How does it feel like to write with the Acroball? Is it comfortable to hold? How does the ink look?
Our editing department purchased Pilot’s ever-popular Acroball, contacted three stationery specialists, and sought to answer the above questions. We also compared it to its rival, the Jetstream. This is what we learned during testing.
What’s So Special about the Pilot Acroball?
The Acroball features Acro Ink, which is patented by Pilot. It’s said that it’s only a fifth as viscous as traditional ink. The nib of the pen basically skates on top of it, allowing for very smooth writing. It holds just as fast as traditional oil-based inks–you can use it to jot down notes or to fill in important documents.
Plus, the design of the pen itself makes it easy to use. The tip comes in medium, fine, and super-fine, and it’s got a grip patterned like a tire that feels comfortable in the hand.
That’s the traditional Acroball. But there’s also the multi-pens “Acroball 3” and “Acroball 3+1”, as well as the classy Acroball 1000. Pilot even threw in some limited-time collaborations, such as their Acro vs. Godzilla line.
Putting the Pilot Acroball to the Test
We teamed up with three stationery specialists and put the Acroball to the test. Specifically, we were looking for the five following factors.
Test ①: Design
Test ②: Grip
Test ③: The Feel of Writing
Test ④: Ink Depth and Color
Test ⑤: Drying Speed
Test ①: Design
Because you can’t help but judge a pen by its barrel.
Nothing to Write Home About… Unless You Want to Warn Your Family Never to Get the See-Through Acroball
We’d say it’s not the prettiest pen in the world, especially when compared to its competitors, the Jetstream or Power Tank. The design is simple–you’ve got “Acroball” and Pilot’s logo on the clip and that’s about it. Not bad, but not that impressive either…
We did make the mistake of ordering a transparent body. You could see the yellow ink stopper through the barrel, and it bothered us. The rubber used for the grip was also not completely opaque. Having all those plastic bits on display actually made the pen feel and look cheaper.
Though, Admittedly, the Clip was Well-Designed and Secure
Okay, but we did like one thing. That gentle curve drawn by the clip of the pen was pretty slick.
The two bump-shaped fasteners beneath the clip were also clever. They made the clip that much more secure, helping the pen hold on to whatever it was attached to–a notebook, bag, shirt pocket… Very convenient for when you’re out and about.
Test ②: Grip
Because you can’t write without holding the pen first.
Rubberized Grip Didn’t Hurt and Didn’t Slip
We’ve seen online reviews claiming that the Acroball’s too thick and different to hold, but when we measured, we found that the grip was only 10 mm in diameter. It was a bit curved, but even at its widest point, it was about 11 mm–that is, the width of most standard pens and pencils.
Plus, that curve helped the grip fit our hands. The tire-like tread kept it from slipping. The rubber was just soft enough to keep the barrel from grinding against or fingers and hurting.
Weight was Well-Balanced and Well-Suited for Hours of Writing
We then perched the pen on a finger, looking for the center of balance. It was pretty much smack dab in the middle.
That told us the pen was going to be easy to control, and we could write for hours with it and not get tired.
Test ③: The Feel of Writing
Because you buy a pen to write with it.
Hold the Pen at ~60° and Don’t Press Too Hard, and You Won’t Have Any Trouble
We wrote with the pen held at three different angles. At 45°, the pen felt scratchy and ink faded in and out. But at 60°, all strokes were of a uniform width and the nib moved smoothly across paper.
At 90°, we got the same smooth performance, but it was hard keeping the pen perpendicular to the page. It’s said that it’s best to write with your pen poised between 60° and 90°, and this held true for the Pilot Acroball.
On a side note, the pen will also scratch if you put too much pressure on it.
Depends on the Paper You’re Using, but Generally Speaking, Not Much Ghosting
We then checked out the flip side of the page we wrote on. There was some ghosting where we pressed down too hard, but overall, things were looking pretty good.
Out of curiosity, we doodled on an even thinner page but, still, very little ghosting. We can’t guarantee that nothing will bleed through, as a lot depends on the quality of the paper you’re using. If you write on flimsy paper, then test the pen in a corner first.
Test ④: Ink Depth and Color
Because even when the pen is gone, the ink remains.
Ink Came out Vivid and Easy to See
The ink was so dark, it was practically popping off the page. All three of our specialists also praised the ink for being “very thick and very black.”
If you’re looking for rich color, then the Acroball is a good choice.
Test ⑤: Drying Speed
Because who likes ink blots on their hands or smears on their page?
Deemed Safe to Highlight
We wrote “my best” on normal notebook paper, then went over it immediately with a highlighter; there was slight smearing. We wrote “my best” again but waited five seconds before highlighting; there was very faint smearing, but not enough to bother us. We then tried the same thing but with a ten second interval; this time, there was no smearing at all.
We doubt there are many people who highlight after every word, so this drying speed should present little issue.
The Final Verdict: We Like How It Writes and the Look of Its Ink. Acroball Gets Our Seal of Approval
Overall, the Pilot Acroball is an excellent pen. It writes smoothly, feels comfortable to hold, comes out vivid, and dries quickly. The barrel’s well-balanced enough for those worried about penmanship, and the ink holds fast enough for important documents.
They’re readily available in America, and you can get one for about 150 yen in Japan (about $1.50). We think it’s well worth the price.
Are There Refills Available?
For all those looking to save money/cut down on waste, the answer is yes. You can get refills in 0.5, 0.7, or 1.0. Just keep in mind that refills for the original Acroball are not compatible with the multi-pens–your Acroball 2s, 3s, or 4s. They have their own separate refills.
The Big Battle: Acroball vs. Jetstream
The Acroball’s greatest rival: the Jetstream. If you’re trying to decide between the two, here’s our take on the situation.
If we’re talking about the look of the ink and the feel of nib on paper, the Jetstream pulled slightly ahead. However, the Acroball had a better grip, which fit our hands like a glove.
So, if you’re looking for a generally well-balanced pen, then get the Jetstream. But if you want something comfortable for long bouts of writing, get the Acroball.
We put the Pilot Acroball to the test. We were impressed by how it wrote, how it felt in the hand, and how the ink looked. Overall, it’s a worthy purchase.
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