Most helpful critical review
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Tested 5 different Chalk markers from different manufacturers. Here are my results and my thoughts.
on December 19, 2014
** Disclaimer: I had posted this review and gotten a *lot* of hatemail, with some users, such as Casey914, stating the "... review to be utterly useless ...". I am puzzled at how this review could not be useful, and would appreciate any constructive suggestions (vs just pure hate) **
My usage scenario: A way to clearly and boldly label black plastic storage bins.
Factors important to me:
* ink: opacity/opaqueness and vibrance/saturation
* ease of priming
* writing smoothness
* ease of use; fluidity of the end-to-end scenario (overall fit and feel of the product)
* ease of erasing
Chalk makers tested:
1. Expo - Brightsticks
2. Chalk This Way - Liquid Chalk Ink Markers
3. Chalk Ink - Chalk Ink 6 mm Chalk Marker
4. SuperChalks - Color Liquid Chalk Marker
5. CraftyCroc - Chalk Markers
** Comparison of markers ink opaqueness and vibrance **
There was no discernible difference between the markers. Refer to the attached image to see what I mean. Furthermore, except for the Expo markers, it felt as if all the markers were made at the same factory. They were just so generic and common, nothing really set themselves apart (except for the Expo).
** Comparison: Ease of priming **
I quantified this with the number of "pumps" it took to start a new marker to start flowing. Here's the method I used in order to be somewhat consistent:
1. Shake marker 20 times
2. On a plastic card, plunge tip in and out 10 times
3. If ink does not flow, recap marker, and repeat #1 and #2.
1. Expo - Brightsticks: 30 pumps
2. Chalk This Way - Liquid Chalk Ink Markers: 200+ pumps. Failed to start.
3. Chalk Ink - Chalk Ink 6 mm Chalk Marker: 40 pumps.
4. SuperChalks - Color Liquid Chalk Marker: 40 pumps.
5. CraftyCroc - Chalk Markers: 20 pumps.
** Comparison: Writing smoothness **
Expo's brightsticks was the only one to stand out as being smoother; the rest were a bit less smooth. Reason? Expo had a much better nib, which felt significantly firmer than the rest of the bunch. This directly plays into the the following objective and subjective factors:
1. Nib durability: all the other marker nibs actually started to *fray* by the time I had written a couple of words! Expo's nib still looked new.
2. Application thickness (aka font size): All the bullet tip nibs were rated at 4mm, yet, as you can see from the test picture, Expo's was much finer/thinner than the other bullet tips.
3. Writing smoothness: Expo's nib glides across a substrate's imperfections. The other marker nibs quickly became soft and mushy, effectively becoming a frayed paintbrush snagging on a rough surface.
Winner: Expo Brightsticks
** Comparison: Ease of use **
A common pain point with these markers, was the effort required to recap consistently without error. Best experience, hands down, were the Expos.
Well engineered features typically go unnoticed and taken for granted. Expo's cap is an excellent case in point.With an Expo brightstick, I can use the marker, and recap. That's all. It requires no thought at all.
Compare this to a poorly engineered cap, such as the CraftyCroc marker cap.
With the CraftyCroc, you have to perfectly align the marker with the cap before pressing them together. Seriously. There's two ways a user easily F*** this up: angle and deviation from the center. If either of those aren't perfectly aligned, then the nib gets jabbed and snagged into crevices on the inside perimeter of the cap. Once in this error state, adding pressure (as you would to click the cap closed) results in a bent and frayed nib.
Think about it. Do you really want a marker, where each time you cap it, you have to consciously break your concentration, bring the marker to eye level, then devote your full attention to deliberately and slowly cap the marker? It's not just annoying, it's more pain than gain, and I would rather use a non cap medium, such as a solid paint marker or a grease pencil instead.
Expo's cap is engineered in a way to give you such a large margin of user error, you don't have to pay attention to the recapping process at all. Seriously. I don't even have to look. I use the marker, guide the cap and marker towards each other, and click, they're securely locked. The two pieces aren't even in my field of view in the process! It's a true, pure, elegant tool, adding minimal, if any, mental distraction and noise to what really matters: the task at hand.
Well done Expo. To whichever team or individual designed the cap, and drove it to ship out as a feature, thank you, so much. I am sure there are other people that have consciously noticed as I have. Please keep on doing what you're doing, it rocks.
Winner: Expo Brightsticks
** Comparison: Ease of erasing **
To erase the markings, I used a spray bottle of deionized water to wet the markings. It was a night and day difference between the inks.
* Expo - Brightsticks: required no scrubbing at all. The ink was completely water soluble, and come off just with a couple of sprays.
* Chalk This Way - Liquid Chalk Ink Markers: required scrubbing, and could not completely get ink off the surface.
* Chalk Ink - Chalk Ink 6 mm Chalk Marker: required scrubbing, and could not completely get ink off the surface.
* SuperChalks - Color Liquid Chalk Marker: required scrubbing, and could not completely get ink off the surface.
* CraftyCroc - Chalk Markers: required scrubbing, and could not completely get ink off the surface.
I've attached a picture of the after results.
** Bottom line conclusion **
Get the Expo brightsticks. They cost the same as the other cheap markers, and you get something engineered at a completely different level (better nib, ease of use, ease of erasing)