Fountain Pen Review: Parker Vector

Vector

It is unlikely that the humble ‘nasi ayam’ (‘chicken rice’) will ever win any culinary awards in the known universe at any time in the foreseeable future. However, this does not mean its a vile rice dish that would make the uninitiated cringe in horror. On the contrary, this dish is so good and wholesome that it is deeply entrenched in the Malaysian psyche. If it were ever to be made illegal (hypothetically speaking, of course), I won’t be surprised to see hyped-up protest marches being organised in Putrajaya and a million self-styled ‘SOPO’ bloggers working furiously on their keyboards crying, “FOUL!”.

What makes the ‘nasi ayam’ so special is not because it is sophisticated, refined or aesthetically off-the-charts. However, it is special because it is readily available, fast, affordable and dependably satisfying. It scores nicely in the areas that matter.

So what has ‘nasi ayam’ got to do with the ubiquitous Parker Vector? Well, if the Vector was a dish, it’ll be none other than the ever-popular ‘nasi ayam’. If you are looking for something that hits the spot in the fastest, cheapest and most dependable way, you can’t go wrong with a Vector.

The Vector is a slender pen. Capped, it is 13.1 cm long and has a barrel diameter of 1 cm. While I am quite happy with the length (most Malaysians can comfortably write with the Vector unposted i.e. without sticking the cap onto the end of the pen), I am not so hot about its 1 cm girth. Maybe its because – just like a woman’s breasts – I prefer to feel a little more of it in my hands when I go to work. Then again, this is just a matter of personal preference. Even with its meagre 1 cm barrel diameter, there is plenty to work with and it writes just fine even if it is on the slender side.

The Vector has a steel nib. Naturally it is stiff with very little or no flexing at all. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The hard steel nib ensures years of very durable service. But don’t expect the Vector to write with that ‘springy’ feel that more expensive pens offer. If you are looking at no-nonsense performance, the Vector is right up your alley. Again, a stiff nib isn’t the necessarily the mark of a lower quality pen. Steel nibbed pens may be cheaper than gold nibbed ones. But this does not mean that they will not write just as well. Moreover, you can be assured that they will last longer because steel is much harder than gold. Where durability is concerned, the adage “The harder, the better” truly does apply.

Finally, the ink filling mechanism is the plunger system. Pull the plunger up, the resulting vacuum draws ink into the reservoir. It is simple and effective. Perhaps not as efficient as the piston system offered by German-made pens like Pelikan and Montblanc, the Vector’s plunger is more than adequate to ensure hassle-free inking of your pen.

The Vector is a no-nonsense pen that is affordable, available and can prove to be a pleasure to write with. It does its job reasonably well, with no fuss or fanfare. It is a no-frills reliable workhorse – not exactly utilitarian but not exacly heirloom material either. Thus, it is the ideal pen for anyone who wants dependable writing instrument that will last and last. Equally at home in the classroom or in the office, the Vector will get the job done reasonably well every time.

Just because the Vector is the ‘nasi ayam’ of the pen world, this doesn’t mean that it is not a quality instrument. It is. And it fills a niche that no other pen can within this price range.

The Vector is a good ‘starter’ fountain pen. Just don’t it expect it to have the ‘bling-factor’ of a Montblanc.

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20 thoughts on “Fountain Pen Review: Parker Vector

  1. Pak Tuo:
    But that guy is about spinning ball-point pens, bro! Awesome, nevertheless.

    JT:
    Yep, I guess not many people actually write fountain pen reviews. But to your credit, even fewer people read them! Thanks, maam.

  2. Digitalpix88

    Thanks, bro. Glad you enjoyed the review. Fountain pens are fascinating, at least, they are for me. I have also been told that my fascination for fountain pens is simply because they are powerful phallic symbols. Hmm… Regardless. To me, fountain pens cock rock!

  3. What passion I detected here. Such a joy to read. Now I see Parker with a different light..ha ha. Montblanc definitely is bling, uber bling. I received a pair for one of my birthday presents and everytime I whipped any one out to write anything, I suddenly felt rich..LOL!

  4. Hi Ruby:

    Glad u enjoyed the review. You are right, Montblancs are really jewellery masquerading as pens.

    Yes. Whipping one of them babies out does make us feel rich… and also makes anyone within a 50m radius feel that we are rich, too!

    Passionate about Parkers? Me? Wait till you read my pen review on Pelikans…

  5. Personally, I have a green marble-ized Parker rollerball that I’ve had for about 15 years. I LOVE it. My son recently (inadvertently) broke it. Its been successfully repaired but I don’t let him forget what he did!
    Oh, yeah…since this is something you will likely have and use for decades, go with a major brand so repairs down the road aren’t a problem. Fountain pens need regular servicing to clean the well of old, dried ink. Oh, one other thing…if you get a fountain pen, don’t let anyone else use it. The nib will conform to the angle and pressure you use when you write. If you let other use it, I mean regularly, you won’t be happy with it anymore.
    As for Pelikans, the M-800 model is next to perfection πŸ™‚

  6. Hi Lesia,

    Thanks for your comments. Yes, I think Pelikans are at the top of the fountain pen foodchain, too (regardless of what Montblanc might think). I haven’t personally owned the M800 but plan on acquiring one pretty soon. Right now, my primary pen is the Pelikan M200 (demonstrator). Keep in touch!

  7. I had lost my Parker Vector twice or may be it was stolen from my desk. Now looking a new one and it’s very hard to find one in Kuantan, Pahang 😦 My favourite Vector is the steel color casing with medium nib.

  8. Sorry to hear about the loss of your Vectors. They are hard to find now; not only in Kuantan but anywhere else, too.

    Hey, I was MRSM, too: Seremban 1975 to 1979. Nice to meet you petaminda.

  9. My first fountain pen at primary school was a Vector – it was a compulsory part of the lessons where we practised our “join-up” handwriting *shudders*

    I’ve actually still got it, nearly ten years on but I’ve since then progressed onto ugly biros and Japanese gels

    Steph

    These Vectors are great. I just wish they were a bit more durable. The plunger has a tendency to dry-up and go hard – rendering the whole converter useless. But of course, this only happens after maybe five years or so.

    But the Pelikan M200 is a beautiful pen you may want to consider should you want to chuck the biros and Japanese gels aside. The M200 wil cost maybe the equivalent of 4 Vectors but hey are well worth it, I should think.

    Thanks for stopping by, Steph

  10. Nice review. The Vector was my first fountain pen when I was a kid. As an adult I still use it for school, work, and personal writing. It takes ink from the bottle or cartridge. The pen is no high-end pen, but does just as good a job as a Montblanc or Pelikan or Waterman.

    Tonydent84

    Yes, sir! The Vector is a wonderful workhorse

  11. Hey, nice article. Really enjoyed it ! I was wondering how much would this pen cost in KL? Would really appreciate it if u would let me know πŸ™‚ thanks.

    Carma

    Vectors are going for about RM40 each (plastic barrel). But I saw the metal barrel models costing about RM250. My take on this? Go for the plastic body.

  12. I know, I have 3 Vectors kept with me, 1 normal, one steel and one Gold Clip Edition. What I have noticed is that the Parker Gold Clip has a soother and longer tip, not to mention sleeker trim. Check it out, you might find it somewhere (it was limited edition, so it would be a little hard).

    Sunny

    The Gold Clip variant is hard to find. But I suspect you are spot on about its performance: the price differential is to great for it not to be

  13. Truth is that even though the price difference is there (the pen is over 2 times more expensive) but it is a pleasure to use, the Gold Clip having a flexible nib. The regular steel and Vectors are good too, but have rougher tips, not the ‘glide’ the GC has. Only the GC has it, even the regular steel is a loser in front of it. I suggest searching for the pen, as the Steel GC is truly one of the best pens I’ve ever used.

  14. Montblancs are not ALWAYS bling… in fact, I had a REALLY bad time with Montblanc, personally speaking. Their pens were not all that great, and the service was always less than satisfying. That’s what made me switch to Parker and Sheaffer, and am satisfied with my NOS Sonnet and 337 Prelude now! πŸ˜€

  15. i own a Vector and I noticed that when my son tried to write with it, not even a whole word but only a line, the pen simply stopped writing normally!Funny but it wrote when the tip was upside down, to my embarrassment! I felt the nib got damaged by the way my son used it. And also to my surprise, the parker saleslady told me that the tip was damaged!!! But after a dip in really hot water, the nib started to function again. You are right in saying that NO ONE should even try to write with someone else’s fountain pen. Things happen.

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