Equology by Quo Vadis Sapa X 2010 Weekly Planner

SapaX cover

Up for review today is the Equology by Quo Vadis Sapa X Weekly Planner for 2010. This is a pocket planner designed for minimal environmental impact. I received this planner as a sample from Exaclair, Inc. Thanks!  (I am not otherwise affiliated with Exaclair)

First Impressions:

This little planner just looks and feels great. It's the perfect size for slipping into a pocket, purse, or bag.

Appearance:

sapax cover2

The cover is an attractive clay sort of red-brown. According to the label, it's made of 83% recycled materials it feels great in hand, but the feel is kind of hard to describe. The material feels like it's some sort of rubber or vinyl but it feels soft in the hand; very reminiscent of leather. On the top right corner of the cover appears the Equology logo and on the bottom right corner is the Quo Vadis logo. The pages are printed in grey and teal. This is a fantastic color palette.

Construction/ Dimensions/ Design:

As one would expect from Quo Vadis, this planner seems quite sturdy and durable. The binding is sown. There aren't any heavy end papers. There is just an addition page of the same paper used throughout the planner which is partially glued to the paper cover of the planner insert.  The size of this journal is perfect for carrying: 5.5" in length, 3.75" in width, and .5" in depth. Very compact. It's also fairly light. It lays flat fairly well. It will stay open to the page I've turned it to.

The planner begins with the coversheet, a page for personal information, and a 2010 calendar with weeks beginning on Monday. After this comes the actual planning section.

sapa x planner

As you can see in the photo. This planner is laid out with a week on two pages: Mon-Wed on page 1 and Thurs-Sun on Page 2. Each day gives you about 1.25" to write in. Each day section also has hours of the day listed on either side of the page so that you can write in appointments: 8am-1pm on the left and 2pm to 7pm on the right. The month is written at the top center of each page, a calendar of the current month appears on the bottom right corner of page 1, and "Quo Vadis" is very discreetly printed on the bottom left corner of page two.

sapax notes

At the end of each months worth of planner pages are two blank pages for notes. The planner ends with a section of maps, a phone book, and a 2011 calendar.

And of course each page has a tear away corner which is very functional for keep your place in the planner. This is one of my favorite design features.

I own one other Quo Vadis planner (the Septanote, review forthcoming) and one of their strengths is their functional and practical designs. This format is quite practical, although I have one quibble. The times that appear on the outer edges of each day section are just not functional for me. There isn't enough space to really use the times unless you have very small writing. I'll like just write down my appointment and notes as if these times were not present.

Paper:

sapax writing sample

Now, this is perhaps the most important aspect for us fountain pen users. This paper is off-white leaning toward grey which I love. It's also 100% recycled and seems to be about 64g in weight. It is not the most fountain pen friendly paper combination. Most us know to be very wary of any paper that says 100% recycled. This usually means the paper will bleed and feather like crazy. HOWEVER, I have to tell you this paper was not terrible.

sapax bleeding

Bleeding and show through is an issue, but feathering is not. One thing that seems to work well to control the bleeding is to write with your nib upside down. When I do that I don't get bleeding. Now this also means that if you are writing with extra fine or finer nibs with average to dry flow you won't have many issues with the paper.

All other writing instruments perform quite well on this paper. I tested a gel pen, roll ball, ball point, felt tip and pencil. While there was some show through there was no bleeding and the show through was not bad enough to impede use of the planner.

Cost: The Writer's Bloc has this planner priced at $16.25 which is pricey, as one might expect for a higher end planner.

Conclusion:

I generally like this pocket planner and I will probably carry it, but a really wish this planner had better paper like the Clairefontaine 90g paper. Yes, I know it would increase the weight and thickness of this pocket planner but I, and probably most other fountain pen users, would accept those side effects so long as it meant a pocket sized planner that is completely fountain pen friendly! Now THAT would be a planner I'd really ENJOY carrying and using everyday!

As is, this makes a great pocket planner for any gel pen, roller ball, ball point, or pencil users out there.

Beaker

Private Reserve Naples Blue

I have to admit that when I first bought this color I was a bit disappointed. I had been looking for a darker color. I'd looked at various scans and thought this was darker. Well, it's not, but over time I've actually come to really like this color.

I'd describe this color as a medium Turquoise color. There isn't any green in the color. it's dark enough to read comfortably. Darker than Skrip Peacock Blue, Visconti Turquoise, and MB Turquoise.

It behaves pretty well in pens.
No feathering on good papers and only minimal on cheap paper
No bleeding on good papers and only minimal on cheap paper
The flow and lubrication are absolutely excellent!
Shading is really good especially on premium slightly coated papers (think Clairefontaine)
While this ink is not waterproof (as noted on the card) it is water resistant to a degree. Certainly resistant enough to survive a spill.

Now the only drawback I see to this ink is that it is VERY slow drying on anything but cheap copy paper. On this card it took 25 seconds. I believe this is probably the slowest drying ink I have! So, lefties beware. There is a huge potential for smearing with this ink.

All in all a great turquoise.

PR Naples Blue Card

No Affil.

NOTE: I have a few pens for sale on FPN. Take a look here if you are interested. :)

Paperchase Flexi Notebook, A6 "Lisa Floral"

PC Flexi Cover



Up for review today is a Paperchase journal. This is the lined A6 (roughly 5x6.5) Flexi Notebook. I use this little guy as my daily journal. I've been using it yearly everyday since August.

First Impressions

Well, I went to Borders looking for an interesting journal that I could use for my everyday journaling. My Borders has a particularly large selection of Paperchase products, but not much else. I picked this one because it was on sale not because I was drawn to it.

Appearance

The cover is an attractive cloth cover. There are lots of different covers and sizes available. This one is a floral pattern, but there are some with geometric shapes, polka dots, birds, etc. For those interested in something more simple, there is also a black cover and I think a couple other solid color variants.



Construction / Dimensions

PC Flexi Height

As stated the journal is A6 so it's about 5 x 6.5. It is a thick little notebook at about 7/8" thick. This journal is very well made. The spine of this journal is rounded. The signatures are sown and glued. The end papers are a very sturdy cardstock in a coordinating color (navy blue for mine). The cover is flexible which might be an issue for some. It's annoying at times, but generally not too big a problem. The cover is also well attached. This journal has a very solid and tight feel to it. Now there are a few issues. The biggest issue for me is that this journal does not lay flat EVER. You have to hold it down which can be a pain in the butt. The other issue has to do with the corners. This journal's corners are at 90° angles. Thus, they are prone to getting beat up and bent up with wear. Also, since the cover is cloth, there is a strong possibility that the fabric will rip at the corners. Mine is already showing some rubbing at the corners. Now, this is not a big issue for me because my journal usually stays by my bed. But, if you carry yours around you might want to keep this in mind.

PC Flexi Open

PC Flexi Spine

Paper Quality

PC Flexi Close Up

I have an email out to Paperchase for information about the weight, composition, and place of manufacture for the paper. Once I have a response I will update this review. What I can say now is that the paper is VERY fountain pen friendly. This is by far the best aspect of this journal. I haven't had any issues with feathering, bleeding, or even show through. Amazon says this is 100g paper and i can believe it. This paper is pretty thick. It easily takes every my wettest nibs with no problems at all. (The notable exception to this is ND Polar Blue, but that is to be expected. I haven't met a paper yet that can hold that one.) The paper is smooth, but not as smooth as something like Clairefontaine. My nibs perform flawlessly on this paper. No noticeable drag or tooth. This journal is lined although I did see an unlined version in a smaller size. The rule is pretty wide at 5/16 inches. The lines are a light grey. I don't normally like lines, but these are not intrusive.

PC Flexi Inks

Cost

Paperchase is a UK based company. They retail these journals through Borders. The retail cost is $12.99, but I was able to get this journal on sale for $6. Considering the fact that this is an imported product, this price seems pretty fair though I'd advocate getting it on sale rather than paying full price.

Conclusion (8/10, B/B+)

I really like this journal. The paper is excellent. I've run many of my inks through it without problems. Even still, I'm not sure I'll buy one of these again. The fact that the journal does not lay flat is a PIA. If you can get over that you'd probably love this journal.

PC Flexi Length

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Diamine Umber

Despite the fact that I love, love, LOVE blue-greens I'm not such a fan of green inks. I tried this ink on a whim. If you didn't know already, when you order three 30ml bottles of ink from Diamine directly they send you a box of assorted ink cartridges. I'd seen everyone raving about how much they loved Diamine Umber so I checked and there was an Umber cartridge in the box. I popped it in a pen and fell in love with it immediately. I promptly ordered an 80ml bottle.

The ink:
It's a subdued dark green ink. Definitely not vibrant or light.
No feathering or bleed through on cheap or high quality paper.
The flow is good and so is the lubrication.
This ink dries very quickly in cheap and high quality papers.
The shading is quite good with ink. It is subtle, but pleasant.
Now, if you are looking for something water resistant this ink is not the one for you. If you even sneeze at the page, be ready to lose some legibility.

All  and all, this is a well behaved and pleasing dark green. I really like it.

This photo is from another write up I did of this ink on bagasse paper .Diamine Umber review

This is a close up from a different angle Umber Close Up

NOTE: The picture posted is not the one used to write this post. The image posted was the result of an initial test with a cartridge. This post was written after a while of using the bottled ink. This explains some of the difference in opinion between the two. The image is the right color. The note card didn't photograph well, so it was completely the wrong color. SO, please only consider the picture for how it shows off the ink color not for the information. Sorry.

Items to be reviewed...

As I has sitting here thinking about what to post today I realized that I had lots of things that need reviewing, but I didn't know what all they were. So, here is a comprehensive list of items I need to review. This is a much larger list than I realized!

You know, part of discovering fountain pens is also discovering a world of new products that you can use with them. When I was a rollerball user, I never had to think about which papers would work best with my nibs. Now, it's actually something I enjoy. I really like writing on good paper with good pens filled with good ink.

Anyway, I've got my work cut out for me, but I really want to get my thoughts recorded about these products.

Papers/Journals/Pads:

Rhodia N°18 pad, grid ruled and blank
Clairefontaine Puriture Spiral bound pad A5, line ruled
Staples Bagasse: 5x7 pad, college and wide rule filler paper, lined comp books
Neenah, Old Council Tree Bond Paper
Orginial Crown Mill, Bordered Correspondence Cards
Crane's 90gsm ivory paper
HP LaserJet 24# paper
Quo Vadis Septanote planner
Paperchase, A6 Flexi Lined Notebook
*
Rhodia N°16 pad, Blank
Exacompta Basics Sketchbook with Madeira cover A5, Blank
Rhodia N°10, Lined
Quo Vadis Equology SapaX Weekly Planner

Inks:
Visconti Blue
Diamine Jet Black
Diamine Poppy Red
Diamine Damson
Noodlers Polar Blue (gift from a friend)
Private Reserve Naples Blue

Pens:
Stipula Vedo (gift from a friend)
Sheaffer's Admiral Snorkel
Sheaffer's Touchdown Desk Pen
Sheaffer's Cadet TipDip
Sheaffer's OS Flat Top
Sheaffer's 825 Vacuum-Fil
Esterbrook: J/SJ

Other:
Levenger Circa System

*Those in italic are free samples from Exaclair. Everything else I purchased on my own with my own money and out of my own curiosity.



Updated 06-02-10.

Visconti Bourdeaux

I bought this ink on a whim because Swisher Pens was having a sale on them. At $6 a bottle I could hardly pass it up.

This is a quite well-behaved ink. I use this ink for grading student papers because it plays well with really poor cheap paper.
Feathering and bleed through are minimal on cheap papers and non-existent on higher quality papers.
The flow is quite generous, but the lubrication leaves something to be desired. Your pen definitely feels dry writing with this ink. Using a wet writer with a smooth nib will really help to alleviate this problem.
The drying time is quite good at around 5 seconds on all papers.
Shading is present, but not in your face. I good cursive Italic or Stub nib would probably show the most shading.
This ink is not at all waterproof. If you spill something on this ink you will likely lose most of what you have written.

Vis Bourdeaux Card

Pilot Vanishing Point in Blue Carbonesque

This is one of my favorite pens in my accumulation. It is also one of the more popular pens in pendom. Reviews abound on nearly every website and nearly every blog. I decided to do this review because this is truly a great pen not just a gimmick. I hope you find this somewhat useful though I freely admit that there isn't much new to say about this great pen.


Pilot Vanishing Point

First Impressions
I can’t really give an accurate account of my first impressions with this pen. I saw it in person several times before I finally decided to buy one. I do remember thinking 1. this pen is heavy and 2. that clip *is* in a weird place isn’t it?

Appearance
I have to tell you, this is not the sexiest fountain pen on the block. It looks like an oversized ballpoint pen! (OK that was harsh.) I just don’t care for the appearance. BUT, I do like the Blue Carbonesque finish. It is very attractive.

Design/Size/Weight

VP open

The best thing about the design is the retractable nib. It just functions well. This is really my favorite part of the pen. You can operate it with one hand and you don’t have to keep track of a cap. This mechanism especially comes in handy for taking notes in a meeting or in class. HIGHLY functional. But, there is one slight drawback. Ink can get caught behind the trap door. As a result, you will need to rinse out the pen body occasionally. A tampered pipette works great for this purpose. [Note: Make sure you let the barrel air dry before reassembling the pen.]

VP open profile

Now about the infamous clip. There is no two ways about it, either you love the clip or you hate it. If you have a “schoolhouse” tripod grip, the clip should not get in the way. If you hold your pen any other way you might want to “try before you buy.” The clip doesn’t bother me at all. In fact, I actually find it helpful.

The size of the pen is average at 5 1/2”. The barrel diameter is about 1/2”. It’s a comfortable size.

Many people have complained about the weight of this pen. It is about 35 grams (with ink and converter), but it feels much heavier. This is largely because of its metal construction. It is a dense pen to be sure, but not at all uncomfortable so far as I’m concerned. I use this pen to take notes in a 3 hour seminar and suffer no fatigue. YMMV

Nib

VP Full Nib

This little itty bitty nib is 18k gold. This is standard in the US, but older models and LE models can be had with rhodium nibs. My pen is a M. It writes a true medium line width, so don’t expect the “Asian nibs are a size smaller” mantra to apply here. [Note: From what I understand the fine nib does actually run finer than a western fine and the broad nib does actually run finer than the western broad, but this does not apply to the medium for whatever reason.]

VP nib

The nib writes just like I like it. The flow is VERY generous. The nib is smooth with just a hint of feedback. It’s just enough so that you know you’re writing, but not enough to make you think the nib is scratchy or toothy. [Note: If you want something ultra smooth that will “glide” effortlessly across the page you might to buy this pen from one of the famous nibmeisters and have them tune it for you.]

Filling System
Well, the filling system is cartridge / converter. Nothing to shout home about. It works exactly how it’s supposed to. I just prefer something different. One drawback to this system is that Pilot uses a proprietary cartridge/converter, so you have to use their stuff.

This pen comes with a CON-50 piston converter installed. It holds a little less than 1ml of ink. A CON-20 Squeeze converter will also fit. Many people refill Pilot cartridges with their preferred ink because this increases the ink capacity. Personally, I just use the CON-50. It’s simpler for me.

Cost and Value
I paid significantly less than MSRP for this pen at Oscar Braun Pens and would highly recommend them. They offer fast service at an affordable rate. At the $100 I paid for this pen I consider it to be a fantastic value for the money. The convenience factor is unparalleled, the construction is solid, and the nib is excellent.

Conclusion (9/10, A-)

This is an excellent pen. I recommended it so long as you try it first to make sure the clip is not an issue for you. So far as I’m concerned, this is one of those instances where a gimmick product is actually worth the hype.

I use this pen mostly for note taking. This pen just works every time without fail.

VP Closed profile

No Affil.

Diamine Steel Blue

I have to start by saying that this is my absolute favorite fountain pen ink PERIOD. I have really gotten into blue-greens since I decided I'd only use fountain pens (to the extent to which that is possible). My favorite color is actually purple but for some reason I just can't get enough of writing in blue-greens. Pretty soon I'm going to do a blue-green show down. So far I have Dia Steel Blue and samples of CdA Caribbean Seas and Iroshijuku Ku-Jaku. All I need is a sample of PR Blue Suede and I'm in business.

Anyway, let's get down to the review:

Diamine Steel Blue is very well behaved in all respects.
I have not experienced feathering or bleed through with this ink.
The flow is EXCELLENT! I mean it is perfect in almost every way. It's not too wet or too dry. The lubrication is pretty good too. You definitely won't have any problems with "dry nib" using this ink.
The drying time is pretty quick for an ink this saturated. Drying time averages about 5 seconds across all my papers.
Shading is pretty good, but this ink really shines on high quality slightly glossy papers like Clairefontaine and Rhodia. Do not expect shading on par with the Caran d'Ache or Herbin inks, but it is certainly present and beautiful.
Now the only down side, if you can indeed call it that, is that this ink is not waterproof at all. It's hardly even water resistant. If you spill something on this ink you will like lose most if not all of the writing.

This ink comes in 80 ml and 30ml bottles. (Buyer Beware: the 30ml bottles are plastic and have narrow openings. Your larger pens will not fit.)

In a nutshell, fabulous ink, fabulous properties, and not too expensive either. This one gets two thumbs WAY up. :)

Dia Steel Blue Card

This is repost of an image I used in my Business Monarch review. It shows this ink off quite nicely. The pen used for this was a Stipula Vedo with medium nib.

businessmonarchclose

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Laban Mento

Laban Mento Angled

Well, in keeping with my Autumn theme I thought I'd review my Laban Mento (Medium) in Autumn Flake. I hope you all find this useful.

First Impressions
Literally, my first impression of this pen was ooooooOOOOOOOooooooo! This pen is huge, huge I say... and shiny. After I settled down from the shock of it all, I took a closer look at it.

Appearance
This pen is very pleasing to the eye. It's torpedo shape is appealing, but, the trim is a bit cheap looking. The clip is simple and straight with a 'L'; at the top. The cap band is equally simple with 'Laban' written across it.

The acrylic used for this pen is very nice. It's striking, provides great depth of color, and is highly polished. I have the Autumn Flake pattern. The background is an iridescent golden caramel color flaked with bits of red and black.

Design/Size/Weight

Laban Mento

The design is simple and flows well. As I mentioned above, the pen is a torpedo or cigar shape. This makes it quite comfortable in the hand. I normally prefer pens with a squarer feel to them, but I like this style very much. [Note: Other reviews mention an issue with the nib drying out because the cap is not air tight. I received this pen second hand, and the previous owner had already sealed the cap using the nail polish method described else where. I'm not having any issues with the nib drying out.]

The size is really what sets with pen apart. The only thing I can compare it to is a Mont Blanc 149. Several weeks ago I was at a pen store and got a chance to see and hold a Mont Blanc Diplomat. That is indeed a massive pen. The Laban feels nearly as large and perhaps a bit longer. This pen is about 6" capped and nearly 6 3/4" with the cap posted. The nib is large at about 7/8", but not as large as the MB nib. I have the diameter of the barrel at around 5/8" at its widest point. The large size of this pen makes it very comfortable to hold and write with for long periods of time.

Laban Mento Posted

This pen is not very heavy. I have the weight at just about 35 grams (including converter and ink). It is very comfortable to hold.

Nib

Laban Mento nib

My pen has a fine steel nib. The line width is actually a bit finer than a western fine. With nibs this fine (and in pens this inexpensive) you kind of expect the nib to be a bit scratchy. Well, it isn't toothy or scratchy, but it does give a bit of feedback while writing. I prefer a little feedback, but this is just a bit too much for my liking. It gets the job done, but I'd prefer something a touch smoother.

I'm considering getting a medium nib for it. I have a hunch that a the Medium would be smooth like I like it. Reviews elsewhere have commented on the smoothness of the medium. I believe Todd at isellpens sells the nibs separately.

Filling System
Well... it's a cartridge/converter system. It works just as it's supposed to, but this is not my favorite filling system. One benefit is that it takes regular international cartridges instead of some obscure proprietary cartridges. More than likely I will just use the supplied converter.

This pen would make a great ED if it wasn't for that small hole at the end of the barrel and the metal threads. I suppose if you find a way to plug the hole you could use it that way, but I wouldn't bother.

Cost and Value
You can find these new online for around $70. I got this one from a fellow FPN member at about half that price. At $35 this pen is an excellent value for the money. You get a pleasing design with several beautiful acrylics to choose from. In addition, you get a pen that is quite huge and comfortable to hold.

Conclusion (8/10, B/B+)
All in all, I'm happy with this pen and can definitely see it getting lots of use. I'd definitely recommend this pen to anyone who is looking for a huge pen at a modest price tag; however, I would not pay over $50 for this pen unless it is really calling your name.

Mento and PROC Card


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