When talking about pens, most people have to pick a side: You are either a ballpoint fan or a gel fan. For years, ink pen manufacturers have tried to come up with a “hybrid” pen of sorts that combined the best qualities of both styles. While quite a bit of progress has been made in that area, most hybrid models end of falling a bit short of the goal. The Inkjoy 700RT series from Paper-Mate was one of the latest hybrid attempts, and it didn’t land too far from the mark.
Paper-Mate released the Inkjoy series to the market in 2011, but the 2012 offering features a few slight changes so it’s more a 2nd generation release compared to an entirely new model. Rather than try to create a blend of ballpoint ink and gel ink, Paper-Mate took a different approach. They decided to use existing technology used in creating gel pens and apply that technology to a higher end ballpoint pen. The idea was to create a ballpoint pen that would write nearly as well as a gel pen, without the higher cost and common issues typically associated with gel pens.
Click to see larger image
Although the default barrel color is white with a gray grip, the 700RT is also available in 9 other barrel colors with black, blue or red ink. Custom ink colors are available as well. With the basic white barrel, the ink color is identified by the accent color around the plunger. In the example above, the ink is black. This model offers an ergonomic hourglass shaped barrel for comfort and a rubberized grip surface around the barrel base.
Click to see a larger image
Before getting into the meat and potatoes of the review, it’s import to note a few facts:
#1 – I had this pen for just over a month to review. When evaluating pens for review, I don’t get a dozen and randomly use them as I prefer to be more precise. I take one pen, mark it as mine (so it doesn’t “accidentally” disappear), and then use that single pen during the duration of the evaluation period.
#2- In terms of pen use, I would classify myself as medium to heavy user. While I don’t tend to write for long periods of time, I am constantly doing activities like jotting down notes, ideas, to do’s etc. Physically, I would classify myself as a “hard use” type of person on pens as I’m routinely dropping them, tossing them on my desk, accidentally running them through my washer while attached to a shirt, etc. Let’s put it like this, for one reason or another, I typically go through pens rather quickly.
Now for the good, the bad, and the ugly on the 700RT:
Ergonomics – Overall, I really liked the ergonomics on the 700RT. I found the slightly tacky rubberized grip at the base of the case to be just about the right size for my hand. Not to small and not too large. The grip itself had a slightly tacky feel to it, which I wasn’t sure I’d like initially. However, I found that I actually liked that during periods of longer writing.
Ink – I tend to write very quickly, with several starting and stopping points. I also tend to leave the pen touching the paper as I transition from word to word. While I like gel pens, I find that those writing habits quickly lead to unequal ink flow and smudging. With the 700-RT pen, the ink flows very much like a traditional gel pen, minus the ink pools and smudges. It didn’t write exactly like a gel pen, but was very close. I was also very pleased with the amount of ink that the pen contained. Most ballpoint pens I use are out of ink or are beginning to run low by week 3 or 4. With the Inkjoy, the ink was still going strong past week 4.
Components – One common issue with ballpoints centers around the quality of the components. Pen makers will focus on the quality and delivery efficiency of the ink, but outfit the pen with low end components (barrel, plunger, etc.) that won’t last as long as the ink does. While that approach is somewhat understandable in low cost stick pens, it can be a problem with better quality ballpoint pens as the failure rate can be higher than expected. The inkjoy model I tested seemed to have high quality components as everything help up as expected. In my case, the plunger is usually the first thing to go with ballpoints, but the 700-RT plunger lasted the entire life of the pen.
Click to see a larger image
The pen barrel is composed of a smooth plastic that lacks any real gripping surface besides the rubberized grip located at the bottom of the barrel. During periods of heavy use, I had some light perspriation on my hands that made the barrel hard to grip. There were times during really heavy use, I was forced to stop and both wipe my hands down and wipe the barrel off with a paper towel or napkin. While this isn’t what I would classify as a major issue, it is annoying to have to stop while the creative juices are flowing.
While I became a huge fan of this pen during the testing phase, there was one aspect of it that simply drove me nuts: the fact that no refills currently exist for it. I wouldn’t call this pen a “disposable” model so having refills for it would be a major plus in my book. I would much rather pay for refills than having to fork over more money to purchase another dozen. This was discussed with the Paper-Mate manufacturer rep when they came to visit, and we are hoping that it will be taken under consideration.
Although I haven’t traditionally been a fan of ballpoint pens, I have to admit that the 700-RT Inkjoy had me pleasantly surprised. Does it have areas for improvement? Absolutely, but, that being said, it’s still a good performer for the money involved. My ultimate test for a pen is this: would I spend my $ on it personally? With the 700-RT, I bought 2 dozen to take home, and that speaks volumes.
We carry a number of different Inkjoy 700 models, but the two most popular (and my favorites) are listed below:
Inkjoy 700-RT 2 Pen Package
Inkjoy 700RT Assorted Pack