Sailor are best known for their rather wonderful gold-nibbed pens but an increasing number of their more affordable steel-nibbed pens are becoming available outside Japan. The Hi-Ace Neo is about affordable as a fountain pen can get, coming in at under a tenner. Is it any good?
I was able to get this pen at a discount thanks to Cult Pens’ support of the site. These are my own honest opinions.
Price: £8.40 (UK) $16.50 (USA)
Nib options: steel, fine only
Barrel options: red, blue, green or black
Filling system: Sailor cartridge/converter (converter not supplied)
Size: 1.1cm diameter; 12.4cm unposted, 15cm posted
The Hi-Ace Neo (where do these names come from?) is available in four different colours, all with a black section, but with only a fine nib. It’s a Japanese fine which means it’s narrower than most European extra-fine nibs. The nib on my pen was pretty smooth (considering how fine it is) and had a good flow. I was quite impressed.
The pen itself doesn’t try to disguise its budget nature. It looks like a cheap pen and the hard plastic feels cheap in the hand, too. However, it’s light and it’s a reasonable length and so doesn’t feel out of balance (posted or not) and is fairly comfortable to write with.
The clip is fairly strong. The cap pushes on to close and to post with a satisfying click.
Sailor have their own sized cartridges and converters. A converter, which isn’t included, costs almost as much as the pen but cartridges are reasonably affordable.
The only other pen I’ve tried at this price with a nib this fine is the Platinum Carbon. (The Platinum Preppy’s nib isn’t as fine and the Pilot Metropolitan is a lot pricier here.) That pen has a really great nib but is very much a desk pen due to its length. This is a much more practical pen for every day use.
Good very fine nib
Can’t hide its budget nature
Proprietary cartridge/converter system adds to cost