Posts filed under Uni-Ball

The Uni-ball Signo UM-151 Gel Pen Review

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

The road to pen addict status can be a long and windy one, but it has to start somewhere. For me, it all started with a Uni-ball Signo UM-151. This was the first gel ink pen that I purchased after being introduced to the world of pens that I never knew existed. Up until this point, I was limited to the standard selections found at big-box retailers. The 0.38mm tip on the UM-151 was astounding, and there was no turning back for me.

What makes the UM-151 special? For me, it's all about that refill. The refill that goes in the UM-151 is exceptionally smooth and consistent. Even today, it's still my favorite gel refill in the 0.38mm size. The color is bold, the lines are crisp and clean, they start without any issues, and the writing experience is smooth (even for a 0.38mm tip). I've used 0.5mm refills from other makers that aren't as smooth as this refill. I don't know much about engineering pens, but that seems like a major feat to me.

The body of the UM-151 is pretty plain. There's a rubberized grip on the section, a conical metal tip that screws off to provide access to the refill, and the rest of the pen is clear plastic. The clip contains the name of pen and the size of the refill, which is helpful if you have a large collection of these pens in various sizes. Of course, it only comes in the same capped model — no retractable version. There are similar pens offered by Uni-ball, but they just aren't the same. The closest one I've found is the Uni-ball Signo RT, but the refill color isn't as bold and dark as the UM-151.

This pen has long been a permanent fixture in my pen arsenal, but that doesn't mean it's a perfect pen. For one, I really wish they offered this pen in a retractable barrel that uses the same refill. Also, The grip section is just a tad short for my tastes. Apart from those two niggles, I've always been very happy with the pen. It's close to perfect, but not there yet.

The UM-151 is affordable at only $2.50 a pen. The refills cost $1.65, which isn't much cheaper than the pen itself. Another great benefit of the pen is the variety of colors you can grab. I prefer the standard black, but the other colors are a lot of fun. You can also get the UM-151 in 0.28mm and 0.5mm tips. I can't recommend the 0.28mm since it feels like writing with a needle, and I've never tried the 0.5 variety. The way I see it, I'm satisfied with the 0.38mm and haven't had a reason to go looking for something else.

So, there you have it. The UM-151 is a standard among the pen addict community. For many, like me, it was the gateway drug and the beginning of a new hobby (obsession) that led to a revived love for stationery. No matter how deep I get into fountain pens, I'll never stop loving the UM-151 for what it is — an absolutely fantastic gel ink pen.

(JetPens provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)

Posted on March 9, 2016 and filed under Uni-Ball, Signo DX, Pen Reviews.

Uni-ball Signo 307 Gel Ink Pen Review

The Uni-ball Signo 307 is an interesting pen for many reasons. To most people it's just some pen they grab off the shelf at Wal-Mart (ok, that's where I bought mine too), but for someone like me, this simple pen opens up a Pandora's box of questions.

What exactly is Uni-ball trying to do with this pen? Is this a replacement to the Signo 207, which is likely their top selling gel ink pen of all time? Or is it to sit alongside the 207 on the shelf? I'd check with Uni-ball, but the 307 is not listed on the North American site (or the Japanese site for that matter), the latest Press Room document is from 2008, and both their Twitter and Facebook feeds have not been updated since December 2013. The lack of social media updates is somewhat shocking in this day and age.

So, I'm left to do my best and answer any questions I have about this pen myself.

Is this a replacement to the Signo 207? I have to say yes. The general shape, design, and features of the pen mimic the 207, and improve the pen in some areas. Where the tip cone and clip in the 207 were metal, they are plastic in the 307. I wasn't sure how this would work, but it works well. The 307 is a quieter pen when writing than the 207 and I think the full plastic build is why. There was also a visual update on the 307, with a subtle grid gradient on the barrel. Including the black tip, the entire graphics overhaul is nice.

Ink wise, it writes wonderfully. According to the packaging, the 307 is skip-free and I found that to be the case. The 207 did have issues with skipping from time to time - the blue ink primarily in my experience - and the new models have none of that. They also feature Uni-ball's Super Ink technology, which makes the ink waterproof and fraud resistant. The new refill is marked UMR-87E, while the refill in one of my older black 0.7mm 207's is marked UMR-87. At some point in the last couple of years Uni-ball did start using Super Ink in the 207 but I'm not sure when exactly, and I'm not sure if the refill designation denotes that or not. Maybe Uni-ball can clear this...oh nevermind.

I will say that the ink color is darker in the older UMR-87 refill compared to the UMR-87E refill. It's close - close enough that 99% of users wouldn't notice - but I do see a slight difference when the ink dries.

What happens next with the 307 will determine the future of this pen. Will it be available in different tip sizes such as 0.38 mm, 0.5 mm, and 1.0 mm like the 207? How about the rainbow of colors offered previously? Will the BLX line convert over to the 307 as well? I would like all of those things to happen personally. The 307 is a very good pen and an upgrade to the 207. Maybe Uni-ball will let us know one day. Or, maybe it will just show up at Wal-Mart.

Posted on July 6, 2015 and filed under Gel, Pen Reviews, Uni-Ball, 307.

Etranger di Costarica Blanc de Noirs Black Paper Review

Image via JetPens

Image via JetPens

I ordered this paper by mistake.

Well, not purely by mistake. I mean I ordered it for sure, but I didn't know what I was ordering. I based my order on text only, seeing the name of this paper only in an email from Elaine at JetPens.

"Etranger di Costarica Blanc de Noirs Black Paper" - oooh that sounds fancy! I know French. White paper with black lines right? Cool - I'm in! Wait, how did this black paper get into my order?

That was my thought process ordering and receiving this paper. I actually had to go back and look at what I requested from Elaine because I know I didn't order any black paper. As it turns out, I got exactly what I ordered, and it is glorious.

Getting black paper allowed me to break out an amazing pen I rarely have a use for: The Uni-ball Signo UM-153 white gel ink pen. Not only is this the best white gel ink pen on the market for those looking for such a thing (and it's not close), it's one of the most popular products ever sold at JetPens, holding the top spot on the pen popularity rankings for as long as I can remember. Years and years.

This is a pen and paper match made in heaven, and one I would have likely never put together because I didn't know what I was ordering in the first place. The Etranger di Costarica feels very high quality. The white gel ink glided over the page with no effort and no feathering. It was smooth sailing. It held the ink wonderfully, and could probably handle more, like some of the pastel and shiny inks found on the JetPens sample page.

This paper is fun. It put a smile on my face. I loved using white gel ink on it. And I'll use it again very soon.

(JetPens provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)

Posted on June 8, 2015 and filed under Pen Reviews, Uni-Ball, Etranger de Costarica.

Letter of Recommendation: Uni-ball Signo UM-151

I had the pleasure of talking with Tom Vanderbilt for his latest piece in The New York Times Magazine, titled "Letter of Recommendation: Uni-ball Signo UM-151". The UM-151, or DX as it is often called, is one of the great gel ink pens, and unfortunately, is not available in the US outside of importers. Thanks Tom for allowing me to be part of this piece!

(P.S. If anyone has a physical copy of this let me know. I hear there is a sidebar of my Top 5 Pens and I'd love to see a scan of it.)

Posted on May 25, 2015 and filed under Signo DX, Uni-Ball.