Monday, January 23, 2012

Pentel Superb and Wow Ballpoint Pens

I am grouping these pens into one review because, apart from differences in body design, these pens write very similarly.  In addition, both are standard ballpoint pens produced by Pentel, are made in India, and were included in the Pentel School Essentials Pack.

The Pentel Superb is the black pen, the Pentel Wow the blue.
The Pentel Superb is a 0.7mm ballpoint, with a rather long body and chunky cap.  Overall, it gives the appearance of being a slightly larger than normal pen.  Everything about it is more or less average with nothing that really stands out: clear plastic body and cap, slightly textured and unremarkable grip, and plastic clip on the lid printed with the name of the pen.  One thing that is slightly different about it is that it can be refilled by unscrewing the black piece at the base of the pen rather than by unscrewing the top, which seems to be more normal.

Pentel Superb.  Back view.
The Pentel Wow, in contrast to the Superb, is a small, slender, retractable ballpoint.  Again, it's a fairly average, unremarkable pen in most respects.  The grip on the Wow is substantially shorter than the grip on the Superb, with the result that it is almost useless for the way I hold my pens, as hardly any part of my hand comes into direct contact with the grip.  Although it is not marked on the pen, I am assuming the Wow is also 0.7mm, since it is comparable to the line width of the Superb.

It's the Pentel Wow!
The most notable thing about the Pentel Wow is the retracting mechanism.  As usual, you depress the plunger on the end to write with the pen, but to retract it again you need to press on the clip, which totally confused me the first time I used the pen since I couldn't get it to retract the normal way and I thought the pen was broken.  I am not sure what the purpose of this feature is.  I saw something similar with the clip of the Uni-ball Vision RT, but in that case you lifted the clip up, meaning that as soon as you tried to clip the pen onto something, you retracted the pen.  However, in the case of the Pentel Wow, because you need to press the clip, it is totally possible to clip onto something without the pen retracting.  So just what is it's purpose, apart from as a source of confusion?

Rants aside, the Pentel Superb and Wow ballpoint pens actually write surprisingly well, considering their otherwise average quality.  Although the lines are certainly not crisp like those of a gel pen and there is a certain amount of white streakiness when writing, the pens do not leave little blobs of ink on the page, which is a definite plus for any ballpoint, as I find ink-blobbing to be one of the most annoying things that a pen can do.  Although neither of these pens is the Uni-ball Jetstream, they also write surprisingly smoothly, and I appreciate their fine line.  Although they are 0.7mm, 0.7mm in a ballpoint is more like 0.5mm in a gel or liquid ink pen, so they are ideal for my small handwriting.  Certainly the Pentel Superb and Wow ballpoints are a step above the average Bic.

Overall, the Pentel Superb or the Pentel Wow is an acceptable choice if you're looking for a basic ballpoint and you're not too fussy about the details.  However, while they are okay pens, they're not exactly superb and they didn't make me say wow.

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