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!!

——————————————————

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

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Uncaged: The Pilot Metropolitan Animal Prints (White Tiger, Violet Leopard)

Pilot Metropolitan Leopard and Tiger

I had every intention of passing on the new Pilot Metropolitan Animal Print editions. After all, I already own one of the black, silver, and gold models, and that seems like plenty. But then I watched Brian Goulet’s Ink Nouveau video and once he hit the White Tiger and Violet Leopard versions, my resolve dissolved. I hopped on over to the Goulet Pens site and placed my order asap. Good thing, too, because by the next day, both of those models were sold out. (At the time of this posting, they’re back in stock.) Seems I wasn’t alone in my new-found enthusiasm for two of the new colors.

Violet Leopard & White Tiger, posted

Squeeze converter
Included squeeze converter (or upgrade to a CON-50 converter which is available separately)

Both pens arrived in short order and were very WELL protected. (If you haven’t ever ordered from the Goulets, you need to do so, just to experience the awesomeness of their packaging. And the complimentary Tootsie pop.  And the bookmark and sticker. And the hand-written note. Their packages are a great example of customer service done right.) I filled the White Tiger pen with Waterman Serenity Blue, via the included squeeze converter, and have been using this pen as part of my current rotation ever since.

Pilot Metropolitan White Tiger

The White Tiger pen is a wonderful pearly white—a color that I wish I could find on more pens. (Maybe I just haven’t looked hard enough.) I’m not sure that the look really comes through in my photos, but, trust me, it’s pretty. The purple, too, is hard to capture with my camera, and looks a little more navy in my pictures than it really is. The color is actually a very dark purple— a blackish purple that looks really rich, really beautiful. It’s definitely darker than it looks on the Goulet Pens site, and that’s fine by me. I have very few white pens and no other purple pens, so these are great additions to my fountain pen collection, just for the colors alone.

Leopard and Tiger patterns

As for the “animal print” bands that accent the pens, I like the White Tiger a little better than the Violet Leopard pattern. Really, each pen would look fine without this accent— maybe even classier?

Nibbage

As I mentioned, I’m already a happy owner of a few Metropolitans so I knew that I was getting a solid, good-looking pen with a smooth, fairly stiff, medium nib—medium being the only nib option. Because it’s a Pilot, the medium nib runs finer than a European nib, so I’d peg it closer to a fine, especially on my favorite Rhodia paper. With a brass body and cap, the Metropolitan has a substantial feel which belies its $15 price tag. The cap snaps on with a satisfyingly solid click, and posts easily and securely. I find the pen equally well-balanced whether I’m using it posted or unposted. I’m impressed every time I pick one up. And I’m always thinking, “Fifteen bucks?! Really?!”

Metropolitan Leopard & Tiger

The Pilot Metropolitan is the perfect pen to toss into a backpack or purse, or to tuck into a pocket. This isn’t a pen that you need to baby because it’s fragile or so pricey that you’re afraid to take it out and about. The Metropolitan is a pen to use throughout your day—wherever that day takes you.

As Tony the (orange) Tiger would say- “THEY’RE GREAAAAAAT!”

Leopard & Tiger Metropolitanss

Which got me thinking— what about an ORANGE Metropolitan with little black tiger stripes?! C’MON Pilot, DO IT!!

Color Burst: Pilot Petit Pens

Just so you know: These pens were sent to me by Jetpens for review purposes. They were a fun surprise that perked up a kind of icky day. I have not been otherwise compensated, and I promise to tell it like it is.

Pilot Petit Pens

Last week was draining- lots of running around both days and evenings- and I was running on fumes by the end of the week. When I feel like this, the world goes kind of grey, and I just feel like sleeping. It’s dark by 7:30 pm which doesn’t help my sagging spirits. When I ripped open this little surprise package from JetPens, my mood instantly lifted. PENS! COLOR! Who needs to nap now?! Not me!

Pilot Petit pens, uncapped

These adorable pocket-sized pens by Pilot truly POP with color. The Petit pen series comes in three styles and eight colors. I was happy to sample each style and five of the colors. Measuring 4.2″ capped and 4.9-5.2″ posted (depending on style), these pens are super portable and just really, really cute.

Available as a Fountain Pen (Petit1), Mini Sign Pen (Petit2), and Brush (Fude) Pen (Petit3), there really is something for everyone. Whether you’re writing, lettering, drawing, illustrating, brainstorming, or just doodling (me!), you’ll have a blast loading the pen with ink and putting it to paper.

Clear feeds

The Petit1 Fountain Pen features a clear feed that mesmerizes me. To load up the pen, it’s as easy as removing the protective yellow cap from the cartridge, popping the cartridge into the body of the pen, then watching the ink draw through the feeder tube and into the feed. Here…take a look:

Petit1 disassembled
Prior to inking

Ink on its way to the feed
There’s the ink on its way to the feed

Inked pen
Fully inked feed

Cool, huh? This fascinated me every time I inked one of these pens. Easily amused? Possibly. But I don’t own any other pen that lets me watch the ink travel from the cartridge to the nib.

Petit1 Pens in Blue-Black, Baby Pink, and Clear Blue

The Petit2 Mini Sign Pen features a firm felt tip (medium) and is loaded with ink the same way as the Petit1 Fountain Pen. Here’s a look at the inking of the Apricot Orange pen:

Uninked Petit2
Uninked Petit2

Petit2 disassembled
Petit2 disassembled

Ink heading to the felt tip
There goes the ink!

Fully inked Petit2
Fully inked Petit2

Petit2 Apricot Orange
Apricot Orange Petit2

And because I can’t seem to stop, here are a few photos of the inking of a Petit3 Brush Pen:

Petit3 before inking
Petit3 sans ink

Apple Green ink on its way
Apple Green ink on its way!

Inked Petit3
Ready to go!

Apple Green
Petit3 in Apple Green

So the colors are cool, but how do they write?

I tried out the fountain pen first (blue black) and LOVED it. For such an inexpensive pen, it writes great- smoothly and solidly. Sure, the nib is plain and quite stiff, but the line is crisp and I haven’t experienced a single hard start or skip. The flow is generous, but not a gusher. Truly just right.

Petit 1 Fountain Pens
Petit1 nibbage

Though I’m partial to the fountain pens, the other two models are just plain fun. The Petit2 Mini Sign Pen has a firm felt tip that feels like it’ll stand up to a lot of use without going mushy. The Petit3 Brush Pen is a bit softer than the Petit2, but is still quite firm as far as brush pens go. It’s possible to get some line variation from the Petit3 model. I usually write quite small, but I can see myself using these pens to brainstorm or sketch; anytime I want to write a bit bolder.

Visible ink supply
No need to guess how much ink you have left

What else do I love? Well, the visible ink supply, the caps that SNAP on securely, and of course, the price. At $3.80 for Petit1 and $2.90 for the Petit2 and Petit3, the price is low enough that you can sample a few styles and/or colors without dinging your wallet. A pack of three refill cartridges runs $1.90, and the same cartridges fit all three pen models. Mix and match or color-coordinate. Have fun!

In Episode 80 of FPtv, Tim Hofmann spoke about “penvangelism”- spreading the fun of fountain pens to others. Tim practices “penvangelism” by having some inexpensive pens on hand to give out to curious friends and acquaintances. After writing with the Petit1 pens, it dawned on me that they’d be a really cool way to spread the fun of fountain pens and to enlighten the uninitiated. A fountain pen gateway drug, perhaps?!

In addition to the colors shown here, pens/cartridges are also available in black, red, and blue. These would be my usual conservative choices, but wow, I’m loving that Apricot Orange. The body and grip are made of smooth and sturdy plastic. The clip is a little fragile and the grip can be a little on the slippery side, but this is just nit-picking.

My husband walked into the kitchen when I was doodling with the pens and asked, “How much are those?” When I told him, he said, “Then why do you have to spend [insert much higher price here]?”

Hmmmm…he kind of had me on that one.

Petit Pens

Color me impressed.

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

P1010904
Pilot Hi-Tec-C Maica

The fine folks at jstationery.com 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.

Hi-Tec-Cs
The Maica comes out on top, despite the loopy thing

Icon: Lamy 2000 (Makrolon)

Pen & Ink
Lamy 2000 & Pilot Iroshizuku tsuki-yo

This pen flew under my radar for quite awhile. Since I have a bunch of Lamy Safaris and a few AL-Stars, I didn’t really see the need for a pricier Lamy. Silly me.

Lamy 2000
Not a Safari

A recent stream of positive chatter on Twitter perked up my pen ears, and I did my usual deep-dive into reviews and even a little digging into the history of the pen. The more I read and watched, the more my interest grew. The more I watched and read, the more I realized that this is a very different Lamy than the ones I already own. While the Safaris and AL-Stars are perfectly fine, well-made, fun, and colorful, the Lamy 2000 is a true icon.

Posted pen
Not an AL-Star

In continuous production since 1966, this is a pen that is gorgeously understated- looking both modern and vintage at the same time. Its subtlety is dazzling, its nib superb. I was immediately blown away by its looks and performance, and could easily see why this pen has been around, virtually unchanged, for 47 years and counting.

The pen’s features are SO well-integrated that I opted to use little red arrows to point them out. Like I said, subtle.

Piston filler knob
Well-hidden piston filler knob

Piston filler slightly open
Piston-filler knob opened just a hair

Because the pen is a piston-filler, bottled ink is required, and luckily I had a drop or two on hand. (Or a liter.) I filled it with Iroshizuku’s tsuki-yo (Moonlight) which is, in my opinion, the perfect ink for this perfect pen. They belong together. Forever and ever.

The pen body contains a very faint ink window so that you can keep an eye on the ink level. The red arrow will help you out.

Ink window
Ah, yes…THERE it is.

The spring-loaded clip is made of brushed stainless steel, as is the section, whereas the rest of the body is made of Makrolon- a high-tech polycarbonate material. I don’t know what that really means, but I have learned that Makrolon is durable and feels great in hand. There’s a matte, VERY finely ridged feeling to the material- smooth with just a hint of texture. I love it.

Stainless brushed clip
Stainless steel, brushed clip & a closer look at the Makrolon

LAMY branding
The branding is, you guessed it, subtle.

Maybe my favorite part of the pen is its 14kt gold, platinum-coated, hooded nib. I ordered an EF and am thrilled with how it writes. The line is fine, juicy, and exceptionally smooth.

Sweet EF nib
Simply perfect. EF and juicy.

Breather hole
Breather hole

I’ve read of some not-so-happy 2000 owners having less than stellar writing experiences, so it appears that there may be some nib inconsistencies. I ordered my pen from The Goulet Pen Company where each Lamy 2000 is QC’ed in-house prior to shipment. If my pen is any indication, they’re doing a great job weeding out the occasional dud. (Thanks, Drew, for inspecting and approving my pen!)

The slip-on cap is held in place by tiny ears, and feels very secure. The ears bother some “princess and the pea” type folks, but they in no way interfere with my grip, so are a non-issue for me.

Nib & ears
How the cap stays on

I enjoy my Lamy Safaris and AL-Stars in all their colors, but I LOVE LOVE LOVE the Lamy 2000. What a design. What longevity. What an icon.

—–

For Stephen Brown’s video review of this pen (the one I studied over and over), click here.

For an amazingly complete 4-part history of the Lamy 2000, click here.

Medicating With Pens: Namiki Raden Vanishing Point

Namiki Raden Vanishing Point
Just what the doctor ordered

If there’s ever a month that requires a pen pick-me-up, it’s February. And this last one was particularly grey, in weather and in mood. One of our beloved pups (11 year old Boo) has been struggling a bit so we’ve been extra-anxious about him, which made the colorless skies and raw winds that much harder to bear. Basically, we’re raw nerves in need of brighter days.

Raden VP
Mmmmm…shiny colors

Rather than cope with…ummm…”substances,” I’ve turned to pens. Well, one pen in particular– the Namiki Raden Vanishing Point that I picked up used from Dan Smith back in January. With it’s black lacquer body and heavy sprinkling of gorgeously shimmering abalone chips, the Namiki Raden Vanishing Point is good for what ails ya. It’s stunning, but not flashy. Colorful, but not blingy. The teal, purple, pink, azure, and emerald abalone chips almost look like they’re floating beneath the surface of the deep black body. When you consider the fact that each chip was placed by hand, it’s impossible to not be impressed. Mesmerizing, is what it is. Just like a starry starry mid-summer sky.

Wow.
A stunner

The pen came with a medium nib, but I found that it had a bit of “tooth” to it, so I made the decision to purchase and swap in a “Binderized” medium nib unit. A pen this good-looking deserves a stellar nib. And stellar it is. A “Binderized” nib is tested and tuned by Nibmeister Richard Binder…not customized, but optimized. Simply put, Richard Binder works magic with nibs. Magic.

Binderized medium nib
18K gold, rhodium plated, nib-o’-perfection

And let’s not forget that this is a Vanishing Point, which adds another level of coolness. By clicking the rock-solid knock, the nib is deployed or retracted, just as easily as with a retractable ballpoint pen. Click. You’re writing. Click. You’re not. Dead simple.

VP Knock
That’s one heavy duty knock

I filled the pen with Pilot Iroshizuku’s kon-peki (Ocean Blue) which works beautifully with the abalone accents. It’s a match made not in heaven, but in the ocean. Very soothing. Which is great because remember? Raw nerves?

Iroshizuku kon-peki
Ink as tranquilizer

I will admit to a bit of a break-in period with regard to the clip placement, but all is well now. I have a pretty typical grip, I think, so if you don’t, you might want to try one before jumping into the Vanishing Point pool. That’s one quirk with this pen that might be a negative for some.

Clip placement
Try before you buy

I can’t resist. Let’s take another look at those colors…

Rhodium accents & abalone bits
Rhodium accents and abalone bits

Another view
And again

So this pen did the trick, and beat back the February blues. Apparently the Namiki Raden Vanishing Point is my drug of choice…and without the co-pay.

Raden VP

But you know what REALLY cured me? Little Boo, back on his feet.

Boo

Some things are more important than pens.

——

Check out another review of the same pen at Gourmet Pens.

Want to know more about this fabulous ink? Check out Brad’s review.

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
Uncapped

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

Stylus
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.