Posts filed under Pen Reviews

Zebra Sarasa Gel Multi Pen Review

(Jeff Abbott is a regular contributor at The Pen Addict. You can find more from Jeff online at Draft Evolution and Twitter.)

In the world of multi pens, there are probably hundreds (thousands?) of different pen, refill, maker, body, and color options available. For the most part, the multi pen version of your favorite gel or ballpoint will likely be just as good as the regular single refill pen. But, there are still differences, and that's why picking up multi pens can be so much fun.

As a kid, I always treasured my Bic 4-Color because of the versatility of having 4 colors (4!) in a single pen. But, as you probably know, those aren't the best refills. Luckily, there are many, many options out there to fit your needs/wants.

The Zebra Sarasa gel multi pen fits a specific genre for my uses: it's inexpensive, it has gel refills, and it writes really well. In this genre, the Zebra is my absolute favorite (possibly until Pilot decide to offer a Juice multi pen, but who knows if that will happen). With that said, let's get into a bit more detail on this little gem.

Options

Like any good multi pen, the Sarasa has plenty of options for you to choose from. As far as the internals go, you can get a few different configurations (every option is in 0.5mm): - 2 gel and mechanical pencil - 3 gel - 3 gel and mechanical pencil - 4 gel and mechanical pencil

After the internals are chosen, you still have more options for body colors. The colors are slightly different for each configuration.

Feel

To be honest, some multi pens can feel cheap, uncomfortable, or make rattling noises when writing. This isn't the case for the Sarasa. The plastic body has a sturdy build with a nice strong clip — similar to the single refill Sarasa version. There's a nice rubberized grip section that makes writing just a bit more comfortable, and the barrel is a nice width for writing comfortably. I've used this pen for some long note-taking sessions, and it's never been uncomfortable to use.

Oh, and the clip has an auto-retract feature that retracts the refill if you clip it onto something (like a shirt or bag pocket).

The refills

Ah, yes. The refills — one of the most important aspects. If the Sarasa multi pen refills write any differently than the original Sarasa Clips, I can't tell. They're really good.

The ink flow is smooth and consistent, there are never any skips or hard starts, and the lines on the page are super crisp. For me, it's an absolute pleasure to write with. I've never had the ink act in a way that was undesired or unpleasant. Again, it's really good.

Now, these aren't the same refills as you'd find in the Zebra Sharbo X bodies, so just be aware of that going in. As far as I know, the Sarasa refills are proprietary and only fit this one series, but I could be wrong. I only have so many multi pens around to test.

At the end of the day, the quality of the refills for the price make this a stupid-good value. You're spending between 6 and 10 dollars for the pen and refills, which is a bargain. The refills are also inexpensive at just over a buck. Of course, these refills are skinny and won't last anywhere near as long as a regular pen, but that's the price we pay for having options.

Wrap up

I've tried a lot of multi pens, and I've always been impressed and happy with the Sarasa. If you're looking for a 0.5mm gel ink multi pen, I'd highly recommend these.

Posted on March 25, 2015 and filed under Multi Pen, Pen Reviews, Zebra.

Zebra Sharbo X LT3 Review

(Please welcome Susan M. Pigott as the latest addition to the Pen Addict family. Susan is a fountain pen collector, pen and paperholic, photographer, and professor. You can find more of her work at Scribalishess.)

The Zebra Sharbo X LT3 is a brass-body multipen with three interchangeable components. I chose the pen in Cobalt Blue, but you have a choice of other colors for the exterior (black, silver, champagne gold, and azure blue). The pen feels solid in the hand because of the brass construction. It isn't heavy, weighing 22.9 grams with the refills inserted. At only 9.3mm in diameter, it might be a bit thin for those with larger hands.

The pen allows for three components: a mechanical pencil (0.3mm, 0.5mm, or 0.7mm) and two pens or a pen and a stylus. The stylus is only for resistive touch screens, so it won't work with iPads, iPhones, or other capacitive touch screens. Pen refills come in a variety of colors and sizes. You can choose gel inks in 0.3mm, 0.4mm, and 0.5mm or ballpoint refills in 0.7mm and 1.0mm (these are the only sizes I could find for ballpoint refills on JetPens, but I did find a 0.5mm ballpoint refill on another site). Colors include Royal Blue, Carmine Red, Blue Black, Black, Blood Red, Blue, Magenta, Sepia, Mandarin Orange, Evergreen, and Emerald Green in the gel inks. In ballpoints you can also choose Fluorescent Pink or Green. Refills come in small cellophane packages, one refill per package. Gel refills cost $2.75 each, ballpoint refills are $2.65 each, and pencil refills are $5.00 each. If you want the stylus it is $5.00.

One of the benefits of the Zebra Sharbo X system is you can mix sizes for the components in each pen. For instance, you can have a 0.5mm mechanical pencil, a 0.4mm pen, and a 0.3mm pen in different colors.

The Zebra Sharbo X LT3 comes with a small eraser underneath a screw-on cap on the end of the pen. If you do lots of erasures, you may want to leave the cap off (but put it in a safe place because it is small and easy to lose). With such a small eraser, you'll either need to buy refills (pack of 3 for $1.65) or use a larger, separate eraser.

The pen does not come with any pen components, so you'll need to order those along with the pen. Inserting the refills is fairly simple (which is good, since all the instructions are in Japanese). Just unscrew the barrel portion below the Sharbo X logo and push the refills in.

It took me a while to figure out how to get the pencil refill in it takes a bit of force to push it onto its barrel. To select which pen/pencil you want to use, twist the barrel to one of the marks on the outside. When you want to advance the lead, push on the back of the pen with your thumb on the eraser cover. To retract the writing implements, twist the barrel so it is between the exterior marks.

I never use a clip with my pens, but the clip on the Sharbo X is flexible and should work fine on a shirt pocket.

I bought the Zebra Sharbo X LT3 for underlining and making marginal notes in textbooks. I'm not a big fan of highlighters, but I wanted to underline in different colors and make notes using a color code. I use the pencil if I want to erase my marks (for instance, in a library book). The pen works quite well for this purpose. Underlining and making brief marginal notes does not tax the hand. However, while writing this review, I found my hand cramping. This may be due to the pens small barrel size or the fact that I am using 0.3mm pen sizes that make me write smaller than usual. I ordinarily write with fountain pens, so I am accustomed to larger barrels and larger nibs.

The Zebra Sharbo X LT3 is well made as it should be for $49.50. The brass construction is solid. Nothing about this pen body feels cheap.

However, I am very disappointed in the quality of the gel ink refills. They run out or dry out quickly. I've had to discard one refill that refused to write at all. At $2.75 a pop, they aren't inexpensive you could buy a full-sized gel pen for that much. I haven't tried the ballpoint refills yet because they only come in larger sizes, but I may resort to them if the gel refills continue to drive me crazy. My first multipen was the Pilot Hi-Tec C Coleto. That pen is plastic and much cheaper. But the refills worked like a dream and the pen was a bit wider, lighter, and easier to hold. I may wind up going back to that pen in the future even though I didn't like the Coleto's plastic construction.

Conclusion

Pros:

  • Excellent construction, solid pen
  • A selection of pen body colors; I love the Cobalt Blue
  • Easy access to the pen/pencil components
  • Easy to refill

Cons:

  • Refills are fairly expensive
  • Gel ink does not last long and dries out quickly; sometimes it doesn't work at all
  • The thin diameter of the pen caused hand cramping at least for me

The Zebra Sharbo X LT3 is available at JetPens for $49.50. Pen/pencil components are not included with the pen.

Handwritten Review (Paper: Rhodia Dot Pad)

Posted on March 20, 2015 and filed under Pen Reviews, Multi Pen, Sharbo X, Zebra.

Pelikan Souveran M1000 Fountain Pen Review

YES!

That was the answer I gave Massdrop when they asked if I would be interested in reviewing the Pelikan Souveran M1000 fountain pen for their latest pen drop. The M1000 represents the top of the food chain among Pelikan's main line of pens and I am excited to have this opportunity to give you my thoughts on it.

As a company, Pelikan is one of the most respected in the fountain pen industry. Their history traces back over 170 years, and their quality and care in manufacturing shows in every single product they make. I was a fan of Pelikan well prior to receiving the M1000, with models from the 200, 400, and 800 series already in my collection, and a 600 in route as I type this. So yes, I like Pelikans.

Top to bottom: M405, M800, M1000.

Top to bottom: M405, M800, M1000.

While it has the same general design and lineage as other Pelikans in the flock, the M1000 is a completely different bird from any I have used previously. It is largest pen in the series, checking in at 5.74 inches long when capped and 1.16 ounces strong. Posting this pen is a no-go unless you are Andre the Giant, but I don't post so it works for me. I thought it would be too big honestly, but my recent experiences with the M800 Tortoise had me prepared for what was in store.

The barrel is large - let's get that out of the way right now. Too large? I don't think so because it is light enough to not get in the way. It's not feather-light by any stretch, but the overall feel is something Pelikan clearly considered with this pen in giving it great balance and making for a great writing experience.

The nib is the real star of this pen. I have never seen, much less used, a nib this large. It is a thing beauty. And it is different. So different I had to research what exactly it was I was experiencing as I was writing with the M1000 for the first time.

Gold, as most of you well know, is a soft material. With the size, thinness, and length of the tines in a nib this large, there is going to be some give when writing. It is not marketed as a flex nib pen, but you can't help but notice and feel the springiness when writing.

With my writing style (block print) the Medium nib took some getting used to. I had to use very light pressure and let the pen do all of the work. I got used to it quickly, but I can't help but think this nib is better suited for writers with a more flowing cursive style. My preferred nib is hard and firm, and this is the exact opposite.

This large 18k gold nib is a feature of the design. Many sites that sell it mention the difference in feel when comparing the M1000 to the M800 and below. It is a completely new writing experience that's for sure.

Will it fit your needs? If you have ever had the Pelikan M1000 on your wish list you will be hard pressed to find a better price. Massdrop only has 110 of the pens available, and nearly half are gone as I write this. Two barrel choices are avialable - Solid Black and Green Stripe, both with gold trim - and nibs ranging from EF to B.

Head over to Massdrop to check out all of the details. If you have never used Massdrop before, just sign up with your email address and you will be able to check this drop out, as well as the many other items they have for sale.

My thanks to Massdrop for providing this pen to me at no charge for review purposes.

Posted on March 17, 2015 and filed under Fountain Pens, Pelikan, Pen Reviews.

Visconti Opera Typhoon Blue Fountain Pen Review

I picked up the this Visconti Opera Blue Typhoon at last years Atlanta Pen Show. It wasn't on the shopping list - the Visconti Wall Street was the pen I was hunting for - but I couldn't pass up a good deal, especially on a pen as pretty as this.

When you see pictures of the Opera Typhoon online, the first thing you are likely to notice is what they call the mosquito filler. This is what blew my mind well before purchasing this pen. It is a long, skinny, syringe-like apparatus that slides over the nib and section of the pen to help you fill the pen with ink easier. I love this idea because it eliminates some of the mess involved with filling fountain pens, similar to a snorkel filler. That is, when it works.

I gave the mosquito filler a few tries, but it does a poor job of filling the pen to capacity. It performs much worse than the built-in power filler (Visconti's piston mechanism in this pen) does. That's why you won't even see the mosquito filler pictured in this review. Don't buy the Opera Typhoon for that feature alone.

That small downer aside, there are several great reasons to check this pen out. Fist of all, the blue swirl resin barrel is spectacular. Pictures barely do this pen justice - see this one in person if you can because the color variation and depth of the swirl is amazing. It feels great too. There is some heft to it, allowing you to feel the density of the barrel when writing, but it is well balanced so you don't tire out quickly when writing.

Ink drawn into the rear chamber.

Ink drawn into the rear chamber.

The tubular Chromium nib is something I had never experienced before, both in material and design. I was expecting a wet writer based on all of my research on this pen, but found it to write on the dry side of the spectrum. Normally, that is my wheelhouse, but with larger pens and wider nibs (this one is a European fine nib) I want more ink flow. I shipped it off to Shawn Newton for a quick adjustment and it came back writing perfectly.

The way the tubular nib is designed allows you to write at a more vertical angle if that is your style. I used to write that way with gel and ballpoint pens so it was nice to try it out, but I still prefer a slanted, more traditional fountain pen writing angle, which the Typhoon handles perfectly as well.

As pretty as it is, and as cool as the nib is, I think my favorite feature is the double reservoir found in the pen. In a nutshell, there are two chambers in the barrel that can be sealed off from each other, if needed. For example, if you are traveling and are worried about the ink leaking, just point the nib in the air and unscrew the piston on the back of the pen to draw the ink into the rear reservoir. Screw the piston back down tight and that locks the ink into the rear, keeping ink from sitting in the writing chamber and helping prevent leaks when you least expect it. Reverse the process to release ink back into the bottom chamber and the Typhoon is ready to write immediately.

Ink back into the writing chamber.

Ink back into the writing chamber.

The feature list continues with what Visconti calls a "hook safe lock" that keeps the cap securely screwed onto the barrel. Think block threads with a bit more oomph. Visconti's clip design is one of its calling cards with its sleek, curved design and stamped logo. It clamps down firmly but has some travel built into it which allows you to raise it easily if needed.

Only 1000 pieces of this model were made, and with an MSRP of $695 it is a little panic inducing. That said, I see this pen going for much less in various places online. I paid less than $400 for mine, and Chatterly Luxuries currently has it on sale for $350, so that is the ballpark you should be looking to pay.

Would I recommend this pen to anyone looking for an interesting, unique fountain pen to add to their collection? No, I don't think I would, at least not without doing a ton of homework on it first. I enjoy mine, but don't go into this one blindly, and definitely shop around for the right price.

Posted on March 16, 2015 and filed under Fountain Pens, Pen Reviews, Visconti.