The Uni-Ball 5 is a roller ball pen that I can find almost no information on. I couldn’t find this pen on Mitsubishi’s (Uni) Japanese site (http://www.mpuni.co.jp/) nor on their US site nor on Google. Here is what I do know:
I bought this pen from Itoya in Tokyo for 100 YEN (a bit less than a $1USD). It is a roller ball with a 0.5mm point. The ink is ultra smooth and fast drying.
I put the Uni-Ball 5 up again three other traditional roller balls, the Pilot V Ball, the Pilot Precise Rolling Ball, and the Uni-Ball Deluxe Micro (all 0.5mm).
The Uni-Ball 5 was the clear winner for me. The lines are tight and sharp and it’s the smoothest writer out of all of them. In terms of price its most clear competitor is the Pilot Precise Rolling Ball and comparing them more closely the Pilot had a more liquid and fluid feel where the Uni had a more viscous, thicker feel (though clearly a liquid ink). I also found that the dry times for the Uni-Ball 5 were faster than that of the Pilot Precise. With that said the Pilot Precise’s feel on paper is more unique and a bit more fun but objectively it really isn’t a better pen.
In short the Uni-Ball is the best writing disposable roller ball pen I have come across under $1. I almost think I might like it better than the Ohto Graphic Liner. I don’t know how to buy them in the USA, so if anyone out there knows of a place or has more information on this pen I would love to hear from you.
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 Pen Addict – Pilot VBall BeGreeN 05 Review
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)
A Penchant for Paper – Uni-ball Vision RT Bold 0.8mm Black
Office Supply Geek – Uniball Vision RT .6mm
The Pen Addict – Review: Uni-Ball Vision RT
Gourmet Pens – Review: Uni-ball Vision RT 0.8 mm Rollerball Pen
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 Otho Graphic Liner is a roller ball pen with pigment ink that is both water proof and fade proof. There is a line width for everyone, 0.3mm to 1.5mm. The 0.5mm is my favorite as it is ultra smooth while still laying down a fine and sharp line. The Graphic Liner feels a bit like a porous tip fine liner with the smooth ink flow and a bit like a roller ball with the hard metal tip; it’s a great combination. The O.3mm is a little more needle-like than I prefer but it is still smoother than most 0.3mm pens I have tried, including the Pilot Hi-Tec-C gel pen. These pens are labeled with numbers that correspond to their various line widths, however they aren’t labeled in millimeters, instead the 0.3mm is a 005 and the 0.5mm is a 02 so be careful when you purchase. The Graphic Liner isn’t the most attractive with it’s black body and orange accents. The clip is strong and functional.
Otho classifies the Graphic Liner as a “free ink roller pen”, meaning that the pen has no “fibrous ink reservoir” (if anyone knows what that actually means please let me know). The Graphic Liner only comes in black but Otho makes other free ink roller pens that come in multiple colors, so I will definitely be giving those a try. At $2.50 ($2.65 for the 005) I highly recommend it; it is easily one of my favorite non-fountain pens.
Here are some great reviews on the Ohto Graphic Liner:
(I have no affiliation to the sites linked below)
Papercide – OHTO Graphic Liner 005
LifeImitatesDoodles – Review of the Ohto Graphic Liner Needle Point Drawing Pen
Atomic Venetia – Product Review: Ohto graphic liner needle point drawing set
The Well-Appointed Desk – Ohto Graphic Liner 0.3
The Pen Addict – Ohto Graphic Liner Needle Point Drawing Pen 03 Review