Friday, March 9, 2012

InkJoy Pen Review

I'll admit to you from the start that I'm a gel pen aficionado and I've never really had much time for standard ballpoint pens. I recently had a collection of PaperMate's InkJoy pens fall across my desk so I proclaimed "game on" and gave them a proper run through.

I have to say that an InkJoy ballpoint pen is the best ballpoint pen I've ever been fortunate enough to use. There isn't the usual harsh dragging or slow ball rolling or gritty grind I usually experience. I dug through my desk to find a couple of other ballpoints to make sure I wasn't just confusing myself, but my findings backed me up. These InkJoy is the smoothest ballpoint pen I've ever used.

Let's start at the bottom and work our way up. The InkJoy 100 is your base model pen. It comes as a standard stick pen with a cap or in a retractable version. Either way you are going to get an extremely basic plastic tube surrounded with plastic bits. As cheap as this pen feels and as little as it costs you are still getting the full advantage of the InkJoy system so your pen will produce great lines. The InkJoy 100 is the only version of the InkJoy line available in the stick format. All other InkJoy pens are the retractable format.

The InkJoy 500 is the real workhorse of the InkJoy family. The smoked semi gloss is replaced with a matte finish and a rugged looking rubberized grip that is reminiscent of a tire tread has been added. The plastic clip from the 100 series has been replaced with an actual metal clip. These are welcome upgrades as that bit of rubber helps to keep your pen in place and the metal pen clip isn't going to break off after repeated use. I'm sure we've all had hundreds of the plastic clips break, but I've only ever broken a metal clip with some severe pen related trauma.

Visually you can immediately see that additional chrome accents have been added to the plunger and the tip of the InkJoy 550. You can't see it from the photo, but an additional thin piece of rubber runs along the back side of the pen to keep it from slipping when it is in your hand and meets with another rubberized portion at the back. The back rubber doesn't really do anything because your hand shouldn't be making contact with the back side of your pen (maybe it is aesthetics, or it helps to keep the rubber strip in place). Although the rubber appears to be thinner than the 500 in practice, it is negligible as the rubber on a pen is never designed for softness but for grip. The 550 has a glossy barrel with a slight ergonomic curve while the 500 has a matte barrel with an exaggerated bump.

When you first lift the InkJoy 700 you'll be pleasantly surprised that it has a bit of heft. Some people prefer pens to be like basketball shoes and be as light as possible, but I think a pen with a little weight helps so I don't have to apply as much downward pressure. Since I'm naturally curious (and it hasn't killed me yet) I went and took apart the pen to see just where the weight was added. I was glad to discover that the tip of the pen, previously a chrome piece of plastic, was replaced with an actual piece of metal. This means that all the extra weight is properly positioned to help you draw easier and smoother.

The InkJoy 700 is clearly positioned as the executive version of the InkJoy series. It throws out almost all ergonomics to give it a slender hourglass figure with a high gloss finish. It has a full chrome plunger instead of a chrome wrapped plunger and then even included a slightly nicer spring in the pen to make sure every click is tight and strong. As nice as the black InkJoy 700 is I recommend that you give the InkJoy 700 in white a look as well. They will look great next to your white iPhone and when you buy the complete pack it comes with 1 red, 1 blue and 2 black pens.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Trace Element Sharpie

One of my most perverse office supply obsessions is the standard Sharpie. If I visit somebody's house or apartment and they don't have any Sharpies I make sure that they receive a gift of Sharpies within a few months. Nothing fancy, just the standard fine tip black Sharpie marker that is readily available for around a dollar.

So it will come as no surprise to you that I took note when Sanford released pens and then liquid pencils under the Sharpie brand name. The other day I noticed that Sharpie is now selling a "Trace Element Certified Marker" and I had to figure out what this new kind of sharpie was. At roughly four times the price of a standard Sharpie the description says that it is great for nuclear energy and aerospace. If anybody says a product is ideal for nukes and astronauts alike I sit up and take notice.

You might be asking yourself, do I need a Trace Element Ink Certified Marker? Well if you have to ask yourself the answer is probably no. The only reason you'll ever need one of these markers is if you'd want to prove without a doubt that something written with this marker was written by the person who says they wrote it.

Here's how it works. The marker's ink contains a very specific chloride signature that only a few other markers in the world contain. Each marker comes with paper work identifying which chloride signature it contains. So if you ever have a question about who wrote something using one of these markers, you can just haul your sample to a laser ablation machine and have it analyzed. If the trace elements of chloride in the sample detected by the machine match the paper work you'll have an excellent idea exactly who wrote it and when it was written.

I'm not an expert in the subject but my quick googling makes it look like Rolls Royce and General Electric both require their technicians to use ink with easily identifiable trace elements when performing work. Does your profession require you to use trace element certified ink? Leave a comment below and let us know.