Beside Lamy Safari, Pilot 78G is another insanely popular fountain pen for beginner and students. I can totally see why, as it's very affordable ( at 7.45 dollars at Stationery Art, a seller based in Hong Kong) and writes amazingly well. This review would be a little shorter (not saying much since I usually just go on and on...) since there is very few things for me to complain about.
The pen comes with a light plastic body that's glossy and/thus prone to scratch and acts like a fingerprints magnet. The barrel is made of one whole piece of plastic without any hole or opening so one can convert it into an eye-dropper, but you won't be able to see the ink level inside. Despite the lighter weight, it still rests comfortably on my hand and requires little additional force to hold (some people don't like heavier pens but I like how they sits by themselves with the help of gravity).
The brand name is stamped on the secure and easy-to-use clip and there are two gold bands on the lid with Japan printed on (which doesn't get scratch off easily, a design I do like). The pen, especially from a distance looks rather sleek, well-made and...expensive. Of course, until you zoom closer and see the mini scratch, dust and residue...Am I the only one with the hands of a salamander?
This particular pen takes Pilot proprietary cartridge and converter con-20, con-50 (piston filler that costs 5 bucks by itself). The included one is an aerometric converter without a model number. I have seen complain about its low capacity but to me, it holds quite a bit of ink. As long as you immerse the nib in the bottle and give it three good squeeze: The first time to get some ink, the second squeeze pumps out air in the sac so the following squeeze will give you a fully filled bladder.
There are some disadvantages with this type of converter: Beside not being able to see how much ink is inside (during filling or in use), it's can get a little messy (with ink squirt out from the pen) when you are trying to remove the cartridge when it's partially filled. The rubber sac can also lose its elasticity over time. Since I am too cheap to shell out 5 bucks for a converter, on this 7-buck pen, solution is just have some Pilot ink cartridge (it's around a dollar for six pieces) ready and refill those with 30-cent needle/syringe, it's much cleaner that way.
Now to the heart of a fountain pen - the Pilot 78G comes with a "specialty alloy" (aka steel) that's 22K gold plated. The nib is smooth (not buttery but still skates freely on paper), pin-point precise and writes as soon as it's inked. I get a little feedback from the nib and a little bit of line variation but most of the time, it's just a fine and precise writer that's perfect for math/physics/chemistry homework.
The same type of nib is also used in the Prera, Penmanship and Plumix so you can swap them around if you don't mind yanking the whole nib/feed unit out.
Writing sample of 78G Fine Nib with Pilot/Namiki Black in Cartridge - Which got a little thicker with use, but it's still thinner than Lamy Extra Fine though. A little review on the ink: It's a saturated black with a blueish tinge and a seem little watery (not thick and lubricated like the Noodler's) and I am surprised to find that it's also partially waterproof (the page would still be legible when you spill drinks on it but watercolor would be a no-no).
Two things that I don't like is that it feathers on cheaper paper and the ink kind of stinks (if you have sniffed Hero ink, it's the same kind of smell).
The five Pilot Pens that I have (so far...there would definitely be more future purchase) and sorry for the chicken script with the Plumix...Who the heck said that italic nib makes your handwriting look pretty?
Overall: An amazing pen (that writes so much better than Lamy Safari, which is 4x its price and doesn't come with a converter) with an amazing price. Note: If you want to buy from Stationery Art (the shipping for two of these pens would be 2 bucks and 3 if you want tracking) , keep in mind that US custom takes a whole week to process these oversea packages. The seller does process order really quickly though.