OfficeMax recently reached out to several bloggers to try out their lastest updates to the TUL product line and I am fourtunate to be able to sample their newest offerings.
I have a long and enjoyable history with the TUL gel ink pen from Office Max but admittedly didn't come about it on my own. In the early days of the blog a reader sent me one to try out, and despite my hesitancy surrounding store-branded goods I came away impressed.
Over the years I tried out a few different models of the TUL, landing on the 0.5 mm Needle Point Gel as my favorite. It is a smooth writer and I love the pitch black gel ink. It is comparable to the Pentel EnerGel, and that is high praise in my book. My only minor gripe with the original TUL gel is that the grip was no great shakes. Hmmm, I wonder if that changed in the latest release?
The four pens I was sent to test out were the TUL Marker Pen, TUL Rollerball, TUL Ballpoint, and the TUL Gel. I am familiar with and have used all but the Marker Pen in the past and can safely say that the three pens I have used have no discernable change in performance, both good and bad. I remain a fan of the Gel, am indifferent on the Rollerball, and dislike the ballpoint. The Marker Pen was a pleasant surprise.
Let's start with the positives. The TUL Gel grip and barrel have been upgraded greatly. I really like the extended grip length and the removal of the slick-feeling perf design. The mostly black color is also a visual upgrade over the previous version. The model I reviewed was the 0.7mm blue ink version and was as smooth as ever. Bonus: the 0.5mm Needle version is part of the new lineup as well.
The TUL Marker is a net new addition as far as I can tell. They had a permanent marker version previously but I don't believe a standard marker pen like this. As popular as the Sharpie Pen has been this was a no-brainer, right? OfficeMax did a nice job here. The lines are sharp and the ink doesn't bleed or run at all. Durability hasn't been tested but I see no early signs of wear. The only downside? They stuck the old, funky grip on it. The Rollerball was blessed with that grip too.
Speaking of the Rollerball, it is a perfectly fine pen, it's just not my style. This pen would do well in the office supply cabinet for mass consumption, but if you are looking for nice, clean, fine lines this is not the pen for you. Like its competitor the Uni-ball Vision, that's just the nature of the ink. Liquid ink is inky. And it bleeds. And as fast as I write it is hard to keep ahead of the pooling. Great barrel design though.
And finally, my nemesis, the Ballpoint. The original TUL Ballpoint was one of the worst pens I have ever reviewed. The issue was not the ink so much but rather the barrel design/material. The new model corrects all of the original design flaws, but still, the 1.0 mm tip and ink don't cut it for me. The darkness of the black ink is nice but, as with many similar ballpoint pens, it is too messy. The ink pools at the tip and that ends up transferring to the page every few words. That puts the TUL Ballpoint right in line with nearly every other ballpoint out there, but when you can get superior performance from hybrid ballpoint ink pens like the Uni-ball Jetstream, that pushes the TUL down the list. (Check out Mary's review for an alternate opinion.)
The new TUL lineup from OfficeMax is an improvement across the board, albeit not equally across each model. It is nice to see Office Max viewing this product line as a serious competitor and I appreciate them sending me these samples to review.
Check back later this week when I will be giving away a similar set of TUL pens straight from Office Max.
View all sizes of this photo on Flickr.
Disclaimer: I received the TUL products mentioned in this post from OfficeMax in order to facilitate my review. The items featured in this giveaway are also provided by OfficeMax and will be sent to the winner directly. Opinions expressed in this post are 100% my own. I have not been compensated for this post in any other way.