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Thread: Pen Reviews

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    Default Pen Reviews

    Here's a question that should be of interest to most.

    Considering the enormous diversity of pens, inks, papers, writing styles, atmospheric conditions, temperature, personal preferences, availability and so on, what do you want to see/hear/read about in a pen review?

    Essential information?

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    Default Re: Pen Reviews

    Back when I was reviewing on ukfountainpens, I asked myself this question a lot. I tended to approach my reviews by ignoring the spec sheet, which is available anywhere, or giving a history lesson on the brand, which is really not that important to a pen you're buying to use. Instead I walked through what it would be like to:

    Look at the pen (design, materials, any interesting features, clip, packaging if it's exceptional)
    Pick it up (weight, balance, texture)
    Uncap it and hold it as if to write (sharp threads, turns to uncap, size and shape of section, posting)
    Fill it (mechanism, smoothness, capacity)
    Write with it (nib and feed, fatigue)
    Live with it (build quality, does it dry out, is it easy to clean)

    For certain categories of pens, I spent some time talking about value for money ó eg if a pen was on the price threshold where competitors had gold nibs but this one had steel. Because for a lot of people, they're not deciding whether this pen is good enough to buy, but which pen from a selection to choose from. But for other categories, like pens over $500, there's not much point talking about value, in my opinion.

    Generally, I use reviews as a substitute for being able to try out a pen myself, and I think that's true of a lot of people. You want to know if you're going to regret the purchase, how it's going to make you feel, whether you'll say 'wow, I didn't expect it to be this heavy / wide / sharp / whatever'. So although I said I ignore the spec sheet, I did often attempt to fill in gaps that spec sheets don't cover, for example section diameter or number of turns to uncap, that are important to me personally when choosing a pen.

    Precisely to your point about diversity, I always tried to make my inherent biases and preferences known (I wrote a piece titled 'Are we pen compatible?') to help the reader judge whether my review is going to be helpful for them. For example, I always wrote on Tomoe, and I'm left-handed. I prefer nibs that are smooth and wet.

    I focused on the things that leaped out at me, that bugged me, that were particularly good or particularly bad. I tried to cover things that you could only pick up by holding the pen, rather than seeing it online. And I tried to make relative comparisons against other pens, for instance in terms of weight or section length.

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    Default Re: Pen Reviews

    1/ Does it write?
    2/ is it comfortable to write with?
    3/ How beautiful is it?
    4/ What's the filling system?
    5/ Can I buy it, if I wanted to, and if so - how much?
    6/ is it worth it?
    7/ Comparison with other pens.

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    Default Re: Pen Reviews

    Thanks, Eciton. You go to the heart of the question, but even there I do wonder about the usefulness of precise measures. Personally I couldn't tell you the section diameter of any of my pens, other than to say they are likely all different.

    Sandy.

    1/ All one could say at a review is that this particular example writes (or not).
    2/ Highly subjective without a decent comparison (so, you're point 7 comes in here)
    3/ Again highly subjective (not what I would call essential info, but of interest nonetheless)
    4/ I would want to know this too, although in my case the filling system is not a deciding factor. For others it may well be.
    5/ Good point - perhaps a where to buy and price range?
    6/ An impossible question!
    7/ See point 2.

    None of this is criticism, rather than individual interpretation on usefulness.

    Regarding comparisons to other pens. I've often found this problematic, and most compare for capped and uncapped length only, sometimes girth. However, some people live in places where such comparisons cannot easily be made. Perhaps compare to something more common? Like a #2 pencil?

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    Default Re: Pen Reviews

    Quote Originally Posted by Empty_of_Clouds View Post
    Regarding comparisons to other pens. I've often found this problematic, and most compare for capped and uncapped length only, sometimes girth. However, some people live in places where such comparisons cannot easily be made. Perhaps compare to something more common? Like a #2 pencil?
    I find that many video reviewers appear to have settled on the Lamy Safari as the de facto standard comparison pen. This makes sense to me as, a) they are ubiquitous, b) most people who have used a fountain pen have written with one or at least picked one up at some point, and c) if you don't fall into that second category, then they are inexpensive enough to try. With one obvious caveat:

    obviously, they don't provide much of a reference point if you are reviewing or intending to buy one...
    Vintage. Cursive italic. Iron gall.

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    Default Re: Pen Reviews

    I'm looking for anything that might be a deal breaker.

    In addition to lining up the pen (capped and uncapped) against a fairly common pen, it helps to have an idea of a reviewer's hand size in order to put comments about size and heft in context.

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    Default Re: Pen Reviews

    The line width. For me, a very fine F is not comfortable, but as my handwriting is pretty small and I usually write in thai too (which is even more compact) I don't feel comfortable with a M fir daily use.

    But many reviews say "it's a F nib EU style" or "it's a thin M"... for me, those are personal valorations.

    Would be great to see reviews where the reviewer used the pen for writing a sentence next to the same sentence written with 2 or 3 very common pens/nibs, so we can realize how thin or wide is that reviewed nib.

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    Default Re: Pen Reviews

    The one thing that's never really mentioned is that most reviews out there by bloggers, youtubers and serial reviewers are essentially writing first impressions and not reviews. There are surface aspects that can be picked up in a few uses however with pens being designed to last decades or a lifetime in cases and there longevity often is what justifies the initial price tag. I'd almost like to see reviews with "I've used this pen for x months here are my impressions".

    I totally get the problem if someone's wanting to put out a pen review every week or two there isn't the opportunity to use every pen for a few months. But then at the same I'd read more intently a review after a few months or a few years.

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    Default Re: Pen Reviews

    (Pen) reviews are alway subjective, but this is actually not bad, itˋs just a fact, beside the plain physical attributes it always reflects the opinion, beliefs and preferences of one individual.

    Nevertheless it is interesting to hear, see and read what this individual think about a specific product.

    For me it is important to know what this user likes and dislikes (based in his preferences) and why (as far as he/she can explain it).

    An really important part for me are also writing samples, reviews without writing samples and personal judgement are for me almost useless, not worth reading them.

    For me a single review (also depending on who reviewed it) can never give a complete comprehensive overview of a pen.
    Only comparing several reviews from different people can show a trend (not the absolute truth, but still a trend), which can guide you.

    At the end you have to try it yourself to see if it really fit your preferences or not.
    Last edited by Pterodactylus; February 10th, 2020 at 12:18 PM.

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    Default Re: Pen Reviews

    Quote Originally Posted by Empty_of_Clouds View Post
    Thanks, Eciton. You go to the heart of the question, but even there I do wonder about the usefulness of precise measures. Personally I couldn't tell you the section diameter of any of my pens, other than to say they are likely all different.

    Sandy.

    1/ All one could say at a review is that this particular example writes (or not).
    2/ Highly subjective without a decent comparison (so, you're point 7 comes in here)
    3/ Again highly subjective (not what I would call essential info, but of interest nonetheless)
    4/ I would want to know this too, although in my case the filling system is not a deciding factor. For others it may well be.
    5/ Good point - perhaps a where to buy and price range?
    6/ An impossible question!
    7/ See point 2.

    None of this is criticism, rather than individual interpretation on usefulness.

    Regarding comparisons to other pens. I've often found this problematic, and most compare for capped and uncapped length only, sometimes girth. However, some people live in places where such comparisons cannot easily be made. Perhaps compare to something more common? Like a #2 pencil?
    Reviews are in their nature, subjective. It is the reviewer's opinion of the pen - and no-one else's. Yes, the comfort, beauty and value are subjective - but then that's the bit a reviewer brings to the review. The pen company will tell you that their pens are the best, and the most beautiful in the world. A reviewer can tell me if the pen wrote out of the box, whether the beautiful trim is indeed beautiful, and not covered in cracks or scratches. The filling system is a significant - especially when it comes to brands which use different systems. Visconti uses pistons, captured convertors and cartridge convertors - and in some of their ranges the oversize system has a different system to the medium ones. Demonstrators from different brands have had ink getting stuck in the pen, that the user cannot remove - as dissembling the pen is not possible - or as easy as it should be. Why spend £££ on a pen that cannot be effectively cleaned?

    If a reviewer can give a decent comparison by sharing their experience of other pens, then it is a worthwhile exercise. What does a resin pen with a steel nib do, that costs more than a resin pen with a gold nib? There's a range of Italian acrylic/resin pens that come with steel nibs (Visconti, Leonardo and others) that cost more than pens that come with 14K or 18K gold nibs (Platinum, Santini, sailor). What is it that these pens bring to the party - if you like.

    Pen reviews are subjective. There's no use in worrying about this - they just are. It's an individual opinion of a product. Some will like the pen, others will not. A reviewer can share objective data (size, weight and so on) and give a more practical, wordly wise opinion of the object in question. Much like cars - a car manufacturer will give you a miles per gallon figure based upon the car going downhill, with a good wind behind it, but how does it work in the stop/start commute to work or over bumpy terrain?

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    Default Re: Pen Reviews

    Quote Originally Posted by Empty_of_Clouds View Post
    Thanks, Eciton. You go to the heart of the question, but even there I do wonder about the usefulness of precise measures. Personally I couldn't tell you the section diameter of any of my pens, other than to say they are likely all different.
    That is what measuring tools are for. The longer I played with pens, the more I knew what would work for me. If I *can't* hold it in my hand, I can at least know the dimensions and weight, both aspects critical to a comfortable write. It takes no more than a ruler with mm markings (or better yet, a micrometer, which is what I use) and some form of digital scale to weigh (we have an inexpensive kitchen/food scale that is remarkably accurate).

    Whenever I supply info on a pen for real insight, I put all the measurements. When looking for a pen I very much try to get that info from the vendor/seller. Nothing less is ultimately satisfactory, but if I know the data I have rarely been disappointed, and there is no barrier to supplying that info to others.
    "When Men differ in Opinion, both Sides ought equally to have the Advantage of being heard by the Publick;
    and that when Truth and Error have fair Play, the former is always an overmatch for the latter."

    ~ Benjamin Franklin

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    Default Re: Pen Reviews

    Good points of course. Obviously I am somewhat biased because the only one that does is that the pen must able to be held in the fingertips AND have the tail end (posted or unposted) at least a 2mm beyond the web of forefinger/thumb. Weight and girth play no part for me. Aesthetics are subjective, fun to talk about though. Writing characteristics would interest me - smoothness, sweet spot, feel of the nib.

    I guess when starting this I wondered if there were some universal or core characteristics that would be in higher demand.

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    Default Re: Pen Reviews

    Measurements are the only thing that are objective, in addition to than strict descriptors: "the pen has a 14k gold nib". Things like smoothness, sweet spot, feel - completely malleable and subjective, and vague enough to be fairly meaningless to most people who have some ideal in mind.
    "When Men differ in Opinion, both Sides ought equally to have the Advantage of being heard by the Publick;
    and that when Truth and Error have fair Play, the former is always an overmatch for the latter."

    ~ Benjamin Franklin

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    Default Re: Pen Reviews

    First, a review has to be written. I donít have the patience to sit through a video when written word conveys information far more efficiently. I especially donít want to hear you plug vendors or watch ads before your video review.

    With that out of the way, i want to know how the pen writes. A writing sample is good to have. Iíd also like to know how a pen holds up over the long durťe. They all look great out of the box. What does it look like a few years down the road? What are the penís weak points? What do i need to look for if iím looking for a used version?

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