W.H.Smith is a UK retailer of books, stationery, magazines and much more besides.
A great national chain of shops for fetishists like us, admittedly their prices are higher than online shops but I do believe it's good to patronise them for some things and to check out new stuff before buying.
These pens I bought a long time ago, having only recently got round to using them properly, I was so very excited and intrigued by them but ultimately disappointed, let me explain.
They are unusual in that they are rollerballs that are;
- Refillable and,
- Accept a Euro cartridge, just like a fountain pen.
They are a "mini" variety of pen, more of which later, as you can tell from the size of the lid in relation to the unposted pen length in the above picture, comprising a cartridge accepting barrel and standard style rollerball veined delivery system.
The clip is suitably strong enough to work with any pocket, a nice clear design appeals to me and gives a nice look in general to the pen, as well as aiding viewing of ink levels of course.
The writing nib is very fine, something I like, but of course that is all up to personal taste, the written line is very fine and precise, consistent and great for those who like a very small letter size, ideal for pocket notebooks, or so I first thought.
Although the written line is very fine, it is very easy to control and still lays down an even and useable thickness, a very strong fine line, some fine line pens are too fine to be usable and result in skipping and faintness of letter. (apologies for the cropped scan).
Here we can see the disassembled pen, clearly illustrating the comparable size of lid, barrel and nib/ink delivery section, further highlighting the "mini" size of the pen, another reason why I initially thought the pen would be ideal as a daily "pocketer".
I find them very difficult to write with for one main reason, when the cap is posted to the end of the barrel the length is very comfortable and perfectly acceptable for extended writing or quick notes, what isn't is the behaviour of the cap when posted. it simply will not stay on teh barrel, it doesn't fit far enough down the barrel to retain a secure fitting, the slightest movement will dislodge the cap, sometimes even popping of itself without any encouragement, meaning that it's almost impossible to use (for me) as the barrel without a posted cap means the pen is too short and "falls" into the hand, wobbling about without the bracing against the hand option.
And here is the Euro cartridge accepting nibe section at the business end as it were, pushing onto the cartridge accepting post is very easy and retains cartridges snugly and securely without any danger of leaking or coming loose in normal use and transportation, but there is still a let down coming...
The pen in normal, everyday use and transport is very wet, in that it leaks a lot, not from the actual writing nib, but from the junction of ink delivery veins and surrounding barrel, so much so that after every use the pen leaks ink all over the fingers gripping it, more than is acceptable and tolerable, both pens exhibited this behaviour. This got to such a point that I had to dispose of both pens, sadly, I was very optimistic and excited with these pens.
One last point, W.H.Smith no longer sell these pens and for a long while I didn't see them or anything similar for a long time, until I came across these...
These form Paper-Mate are virtually identical to my eyes, bar the odd design difference and packaging variation, hopefully from an international maker the leaking will not present in these as much as in the test models above, full test and review coming soon.