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Pilot FriXion Retractable Ball .05mm

Thanks for sending these out, JetPens!

I've had a blue pen from the FriXion line for quite a while, but I've never gotten around to reviewing it. It's the thin, capped version, and it's not bad. The ink is a little too light, and the eraser is hidden under the cap when you post the pen (and I usually do), so it's not in my Top 10 or anything, but it's not bad. At least it's not hideous like the original versions. Those lame.

The Look:
The ones that JetPens sent out to me are the newer clicky-versions, and they're flame-free. They come in a sleek, classy form that I wouldn't be embarrassed to pull out in a meeting even if I were wearing a tie. The one awkward bit is the milk-white knob on the top of the pen that you use to erase the ink with. I'm glad they went with that look rather than some other color because it sort of blends in to most of the office surroundings. I hardly notice it's there until I want to erase something. Also, I don't have to up-post the pen to erase, and that's an improvement over the previous versions.

 A really minor detail, but still neat:
When you're ready to write you can see three yellow squares. 

When the pen's tip is inside you don't see the squares. 

The Feel:
I'm not sure why, but they don't feel as good as they look. Your mileage will vary on this one, but there's just something that's not-right about them.

  • Maybe they're a little too light. 
  • Maybe I'm pushing on them too hard to overcompensate for the weak ink color. 
  • Maybe the grip needs to be cushy-er or maybe it needs a bit more patterning on it to keep my fingers from moving. 
  • Maybe the body should have a bit more contour or a longer clip. 
Whatever it is, it's keeping me from wanting to write with these for long periods of time. I get a little cramped and I keep shifting my grip to find a sweet-spot. This might not be an issue for you, but it's a little bit of an issue for me.

The Ink:
This is really where a pen sinks or swims. I'm trying to be even-handed here, and it's a bit of a toss-up. 

  • The ink looks weak. The "black" ink is just not black. It's grey. The "red" ink is just not red. It's kinda salmon. If you like a grey or salmon pen then this might be right up your alley. 
  • It always feels like it's running out of ink; like you're constantly on the last dregs of a pen's ink supply. 
It looks a little more red here than it does in real life. It's not pink, but it's not a dark red, either. 

Check out the railroad. Give me some more ink-flow, man.

  • You can erase it! 
In this super-close-up you can see a little of the ink in the erased bit, but in real life you don't really see that. 

Seriously. It's not like the old-style "erasable" ink pens. I remember when I was in school I'd get these terrible ball points that would skip and jitter across the page, and you could kinda erase the ink with this rough, black, sandpapery eraser on the top of the cap. It was more likely to tear through the page than it was to erase the stuff you wrote. God forbid you try and erase two things you wrote in the same place. Sayonara, notebook paper!

That doesn't happen with the FriXion pens. The ink is thermosensitive, so it just takes a little heat to 86 the ink, and the eraser on the pens is really a not-quite-smooth plastic piece that doesn't wear away when you erase. It also doesn't wear away the paper. This is kind of special. 

In fact, it's likely to be special enough that it will make some people overlook the lightness of the ink. My roommate (an intern-architect) was moved from "Ugh. Not for me." all the way to "Hey! Can I have this?" by the erasable ink. She really liked that she could sketch something and then erase part of it. It's a big selling point. 

A caveat: the JetPens description says that any heat will cause your ink to disappear. I haven't really tested this, but I'm going to do that soon, and I'll post a video of the results. On the flip side, cold can (reportedly) cause your ink to reappear. That means you can write and send secret messages with these, but that you shouldn't think that things you write will be gone forever if you erase them. 

At $3.80 per pen, they're on the expensive side. The body is sturdy, though, and it's going to last. I've got no fear of this pen breaking on me. You can also buy refills for this pen pretty cheaply from, so this isn't a throw-away if you use it up.

This is pretty neat. I didn't do a water test on this ink, but I wanted to do the heat test I mentioned above, and it came out kinda cool. I've never used iMovie on my iPad before, so this was sort of like two experiments in one. There's some unfortunate lense flare at the moment when the ink disappears, but here's the video:

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