Reviews Written by kay...
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If this pen were 5x the..., January 23, 2013
If this pen were 5x the price, I would knock off a star for scratchiness. The nib isn't the smoothest but the pen is, after all, a fraction of the price of a lamy safari nib by itself.
A word of caution though, these do use a proprietary cartridge. So it's Pilot cartridges or eyedropper (either the barrel or the cartridge that comes with the pen).
I was wary about buying..., January 23, 2013
I was wary about buying this due to its size, as I have fairly large hands. I'm happy to report this isn't an issue. In fact, I think it would be spoiled if it were any larger.
Posted, it is -perhaps not coincidentally- the exact same length as a retractable Jetstream. Capped, it is about a centimeter longer than a Pilot Petit.
It's a smooth writer too. I put Pelikan Brilliant Black through and it glided page after page. No skips, no blobbing, no scratching.
A note for those planning to eyedropper (I know I was): There are three teeny tiny holes at the butt end of the barrel. You'd probably need a microscope to get a sealant in there without making a mess. The feed nipple is the right width for an international standard size converter, but the barrel isn't even close to long enough.
This is a great FP alternative for everyday use. It's comfortable, light, portable, and inexpensive. I just wish it could be ED'd more easily.
PROS 1) The grip. It's..., April 23, 2012
1) The grip. It's ever-so-slightly firmer than a standard alpha gel. On a 1-10 scale of softness:
Standard 207= 1-2
Standard Alpha grip= 10
Dr. Grip = 3-4
207 premier= 9.5
2) The ink: 207 gel. Smooth, permanent, inexpensive. Though they have been known to be a bit inconsistent, I have gone through five refills thus far and only one didn't lay down as smooth of a line as the rest, but was still vastly superior to any other pen I own.
3) The price. It's a jetstream's cost less expensive than standard ballpoint alphas that don't write nearly as well as this. Although those can take 207 refills, why pay extra? I don't know why this grip doesn't have its own marketing scheme, because it's really squishy and just a bit more "gelly" (it retains its shape a bit longer after letting go, just to give an idea) than the alpha mech pencil I have, but I suppose its privacy is to the benefit of those who venture a bit.
1) The clicker on top wiggles a bit when the ink is extended. It's maybe half a millimeter too narrow for the barrel. Not a big deal, but it does make a little noise when writing quickly.
Conclusion: It's superb for people with too-tight grips, and the ink flows smoothly, dries pretty quickly for gel, and is archival quality (pH neutral, water resistant, acid-free, unwashable, etc...) at a low price. Even the refills, for the quality of the ink, are almost suspiciously inexpensive ($2 for a 2 pack). Buy it.
PROS 1) Let's get the..., April 23, 2012
1) Let's get the obvious out of the way; the alpha gel grip is superb, but it is VERY soft, keep this in mind. It feels closer to a thick cloud than the "squish" I was expecting. The grip on the 207 premier, a pen I also HIGHLY recommend btw, is more what I had in mind when I ordered this, though the difference between them is marginal.
That being said, I have a pencil-snapping, pen-shattering vice grip, especially when writing intently, and the Shaka's grip is supportive enough and body sturdy enough to enable my bad habits, unlike so many unfortunate Ticonderogas and BIC Atlantises before it.
2) The shaker function. As an American, it's the first time I'm using one and its pretty handy. i.e. mid-sentence when a thought may escape me if I pick up the pencil for too long, SHAKESHAKE and back to it. For the erratic memory or fast note-taking, it's surprisingly helpful.
3) The feature to disengage the shaker mechanism and lead clutch by fully depressing the clicker (as opposed to just part way to release more lead, like a camera shutter release) is intuitive and really an "extra mile" feature. As useful as the shaker is, it could definitely be obtrusive when you're not using the pencil and lead comes out every time you move your arms quickly, like during the all-too-frequent heated, violent, passionate or otherwise physically demanding Excel/PowerPoint presentation. The folks at Mitsu foresaw this, and gave the option of retracting the lead and not allowing the shaker mechanism to release any more until manually reengaged. Brilliant.
4) Everything else seems of solid build and it looks nice too, it has a heavier feel than most mechanical pencils, though this may just be the additional shaker mechanism, grip, and sheer size :x
5) To further illustrate the ergonomic triumph of the Shaka, its balance point can be found right at the juncture between the chrome middle piece and the "black" (see CONS below) upper shaft, aka the fulcrum where it will rest against most people's hands. This understated anatomical feature makes for an even smoother writing experience.
1) Like all soft grips, the alpha suffers from swiffer syndrome; it collects dust and grime better than most of my vacuums. I actually roll it across my desk to get all the dust up, then wipe it off into my garbage. No joke.
2) The tip (nib piece, not sure what it's called on a pencil) does not retract into the pencil, leaving a fairly sharp point floating around in a bag or pants pocket.
3) The lead that comes with it is a little soft, but pshht.
4) The colors of both the body and the grip are less black, more dark grey but, again, pshht.
5) The shaker, even when disengaged from releasing more lead, can still move inside the pen when shaken firmly, though not as freely. For example, it doesn't move when the pencil is just tipped over end-on-end, but when shaken a bit harder, whatever is holding the shaker in place lets go. It's definitely odd, and makes me a little concerned about the durability of whatever is disengaging it. But, and I promise this is the last one, pshht :)
The first two cons, in addition to the price, will keep this gem on my desk. But for 10 bucks, it's a steal for someone with bad form who does a lot of writing.
p.s. I would recommend buying this with some other things to make free shipping. Get a second one or better lead or maybe the 207 premier with some refills. I had to pay six dollars to get this to NJ, which is nearly the price of the 207 premier, and you're going to need to refill it some time :) Hope this little novella helped.