I picked up a TomBow Airpress 0.7mm ballpoint pen from JetPens to give it a try. The selling point on this pen is to give it a run for the money to a Space Pen. It’s also a true (in my mind) medium point ballpoint pen – 0.7mm – which most pen companies have now come to ignore (when DID 1.0 mm and larger become the norm?). 0.7mm is now considered a “fine point” pen.
I really, really wanted to love this pen. I’m tired of trying to get pens to work in some scenarios – especially ballpoints. And as far as I can tell, the ink system of the pen works as advertised. I wrote with it supposed to. I did about half a draft at a 90 degree angle, and the pen worked fine, where other ballpoints would’ve given out. TomBow’s Airpress is designed to push air through the ink cartridge with every click of the plungers which allows it to write in difficult situations. I have not tried wet paper mostly because I don’t want to… 😎 This pen is refillable.
The Airpress I chose was the green body that’s only available from JetPens. There are other colors available through the TomBow US website, but for more… And here’s where I loved the pen a little less. The barrel is just over 4.75″ long retracted, and just at 5″ with the point extended. That’s on the bubble for me for length to be comfortable in my hand. It’s also on the thick side of being comfortable for me. That might be okay, if it weren’t for the clip.
The clip on its own is AWESOME it’s long with grabby plastic bumps that lets it grip to anything. The clip’s spring is a wide-mouth spring. It will open up more than most clips, so it can secure to thicker objects than a shirt pocket – like a clip board. But when you add an oversized clip (which also acts as a retractor for the point) to a short, thick pen body, there’s not a lot of room to get your fingers comfortable for a long period of time. The plunger is “thumb-sized”. The top is wide, easy to manipulate and has an extra bump out – which again makes it comfortable to use but bulky.
The body is completely plastic. There’s a semi-transparent panel that allows you to watch the Airpress mechanism, which is a nice feature. I am curious as to why the designers made the plunger and the clip out of different shades of lime green, though. Yes, I’m questioning the 3 shades of green in this pen. The body is your “typical” lime green. But the plunger is a very light sage-ish green, while the clip is more of a mint. I understand accent and contrast colors, but aesthetically? I’m not seeing it. These are not seeing it.
Now to the numbers:
1. How does it work? – 1 – it works well. It does actually write in odd places and positions. The ink doesn’t smear. It’s a good solid line with no skips or many clumps.
2. Grip and feel – 0 – the length is almost too short to be comfortable. The diameter is almost too wide for the length. The grip is grooved horizontally, but nothing special.
3. Material – 0.5 it’s plastic. Decent plastic but they put more emphasis into the internal mechanics than the externals.
4. Overall Design – 0.5 Meh. The internal parts are good. Really good. The external parts are not so much. It needs to be at least a half-inch longer to make it an overall good pen for me. As it is, I don’t go to this one much because I have more comfortable pens. I will pick it up for things like working outside, or if I know I’m going to be needing to write when there is no flat surface.
5. Price Point – 0.5 – It’s an OKAY price point for a pen that works on challenging surfaces. This pen runs $6.25 on JetPens. The TomBow USA website has one listed for $10.95 – and it may be more “professional” (I’d go with JetPens). They are cheaper than Space Pens if you need the functionality of a Space Pen but don’t want to spend the money. And they are refillable (in more colors than black) for about $1.00 a piece. So you can get a lot of use out of them if you find them comfortable.