Phase Ignition!

"Quod Scripsi, Scripsi."

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Tesco Cartridge Pen aka the Tesco ‘Comfort’ Pen

Um yes, I have been away, for 5 months that is. Hey, I'm a busy guy, deal with it :p

Following the responses I got from the Pilot 78G review I wrote not too long ago, I’ve decided to do yet another pen review (actually, this will be one of 2 reviews I’ll be doing, now that I’ve actually have some time to myself to write these things) I’ve recently been discovering that the price of a fountain pen does not necessarily reflect on it ability to write. My Hero #299 (which I also found in Tesco) and my RM3.00 Youth Pens from China are good examples of these. Recently, I came across a posting in FPN that spoke about a mysterious ‘Cartridge Pen’ that could be found on the cheap from Tesco. Very Intrigued, I made a point of looking a bit more carefully the next time I was there. Suffice to say, I found one that cost me a grand total of…RM2.50. I have to apologize in advance because I’ve thrown away the packaging for this pen. It comes with 3-4 generic Short Standard International Cartridges of Blue Ink. Absolutely no idea what make the ink actually is by the way. I just threw away the cartridges and slotted in a Pelikan Violet. Here’s a first look at the said pen:

Unposted (without the cap on) it measures about 12.2cm, Posted the pen measures about 16.3cm. The cap is a clip on type and is transparent with a one piece black tip and clip unit. The rest of the pen is made of plastic (all of it actually, except the nib which seems to be made of stainless steel). No clues as to what converter it will take. But I’m not too anal about using cartridges anyways. Its RM2.50 for god’s sake! Takes both long and short International Cartridges. On to the weight factor, it’s the lightest weight pen I’ve ever used. Hardly feel the weight as I’m writing. The barrel has a rubberized feel to it and the business end of the pen has grooves cut into the grip (which is made of shiny black plastic) and does not slip in any way while writing.

The nib is stainless steel and has a slight flex to it. (Thin Iridium Stainless Steel I’m told) As far as the point is concerned, it’s an ‘F’ Nib. Absolutely nothing engraved on the nib too. The underside of the nib is the now familiar black but smooth with no vertical nor horizontal grooves. The inking system makes use of cartridges. I doubt I can find a converter for it. Then again, I ain’t no snob when it comes to inking systems :P

So, unto the actual writing bit. This time around, I used some really nice Conqueror paper and wrote a few lines. I noticed that while it was an ‘F’ Nib, it was a bit thicker than my Sheaffer No-Nonsense’s ‘F’ nib. Writing was smooth, uninterrupted (I did flush the pen out before slotting in the cartridge). Writing sample as below, Tesco Pen in Violet and the Sheaffer No-Nonsense in brown.

Ok, last thing that needs mentioning, this is a pen which is made in China. Which could be a good thing or a bad thing. I do have a post written up about Chinese made pens, but I’m still tweaking it so wait for it. Chinese pens are either very good or very bad, it can be a crapshoot sometimes. A few months after I wrote this review (yes, I take ages to write one blog post, that just shows how dedicated I am to my art :P) the pen began to leak rather badly from the cartridge part. I suspect that this had to do with a little rough handling the pen took in my bag (yes, this was BEFORE I discovered RM5 faux-leather 3 pen cases from Daiso), so do take care not to handle the pen too roughly.

Final Impressions:

Pros: Cheap, lightweight, slightly flexible nib. Smooth writing performance.

Cons: No converter so you’re stuck with whatever International cartridges that comes your way. (long or short), dubious durability.

PS: This entire blog post was written as usual in long hand with the subject of this review, the Tesco Comfort Pen

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Custom Ink Blend: The Iron Chancellor

Um, not sure you'll be able to see the nuances, but there ya go. Yeah, i know its small so click on it to see the whole thing willya?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Hero Blue Black Ink Review

Well, following a pen review, I'm following it up with an ink review. My favorite color when it comes to writing ink is Blue-Black. I spoke to my Mom some time ago and she told me that in the late 50s and 60s, Blue-Black was the choice of ink for many people. She told me about giant Parker Quink bottles that will be in the corner of the office and people coming up to fill their individual ink wells/bottles. I have seen those bottles for sale by the way. Seems like I'm stuck in that era too :P

So, since I already have the Pelikan 4001 Blue-Black (it comes out Grey when it dries) and 2 bottles of Vintage Parker Quink Solv-x Blue-Black, I thought the Hero might be a good thing to try. The Vintage Parker Quink Solv-x Blue-Black by the way is my favorite Blue-Black but its getting harder to find. I had reservations about the Hero. (I mean, it costs RM1.90). So I searched through FPN to see if there were any reviews. There were 3 and they all looked pretty ok. I took the plunge and got myself a bottle.

The ink comes in a cardboard box, not really that attractive, (I was hoping for some Communist-ish box art but was just plain). Its volume is 59ml and has the words "Treated with anti-oxidant and corrosion inhibitor" printed on one side of the box. The bottle is very old looking and is capped by a light blue cap. Smells So instead of doing a custom handwritten review, I downloaded a review form off FPN and filled it up. Here's how it looks like:

Click to see a larger image.

A proviso here tho, scanners brighten up pictures a bit so, the actual image is slightly darker than this. What do I feel about the ink?

1. It sits between the Parker and the Pelikan
2. No Feathering, I like that a lot,
3. Drying time is rather decent, could be better tho
4. Water test hardly took off anything. This is very important as I (being the clumsy doofus that I am) am prone to knocking water all over what I write
5. The price! its cheap as chips! (cheaper lar)
6. Availability - I can get in many shops nearby
7. Flow is really good, I like the fact that it worked very well with my buttery smooth Hero 331 Nib.
8. Saturation - With a Fine point, this comes out very close to a real Blue black. When I wrote with the Pilot 78G-BB tho, the end result looked grayish.

So, Fine points work very well with this ink. This ink has also restored my faith in Hero inks and I might get a bottle of red and a bottle to black to make my long overdue Burgundy ink. If I was to rate this over 5, I would definitely give it a 3.8. Now, I gotta go find more of these. Just in case the inkocalypse breaks out. You just might never know. :P

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Hero #331 review

Hey there! its been some time but um...I did a handwritten review of the Hero #331 that originally was posted in the Fountain Pen Network forums. A little different this time, its all in pictures. Enjoy!

PS. My photos are squashed for some reason. Click on 'em to see it in its entirety.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Microsoft China rips off Asia’s No. 1 Microblogging Service

Now, I'm acutely aware of the fact that this blog does not really have a million subscriber count but I need to post this and implore you, yes you who's reading this right now about the issue I've specified in the title. For over a year now, I've been very very actively using, a microblogging service first introduced to me while I was reading a Twitter post by Veronica Belmont. Along the way, numerous tech luminaries like Leo Laporte, Robert Scoble, Molly Wood, Tom Merritt, Jason Howell (Last 3 being of Buzz Out Loud fame) and many others came on and still from time to time, peek in and update their Plurks.

That however was just an intro for me into this new world, very different from Twitter, Plurk featured updates in a left to right scrolling method with 'karma' points and other badges being awarded for introducing your friends etc. Here's a screen shot:

Along the way, I've made many new friends and oddly enough, found a new fan base for my band. Plurk is now the fastest growing microblogging service in Asia. Until now that is.

This morning, Plurk's official blog reported that Microsoft China is launching a new microblogging service, MSN Juku/Hompy/Mclub. The problem with this tho is the fact that its an exact facsimile of Plurk. Right down to the bare code that runs the site. Obviously, its easy for us to get cynical and sneer at Chinese copyright abusers and such but this is Microsoft! As posted in the Plurk Blog:

"Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but blatant theft of code, design, and UI elements is just not cool, especially when the infringing party is the biggest software company in the world."

Uncool thing to do Microsoft. Please read the rest of the post here: and please spread the news to anyone that might care about a software giant that treads on smaller guys who are trying to make a break.