Pentel Energel – Multiple Pen Review

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*****UPDATE: Now doing an Energel Pen giveaway. Details are at the bottom of this post*****

Welcome to the first multiple pen review done here at That One Pen. We’ll be focusing on the various forms of the widely available Pentel Energel pens. Energels most commonly come in two point sizes: 0.7 mm (M) and 0.5 mm (F). You can buy 1.0 mm (B) and 0.35 mm Euro needle-points online, but I generally only find the (M) and (F) pens in my local office supply stores. All the pens shown in this review are 0.7 mm (M) points.

Going left to right in the picture above we have: Energel Deluxe RT blue, Energel Deluxe RT purple, Energel Deluxe RT pink, Energel Alloy RT, Energel Stick blue, Energel-X RT blue, Energel-X RT purple and Energel-X RT sky blue. You’ll see samples of other colors later; I just want to show the array of options available in the Energel line right now. The Deluxe RT version (3 on the left) also come with grips colored the same as the ink and not just the white grips as shown. If you imagine the colored grips of the Energel-X’s (3 on the right) on the Deluxe versions, you pretty much have it. The Energel Alloy RT also come in different colors. What’s nice is that the Deluxe RT, Alloy, Stick and Energel-X all take the same Energel Liquid Gel refill (LR 10, LR 7 or LR 5 depending on point size). If you’re into the whole hack thing, the LR refills are plastic tubes that can be easily cut to fit other pen bodies. The particular shape of the refill tip limits the pen bodies you can get the LR refills to work with so we’ll leave it to the reader to experiment. In the US, you can find the blue and black refills at Staples and other major office supply stores if you want to experiment with the refills without getting the actual pen.

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Given that all versions use the same refill, there are obviously a lot of similarities to the writing experience. The Energel refill is smooth and, most important to us lefties, very, very fast drying. To me, the writing experience of the Energel is a touch smoother than that offered by the widely available Pilot G2 pens but there’s no doubt (none – I’ve checked several times) that the Energel dries faster than the G2. I won’t dismiss the G2 at all. It’s a fine pen with a great range of colors and might even be a bit easier to find than Energel. I find that the 0.7 mm tip of the G2 leaves a thinner line than the 0.7 mm tip of the Energel but again, the G2 is just a touch rougher of a ride.

Let’s get to some of the differences, starting with the grips. Below is a close up of the grips for the Stick, Alloy, Deluxe RT and Energel-X RT (L to R). Not surprisingly, the Alloy has the hardest feel followed by the Stick then the Energel-X then the Deluxe RT. I did not measure the grip widths with a caliper, but to my fingers the Deluxe RT feels the widest, the Stick and Alloy follow and are very similar and the Energel-X feels a touch thinner still. Don’t get me wrong – the widths of all the grips are very close. Still, I do feel a difference – certainly between the wider Deluxe RT and the thinner Energel-X.

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Let’s talk clips. With the exception of the Energel-X and its all plastic build, the pens have metal clips with some plastic tabs near the top. Including the Energel-X, all the clips feel strong and well made. The edges of the clips on the Stick and the Deluxe are a bit sharp and could possibly scratch/dig into the lip of pocket material if you’re not careful. The other noticeable difference is that the Energel-X clip has some printing on it and, unlike the other three pens, the bottom of the Energel-X clip curves away from the pen barrel a bit.

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When deployed (and capped in the case of the Stick), there are some clear differences in length as you can see below. The Stick is the longest followed by the Alloy. The Deluxe RT and Energel-X are similar with the X possibly being shorter by a hair. When posted, the Stick also feels noticeably wider than any of the other pens.

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Also when deployed, the Deluxe RT and Energel-X can rattle just a bit because the button does not stay in the pushed-in position. As you can see in the picture above, both buttons are depressed for the Deluxe RT and Energel-X, but they easily slide out to create the rattle noise. The noise is not terribly loud or distracting, but it’s definitely there. The Stick, as you might expect, is perfectly quiet and the button of the Alloy has some added spring tension that keeps it stuck out whether the refill is deployed or not so it’s nearly 100% silent as well.

*****UPDATE: Now doing an Energel Pen giveaway. Details are at the bottom of this post*****

Interestingly and/or unfortunately, you cannot swap parts of one pen with parts of another. The picture below shows all the pens disassembled. The Deluxe, Alloy and Stick separate at the body/grip divide while the Energel-X opens at the button/body divide. The thread sizes and female/male sections are all different from pen to pen so you won’t be using the grip section of the Deluxe on the Energel-X or, most disappointingly, you won’t be attaching the Energel-X grip to the Alloy body. In fact, the Energel-X grip section appears not to unscrew from the body at all. It does look like the grip sections of the Stick (far back in picture) and Deluxe (front in picture) should be interchangeable but it’s definitely a no go.

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Getting back to the writing experience. Bottom line, I really like the way these pens write. I rarely use an Energel for extended writing sessions, limiting most of my time to writing short notes or, more commonly, to grading tests and quizzes. The writing action is smooth and consistent. I have yet to find a paper surface that causes an Energel to skip. Even Post-It Notes, which can be notoriously difficult for various pen types, are no problem for the Energels. (Aside – I like Parker gel refills but Post-It Notes or slightly glossy paper wreak havoc on them so they’re out). Have I mentioned yet that they dry faster than any pen I’ve found to date. Is the ink waterproof? Honestly, I don’t know and it’s not a test I really care about.

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Being gel pens there are, of course, several color options available. Having used these pens in all their colors for several years, I’ve noticed that the regular blue and black flow more readily than the other colors. For me, the blue and black are almost too slippery on something like Rhodia but work fantastic on “toothier” copy or Field Notes paper. Because they can be purchased readily on their own in the Deluxe version, I’ve used purple and green more than any other color besides blue. But, having recently grabbed a multicolored pack of Energel-X, I see the sky blue and orange getting quite a workout soon.

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So, do I have a preference between the Deluxe RT, Energel-X, Alloy and Stick? Well, the Stick is definitely in last place for me. In my work flow, gel pens are meant to add a bit of color to lecture notes, write a quick list or grade so I prefer the efficient retractable versions. The Stick is well built and the cap attaches with a satisfying “click” when capping or posting so there’s nothing wrong with it; I just prefer the convenience of the retractable pens. I want to like the Alloy more than I do. The body colors options are cool (especially the black) and they feel built to last. But, the balance is off for me as I wish it was weighted more towards the grip section. For the longest time, I used the Deluxe RT much more than any of the other models. That said, I’ve spent time with the Energel-X recently and I’m changing my allegiance. The ever so slightly thinner feel of the Energel-X, its comfortable but not too soft grip along with its less sharp clip compared to the Deluxe RT work better for me.

*****UPDATE: Now doing an Energel Pen giveaway. Details are at the bottom of this post*****

Importantly, these great refills come in a variety of colors and body styles that most folks should be able to find something that works. Do you prefer a longer, wider pen? Go with the Stick. Do you want something sharper looker for the office or to give as a gift? Go with the Alloy. Do you like clean lines and Apple-inspired white style? Go with the Deluxe RT. Do you like a slightly thinner grip and/or prefer that the color you’re grabbing to be blatantly obvious? Go with the colorful Energel-X style.

Rating
The Energel is a “Carry It”, “Desk It” and “Give It” pen for me. I carry them everywhere. There are probably 2, 3 or more on my home and office desks right now and I’ve given them as Secret Santa gifts to make a few converts.

Analogy
The Energel is like my collection of Peter Gabriel albums. I may have too many pens and too many albums to name (and goodness knows I do on both counts). Still, no matter how many pens or albums I get I always come back to my Energel pens and Gabriel albums. The Energel just works for me each and every time just like Peter Gabriel’s albums work for me at any time, while in any mood and for any occasion. Do yourself a favor. Check out the Energel in the style that would work best for you.

Here are some other reviews of Energels, including a couple for the Tradio. The Tradio is more refined-looking version of the Stick that takes the same refill and comes in a variety of colors.
Review on Pentel’s Site
Gourmet Pens (A colorful review of the full line of Energel-X.)
Pen Addict (Tradio review)
A Penchant for Paper (Stick review. See embedded links for other Energel reviews.)
Pens! Paper! Pencils! (Energel-X review)
Clicky Post (Tradio review)

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Energel Pen Giveaway!!! I will be giving away 1 Energel Deluxe RT blue, 1 Energel Stick blue, 1 Energel-X blue plus two(2) other Energel related surprises. The pens I’m giving away will be new or very, very close to new. To enter, simply leave a comment to this post. The giveaway will close Sunday, February 23 at 5:00 pm Eastern time US. I’ll ship the pens to any US address. The posts will be numbered in the order they are received and a random number generator will select the winner. Feel free to leave up to 3 comments if you’d like to enter multiple times. I may respond to your comments, but obviously my comments are not counted or numbered as entries.

Monteverde Invincia

The Fountain Pen Hospital has made more than a few bucks off me this month.  I’ve already detailed my thoughts on the Sailor Sapporo that I purchased at this month’s FPH expo.  Here, our focus will be the carbon fiber/chrome Monteverde Invincia I bought as part of FPH’s 12 days of Christmas sale.  The MSRP for this Invincia is $100 with a typical street price around $80.  By the way, I love it when us pen dorks use the phrase “street price”.  If there’s one group of people who can’t get away with using a hip term like “street price”, it’s us.  Anyway, the $60 I spent for the pen and shipping was a pretty good deal.  Unfortunately, my compliments regarding this pen will pretty much stop there.  I know it takes two to create a working relationship and it seems that the Invincia and I are not going to work.  Invincia…it’s not you, it’s me.  (Isn’t that line always a lie?)

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Let’s stay positive for a bit longer.  The pen is a real looker.  The chiaroscuro created by the carbon fiber body and the mirror chrome cap and nib section strikes my fancy very much.  I also dig the satisfying way the cap screws onto the body.  It’s hard to explain, but the last half turn glides the cap onto the body in a way that really makes you think the cap is on to stay.  The cap posts rather smoothly as well.

Now for the negatives.  While I generally like hefty pens, the weight combined with the super smooth chrome nib section and the slick resin overlaying the carbon fiber body make the pen a challenge to navigate across paper.  For comparison, the Invincia comes in at about 40 grams while the classic Lamy 2000 comes in at 25 grams.  If you’re one of these people with perfect pen posture where the pen stays calmly in the crook of your forefinger and thumb, then the weight and slickness may not bug you.  As a lefty overwriter who lifts and wiggles pens across paper, I need some friction to my grip, even more so if the pen is a bit heavy.  So, that’s reason #1 why the Invincia and I aren’t likely to work out in the long run.

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Reason #2 is, unfortunately, the nib.  Let me be very clear on this point – there’s nothing wrong with Monteverde nibs in general or the nib on this Invincia in particular.  My problem comes down to writing angle.  I need pens that are a bit forgiving when it comes to the writing angle and the fine steel nib on the Invincia doesn’t seem to have this quality.  When I slow down and force myself to hold the pen more horizontally the nib performs well.  In fact, it produces a neat bit of line variation without skipping once I get the angle just so.  But let’s be real here – That One Pen is about finding quality, everyday writing tools that aren’t so high maintenance.  In short, the Monteverde Invincia is undeniably pretty and responds well if I get the grip and angle just right, but I don’t think I want to deal with all the hassle.

Rating
At this point, it won’t come as a surprise that I’m giving this pen my “Give It” rating.  There’s nothing wrong with the pen other than the fact that I can’t use it.  Now, I’m going to force myself to use it for a few more days in the hopes that the nib becomes more forgiving and that I’ll adjust to the slick feel.  Given that $60 was a pretty good deal, I feel like I need to give the Invincia second and third chances.  Alas, I don’t have high hopes.  Stay tuned – this pen may be put on the trading block or used in a future giveaway.

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Analogy
So far, the Monteverde Invincia is like the pretty girl I knew years ago in a college organic chemistry class.  She certainly was pretty and she was also intelligent and a decent person.  Unfortunately, after a couple of dates, it was obvious to both of us that it wasn’t going to work.  Was it her?  Was it me?  I suspect it was just an odd combination.  And so, at first look, there’s nothing I should dislike about the Monteverde Invincia but it seems that it’s just not going to work.

Are there other reviews of the Monteverde Invincia?  Yes, yes there are.
Note Booker, Esq. (review of stealth Invincia which is probably more my style anyway)
FP Geeks (also the stealth version with the stylus bit too)
SBRE Brown (also stealth; also stylus)
Tyler Dahl Pens (yup, stealth stylus)
From the Pen Cup (matte chrome with stylus)