What’s better than a very fine and smooth ballpoint pen? 4 ball pens in one barrel in 4 different colours, of course! We found these 4-in-1 pens to be quite magical when we were kids. We tested the Hauser 4-in-1 four colour multi pen to see if we still feel that way. Can you put 4 good quality pens in one body? Can the sticky ball point pen compete in the world of modern gel pens for art and drawing? Is there any such thing as too big a pocket clip on a Hauser pen? Watch the video to learn the answers to these and other mysteries.
Reviewing Hauser 4 in 1 Ballpoint Pen
Vishal: Hello and welcome to Stationery Test Drive where every week we check out cool and fun and simple but delightful pieces of stationery. I’m Vishal.
Samir: I’m Samir.
Minjal: This is Minjal and like Vishal said we’re testing a very cool and fun stationery object which is the Hauser 4 in 1, four colour ball pen.
Vishal: With German technology and simply perfect and I think that’s just the review, okay goodbye! The Hauser Germany 4 in 1 ball pen is Made in India, with German technology and we don’t really know much about Hauser themselves. We’ve covered them before on the show.
Samir: Yes, we covered them, with one of our favorite cheap fountain pens, the Hauser INX Jazz Fountain Pen. And yes it’s the same company, it’s manufactured in India by Flair Pens. Hauser is supposed to be a German brand since the 1930s, but yes there isn’t a lot of historical information about it.
Vishal: This is one of those cases where a company somewhere in the world picks up a brand that’s old and maybe not really in business anymore, isn’t it?
Samir: Yeah, it is likely. That’s what happened to Reynolds in some ways.
Vishal: I mean honestly I don’t care who these people are, their pens are pretty damn great. We had this experience with the INX Jazz and we have this experience now with the Hauser 4 in 1. Now the first time I think I saw a 4 in 1 pen, I must have been five or six years old and it just blew my mind.
Samir: Yeah! I mean in some ways it still blows my mind. How do those four refills come out from the same receptacle and not get jammed.
Vishal: And and you know things used to get jammed you would almost as a kid try to jam everything together and they’ve certainly improved the way these. Maybe newer materials, newer plastics, more flexible things. This is a joy to use. It’s on the Rhodia Pad which we just did an episode on if you have missed that one.
So in some ways we’re cheating by using a really smooth pen on a really smooth paper. But even on other papers, because on test drive what we do is we test out, the three of us, we are artists and calligraphers and designers and illustrators. And this is my test drive with the 4 in 1 Hauser. I see I keep wanting to say Hauser IX Jazz because that’s kind of melted into my brain now.
Samir: Yes, maybe they should just change all their pens to Hauser INX Jazz!
Illustration with Hauser 4 in 1 Ballpoint Pen
Vishal: I mean it is like jazz. It kind of makes you want to do free-flowing, free-form jazzy things. And that’s kind of what I did. I separated, of course, I had to try each of the pens separately. And I came up with this kind of quartet that’s I guess in some ways you can almost call it animated, if I had to be so bold and presumptuous.
Samir: 4 Vishal’s for the price of 1?
Vishal: I’m priceless! Please there is no price here, come on! But yes, that aside, again this is just so much fun to use, so smooth, really good for just noodling around. And I did like a very basic pencil thing which I rubbed out later because really it just helps me to put my proportions down on a page without going too crazy.
But yeah, other than that it was mostly done with this pen. You can see there’s just a bunch of noodly lines. I don’t know, maybe Samir you’ll be able to tell us better if this is any good at precise line work? It kind of just flows so well, that even if you get it for nothing else, you should get one of these just to noodle and doodle and do all kinds of things because you have 4 in 1, and it’s got a really nice clip and that’s really cool.
Samir: Yes, I mean that’s a bold choice, to have a clip that’s just that ostentatious and unnecessary and gorgeous.
Vishal: Yeah! But the good thing is, it not only fits on pant pockets and shirt pockets also. But I’m gushing and I’m getting out of control. Samir you did something with more control.
Flower Drawing with Hauser 4 in 1 Ballpoint Pen
Samir: I did something with more control and less control but mostly like you I just had a lot of fun with this.
Vishal: See now that is exactly what you need 4 in for.
Samir: Yeah, I mean I wanted to do something that was very rendered because I’ve really enjoyed using ball pens in the past to do fairly rendered portraits. Yeah, so I’ve used mostly a single color ball pen before to do fairly rendered portraits of people.
And just having the ability to switch between four colors at will. I wanted to try something that let me use the four colors best and this scene kind of came to mind that would you know cover the black, the blue, the green and the red. This was just a lot of fun to use..
I think the thing that I can say about it is that it is the least tedious pen that I have ever used. Because it just kind of as you said it, you can do that sort of noodly stuff very easily, the pen just kind of glides over the surface. And this is a fairly normal smooth cartridge paper, nothing fancy.
Samir & Vishal: Not even as smooth or fancy as a Rhodia Pad.
Samir: This is something much more generic and simple. So the way it glides over it, the way you’re able to kind of shade it in just kind of scribbly bits, the way a ball pen let’s you do which a gel pen doesn’t. I mean that’s the whole point why you use a ball pen over a gel pen.
Vishal: We should talk about ball pens versus gel pens, we’ve covered both.
Samir: We have covered both, we have one into some of the history of it there are differences, major differences. But what I found with this pen and trying to do this piece is that I was able to do random scribbly bits, but also fairly structured kind of cross-hatching. And it was smooth at both of them.
Vishal: And I don’t think there doesn’t seem to be like a lot of pilling and a lot of those little bobbles of ink, balls of ink that gets stuck on the page.
Samir: That does happen but I think that’s just inherent to the way ball pens work.
Vishal: It is, but it’s much less pronounced than let’s say in the Reynolds 045, which we loved even though it had some of these issues.
Samir: And I think the difference in the Reynolds and this one is not actually one of quality as far as the ink or anything is concerned. It’s that this is a much finer ball pen than I have ever used before.
Difference between Gel Pens vs Ballpoint Pens
Vishal: Yes, in order to fit 4 barrels and 4 inks, 4 ball pens essentially refills we call them but they have the entire mechanism. But yeah they’re different from gel pens how exactly? I mean I know ball pens have a ball.
Samir: So both ball pens and gel pens have a ball because gel pens happened much later. Gel pens were only invented in 1984. I think ball pens are almost a century older than gel pens.
Vishal: Ball pens are Boomers and gel pens are Millennials, for all the Gen Z people out there.
Samir: I mean I’m sure most Millennials think Boomers are a century older than them but that’s another discussion. Ball pens are based on an oil base or a fatty acid base with a dye coloring medium. And gel pens are a pigment coloring medium which is what makes them more permanent in some cases but with a water base. So they kind of use very different materials as far as the actual ink is concerned.
Abstract Art with Hauser 4 in 1 Ballpoint Pen
Vishal: Well, Minjal who is the resident calligrapher of us has done something extremely controlled and even more measured and even more structured and here it is in all its glory!
Samir: And that is lovely. I don’t know if the density of this shows up on camera.
Minjal: There is a Korean-American artist called Il Lee, and he does these ballpoint abstractions. They’re basically huge canvas-sized paintings that he does only with ball pens. When you see his work, it is dense to the point where it is like a dark color on one edge which then kind of tapers off into lighter shades.
I didn’t have the patience, he would spend months on a painting. I spent a couple of hours, but we’ve done 35-36 episodes, I’ve not had so much fun using any stationery object, maybe the Reynolds, as much as I’ve had with the Hauser. I’m such a big fan of ballpoint pens now.
And Hauser and Reynolds they’re both manufactured by Flair Pens in India and there is something about the ink that they use! These are 4 pens, there are 4 refills inside and it is still really light. I mean you can just go over it for hours and your shoulders are not going to hurt, your fingers are not going to hurt and you have so much fun at the end of it.
Vishal: Yeah that was always an issue that I had with ball pens that you were pressing and you were kind of fighting against it to even just get a regular line out of it.
Minjal: Did you guys have a favorite color? The green was my favorite in the 4.
Vishal: I do like how minty the green is I will say that.
Samir: Also I think because we’re just not used to having green in a very sort of seemingly boring looking pen like this, it just stands out to us all the much more.
Vishal: I mean I do actually like the black. Black again is the kind of thing that we default to, so you think that’s just going to be something I don’t enjoy using. But the line quality I got out of the black is something that I quite enjoyed. It does not look like a ball pen sometimes.
Minjal: The black felt like a gel pen?
Vishal: Yeah! you’re able to get line weights out of it in single passes that are unusual.
Ball Bearings used in Ballpoint Pens
Samir: I think what’s happened is, obviously ball pens were around for decades, and the the size of the ball that they started with was fairly large. The initial ball pens in the early 20th century would have been 1 mm thick.
Vishal: I think we covered this in the Reynold’s episode and please check that one out, it’s one of our early ones, but it’s a good one. And I think you said that ball pens basically started off as leather marking tools, they were large balls!
Samir: Yes, exactly and even the first sort of hit ball pen that Reynolds made back in the 1940s was actually using surplus military ball bearings as the ball, so it was still fairly large, it was like 1 mm. Also whereas as technology has gotten much more precise, I don’t know if you can measure these with any normal measuring instrument.
Vishal: Certainly not the standard ruler that we’ll have at home. So it’s much smaller, possibly the actual tip of it looks like a millimeter wide at most.
Samir: I think what’s happened is that gel pens came in the 80s, refined a lot of things about the ball pen because of the kind of ink they were using and maybe some of that technology has now been pushed back into ball pens which is why we’re getting things which are a lot more precise than they used to be.
Minjal: Do we know how much this costs?
Vishal: This one we got for the princely sum of 30 Rupees, which is 50 cents or less? 30 or 40 cents?
Minjal: Because I know that the BIC Pens also are not that cheap. While the BIC is fairly common in the States I believe, they’re certainly not as economical.
Vishal: And yes we have the advantage that this is made in India where we are. You probably have something similar wherever you are in the world. The ball pen is ubiquitous, the 4 in 1 ball pen is in some ways less ubiquitous but still easy enough to get.
We would suggest getting one from wherever you are in the world and trying them out because clearly even though we first saw them now decades ago they have continued to improve, they’ve continued to be great things.
Samir: I think the comment we have on this is very much like we’ve had on the Hauser INX Jazz, which is that when we were growing up these things were more difficult to come across and the quality at the cheap end was not that great, whether it’s a fountain pen or now a ball pen.
But things have obviously gotten so much better technology-wise that even the lower than a 30 Rupee pen is still very much the lower end in most of the world. In fact we have found, which we have not tested extensively, a 50 Rupee fountain pen.
Writing with Hauser 4 in 1 Ballpoint Pen – Review
Vishal: Wow, so we should try that out and see if that’s any good. Any closing thoughts other than, did anyone try this for actually writing?
Minjal: I did write a fair bit with it. I have to say I didn’t enjoy the writing experience too much.
Vishal: Okay, is it too smooth for writing?
Minjal: You know the usual problems you have with ball pens, where there’ll be a little ink that is smudging, ink flow is a little patchy, I had those problems with writing. But none of those problems when you’re doing abstract patterns.
Vishal: The other problem I used to have at least with ballpoint pens is because of that resistance they’re not really great unless you’re writing running hand, and I don’t have good running hand.
Samir: They they don’t do good start and stop kind of writing.
Vishal: Yeah, because we write block letters mostly.
Samir: And I think what’s happened is that ball pens were kind of the only choice other than fountain pens as a writing instrument when they started. Gel pens were obviously a huge improvement on the writing front and now I think people like us appreciate what is technically an older thing, the ball pen, for artistic reasons rather than the writing part. Maybe gel pens are kind of a simpler writing instrument for now.
Vishal: Yeah, we have not taken or made enough notes to really verify that. We should at some point.
Samir: Because the gel pens that we did cover, things like the Rorito, we did use it more as an artistic thing.
Vishal: Yeah but I think in some ways that is the ethos of our show – Stationery Test Drive. There are plenty of other shows where people specifically look at pens like this for exam-writing or daily office writing and you know please check those guys out or those people out. I’m sure they have a better handle on how these will work or the mileage quite literally that you can get out of something like this. We have been very satisfied with the mileage of this on our test drive. It’s the Hauser 4 in 1, four color ball pen with German technology. It’s not called the INX Jazz, please watch our episode on the INX Jazz because that was also really fun.
But we will get back to scouting out interesting, cheap, fun things like this as we do every week I hope. And I hope that you will join us at the links on screen as well as subscribe to the Inky Memo newsletter where there are other stories of stationery and history and sometimes both of them together. Until next time I am Vishal.
Samir: I am Samir.
Minjal: This is Minjal.
Vishal: And 4 is always better than 1!