Uni Signo 307 Review

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This pen is the successor to the Uni Signo 207. This has taken what was probably Uni’s most successful design and further improved upon it. Now most of the pens I tend to review can’t be found at your Staples. This however, is the exception to the rule. Present in nearly very department store I’ve gone to, it is the most widely available gel ink pen I have reviewed to date.

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The first thing I noticed about this pen was the ink. It wrote like butter straight out of the bubble wrap. I just touched the tip to paper and the ink just flowed naturally. As of writing this review the 307 is only available with a 0.7mm tip. However, there is a huge variety of refills with sizes ranging from 0.28 to 0.5. The refills are available in a large variety of vivid colors as well. I chose to stick to black, as I don’t use red too much and I have too many blue gel ink pens. It lays down a crisp bold line with high consistency. I have yet to experience an interruption in ink flow or blobbing on the page. The ink is pigment-based, which allows it to form a permanent bond with the paper. It is also billed as water-resistant, acid-free and of archival quality.

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There are long ovular protrusions in a grid like pattern along a 3/4 length of the total grip section. These protrusions are my favorite aspect of this pen. As someone who tends to have sweaty hands, as I have iterated many a time in previous posts, the grip is one part of any pen that I critique on a higher scale. So it won’t surprise any of you that I love the design choices taken with this grip. It provides a lot of traction while not digging into my fingers when writing for long sessions. There is a “dorsal fin” like part of the grip that separates my thumb and index finger. It is reminiscent of the cap on the Nakaya Dorsal Fin v1, though not as pronounced. I find that it helps against “death grip” by spacing my fingers out. As a fellow with big hands, I don’t know what it would be like for those with smaller ones. So as a disclaimer, I will state that it might be a little uncomfortable if you like to place your index fingers near the center. Compared with the fin of the 207, the 307’s is more distinct from a tactile perspective.

All in all, definitely a great pen. Based off a very successful design I’m absolutely sure it would be. Though I have to say it took some time getting used to the grip’s dorsal fin. I found myself maneuvering around it many times during the first week. It eventually became a more useful addition to me later on.

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Pens for Sale!

Hey Everyone,

Just wanted to let you guys know that I will be clearing out some of my collection to make space for new pens. These pens are all in like new condition, inked less than 20 times. They have been sitting in my Nock Brasstown for a while and it’s time they found a new home. I will be posting them as I catalog my collection, setting prices based on current market prices. The prices will not include shipping. Keep track of my Instagram and follow my blogs for updates (shameless self promoting, I’m sorry T_T).

Write On,

The Passionate Penman

Page Updates

Hey Everyone,

I just wanted to inform all my readers that I have updated ALL my pages to accurately reflect all the content that has been published as of today. After delaying for the longest time, the About Me, The List and the Top 5 have all been updated. So head on over and check them out. 🙂

Write On,

The Passionate Penman

Jinhao 159 Review

Sorry for posting so late guys. Had nearly 8 hours of classes for today and was so tired by the time I got home, I had to delay finishing it for a while. Anyway, here’s your weekly review. Enjoy! 🙂

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The Jinhao was a pen I ordered from Goulet Pens, which meant that it was coming to me packed safely enough to withstand a blizzard. Inside the box, the Jinhao was just inside a little plastic sleeve. No special box or packaging of any kind, not that I expected any at that price tag. First impression was that it was a hefty pen. The design reminded me of one of my dream pens the Montblanc Meisterstuck 149. If you saw the Instagram photo I posted yesterday, then you would know that it looked like a dead ringer for a typical Montblanc. I really enjoy this style while others may feel put off by the size and heft. It fit comfortably in my hands, but I think it would be a little difficult for those with small hands to use.

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For a cheap $13 pen, I was pleasantly surprised by the performance of the nib. I was expecting to have to smooth it out with some micro mesh, but it was perfectly smooth and juicy straight out of the box (I didn’t even rinse it out). I opted for the medium nib, which has a very generous amount of tipping. The line wrote larger than a standard Lamy medium, yet smaller than a Lamy broad. The design stamped onto it tends to take on the color of the ink it’s loaded up with. I really like it, but it may be something others won’t.

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After twisting open the cap and seeing the section, I cringed on the inside a bit. It brought me back to my Metropolitan experience where the transition was too sharp and ended up biting into my hand. Thankfully, that was not the case with the Jinhao. It’s rounded, ensuring that no matter how hard you grip it, it won’t bite into your hand. The same goes for the threads which I really appreciate.

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The biggest drawback for me personally was the converter. While it does hold a decent amount of ink, it feels very cheap and breakable. I didn’t expect a Platinum quality converter, but this one almost immediately broke apart in my hands. I was pulling the converter to fill it up with some Iroshizuku Shin-Kai(I fill via syringe, ensuring a complete fill). As I was pulling, the twister pulled out of the metal section and the plunger flew out with it. I started panicking a bit, but calmed down after I figured out that I could pop it back in. However, I would recommend using this pen with a standard cartridge. The converter is just too flimsy to hold up for long term use.

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The branding is minimal, being present only on the cap band. The model number is also indicated on the opposite side of the company brand. The clip is very malleable and fit without any signs of struggle into my Hightower. It is also very securely attached to the cap, ensuring it doesn’t wiggle around in the slightest.

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Overall, I would highly recommend this as an excellent beginner’s fountain pen. It’s cheap, running in at about $12.50USD, solidly built and has a quaint design, reminiscent of the Montblancs of yore. While I’ve heard of people having nib issues, it’s nothing a bit of micro mesh and mylar paper wouldn’t fix. It’s also a popular frankenpen prospect, making the possibilities endless. Get one and experiment! Have fun and as always, write on, my friends.

New Year’s Resolutions

Well this post is coming out a lot later than I intended, but I got it done! So I’m happy.

This year, I set a small number of personal goals I will strive to accomplish throughout the year. Then I realized, I have never set only resolutions pertaining to the blog. Surprisingly, I have always treated it as something I just do, not worth setting any goals for. Don’t get me wrong, I have taken it seriously since day one, just not as a priority. Now I find myself with a burgeoning number of readers who are starting to comment and ask questions. It sure is exhilarating to know that there are fellow stationary addicts out there who care about what I have to say.

I never started this blog with the objective to get a certain amount of readers or become the next Pen Addict. It was just a side project of mine that I was passionate about. I had next to no hobbies at the time, resulting in me being a rather boring person with nothing to say about himself (I was also kind of a socially awkward loner). Since I chose to start this blog, I have met so many kind people who have encouraged me, fed my addiction, inspired me to improve my reviews, expand my horizons when it comes to pens and just been there for me.

When I went to the L. A. Pen show in February last year, I got to meet so many people who shared my enthusiasm about pens and stationary. Granted I was on the younger side of the spectrum, but that didn’t stop them from engaging me in intelligent, thought provoking conversation about their life experiences and what fountain pens meant to them. It was an overall amazing thing to experience. I just hope I can go again this year, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed…

Coming back to my main point, I decided that this blog is something I want to take seriously, not professionally mind you, I’m not even close to being able to do that (maybe that can be a goal someday?). So I created a list of resolutions I wish to achieve by the end of the year. I’ll be actively updating all of you on my progress and I ask for your advise, encouragement and help in achieving them. So without further ado, here we go:

  1. Start becoming more active on social media
    • I have never been one to actively use social media, even before I started The Passionate Penman. This year I would like to be more active on Instagram and Twitter. It’ll take a while for me to get used to using it frequently, so please bear with me.
  2. One review a week without fail, no excuses
    • Now this is something that I definitely needed to work on. After reviewing my calendar from 2015, I saw how staggered and unorganized the post dates and times were. Starting from this week that all changes. My goal is to keep my momentum up and learn to balance my schoolwork with my reviews.
  3. Improve my photography which I feature in my reviews.
    • Plenty of times, I find that my photos are pretty standard and have no sense of style, proper lighting, etc. This is something I hope to fix with both trial and error and taking a course in Photoshop. I will actively work on being more creative with my backgrounds and angles. I could really use your guys’ critique especially in this area. Tell me what works and what doesn’t.
  4. Work on getting some kind of sponsorship
    • Acquiring new pens to review is getting a little bit on the expensive side and I was wondering whether there was any way I could cooperate with a pen store/seller to get pens I can review and then return. Otherwise I don’t think my poor wallet can handle the stress. I will probably reach out to different stationary bloggers to try and get some advise on this. I want to try and secure a sponsorship with just one company by the end of the year. It may be ambitious, but I’m going to work at it persistently. Wish me luck! 🙂

The numbers don’t designate priority or anything. They are all goals I will pursue with tenacity. My ultimate goal is to be able to refer back to this list on December 31st, 2016 and say I accomplished all of these resolutions I’ve listed. Thank you for reading my blog, I hope you are enjoying the reviews I put out. I wish you all a Happy New Year and success in all your future endeavors. Let’s do this…

TWSBI Vac Mini Review

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Here it is. Finally after using it everyday for the last week, I’m psyched to review the new TWSBI Vac Mini. This was my first foray into TWSBI’s mini series of pens. I’ve checked them out time and time again, yet just couldn’t get on board when I already had my 580Al. This purchase came from the me wanting a small, affordable fountain pen that could fit in my pocket as an EDC pen. I was making do all these days with my Pilot VP, but I decided that I needed a separate pen, as it was little too bulky. Enter the Vac Mini. Now in all honesty, I really haven’t kept up with TWSBI’s product announcements, and the Vac Mini came out of the blue for me. I saw the Goulet Pens newsletter advertising their fresh stock and decided to give it a whirl. Best decision I’ve made in 2016 as of now.

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Very minimal branding. The company name and the model name is in grey around the cap. The demonstrator body allows a view of the ink sloshing around in the barrel. Super fun but also super distracting in class :P. The ink capacity is very good compared to most of my other pens. Nearly 2 mL. The filling system was fun to use and works well. Initially, I was stuck with only 2/3 of the barrel full until I found Brian Goulet’s tutorial on how to get a nice fill with the Vac 700. Seeing as the filling system is the same, it worked out very well.

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As seen in the photo above, the tipping for the medium is very generous, resulting in a bold line that is slightly bigger than the standard Lamy medium. I personally love it, as I’m partial to slightly larger nib sizes. Straight out of the box it was buttery smooth with amazing consistency to boot. I feel that it’s the perfect balance when I have nearly 2 mL of ink to go through. It’s not too wet, but it’s not skimping either. I anticipate many weeks until a refill is needed.

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One thing that really bothers me, although it may be minor, is the dots of ink perpetually lining the slit. Now I get really OCD about that and no matter how I tried, it never truly went away. Minimizing it to what you see above is the most I could do.

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The collar used to secure the nib and feed is metal. This is the new standard, as the plastic collars of past models had a tendency to crack. It definitely feels secure when I twist it to change the nib.

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One of my favorite features on the Vac Mini. The threading on the back allows for a really secure post. It’s like recapping the pen on the back, ensuring that it won’t slip no matter what happens. In addition, the length after twisting the small amount of the cap, is perfect for someone with big hands, like me.

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Despite all the good things I have to say about this pen, it has one flaw that I just couldn’t deal with. When capped, if jostled with a little bit of force, ink tends to leak out of the pen and into the cap. I found out when I twisted off the cap and was greeted by an inky mess spilling onto my fingers and the page of my notebook. The grip was thoroughly covered in ink, resulting in a frustrating situation where I had to go to the bathroom to clean up. This happened a total of 3 times over the past week. If TWSBI could develop their version of Platinum’s slip seal and add it to this pen, it would be pretty much perfect in my book.

Overall, I would recommend the TWSBI Vac Mini to anyone who wants a portable, affordable and comfortable pen. I’m going to be using this as my EDC pen, so it’s home is going to be my pants pocket for hours on end. Don’t underestimate it’s size though, it’ll perform just as well as any of it’s bigger cousins. It’s a must add to any fountain pen collection.

UPDATE:

Hello everyone. After my review 3 days ago, I faced a problem I had yet to discover. For some reason, the flow is being disrupted occasionally. I was writing down notes in history class yesterday, about to start on my 3rd page when all of a sudden… POOF! No ink flow at whatsoever. Confused as to why, I attempted to resurrect the nib by light tapping it down on the paper. Those light taps escalated into slightly frustrated stronger ones. After about 3 minutes of trying, I gave up, retrieved my backup form the case and resumed my note taking. After a couple of hours I had to attend another class, in between, I had a lot of time to ascertain what exactly was happening. In my numerous attempts at resurrection, I managed to spray a decent amount of ink onto my fingers. I managed to get it working again after nearly an hour of trying. Needless to say this did not leave me happy. I don’t know whether it was a problem with the ink, feed, or the nib. All I know is, I was not happy for a long time afterwards. Is this a problem others are facing? Comment below if this has happened to you.