The Pilot Precise Rolling Ball pen is the predecessor to the very popular Pilot Precise V5 (and V7) and has been one of my favorite roller balls for quite a while now. Compared to the V5, the Precise is more satisfying to write with; to me it provides the right combination of smoothness and feedback.
The basic beige plastic body wont turn any heads but its understated looks really appeal to me. The Precise features a durable tungsten carbide ball and stainless steel point as well as the same clip and overall shape of the V5. Unlike the V5, it does not have an ink window or a visible feed. You wont find the Precise in most office supply stores anymore but they can easily be bought online. I still highly recommend this pen.
The Pilot VBall BeGreen is a roller ball pen with a body made from “81.6% recycled content”. First off, this isn’t the VBall I remember enjoying years ago; the design is much better but the pen as a whole is worse.
I really love the clean and elegant design of this pen; the inset metallic branding and the blue plastic cap combined with the translucent body and feed are excellent. For a disposable pen the VBall BeGreen gets an A+ in design.
As for writing, the VBall is quite scratchy. I compared it to the Uni Ball Micro Deluxe (another traditional liquid ink roller ball) and the difference was night and day. The Uni glided across the paper with more ease and left a cleaner line on the page. As I spent more time with the Vball I noticed that some parts of the tip were smoother than others; by twisting I could find both smooth and scratchy parts of the tip which makes me think I may have gotten a bad one.
I haven’t come across many duds that were made by Pilot in Japan but this might be one.
Here is a great review of the Pilot VBall BeGreen:
(I have no affiliation with the site linked below)
The Uni-Ball Vision RT is a retractable roller ball pen. Uni states that this pen has “triple protection against ink leakage” and is airplane safe. I am not certain what consists of triple protection but it sounds nice. The fine point retracts when you pull on the clip making it a safe for pockets. I quite like the design of this pen; someone clearly put thought into it.
In the writing sample I incorrectly state that the pen is not refillable; it is in fact refillable.
On to the bad…
When I first used this pen I thought it was a ballpoint because the pen wrote so dryly. “Roller ball” usually means liquid ink but Vision RT feels pasty like an oil based ink. The lines as you can see in the image above are not clean. This is easily the worst writing roller ball I have come across. At a dollar I would say it’s passable but $2.00 is too much for this level of performance. Uni usually makes excellent product but the Uni-Ball Vision RT is a rare miss.
Here are some reviews of the Uni-Ball Vision RT Roller Ball:
(I have no affiliation with the sites linked below)
The Uni-Ball Signo Impact RT 207 is a retractable gel ink pen with a bold 1.0mm tip. I have been writing with this pen for a day now and line width is too wide for me and I don’t have small handwriting. The ink really flows out of this pen creating an ultra smooth writing experience. It’s actually a fun pen to write with even though I wouldn’t use it for work. The ink drys very quickly which is surprising for a gel ink pen with such a bold line. The design isn’t overly cohesive; it has a silver barrel with a black rubberized grip, a translucent click button with blue plastic inside, and a metal tip. It’s almost as if this pen with made from Uni’s spare parts bin.
I don’t have a use for this pen and it is a bit ugly but I do find it fun to use. I am not sure I would recommend this pen. The quality like all the pens in Uni’s Signo line is great but unless you need a really bold line you would likely be happier with a narrower Signo.
The Yasutomo Y&C Gel Stylist is an ugly and cheap refillable gel pen. The rubber gel grip is short on one side and long on the other, ending at a bump that prevents the pen from rolling on a flat surface. There are two big ugly seams that run the length of the pen. The chromed plastic tip unscrews allowing you to change out the refill. I found an unusually amount of resistance on the paper with this pen which made it hard to write in my messy cursive-esque hand. The ink like most gel inks is bright and vibrant. At $1.30 there are a lot better gel pens out there like the Pentel EngerGel X and the Sakura Gelly Roll.
The Shachihata Artline Ergoline (I am amazed they could only fit “line” into the name twice) is an affordable disposable roller ball pen with a large plastic body and an ergonomic grip. The pen uses a water-based ink with a ceramic ball. I compared it against the Pentel EnerGel Euro and was surprised that the Ergoline moved across the paper with less resistance, despite this fact, the tip feels scratchy…it’s a weird combination.
The Ergoline is one of the fatter disposable pens I have come across at nearly half an inch thick at its widest point. It’s length is pretty standard at 5.5″ long capped and 6.25″ posted. I like the matte plastic black body and inset gold lettering which gives the Ergoline an air of quality. The cap has a nicely integrated clip.
Unfortunately, once you take of the cap and see the shiny black plastic grip section with two large seams the quality look goes out the window. The ergonomic grip felt cheap in hand and took a bit to get used to.
Apart from the grip I like this pen for $2; it has a nice clean look to it and writes relatively well. The Ergoline comes in black, blue, red, and green ink with a 0.5mm tip.
The Pentel EnerGel Euro uses a liquid gel ink that writes very smoothly and dries quickly. The line is crisp and a true 0.5mm. The pen has a blue almost metallic-looking body made of partially recycled plastic. The body has a lot writing on it as well as a bar code which make the pen ugly and generic looking. The latex free grip is quite comfortable and I like translucent blue plastic between the grip and the metal tip; it has these unusual faceted points. The cap also snaps onto the body when posted which is a feature I love.
The EnerGel Euro comes in black, blue, and red as well as four tip sizes 0.35mm, 0.5mm, 0.7mm and 1.0mm. The EnerGel Euro costs $2.75 and is not refillable. This is an excellent pen and if you don’t mind the generic looks I highly recommend it.
Here are some great reviews of the Pentel EnerGel Euro:
The Uni Woodnote has a body made of North American cedar that is the same width and shape of a wood pencil, together with a bright green cap the pen looks fantastic. The Woodnote uses a Uni Signo gel ink refill and can take refills from the Uni Style Fit Multi Pen System so there are a lot options.
Everything sounds great right? WRONG! This the only pen that I can think of that is actually painful to simply hold. You have to be careful where you grip the pen because there are sharp points where hexagon body meets a cylindrical plastic section. The cap is loose when the Woodnote is capped and posted; this creates an annoying rattle. Take the cap off and you can hear the refill rattling in the body as well. The Woodnote is not a heavy pen by any means at 5.5 grams but it is too heavy to feel like a wood pencil. The Uni Signo 0.38mm refill is good quality and writes well for such a small point but considering the Woodnote is painful to use and costs $4.60 you would have to really like the pencil shape and/or pain to have a use for this thing.
When I think of Stabilo I don’t think of great pens, I think of highlighters, as that is what they are most famous for. I have never been a fan of their pens but the Bionic Worker is the first that I would actually buy again.
The Bionic Worker is an unusual rollerball pen with a rubberized orange body. Stabilo labels this pen a 0.5mm but it’s definitely much wider than that; it seems like a 1.0mm to me. The rollerball is ultra smooth (as you would expect a 1.0mm tip to be) and the ink is nice and dark. Stabilo calls the nickle silver tip indestructible. I really like the details on this pen. There is a little knob on the side of the body that keeps the pen from rolling off the desk. The cap closes and posts flush with the body and there are three little portholes on each side of the pen that allow you to view the feed and ink level. The metal clip features the Stabilo swan and feels sturdy.
The Bionic Worker comes in black, blue, red and green ink with “0.5mm” and “0.3mm” tip sizes. This pen is not refillable which is too bad because it is expensive at $3.85. Next time I am going to buy the 0.3mm tip as I suspect that will be a bit closer to a true medium.
Here are some great reviews of the Stabilo Bionic Worker:
The Pilot Down Force is a pressurized ballpoint pen that is designed to write at any angle. I don’t have any need for a pressurized pen but I liked the loud yellow body so I bought it as an impulse buy. My favorite thing about this pen is the satisfying click it makes, apart from that and the bright yellow body I didn’t find much else to like. The plastic body is a bit too fat for my taste and the 0.7mm refill is okay, not as nice as what you find in a Pilot Acroball. The line is darker and sharper than a Fischer Space pen’s and it’s cheaper but at $8 its not cheaper than a Uni Power Tank. The Uni Power Tank is writes better, is pressurized and costs less than half the price of the Down Force. If you really enjoy clicking pens the Down Force might be worth a look but if you just want a nice pen don’t bother; this one’s crap.
Here is another review of the Pilot Down Force: (I have not affiliation to the site linked below)