After much delay I finally got my hands on the Paper Mate version of the ink cartridge roller ball. I posted a while ago about a W.H.Smiths version and its disappointments here: http://pensetc.blogspot.com/2013/04/whsmith-euro-cartridge-mini-rollerball.html. Lets see what Paper MAte have managed to do with their version.
At first glance the construction is virtually identical to the inferior (in my opinion) W.H.Smith's version, but once the top is removed (a very reassuring) and the barrel unscrewed the difference can be felt immediately. Barrel has a very reassuring tightness to it and long screw action to attach/detach. this is not coming loose. Surprisingly the pocket clip is also very firm, which first impressions would lead me to believe it will not stand up to much use, but so far its proved to be very robust.
The pen in capped configuration really is very compact, roughly 5 cm's long, very pocket friendly. a nice tactile and comfortable weight to hold and carry.Nothing particularly striking about its appearance, other than the size and the cartridge refill aspect, it will not draw attention in use especially, but it's a nice one to have just for the fountain pen experience in a roller ball form factor.
Especially if you have a favourite cartridge only ink.
Here we can see the pen breaks down to 3 roughly equal parts; cap, barrel and nib section.
Here we can see better the long screw to attach nib section to barrel, as you can see, in comparison to the pen over all length it a large percentage of the pen, very reassuring construction points. As can be seen, the lid is longer than the barrel, which causes some issues, more on this later .
And now the issues, as can be seen the cap posted pen is not much longer than the capped pen. This is the main problem, strangely enough I don't think the cap sits low enough on the pen when posted. This results in the pen cap coming loose during writing, very easily, and when this happens the pen is to short (for my hands) to rest against the join of thumb and forefinger.
Which all results in a constant fiddle to stabilize a wobbly and wandering pen, just like the W.H.Smith's version.
So taking into account these similar issues does this point to a design problem and flaw in these mini roller ball/cartridge pens? I would hope not as I really like the concept, I do think a simple redesign and indeed a full size pen would be ideal for this concept.
A nice surprise is the inclusion of 8 standard euro cartridges with the two pens, 6 in the box and one in each pen, not bad value for £0.99, though it would have been nice to maybe get some colour variations instead, perhaps 4 of each colour. I also wonder if these pens would be ok to use with registrars ink or pigment ink, for drawing and document signing etc. Perhaps there is an experiment i need to conduct.
Below is the standard writing test, I think it writes very much like a fountain pen, purely down to the ink, no smudge test this time as it's all down to your ink choice.