Cool (and maybe free) stuff!

I find it hard to resist pen projects on Kickstarter, and have had generally very good experiences. Even though I’ve built up quite the supply of “Kickstarted” writing utensils, a couple of recent projects caught my eye AND my pledge. The project creators haven’t asked for a plug—I just wanted to share some cool stuff and a couple of giveaway opportunities.

Uncapped InTuition
Previously backed InTuition Pen/Stylus

I wrote about the InTuition Pen/Stylus back in February, and continue to enjoy the look, feel, and performance of that pen. Now I see that Tom of e4 Labs has launched a companion project—the InTuition Pencil. More carbon fiber, more goodness. What I like about this project is that there are only a couple of backing tiers, one at $39 for one pencil (0.5, 0.7, or 0.9 mm lead size) and $110 for all three lead sizes. Only 300 rewards are available (now down to 224, at the time of this writing) for the single pencil while just 50 rewards (currently down to 43) are available for the trio of pencils. By capping the number of rewards at each level, Tom won’t suddenly be faced with an avalanche of orders that make his proposed timeline impossible to meet. Tom delivered a great product the last time and I have no reason to believe that this pencil project will be any different. I’m already looking forward to my 0.7 mm version. The funding period ends January 4th, 2014, and the project is currently about 34% funded. Let’s make it happen!

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Another Kickstarter project that made my eyes POP is the The Apollo Technical Pan and Drafting Scale by Pranay and Paul. Do I do any drafting? Heck no. Does that matter to me? Not at all. This thing is just so awesome looking that even my non-pen loving husband is excited. JetPens recently interviewed Pranay and Paul AND announced a JetPens/Apollo Pen giveaway contest. The grand prize is a JetPens themed Tri-Scale set with three pens, while one runner-up will receive a single Apollo pen.

Check out their interview HERE.

Enter the giveaway HERE. The contest ends December 12th.

This Kickstarter project has six more days to go, and is almost 400% funded, so this one is a definite go. Can’t wait.

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The folks at Pen Chalet, a new-to-me online pen retailer, are currently running their own giveaway for  $50, $25, and $10 dollar gift certificates. Who couldn’t use a little help with holiday spending, right? I spent some time browsing their site the other night, while entering the contest, and like what I see selection-wise AND price-wise. Definitely worth a look and an entry. A winner will be drawn on December 15th. Fingers crossed!

Check out their contest HERE.

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UPDATE: Here’s one more giveaway I JUST found— The FPGeeks are giving away a set of six Levenger inks and the True Writer Silver Anniversary Fountain Pen. What a sweet haul! Enter for those goodies HERE. This contest closes on January 6, 2014. Winning this would definitely make for a happy new year.

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Have a great weekend! I plan to spend a little time with some friends, then hunker down with some pens. Bliss.

The Pilot Prera: A Review AND a Giveaway

NOTE: The Pilot Prera fountain pen reviewed here was provided by JetPens for review purposes and to facilitate this giveaway. The opinions expressed in this review are based on my own observations and experiences.

PILOT PRERA— it’s fun to say because of the alliterative Ps. So, using the letter P, let’s take a look at this pen:

Prera in pocket
Prera in pocket

PETITE and POCKETABLE
The Pilot Prera is a compact and lightweight pen. Made of sturdy plastic, and weighing in at just 15 grams, this is a pen that you can tuck into your pocket and go about your business without feeling weighed down. Unposted, the Prera is a little on the short side for me, so I almost always use it posted unless I’m jotting a really quick note. Even though this isn’t a large or heavy pen, it would be a mistake to consider it a lightweight when it comes to quality.

Pilot Prera vs. Lamy 2000
The Pilot Prera vs. the Lamy 2000; the Prera measures 10.8 cm uncapped, 12.1 cm capped, and 13.4 cm posted.

PRECISE
The word “precise” is defined as “marked by exactness and accuracy of expression or detail,” and that particular definition absolutely applies to this pen. One of the best features of the Prera is the slip cap that snaps on with a very satisfying click— like there’s a tiny bit of vacuum drawing it into place. (My imagination, no doubt, but that’s what it feels like.) Once in place, the cap stays put and doesn’t wiggle free. There’s an inner seal in the cap that helps keep the nib from drying out, and I’ve had no hard-starting issues after a day or two of non-use. The cap also posts securely and hasn’t ever worked loose while I’m writing (pet peeve!).

Fine, fine line
Oh, so fine. (Pilot black cartridge on Clairfontaine grid paper)

The fine steel nib on this Prera is super crisp— even finer than the EF nib on my Lamy 2000 and the F nib on my Pilot Vanishing Point. I’d judge that it lays down about a 0.3-0.4 mm line. Despite being very fine, the nib on my pen behaves wonderfully. It was quite smooth to begin with— with maybe just a hint of feedback— but seems to be getting even smoother with use. I’m seriously impressed with how small I can write with this pen and how crisp my letters are. If you’re into bold strokes and ink shading, this is not your pen. But when you’re  in the mood for detail and tiny writing and a fine, fine line, the Pilot Prera fits the bill perfectly.

Pilot Prera fine nib

PLUMIX
Not so sure about the ultra-fine nib? Well, I’ve heard that the Pilot Plumix medium flat italic nib can be swapped in for a change of pace. If you’re in the mood for italics, go for it!

POP
Oh, the color— lime green in all it’s shiny glory! What’s not to love?! I particularly like that the section is the same eye-popping color as the pen body. It’s a stunner. You’ll have no problem staying awake at work or in meetings with this color in your hand!

Lime green!

POLISH
The chrome accents on the pen add just the right amount of polish to the Prera’s body. From the well-placed accent rings, to the clip and the mirrored end-cap, the look is both shiny and classy (in a lime green kind of way). There’s enough metal for interest but not so much that it detracts from the high-intensity color. Well played.

Mirror finish

Prera clip

PROPIETARY
The Pilot Prera takes Pilot’s propietary cartridges and a CON-20 or CON-50 converter. No big deal, just something to be aware of.

Pilot Prera & cartridge

PRICE
Coming in at $49.50, this is a fountain pen that’s neither inexpensive nor overly pricey. For the price, though, I have to say I wish it came with either the CON-20 or CON-50 converter, instead of just a Pilot cartridge. The price is easily justified by the pen’s build quality, but throwing in a converter would up this pen’s value in my book. Still, it’s a great pen from a time-honored company at a fair price.

And NOW, for the best “P” of all…

PRIZE!

YES, JetPens has graciously offered to host and administer a giveaway so that one of my readers can win their very own Prera, exactly like the one shown in this review!!

The prize!
All of this pop and polish can be yours!

HOW TO ENTER:

1) Subscribe to the JetPens newsletter  by clicking on the Contest Entry Link below and entering your email address in the “Newsletter” box on the bottom right of the entry page, if you haven’t already done so. New subscribers will receive a confirmation email. Be sure to follow the directions in that email in order to complete the newsletter sign-up process.

2) Enter your email address on the same Contest Page to sign up for the giveaway.

3) Cross your fingers and hope that the pen gods smile on you!

CONTEST ENTRY LINK

(As the contest is sponsored and fulfilled through JetPens, it’s open to US residents only.)

GOOD LUCK to you, and THANK YOU to JetPens!!

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WINNER UPDATE: JetPens selected Alex Hammond of Indianapolis as the winner of the Pilot Prera. Congratulations, Alex! Stay inked!

Back To School Giveaway Thanks To OfficeMax

The products included in this review were provided to me by OfficeMax to facilitate this review and giveaway. I was not compensated in any other way, and the opinions expressed here are my own.

Prize package
Prize package

I’m just back from the DC Fountain Pen SuperShow, and though I was quite conservative in my buying, I have a number of interesting purchases to share with you. But not this week. THIS week, I’m offering you a chance to win a fun selection of OfficeMax products. You know, the things students need as they get ready to head back to school. The basics, done right.

Here’s what’s included:

A 4-pack of retractable gel pens…
Gel Pens
Black ink, 0.7 mm tip

Probably the least distinctive product in the bunch, these pens looks very generic, but write smoothly and without any skips. The line is dark and solid with no globbing or clumping. The rubberized grip makes for a comfortable, if somewhat unexciting writing experience. There’s certainly nothing wrong with these pens. Your student will love them. It’s just that visually, they lack pizzazz. As a utilitarian gel pen, they do the job, and do it quite well.

Retractable Gel Pens
Visible ink supply means no surprises from a dry pen!

A 12-pack of mechanical pencils…
Mechanical Pencils
I’m liking the colored grips!

I gave a few of these to Laura, a student working with me this summer, and they were an instant hit! The colored grip and matching eraser are both eye-catching and functional. Laura immediately commented that the eraser worked quite well and we discussed how so often erasers either don’t work or can even make things worse by smudging what they’re supposed to be erasing. Not the case here. This eraser erases.

Pencil grips

The rubberized grip provides a nice accent as well as a comfortable writing experience. Laura and I both like the look and feel. We were also impressed with the retractable metal sleeve that protects the pencil lead. Because it DOES retract, it won’t get caught on your pocket or purse…a nice touch!

Retractable tip
Retractable tip protector

A 10-pack of liquid highlighters…
Liquid highlighters
Nice color assortment

When I offered these to Laura, she was quick to select a couple of the less typical highlighter colors…green and purple. I’m partial to the orange, but all of the colors are nicely balanced- not so dark that they drown out your writing. The chisel tip makes it possible to draw three line widths, which is nice if you prefer to underline rather than highlight.

Highlighters at work
The highlighters at work

Chisel tip & liquid ink supply
My favorite part? The sloshing ink!

Unlike highlighters with opaque barrels, these highlighters don’t keep you guessing about the ink level. The ink is visible AND sloshable. Which might not be a word, but it’s a fun feature in a pen.

Writing sample
My OfficeMax test drive

The summer is winding down. Sniff. Time to dust off those backpacks and lunch boxes, and stock up on school supplies. But before you go shopping, why not try to win the products reviewed here!

Here’s how to enter:

1) Leave a comment on this blog by 11:59 PM Sunday August 18th. One comment per person, please!
2) Each comment will be assigned a number based on the order in which it was posted.
3) A random number generator will be used to select the winner of the set of gel pens, highlighters, and pencils. The winner will be announced on this blog the evening of Monday August 19th. OfficeMax will ship the prize package to the winner directly.
4) US residents only, please.

Giveaway Winner: TUL Pens

Lucky commenter 26 was the winner of the TUL pens:

True Random Number Generator
Min: 1
Max: 26
Result: 26

marisquared said:
October 31, 2012 at 7:29 pm I’d love to try the pens.

And so you SHALL try the pens, marisquared! I’ll be in touch via email for your mailing address. Should I not hear back within one week, a new winner will be selected.

Thanks for reading and commenting!

Pleased To Meet You: TUL Pens by OfficeMax- A Review AND a Giveaway!


Meet the TUL family

Our local OfficeMax store closed a number of years ago, and since then, I’ve lost touch with the brand. So when a representative offered to send me a set of the latest generation of TUL pens, I jumped at the chance, especially because the offer included an additional set to give away. I’ve been test-drivingwriting them for most of the week, and can wholeheartedly endorse the TUL line.

Here are the players:


Medium point, black ink


Medium point, blue ink


Medium point, black ink


Fine tip, black ink

To be honest, in the past I’ve shied away from store-brand pens because of performance issues, but OfficeMax’s TUL line changes that. All of the pens in this line are stellar performers, and easily match the quality of comparable Uniball, Zebra, Pilot, and Sharpie pens. TUL pens ARE the real deal.


See?

I’ve been particularly taken with the smooth dark line of the retractable ballpoint, which is tricky to get right, judging by the number of so-so ballpoints that are on the market. The super-affordable TUL ballpoint is the one that I’ve been reaching for since it arrived. The ink is just that good. The smooth rubber grip makes it easy to hold, and I really like the clean and simple lines of the pen. It’s minimalist in looks, but certainly not in performance.


Marker, Ballpoint, Gel, and Rollerball

The fine-line marker pen, with its clear cap, dimpled black grip, and simple branding also appeals to me. No gimmicks, just a precise line that doesn’t feather or bleed. Very nice. The fiber tip feels quite sturdy, like it’ll easily hold up for plenty of sketching or note-taking.


Top to bottom: Marker, Ballpoint, Gel, and Rollerball

The retractable gel pen is very simple looking, with a black body matching the extra-long smooth black grip. Again, the gel ink writes great. No skipping. No smearing. No complaints. Same goes for the capped rollerball…the black liquid ink is perfect making bolder lines and bolder statements.

Lest you think all of this pen goodness comes at a premium price, check out these links to OfficeMax.com for the good news:

Ballpoint
Gel
Rollerball
Marker Pen

Superior performance AND pricing. Great looks and super smooth inks. That’s TUL, by OfficeMax. Check them out at your local OfficeMax store or online.

My only disappointment is that it doesn’t appear that the boxed set featured in this post & giveaway is available for purchase. (Hint, hint, OfficeMax!)

I know what you’re saying…yeah, yeah, yeah, but how do I WIN a set??!! It’s as simple as the design of the TUL pens:

1) Leave a comment on this blog by 11:59 PM Wednesday 10/31/12 (Halloween!). One comment per person, please!
2) Each comment will be assigned a number based on the order in which it was posted.
3) A random number generator will be used to select the winner of the set of all four TUL pens. The winner will be announced on this blog the evening of November 1st. OfficeMax will ship the pens to the winner directly.
4) US residents only, please.
5) GOOD LUCK! Hope you win this Halloween treat!

TUL pens, I AM pleased to meet you. This looks like the start of something good.

Disclaimer: I received the TUL products mentioned in this post from OfficeMax in order to facilitate my review. The items featured in this giveaway are also provided by OfficeMax and will be sent to the winner directly. Opinions expressed in this post are 100% my own. I have not been compensated for this post in any other way.

Winner: Frixion Pens!

The random number generator picked:
True Random Number Generator
Min: 1
Max: 27
Result: 23
Powered by RANDOM.ORG

So the winner is:
23. derevaun said: July 7, 2012 at 4:16 pm Sciency! I’ve been intending to try the frixion out.

I’ll email you shortly for your mailing address. Enjoy the Frixions!

Celebrate with the red, black, & blue: Pilot FriXion pens…AND a giveaway!


Pilot Frixion Retractables, 0.7 mm

The retractable Pilot FriXion pens are wonderful, but that wasn’t always the case. I first tried the FriXion pens years ago (capped version, weird tribalesque design on the barrel) and was, quite honestly, seriously underwhelmed. They erased well enough (yay!), but the ink was dreadfully washed out looking (boo!). Despite the novelty of being able to erase ink, the Frixions were quickly set aside.

THEN- a new generation of FriXion pens was born, and they truly are new and improved. The ink colors are stronger, especially the blue and red which are super. The black is much darker than the original washy gray, but isn’t super dark. Very nice, though. Take a look–


FriXion black


FriXion blue


FriXion red

The tips of these pens absolutely GLIDE across paper. They are a blast to write with. I use the pens for everyday writing but especially for writing in my Planner Pad and scribbling to-do lists in my Field Notes. A bit OCD, I hate cross-outs, so when plans and priorities change, being able to neatly erase INK is a big plus.

But how DO they erase? Let me show you–


Erased swatches


Erased letters

If you erase very soon after writing, the erasure is not as complete and clean as if you wait just a bit, but it’s still quite good.


Eraser ends

In reality, the ink is not actually erased (in the normal sense), but the “friction” (friXion, get it?!) made during the erasing action creates heat which makes the ink disappear. Which leads to one point of caution- DON’T LEAVE your notes/journals written with Frixion pens in a hot car! I’ve heard stories from distraught folks whose notes disappeared! (Hmmmm…may have to experiment with this! Be right back…I’m putting a page of notes in my car to see what happens.)

I’m back. Will report my findings later on.

After a little hiccup with my phone last week (lost all of my bookmarks for a bit…eek!), I decided to make sure that I have old school HARD COPIES of my address book and calendar, and I plan to use the FriXion pens to fill those out. Addresses & phone #’s change, as do commitments and appointments. I can erase and update without CROSSING OUT. A dream come true. (Okay, maybe a small dream, but a dream nonetheless.)


LOVE my Field Notes…but that’s another post!


Homemade Field Notes myCAL (used the 0.5 mm pens here)

I’ve also started dabbling with sketchnoting, and the FriXion line is PERFECT for this because I erase A LOT.

HAZWOPER training sketchnote

I’m certainly glad that I gave the Pilot FriXion pens a second chance because they are fun to write with, the ink colors are MUCH stronger, and the erasable feature is just too cool.


FriXion grips


FriXion clips & branding


Super smooth tips

So, this Fourth of July, think about celebrating with the RED, BLACK, and BLUE…FriXion pens, that is. These pens truly do deserve fireworks, and you can celebrate your independence from cross-outs!

Now for THE GIVEAWAY! Thanks to the fine folks at JetPens, I have a lovely little set of all three FriXions reviewed here to award to one lucky commenter. Here’s the scoop:

Leave a comment on this entry by 11:59 pm Sunday July 8th.
Each comment will be assigned a number (Comment #1 = 1, etc.).
The winning comment will be selected via random number generator on the evening of Monday July 9th and posted on this blog.

Stuff to remember:
ONE ENTRY per person, please.
USA only, at this time. (Sorry ’bout that.)

Happy Fourth of July, and good luck!

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Edited to add RESULTS OF THE HOT CAR TEST:
[Click on any of the pictures for a larger version.]

The page BEFORE it was placed in a hot (mid 80′s outdoor temp) car for approximately three hours…

After three hours in a hot car, the page looked like this…

You’d be screwed if these were your chemistry notes! Or WOULD you be?

Here’s the page immediately after it was removed from the car…

Looks like the writing is starting to return.

And here it is after spending a little time (1/2 hour or so) in the freezer…

Mostly back! Phew! Your chemistry notes are safe, after all!

Despite the return o’ the writing, I’d still be careful using this pen for critical notes, if there’s a chance that the paper or notebook could be left in a hot car. Why take chances?

Thus endeth this afternoon’s Frixion experiment. You may now return to your lawn chairs.

Winner: Scout’s Picks

The winner of Scout’s picks…the Zebra Sarasa Clip and the ScoutBook is…

True Random Number Generator
Min: 1
Max: 7
Result: 4

4. Carrie said: June 13, 2012 at 6:50 am I never thought I would go for a brown ink but I really like it!

CONGRATULATIONS, CARRIE! The pen & notebook will be coming your way asap!!

To everyone else, thanks for entering, and keep checking in as I plan to have more giveaways throughout the summer.

In the meantime, have fun browsing at http://www.jetpens.com!! (I know I will!!)

Win-Win: The Uniball Jetstream, Rubber Body Series (Orange, 0.7 mm)

I remember the day distinctly. The scene: 2004, Staples, pen aisle. I was doing my usual pen stalking, on the look-out for anything new, intriguing, interesting, promising. I stalk with a very critical eye as I learned long ago that you can’t trust the promises plastered on pen packaging. Just because the package yells, “SMOOTHEST PEN ON THE FACE OF THE EARTH,” doesn’t mean it’s true. How many times had I been sucked in by promises of dark smooth lines, only to be disappointed by “meh” performances? Too many times. Too many times. And yet, the stalking continued.

This day, on an aisle end cap, I stopped. Stopped dead, and thought, “Hmmmm…what’s this?!” Maybe I even said it out loud. “Ooooo…an Uniball Jetstream…worth a shot.” I think it was a pack of Jetstream Sports that I picked up that day. Back in my car, I tore open the package and scribbled a few lines on the receipt and on the back of the package. I IMMEDIATELY knew that this pen/ink was different. No more “meh.” The ink was smooth. It was bold. It was solid. It was the blackest black I’d seen in a long time (or ever). Angels with tiny harps sang HALLELUJAH in their perfect angels voices. (Didn’t they?) The quest- the decades-long quest- was over. You don’t forget that kind of day.

Since then, I’ve been a faithful Jetstream fan. I’ve purchased and used capped versions, retractable versions, and a bunch of multipen versions. The low viscosity ink is just amazingly smooth. I’ve never been without some form of Jetstream pen. Even as I branch out into other brands, other price points, and other ink types, the Jetstream remains a “go to” pen. Want a superb writing experience? Grab a Jetstream. It’s that simple.


Uniball Jetstream Rubber Body Series

This particular model is from the Rubber Body Series (0.7 mm, orange body), purchased from JetPens, and is a current favorite. The rubber body is smooth and warm, with just a bit of grip. I like the matte finish on the knock and the…ummmm, what’s it called?…the nosecone?


At work


At play


Monday morning


Relaxing on Saturday

At $4.25, it’s a great pen at a great deal. You simply can’t go wrong with a Jetstream. And you REALLY can’t go wrong with a rubber body ORANGE Jetstream.


Writing sample

Ah, yes…2004. It was a very good year.

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AND NOW, YOU can WIN this pen! That’s right (write!)…I have a brand new orange Jetstream to give away. Here’s how it works:

1) Post a comment here (one per person, please). Say hi, offer an opinion, tell me why you’d like to win, tell me about your favorite pen(s)…

2) The deadline for commenting is 11:59 pm Sunday May 27th.

3) The first entry will be assigned #1, the 2nd will be assigned #2, etc. You get the drift.

4) On Monday May 28th, I’ll select the winner via a random number generator, and post the result here. We’ll sort out the mailing details after that.

5) Until I figure out what shipping pens internationally entails, this contest is open to US residents only. (Sorry about that!)

The best part? Even if you don’t win, you can pick up this awesome pen at JetPens yourself for less than the cost of a McDonald’s lunch. THAT’S a WIN-WIN situation.

Good luck.