OK, this is not a pen blog, but after reading Amy’s comment on my Liquid Pencil post, I decided to pick up a three-pack of Pentel EnerGel pens.1

Pentel EnerGel pens

Pentel promotes these as “quick drying” and “great for lefties,” an attempt to capitalize on a weakness of other gel pens, particularly the Pilot G2: the tendency to smear. In my tests so far, the EnerGels will smear, but its a very light smear and only if you run your finger across the writing within a second or two. Any delay longer than that and there’s no smearing at all.

This is much better than the G2, which sometimes leaves a glob of ink so big and juicy that I swear it’ll still smear a day later. But it’s not as good as the Uniball Jetstream, which I’ve never been able to smear, even by running my finger across the writing as soon as the pen lifts off the paper.

Smear resistance doesn’t trump every other feature, though, and the EnerGel definitely leaves a darker, more uniformly black line than the Jetstream. Until I can decide on a clear winner, I have both out on my desk and am using whichever happens to be closest.

One thing on the EnerGel I hadn’t seen on any pen before: a protective cap on the tip, presumably to keep the ink from drying out before purchase.

Protective cap on tip

The little ball of plastic is tenacious and won’t just pop off; it took me a couple of tries to get my thumbnail behind it and break it off. And I’ve never seen a pen with directions written on the barrel, either:

Directions for EnerGel pen

I assume the instruction to retract the tip is to protect it from damage (it certainly won’t keep the ink from drying out after the plastic ball is gone). Maybe the ink won’t flow right if the pen is dropped on its tip.

  1. These aren’t exactly what Amy recommended, but they’re a close cousin.