Winner: Pilot Hi-Tec C Maica (0.4 mm, Blue-Black)

Pilot Hi-Tec-C Maica

The fine folks at sent along the Pilot Hi-Tec-C Maica for review (a fun surprise!). When I opened the package and took a look at the branding, I said (and I quote), “Oooooo, nice!” I have plenty of the basic Hi-Tec-Cs floating around, but not a single Maica. A a blue-black Maica, no less! How did they know that I’m on a blue-black kick lately?

Because I’m so familiar with the normal (basic) Hi-Tec-C (who isn’t?!), I was interested in comparing the Maica to that base model, and here’s what I found.

Hi-Tec C basic vs. Maica
Top: Maica (blue-black); Bottom: Basic (black)

As you can see in the side-by-side comparison, the Maica pen body is longer, just a bit thicker, and I can tell you that it’s slightly heavier. Though still plastic, the Maica feels more substantial. Whereas the basic model is clear plastic and faceted, the Maica is round and colored to match the ink. Having a colored pen body makes it easier to select the ink color you want, and who doesn’t need a little color added to their day? (Should I say “color” again?) Because of the “upgraded” body, I like holding and using the Maica model over the basic model. One point for the Maica.

Hi-Tec-C caps
Hi-Tec-C caps

The hue of the transparent Maica cap also mirrors the ink color, and sports an embellished jewel-shaped “crown” on its end. The basic cap is no-nonsense, and makes the pen brand and tip size very clear as that information is printed on the cap’s clip. The Maica cap doesn’t have a clip, but instead, sports a little plastic loop that’s for…ummm…what IS it for? A lanyard? Not sure. Truth be told, I’d prefer a clip over the molded loopy thing. One point for the basic.

Hi-Tec-C caps
A view of the end of the caps

Hi-Tec-C grips
Grips: Maica on the left, basic on the right

As far as the grips go, I’d call it a wash. Though they differ in design, neither is particularly grippy. I don’t have a problem holding onto either model, though, and really don’t have a preference either way. The writing tips (and refills) are identical. Both are needle-like and lay down the ultra-crisp line that is so well loved by Hi-Tec-C enthusiasts. So let’s give each model a point here.

So what’s the score? Ah yes, two points apiece.

Pilot Hi-Tec-C's
Posing pens

Time for a tie-breaker, and that tie-breaker is PRICE! Surprisingly, the more substantial feeling, nicely colored and slightly embellished Maica costs a mere $2.25, whereas the basic Hi-Tec-C runs $0.55 MORE at $2.80. That may not sound like much, but if you buy all twelve Maica colors, that’s a savings of $6.60 (math whiz!). I can’t quite figure out why the upgraded model costs less than the stripped down version, but I’ll take it.

So, folks, we have ourselves a winner.

The Maica comes out on top, despite the loopy thing

WANDerful: InTuition Pen/Stylus (via Kickstarter)

InTuition Pen/Stylus
Magic wand, no?!

It’s been a tricky week already. One of our dogs is feeling poorly, and oddball stuff keeps cropping up at work. Oh, how I wish I had a magic wand to make it all better. Oh wait…I do!

The InTuition Pen/Stylus, a Kickstarter project by e4 Labs, arrived last week, overdue by only about a week. In contrast to the project that I wrote about last week, this one has been a great experience for the backers. Updates were frequent and full of pictures. Even when there was a bit of an issue, we were kept fully informed. You can’t ask for much more than that.

The first thing I noticed is that the pen resembles a magic wand. I haven’t managed to pull a rabbit out of a hat, but I must admit that I have been known to wave it around a bit, hoping to cast a spell or two. The straight lines of the carbon fiber body and titanium cap make that action impossible to resist. Even though I haven’t conjured up any real magic, I’m transformed into a marvelously relaxed worker when I’m using the InTuition. That counts as a “trick,” doesn’t it?

It's a pen! It's a stylus!
It’s a pen! It’s a stylus!

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a sucker for carbon fiber, so how could I not back this? The body of the InTuition pen is made from “carbon twill fiber tubing,” so it’s lightweight and cool looking. In normal light, the pattern is very subtle…

Carbon fiber

While in brighter light, the twill really pops…

Carbon fiber twill

The metal parts are made from titanium, so they look great and will hold up under rigorous use. Let’s take a little pen tour…

Uncapped InTuition

The pen takes the beloved Pilot Hi-Tec-C refill, which means that you’re able to swap in your favorite tip sizes and ink colors. I’m using a black 0.5 mm refill, but may kick up my heels at some point and go for something wacky…like blue. Or brown. Or green.

The two o-rings that you see on this end of pen provide just the right amount of grip, while also ensuring that the slip cap fits snugly. The fit is just awesome.

Wacom stylus
Sweet stylus

On the other end of the pen is a Wacom Bamboo stylus nib, which is commonly available to allow for easy replacement, should the need arise. I’ve used the stylus on my iPhone and and iPad and am very happy with the performance. I still think that the stylus on the Solid Titanium Pen is stylus #1, but this one is VERY close. A single o-ring on this end of the pen keeps the cap in place when posted. A titanium fitting simply unscrews to expose the tip for replacement.

Replaceable stylus
Replaceable stylus nib

Here are a few specific details, straight from the Kickstarter project page:
Weighing in at 27 grams (just under 1 ounce), the InTuition measures 5.75″ (146 mm) from the end of the cap to the end of the stylus. Uncapped, the pen measures 5.56″ (141 mm).
The carbon tube body is 0.45″ in diameter, while the cap measures just a bit more at 0.49″.

Posted pen
Posted pen

Wacom stylus

The pen feels great in hand, writes like a dream, is American made, and looks industrially cool. So are there ANY negatives? Hmmmmm. Without a clip, the pen does have a tendency to roll, and I’ve lost it off of my desk a couple of times. Don’t get me wrong, I think a clip would ruin the aesthetic, so I don’t miss it at all, but some may consider that an issue.

The biggest problem appears to be availability. Since the Kickstarter project is over, I’m not sure how you would obtain an InTuition as I don’t see them commercially available. Probably your best bet is to contact Tom at e4 Labs, via the Kickstarter page, if you want to get your own.

And you should, because, despite the fact that it can’t make problems or complications disappear, it really is WANDerful.

Pusher: The Pilot Hi-Tec-C Gel Pen (0.4 mm, black ink)

Pilot Hi-Tec-C, Grip model, 0.4 mm

Thanks to THE Pen Addict (Brad Dowdy), I’ve grown to love the sharp, sharp tip of the Pilot Hi-Tec-C. I recall using a fine-point Bic in junior high and hating it, so I steered clear of fine-tipped pen for decades because of that bad experience. Brad’s love of the Hi-Tec-C encouraged me to try one for myself, and wow, this is no Bic.

0.4 mm NEEDLE

I love this pen so much, either as is, or as a refill housed in another body (ala Karas Kustoms Render-K), that I regularly stock up on pens and refills at JetPens. I’ve started giving some to pen-worthy friends, especially those who I think might appreciate the super precise line of the 0.4 mm needle tip. Without fail, my friends become instant Hi-Tec-C fans. I’m now, it seems, a Pilot Hi-Tec-C pusher.

0.4 mm cap

The 0.4 mm tip is the sweet spot for me…super crisp and sharp, without being draggy or scratchy. Okay, there probably IS a hint of scratch (it is a needle, after all) but it’s a scratch I enjoy.

Grip upgrade

I prefer the “grip” model over the ultra-basic version because it gives me a little bit of rubber to…well…grip. Both versions are no nonsense and cost the same ($3.30 at JetPens) so give me the free “upgrade.”

The Pilot Hi-Tec-C. Simple, but very nice. And very addictive.


But wait…there’s BONUS material…

A good read

Wishing all of my US readers a very happy Thanksgiving. I’m looking forward to relaxing a bit (once the whole “cooking dinner” thing is behind me!) and curling up with a good book. A good PEN book. In a recent video, Stephen Brown mentioned that one of his favorite fountain pens books is called Fountain Pens (makes sense) by Peter Twydle. I picked up a copy via Amazon, and though I haven’t spent much time with it yet, I’m getting a kick out of the “old time” ads. There’s a lot of history, terminology, and collecting tips packed into this 160-page volume.

Onoto the Pen

Yup…I’m thinking that a comfy chair, a cup of tea, and Fountain Pens sounds better than any “door-buster” Black Friday deal.

I didn’t feel like busting a door, anyway.

Kickstarter #1: KarasKustoms Render K + Pilot Hi-Tec-C refills

Render K by KarasKustoms

The Render K was the first project I ever backed on Kickstarter, and the experience was a great one. KarasKustoms, a machine shop in Arizona and the maker of the Render K, posted frequent updates throughout the process, including a number of videos that showed our pens being “born.” I bonded with my pen, even before I held it in my hands. But I worried (as I am prone to do) that there might be a letdown when the Render K actually arrived and fantasy met reality. As it turns out, there was no need to fret- the real live pen blew me away.

Why was I worried?

My pen was machined from aluminum (there’s also a brass version available) and feels like a precision tool. Mated with the Pilot Hi-Tec-C (0.4 mm, black ink, is my choice), it’s one of the pens that I reach for every single day.

Built to last, then last some more

The stainless steel clip is ultra-reliable, and keeps the pen secure whether clipped to pocket or purse or messenger bag. NO worries about clip failure. I really love the look of the knurled cap. Mmmmm…knurled. Cool word.

The ultimate clip

Awesome knurling

Technically, the cap can be (loosely) posted, but I never use it that way as the added weight of cap makes the pen top heavy. The weight is perfectly balanced sans cap.

The cap threads onto the pen body and I love this feature, too. As with the Kaweco Liliput, I enjoy the tiny ritual of unscrewing the cap before sitting down to write. This action forces me to slow down for just a moment. And sometimes, a moment is all you need to get a grip. And who couldn’t use a little more grip? (Me! Me!)

Before using the Render K, I liked the Pilot Hi-Tec-C pens, but honestly, I didn’t LOVE them. Turns out that it must’ve been the pen BODY that wasn’t my favorite because the the Hi-Tec-C refill in the Render K body is an absolutely stellar combination.

This was my first venture into the world of Kickstarter projects, but it’s not my last. KarasKustoms, though, set the bar very high with their frequent updates, and ultimately, with the execution of the Render K. It’s a fine, fine pen.

Missed the Render K as a Kickstarter project? No worries…the pen body (and its brass counterpart) are available here. Note that a refill DOES NOT ship with the pen so that you can select what works for you. In addition to the Hi-Tec-C refills, KarasKustoms includes a spacer that makes it possible to use Fisher Space Pen refills as well.

Pilot Hi-Tec-C refills are available via JetPens, and so are the Fisher Space Pen refills. One stop refill shopping!

For another take on the same pen, check out this wonderfully detailed review at Gourmet Pens.

Adventures in dusting: Pilot Cavalier Hi-Tec-C 0.4mm

I was blowing dust off of dusting my nightstand on Saturday and caught a glimpse of a certain pen in the pen cup that’s a nightstand fixture. The cup was made by a local potter who holds a pottery yard sale every other August. I always swoop in and pick up a few of his handmade treasures…almost always for pen storage. This cup is narrow and only holds just a few pencils and pens…perfect for bedside storage. Well, look…

Oddly enough I:
1) RARELY write in books;
2) read e-books almost exclusively
so pens and pencils are not really needed by the bed, but there they are. I suppose a great idea COULD strike at any time. And when it does, I’m ready.

So with the blowing dusting done, I selected the long-neglected silver Pilot Cavalier Hi-Tec-C (0.4mm) from the cup and did a little scribbling on an index card. (“WOW…NICE pen.” I think I actually said this out loud.) And it’s been with me ever since. Despite its lengthy stand-by status, it wrote on the first try…crisp, clean, and dark.

The body is slim and the lines are classic. Despite the slim size, this pen feels substantial and weighty (in a good way). Really well-balanced.

My favorite part of the body is the satisfying way the cap clicks into place when the pen is recapped or the cap is posted. I can’t stop playing with it (sort of like popping bubble wrap). Really, I can’t.

The ink is gel, so the 0.4mm line is fine and neat and smooth. And like I said, it wrote immediately, even after months of neglect.

The Hi-Tec-C at work…a true professional.

Love the 0.4mm tip. Yup.

The lesson here? I should probably dust more often.