks like the air barrel cooler on a submachine gun. We got a fountain pen Lamy that only cost $25, and it wrote better than a $100 Parker.

    Being in Heidelberg it was always easy to find parts and ink. I'm reading other comments to find them now that I'm in the U.S. again.
  • My ex gave me a fountain pen that she claimed was standard issue in schools in Geneva (possibly in France, though).

    They were plastic ended with stainless caps and came in a bunch of colors. I can't seem to find them anywhere in the US or the web. I think they may be Penguin, but I'm really not sure.

    Anyway it was a nice pen and tough as nails. I finally killed it when I smashed it with a rocking chair.

    Anyone have any info on these things?

    I also had another fancy pen (Caran d'Ache), but it wore out pre
  • by LuxFX (220822)
    Actually, my favorite pens are my own :)

    One of my hobbies is woodworking, including using a lathe. So I turn my own pens. It's kind of anti-tech, but you know what they say, if you want something done right....
  • I tend to be pretty snobby about the pens I buy, which is a shame, because I lose an assload of them. With that in mind:

    The Pilot Razor Point [pilotpen.us] is cheap enough to be bought in quantity, and has a hard plastic nib a little like a fountain pen. It has a nice scratchy feel to it.

    The Cross Ion [cross.com] is considerably more expensive. It'll run you about $20 for a pen if you buy it at Staples or an equivalent store. It's also not that fun to write with, honestly - too small, hard plastic with edges in the wrong places.
  • What's The Best Pen?

    Almost any pen will write acceptably well, so the pen I carry was chosen for different reasons. It was the one my Girlfriend gave me for christmas.

    For the record it is a Waterman fountain pen, that I have filled with black ink. I think it cost her about $20.

  • Some of us pre-alpha types prefer some of the fatter pens with cushioned barrels. Sensa looks nice and is high tech. Also high priced. I haven't tried it. I prefer parker ball points. They just came out with a new gel rollerball refill which is as good as the Pilot G2 gel pen which is probably the best gel pen there is. It also has a wider barrel and cushion grip.

    What I can't find are pens with titanium barrels which would be an ideal material to make pens out of. Strong and lightweight. There are
  • The Swedes know how to make pens [nord-mark.com].

    As somebody working in a field where ballpoint pens and chalk are still the most important instruments (ie mathematics), I swear by Ballograf Epoca pens and am lost without them.

    Plus, they aren't extremely expensive, which is helpful if you are like me and pens have an expected lifetime of maybe a month before they are misplaced.
  • Medium-cost Parker (Score:3, Informative)

    by adrianbaugh (696007) on Sunday October 05, 2003 @03:23PM (#7138303) Homepage Journal
    A medium-cost Parker fountain pen is the pen of choice for me. (By medium cost I mean about 35, I can't remember exactly how much or what model it was because it was a long time ago I bought it.) It writes very smoothly and the combination of gold (plate), brushed steel and black is just too cool. I like the way their cartridges have an "emergency reserve" thing so that you don't just run out of ink at a crucial moment, too. Having said that, they're pants for writing on CDRs.
  • Space Pen (Score:4, Informative)

    by mattACK (90482) on Sunday October 05, 2003 @03:28PM (#7138333) Homepage
    The Fisher Space Pen [spacepen.com] has pressurized ink and is waterproof. You can write upside down and in zero G. You can even write underwater.
    • Re:Space Pen (Score:3, Interesting)

      by nacturation (646836)
      The best Fisher Space Pen I've had the pleasure of using is the Millennium model. Guaranteed to never run out of ink for your lifetime. Of course, I was too cheap to pony up the several hundred they're asking and opted for the titanium bullet pen instead. That pen soon developed a leak, perhaps due to the ink being over-pressurized. The good thing is that they fully guarantee their products. Just send it back and they'll fix it or replace it free.

      But that Millennium pen... damn you, I just may have to
  • by krangomatik (535373) <rfujikawaNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Sunday October 05, 2003 @03:39PM (#7138402)
    Has anyone tried the Kyocera ceramic ball pens [kyoceratycom.com]? I've always wanted to know how well they write.
  • notes from an artist (Score:4, Informative)

    by sakusha (441986) on Sunday October 05, 2003 @03:46PM (#7138441)
    My first training in the arts was at a young age of about 8, my parents thought I had crappy handwriting (they were right) so they enrolled me in a calligraphy class. I still have crappy handwriting. Well, actually, nowadays my Japanese handwriting is much better than my English handwriting. Since that time, I've tried hundreds of pens of all manufactures, anyone who is really interested in writing wel should visit an art store, especially one that imports lots of oddball Japanese pens.
    Anyway, I prefer fountain pens, mostly because nobody will ever borrow them so I never lose my pens to theft. IMHO the most bang for the buck is the Lamy Safari, it's cheap and writes well. I prefer the Lamy "joy" pen, it has a wider nib that satisfies my calligraphic urges. But you have to know how to write italic to use the joy pen properly.
    But my favorite pen of all time is a cheapo crap Cross ballpoint. Mine has the IBM logo on it, I got it as an award for selling my first $1million of IBM equipment. I use it solely for financial transactions, it's sort of a weird superstition of mine.
    Pencils are another story. Everyone should have a really good mechanical pencil. The best kinds have retractable points so you don't poke holes in your shirt pockets. The Japanese have this one completely nailed. The Sanford Logo II 0.5mm is my favorite, although it doesn't retract the tip. For a good retractable-tip pencil, the Yasutomo Grip500 can't be beat. Rotring makes awesome mechanical pencils, although I don't personally like the harsh German design, I find them uncomfortable and hard to hold.
  • Pelikan is tops (Score:5, Informative)

    by banks (205655) on Sunday October 05, 2003 @03:50PM (#7138466) Homepage
    I'm a pen snob. And I'm not ashamed of it. In most situations, I write with a Pelikan Souveran 800 fountain pen. The nib is the most repsonsive of all of the fountain pens I've ever used, and the ink flow is superb. My two 800s are the best pens I have ever used.

    In situations demanding a more durable pen, the Rotring 600 series have never failed me. They're made of solid brass, and are almost invincible. The list of potentially deadly situations my 600s have survived is long.

    As a collector, user, and frequent gift-giver of high quality writing instruments, I have found Joon, a company based in New York, to be without match in all of my pen purchase needs. Check them out on the web at www.joon.com. For Timothy, they carry the entire line of Lamy inks and refills.

    And just an aside- I've noticed some folks above me in this topic talking about Levenger. DON'T buy pens or ink from Levenger. They put a markup on their pens so high it's absurd, and their ink is shite. If I wanted to write with colored water, I'd buy food coloring.

  • by cmacb (547347) on Sunday October 05, 2003 @04:12PM (#7138603) Homepage Journal
    I've always loved fountain pens. I have a small collection built up over the years of both modern, and vintage fountain pens. I've actually found that a restored fountain pen from the 20's or 30' can have the most pleasant feel when writing. A good one holds a huge amount of ink (as opposed to those wimpy cartridges that the modern ones tend to use. This is good because the older pens also USE a lot more ink. The ink almost leaps onto the paper, making a nice dark line and also lubricating the writing process. Unfortunately I type a lot faster than I write, and since almost everything ends up in a computer these days it's hard to justify writing instruments at all. Unless you are very famous, no one is likely to read your diary when you're gone.

    Like many, I went through a phase of using a Palm Pilot (or similar device) for recording thoughts when away from any computer keyboard. I've since gone back to just using these devices for addresses and appointments (which mean that the sub $100 ones do just fine). So I'm back to carrying a pen whenever I go out and generally a small notebook (the paper variety) too.

    Sometimes I carry a fountain pen, but more often I'm in a hurry and grab a ballpoint. For cheap ones I like Parker clickable ballpoints. The ink capacities are huge and they write smoothly. For $20 or so though I'd recommend the Rotring ballpoints which are all steel, have a textured grip, large ink supply and are nice and techno looking. You can enhance either Parker or Rotring pens by replacing the ink cartridge in it with one from Fisher (the makers of the original "Space Pen"). These really will write upside down, under water and on practically any surface. When writing on ordinary paper they have a nice feel too.

    I remember in the 60's Bic did a series of commercials on how durable their pens were. They shot them from guns into tree trunks and then took what was left (not much) and wrote with it. They also "simulated" strapping one to a car to see how many miles you could write with one. Very impressive. Unfortunately I think cheap pens are not what they used to be. I've found that many of these if left unused for a year or so refuse to ever write again no matter how much you tap, shake or scribble with it trying to get it started again. Unfortunately many of these more expensive specialty pens (like the ones with the special grips) have the same ink mechanism used for the cheap ones. So, go with ink mechanisms from Parker, Fisher, Rotring, Lamy, Mont Blanc, or Cross, unless you are in a situation, such as a waiter, where your pens are constantly stolen.

    Finally, and most importantly, if you are going to write anything that you need to last for a long time, do the following experiment:

    Take all your candidate pens and make a test mark (sign your name or whatever) on several types of paper that you typically use. If you use colored ink, do this in all the colors you plan to use too. Just as a control, make the same marks with an ordinary pencil, and also pick any ordinary black-ink ballpoint (not the gel pens though, plain old ballpoint).

    Tape these papers to a window or somewhere else where they will get direct sun. The back window of your car will do too. Check them in a month. You might be surprised, and if you are writing for any sort of archival purpose you might change your mind about what you want to use.
  • by digitalhermit (113459) on Sunday October 05, 2003 @04:21PM (#7138684) Homepage
    , Watermans, Cross and Schaeffers all look pretty good and feel good but the writing quality depends on lots more than that. I collect pens -- got dozens of high end one -- their worth actually rivals the dozen or so computers around my house -- but most sit in their display cases. For fountain pens the nibs and the writing paper make the greatest difference. But fountain pens are an acquired taste and not for everyone. For the others -- roller balls, ball points -- the quality depends entirely on the refill. If you're like me, I don't like a nib or pen that's too smooth or puts too much ink down so most roller balls are out of the question. Favorite pens? Zebra 301 ($5 a pack) and the Zebra mechanical pencil.
  • by kaltkalt (620110) on Sunday October 05, 2003 @04:35PM (#7138779)
    This just came out, and is still hard to find as not all Mont Blanc stores have them in stock (but they all have a tester you can go try), and it is by far and away the BEST writing instrument ever. If you have a standard (not the "Grand") huge fat one) mont blanc rollerball pen, these new fineliner refills will fit inside. They're like a mini felt (but not felt) tip pen with a spring so it doesn't get squished. It simply writes better than anything else I've ever tried. Google for "mont blanc fineliner" and get yerself one. If you already have a rollerball just pick up some fineliner refills.

    As for cheapo disposable pens, my favorite has always been the Pilot "Precise" V5 (extra fine) or V7 (fine). They always write wonderfully. But the Mont Blanc Fineliner is the greatest thing ever (and no, I do not work for them or any pen company).
  • by base_chakra (230686) on Sunday October 05, 2003 @04:46PM (#7138843)
    Mont Blanc is easily one of the most recognized names in fountain and rollerball pens today. However, my local independent pen merchant had only negative things to say about them when I dropped the name, and with a little more experience and research, I have to agree with his position: they're overrated.

    For the money, Mont Blanc pens tend to be ridiculously fragile, and repair costs range from $35 to $400+ (USD). Sometimes leakage is a result of improper pen storage and/or maintenance, but with Mont Blancs the problem seems to be suspiciously epidemic.

    Don't take my word for it, but don't blindly trust the name either. If you have access to a fine pen shop, spend some time learning about the subject, then do the comparitive research. Imho, if you really want a pen that will last a lifetime, Mont Blanc is not the one.
  • NOT a ballpoint (Score:3, Informative)

    by gidds (56397) <.slashdot. .at. .gidds.me.uk.> on Sunday October 05, 2003 @05:32PM (#7139140) Homepage
    Is it just me, or does anyone else find that their writing style is much worse with a ballpoint or rollerball than with any of the fixed nib types? I don't know why, but I find a ball tip so much more difficult to control.

    When doing a lot of writing, I prefer my Parker fountain pen; however, I also write well with a fibre-tip (preferably a fairly thick one like the Paper Mate nylon). Mechanical pencils are also good for some things (B or 2B lead).

    These days, I use my Psion to make notes more often than paper, though.

  • Pilot Precise V5 (Score:3, Informative)

    by pvera (250260) <pedro.vera@gmail.com> on Sunday October 05, 2003 @06:37PM (#7139564) Homepage Journal
    I have been writing with these pens since the mid 80's. The balance feels just right and the ball glides pretty well. The only problem is people keep stealing them. Also, be careful if you fly with these, this is not a safe pen to keep on your breast pocket (insert pocket protector joke here).

    I thought I was the only one that was so picky about pens, but a few weeks ago I found a coworker that did just that. When she was in high school she found a specific pen that she liked and that is what she has purchased ever since. Since she is now the ops manager that happens to be the main brand of pen she buys for the office.
  • by iCharles (242580) on Sunday October 05, 2003 @09:35PM (#7140529) Homepage
    When it comes to writing, if you are truely interested in the best tool for putting your message to paper (rather than just something to smear ink around), I can't think of anything better than a fountain pen. It provides vibrant color, expressive flow, and an elegant look.


    Perhaps the best all-around fountain pen is the Namiki [namiki.com] Vanishing Point. For a street price of around $100, you get a nice pen. It has a gold nib, takes both a cartridge or a convertor (for bottled ink), and is a good size (not too large, not to small). It has a very sharp look. I personally perfer the pre-2000 models, but I hear the current ones are pretty good.


    Oh! I forgot to tell you the best part. In its own right, the VP is a great pen--perhaps the best to be had for that price point. It earned this on the basis I described above. The really cool thing is, it is retractable--the only retractable foutain pen in current production! So, no cap to have to manipulate. Since I get a lot of golf shirts, it is particularly nice.


    A runner up for a fount is a vintage Parker 51. The areometric ones (produced from 1948-1970ish) are generally regarded as the best fountain pen ever. They can typically be had for under $100.


    Mont Blanc used to make very good pens. However, as they became hyped as "the best" (a dubious claim to begin with), the quality went down, support became worse, and only the rep had remained. They are said among collectors to have a very brittle plastic (I know from first hand reports), and the service is iffy.


    If you need a ballpoint, might I suggest the rotring 600 tri? Two ball points and a .7mm pencil in one nice, hexagonal tube. Quite cool!

  • by RzUpAnmsCwrds (262647) on Sunday October 05, 2003 @09:43PM (#7140573)
    It writes decently, and you get a pack of twenty for $.99 if you shop around. I end up losing a lot of them, but it's OK, because at $.05 each I don't miss them.

    I've had (and lost) $50.00 pens. The Bic seems to work just as well. And, when they don't, you can snap them in half and throw them away. Great stress relief.
  • by gosand (234100) on Monday October 06, 2003 @08:55AM (#7142820)
    Editor Timmy says: "My favorite pen is an aluminum Lamy fountain pen -- can anyone recommend a good place to order Lamy ink in the U.S.? "

    Gee, if only there was some kind of searchable, massive collection of computers that were all hooked together somehow, and contained this kind of information. If businesses were a part of it, it would be even better.

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