Product Type: Bic in Homeware
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Bic Cristal Ball Point Pen
Member Name: tirial
Bic Cristal Ball Point Pen
Advantages: easy to use, cheap, availability, great tool
Disadvantages: Messy when it leaks.
BIC crystal pens are ball-points, easily available everywhere from supermarkets to post offices to webshops. As cheap, disposable, pens, these are what many people will think of as a standard ballpoint.
Each pen has a transparent plastic body, straight for most of it's length but with the last inch before the nip tapering down. The body has a hexagonal cross section to make it easy to hold, but there are no grips or mouldings (making it ideal for anyone who dislikes soft-grips), just the Bic logo and pen size printed in white halfway down the barrel on one side. The nib is plastic, connected to a translucent internal ink reservoir, which makes it easy to see how much ink is left - as you use it up the ink level moves closer to the nib. The nib is gold coloured plastic.
The pens have a detachable plastic lid, and a plastic seal at the end to stop the ink escaping. Both of these are the same colour as the ink in the pen which is a handy guide, but can cause confusion if the lids get accidentally swapped and you forget to check the pen itself! It's fairly tough and resistant to being dropped or knocked, but the case is brittle and can crack if too much pressure is put on it. I've never had one of these crack in my hand, but treading on them is not advised. Because it is plastic, it is useful to use in cold places where a metal bodied pen can be quite uncomfortable to hold, although the ink flow can get a little erratic in really low temperatures, like taking notes outdoors in last year's snow.
They come in a range of ink colours, including black, blue and red, and are often sold in multi-packs making them popular for writers, students, offices and anywhere or anyone that goes through pens in quantity. They are very cheap if bought in bulk - I picked up my last pack of ten for less than £2. The medium, which I usually buy, has a 1mm nib size to give a fine but clear line on the paper.
They take a few strokes on paper to get started but then tend to provide a steady, non-splogy writing experience. Used in damp conditions the ink can run a bit, but otherwise it is good in nearly every environment I have used it in. Towards the end they can get a little erratic, but at that point you can simply get a new one from the pack. The best part about them is that if I am writing leaning on a wall or at an odd angle, the ink flow remains smooth. You can put these in a pen pot, nib upwards, and still get a good writing experience the moment you pull it out, unlike some biros that take warming, shaking, etc. Also it writes well on recycled paper without spreading or clogging, which is useful.
In general the manufacturing quality is high. I have been using these for years and although I have encountered an ocassional duff pen, one that splodges or leaves gaps in writing, these have been few and far between. The one major drawback with these pens that I have found is that every so often one will leak, usually from the nib. The ink inside is thick, viscous, and sticky and will stain most things it comes into contact with. While it comes off hands with hot water, soap and a nailbrush, it is a lot harder to get off clothes and bags, usually requiring a hot wash and stain remover. There's nothing to do with the pen afterwards apart from throw it away. The effects of dealing with this is one reason why the pen has four stars from me.
Cheap, disposable, easy to buy and easy to use, this is a staple of the office for me, and I've got quite a few at home as well. They are easily the best cheap writing tool I've found on the market.
Summary: A staple for the office, affordable, and great for note-taking.