Saturday, 28 March 2015

JINHAO X750 (with HERO 233 ink) = CHEAP and SOLID

In this post I will be discussing the value of a relatively inexpensive pen; the JINHAO X750.

(1) Personal Background on how I got this Pen: 

I got this pen very early on in my "fountain pen obsession". At the time, I was devouring blog posts, youtube videos and googling fanatically anything fountain pen related. I first got to know about JINHAO pens from SBREBrown (see specifically his X750 review here and also his website here).

I knew JINHAO pens in general to therefore be cheap and yet solidly built fountain pens, which were in a way knock-offs or imitations of their more expensive western counterparts (see SBREBrown's Fountain Pen Shoot-Out: Mont Blanc 149 vs JINHAO 159 here, inktronics' blogpost here and obviously just by looking at the JINHAO 599, picture below).

(JINHAO 599 - kind of looks like a Lamy Safari)

Yet, the appeal to me was that JINHAO pens were still proudly Chinese and even more proudly "made in China". I love that about JINHAO pens; their unabashedly Chinese origin and pride. As if defiantly saying: "Yes, I am cheap. Yes, I am made in China. But I still offer a certain level of class and quality that far exceeds the price you paid. I am, therefore, undeniably worth every cent!".

The circumstances of my buying it was more of a "chanced-encounter" rather than a hunting expedition as it is with most of the pens in my collection. On that fateful day, I happened to be in Changi Airport Terminal 3 and I just so happened to have a little bit of spare time and I just happened to walk into a Du Yi Bookshop (www.duyi.com.sg), which as it also happens, is (as far as I know) the only Bookshop in Singapore that carries JINHAO fountain pens.

I still remember the sense of excitement I felt when I saw it for the first time. After having read so much about it online, it literally felt like I had just bumped into some "mid-level" Asian movie star or Canto-pop singer. I was, in a sense, star struck and I just had to buy it.

(2) Review Proper:



(2.1) Price: I paid S$13.90 for the X750 (glossy black with silver trim finishes - see picture above).  Du Yi Bookshop currently only sells the glossy black version that I got, they do however carry the JINHAO 601 in the gold (S$19.90), glossy blue (S$13.90) and the black / grey marble (S$13.90) finishes as well. All of which comes with a free converter. Also, not every Du Yi Bookshop branch carries the same stock, I do however recommend visiting the Du Yi Bookshop in Chinatown Point. From personal experience, that branch seems to carry the most Fountain Pen related stuff (e.g. HERO Inks and JINHAO Cartridges) and is right next to Daiso too (where you can even pick up a S$2.00 fountain pen!).

You can definitely get the X750 cheaper online and in a lot more colour variations, such as Silver/Aluminium, Lava Red, White and Matte Black (the white version seems particularly sexy, see picture below. See also my search results for the X750 on eBay here). They typically cost about S$4.00 - S$5.00 including free international shipping (from Hong Kong).

(picture from eBay - note the free converter too)


I paid S$2.30 for the 60ml bottle of HERO 233 Ink (Blue), which is probably the cheapest ink you can find in Singapore! (see picture below)

(photo credit: penpaperinkletter.com, see his very detailed review of the HERO inks here)

(2.2) Problems I encountered using this pen: 

NEVER STORE THE PEN WITH THE NIB POINTING DOWNWARDS:

After getting the pen, I inked it up straight away (with Pelikan 4001 Brilliant Black) and brought the pen to work where I had accidentally left it nib down in my pen holder. My X750 then started to leak, and progressively started to fill the cap up with several drops of ink. The next time I uncapped the X750, the ink shot out from the cap and splattered all over my desk (and my work shirt!).

LESSON LEARNT.

I started looking around online again and realised some people were having the same problem too (see Michael Heenan's comment on the Goulet Pens Blog here). My own opinion on the matter is that the JINHAO X750 has a very BIG nib and to keep up with the nib, the feed has to be very wet. Upon closer inspection of the X750 feed, I realised that the Feed Channel on the X750 was very wide and therefore allows for very aggressive capillary action (see picture below), in effect, drawing a lot of ink down from the converter and into the nib/feed. Therefore, when stored nib-pointing downwards, and with the help of gravity, it would not be surprising if the pen "dumped its converter contents into the cap" (in Michael's words).


The cap of the JINHAO X750 snaps on to the barrel with a satisfying "CLACK" when it is closed too, this gives the cap a tight seal over the nib/feed and helps to prevent it from drying out easily. However, as I've read, this tight seal can exacerbate the ink leakage because it creates a vacuum in the cap itself, and when the cap is removed (forcibly, which is normal given how tight the cap fits onto the barrel) it actually causes the ink to get sucked out from the feed and to explode everywhere.

POOR QUALITY CONTROL:

I personally did not have an issue with this and I found my pen to be well made and a joy to write with (as I had done with my Muji and Franklin Covey pens), I took out the feed and gave it a good wash and scrubbing (with an old toothbrush) to make sure that there was no dust or grease-residue on the feed or in the feed channel before I started using the X750.

But some people (see this FPN Thread) have experienced some serious quality control issues which have rendered the pen unusable (broken barrel or nib/feed sections) and/or has allowed for a terrible writing experience (misaligned tines etc).

See also PenInkcillin's review of the JINHAO X750 here, where the author experienced a dry nib which caused the pen to skip a lot.

Again, I have to reiterate that I did not encounter such problems at all. To be frank, I didn't mind paying more to purchase the pen from Du Yi Bookshop, rather than ordering it online. At least this way, I actually got to "feel" the pen before putting down any money for it. I spent some time studying the pen (writing without ink, disassembling it and re-assembling it again, and trying to look at the tines with my naked eye), and got what I believed to be the best made X750 from the lot on display that day (however, when you buy online, it all depends on your "luck of the draw").

(3) IMPRESSIONS / WRITING EXPERIENCE:

(3.1) The Aesthetics:
I generally love the feel of the pen in my hand when I write. As I've mentioned before, I've got slightly larger hands and I really like pens with a bit of "weight" and heft to it (though for some people that might be an issue). I also found the shape and finishes of the pen to be "classic" and attractive, and honestly, you can't go wrong when your pen actually tries to look like a Mont Blanc Meisterstuck (see picture below).

(Mont Blanc Meisterstuck Classique Platinum)

(JINHAO X750)

I do however take issue with the "weird-ugly-looking-tribal-tattoo-esque" engraving on the end of the cap (see picture below).

(would have been better without it)

Another thing I found quite "weird" was the "18Kgp" engraving on the nib of the JINHAO X750 (see picture below). The nib is definitely not "18 karat gold-plated", so why state so? Clearly this must be a unique brand of Chinese-humour (that only Chinese people, me included, would get) or a very poor attempt at passing-off and a poorer attempt at misrepresentation.  To give them (JINHAO) the benefit of doubt, its probably the former reason, right?

(honestly, the other engravings on the nib do look quite cool!)

(3.2) The Writing Experience:
I found the pen wrote smoothly, without any skipping whatsoever, and with the HERO 233 ink which I've got in my X750 at the moment, the overall writing experience can be summed up simply as: VERY WET. I would therefore recommend loading it with a drier ink as the HERO 233 ink tends to be very diluted (which would also explain why it is so cheap). The HERO ink also has a very strong "inky" smell (imagine the smell of black Chinese water colour paint).

In the close-up writing sample (see picture below), you can see that the ink tends to "feather" or bleed into the paper ever-so slightly (also depending on what kind of paper you use - i.e. how fibrous the paper is) and therefore giving a very broad line even for a Medium nib.


But in comparison to another Pen/Ink combination (in the picture below I used a M-nib Platinum Preppy, inked-up with Pelikan 4001 Royal Blue) you can see that the JINHAO clearly lays down a wetter line (and broader due to the feathering).

("Feathering" - is when the ink seeps and bleeds into the paper, and 
allows for a broader line than what was initially laid down in the writing 
process. See this FPN thread for more information)

(4) CONCLUSION:

I genuinely like the JINHAO X750 a lot, I think it looks great, writes well and performs up to par for the price I paid (even if it was 3 times what I could have probably got for it on eBay). However, because of the problem that I had with the leaking of the nib (when not stored upright), I honestly do not dare take the pen out of the office, much less use it as my "EDC" pen; for fear that it would explode with ink again when I next uncap it. 

So if you're looking for a "workhorse pen" that you can throw into your bag or stick into your pocket, I wouldn't recommend the JINHAO X750, as it is clearly meant for more sedentary "storage-and-use"; either when at home or in the office.

The JINHAO X750 did, however, give me the confidence to then go onto eBay and order the JINHAO 159 (which is still in the process of being shipped to me).

All-in-all, I would say, for the price you pay, you could easily go online (or to Du Yi Bookshop) and get yourself one just for the thrill of trying it out. If you like it (as I did), GREAT! If you don't, you can toss it in the bin without too much heartbreak or damage to your wallet.

5 comments:

  1. Great review.. I have also ordered several fountain pens and can't wait to receive them. I have been searching for HERO ink (cos it's cheap and good). Thanks again for the info.

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    1. Thank you! Glad you enjoyed the post and the info =)

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  2. Greetings from Indonesia.
    That's a great review. I am pretty confident that it is not a mistake to get some Jinhaos (although I have to buy them online) and start collecting them. My package (Jinhao X250 and a Hero) will come in several days, and I can't wait to try them.

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    Replies
    1. Hey Fuad! Thank you for your compliment =)

      Sorry for the late reply, have you already gotten hold of your Jinhao fountain pens? If so, please do update me on how they are writing for you!

      Anyway, hope you are having a good experience with them and are enjoying the wonderful world of fountain pen writing (especially with your cheap and value-for-money Jinhaos!).

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  3. Where can i buy the jinhao 3D pens in singapore? I have iy a few,days here so cannot buy online.

    ReplyDelete