Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Comparison: Micro Tips Pilot Hi-Tec C vs. Uni-Ball Signo DX

This post is a personally-based comparison between Pilot Hi-Tec C (0.3 mm and 0.4 mm) and Uni-Ball Signo DX (0.38 mm).

Pilot Hi-Tec C Price:
JetPens - $3.30 each
Refills - $2.20 each

Uni-ball Signo DX UM-151 Price:
JetPens - $2.50 each
Refills - $1.35 each

Both Pens Have Things In Common!
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- Similar size and weight: Hi-Tec C - 0.40 oz and Signo DX - 0.35 oz
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- Refillable - makes my eco heart feel a little less guilty.

- Low smearing ink - great for lefties! And for anyone who just naturally smears their hands all over their writing (me). Unless you get an ink blob. Which can and will smear.

- Both lines are micro tips!
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- Great for precision work and fine details - the tiny little nib sizes will let you do some magnificent things. Not me though, because I have no artistic talents whatsoever. But hypothetically.

- Ink doesn’t bleed through the paper with these nib sizes.

- Ink doesn’t last very long. Most people I know who use these pens write often or doodle and burn through the ink rather quickly. That’s the price to pay for precision, I guess.

- Writes really nicely on premium paper (Clairefontaine/Rhodia) - although everything writes really nicely on premium paper...

- Doesn’t work on Post-Its. This may not be a bother for some people if they don’t use sticky notes. But it really just scratches on the paper and no ink comes out. Must be the ink + paper coating mixture.
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Top: Pilot Hi-Tec C 0.4 mm Bottom: Uni-ball Signo DX 0.38 mm

Why I’d Pick my Hi-Tec C 0.3 mm & 0.4 mm Pens

- Comes in a large variety of colors! A huge, wonderful, rainbow spectrum to please every picky eyeball! I lovelovelove the colors that are available.
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- This is totally personal, but my writing looks nicer with these pens. When the ink is flowing well, I feel like I have more control over my writing than with the Uni-ball Signo DX 0.38 mm. I think the reason for this is because of the weight of the pen - the Pilot Hi-Tec C aren’t bottom heavy like the Uni-balls when they are capped. This probably seems very nit picky... well... it is nit picky. This is a nit picky comparison of two pens.

- Ink doesn’t bleed once it’s dry.

Why I Want to Strangle my Pilot Hi-Tec C 0.3 mm & 0.4 mm Pens

- Sometimes they’re just scratchy - like when starting up writing after not using it for a little while. And for the life of me, I don’t know how to fix it short of continuing to write until the ink gets going. I’m “forced” to use premium paper (Clairefontaine & Rhodia). I use the term “forced” lightly here... it’s never upsetting to have to use premium paper but say I wanted to write on crappy paper but couldn’t because my pen kept scratching across it and collecting tiny, itty bitty little paper fibers until it was so plugged with them that it just refused to drop any more ink?? What would I do then?

- The tip of the smaller sizes (0.3 mm) feels breakable. If you look at it closely, it looks like it could break, too, although I’ve never broken it. Yet. But I should be confident in my writing utensil, right??

- No grip in the Hi-Tec C line. A pretty grip to match the ink color would be so awesome. The colors are so gorgeous that a matching grip along with the colors on the cap and ends would look seriously soooo good!!! But aside from no grip, they’re tough to hang on to for extensive writing. Or if you get sweaty hands (what?? It could happen!), your grip will just slip on the plastic. There are ridged lines in the plastic which actually dig into my fingers when I am holding the pen tightly for a lot of writing.

- I have experienced ink blobs with 0.4 mm and 0.5 mm nibs. Kind of annoying when you’re trying to make a perfect line.

- The ink doesn’t flow smoothly right away. It takes a little bit of writing to get the ink going and it’s so nice to write when it’s flowing. When I’m doing writing samples, it’s a real nuisance because I have to keep uncapping and recapping the pen and scribbling on some scrap paper to get the ink moving. It has taken me awhile to break in my new 0.3 mm nibs and the occasional 0.4 mm. I hate that when it’s breaking in, I have to write with the pen straight up. It’s uncomfortable and weird and drives me insane.

 Why I’d Pick my Uni-ball Signo DX 0.38 mm Pens

- Sturdy tip that can withstand a lot of heavy handed writing. I’m very confident with this tip. I never worry that I’ll bend it or break it.

- Somehow the design of the tip prevents scratchy writing and ink skipping (which plagues me with the Pilot Hi-Tec C line), even on poorer quality papers. Which means it always writes like a dream on premium paper.

- Both the pen and the refills are cheaper than the Pilot Hi-Tec C. Significantly. Which adds up over time. When you buy giant amounts of pens *coughs innocently*

- Easier to hold than the Pilot Hi-Tec Cs are, especially after extensive writing; the grip is helpful.

- A solid feeling pen that still boasts an impressive micro tip.

Why I Want to Strangle my Uni-ball Signo DX 0.38 mm Pens

- Not enough colors! Such a wonderful pen and so few colors available! How disappointing. That’s not true. There are quite a few colors available but they could expand so much more and add some more shades. I would love it.

- The grip! The grip ends before the metal nib so there’s a bit of plastic barrel in between... which happens to be right where my fingers sit.

- I don’t like the weight when the pen is capped. The bottom is too heavy and it throws off my writing, especially with smaller nib sizes. I often write without the cap on the back.

- I have experienced ink blobs (although fewer than with the Hi-Tec Cs).

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Left: Pilot Hi-Tec C 0.4 mm Right: Uni-ball Signo DX 0.38 mm
It does appear that I don’t like the Hi-Tec Cs very much, but that’s not true! I really do like them. I am a huge fan of the colors and despite the downsides I mentioned, I still love them. The Signo DXs are also great. Although they have comparable nib sizes and ink qualities, they’re such different pens that I have a hard time admitting they’re completely interchangeable. In conclusion, I’d say, just get both.
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