Posts filed under Uni-Ball

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.

Uni-ball Signo Limited Edition Hello Kitty Gel Ink Pen Review

Image via JetPens

Image via JetPens

I have a Hello Kitty pen, and I'm not afraid to use it.

I mean look at this pen - it's amazingly well done. I wouldn't expect anything less from Uni-ball, especially with their premier gel ink pen lineup in the UM-153. And including one of Japan's most timeless characters in Hello Kitty they had to get this right. And they did.

The Uni-ball Signo UM-151, also know as the DX, is the best gel ink pen on the market, especially in the sub-0.5mm range. It has been atop the rankings in my Top 5 Pens list for ages, and is a joy to use. Pilot Hi-Tec-C owners may want to challenge you to a duel over statements like these, but their pen will likely misfire when challenging you, leaving you to walk away unscathed. I should know, I used to be one of those people.

What makes the DX so good is the consistency and sharpness of the line. It is always ready to write, and when it does, it does so perfectly. The colors are brilliant too. Uni-ball has the best non-standard colors in my opinion, just like the orange seen here.

In a non-surprising twist, the Hello Kitty Signo DX is fyling off the shelves at JetPens. Five of the eight colors are out of stock, and being a limited edition, I don't know if and when they will be back. If you are interested in picking one, or several, up keep your eyes peeled.

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

Posted on April 6, 2015 and filed under Pen Reviews, Signo DX, Uni-Ball.

Jetstream Premier Review

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

I'm a huge fan of the Jetstream line of pens from Uniball. It's the first ballpoint pen I tried that featured the new hybrid ink that feels so smooth and rich and lays down a consistent line—something ballpoints of the past just couldn't do. The Jetstream line has expanded, and there's plenty of various offerings now, such as different tip sizes, different bodies, and multi-refill bodies. I've always wanted to put a Jetstream refill into a nice pen body, but never have found a good fit. When I noticed the Jetstream Premier on JetPens, I jumped at it.

This is another pen that Brad took a look at back in 2008. I don't think it really spoke to him, and I agree with some of his observations. But, then again, I also think it's a pretty great pen. I think of it like this: if you want a wider bodied Jetstream with a soft touch clicker, this is a great pen. Also, if you're a fan of the Jetstream line already, you can't go wrong. The pen ships with a 1.0mm refill, but you can swap that out with whatever size you prefer.

There aren't many "premium" Jetstream models available. There's the Jetstream Alpha Gel Grip series, which is a few dollars more than the Premier. Like the name says, it has a soft, gel-like grip that gives way when squeezed. Personally, I've never been a fan of soft gel grips on pens, so I never pulled the trigger on this one. The other nice feature of the pen is that the body is metal. Sadly, the Premier is just plastic. Given the price difference, I'm not really sure why the Premier is not also metal. It's a little disappointing.

The Premier on its own is a great pen. The grip is soft to the touch, but still firm. The click mechanism is unique—there's a certain amount of smooth friction involved when you operate it. Unlike most mechanisms that give a very pronounced feedback, this one is soft and almost unnoticeable. For me, I don't really care either way. I can see how this would really bother some people, or do the complete opposite. Either way, it does the job.

The clip is strong, but has a cheap look to it. It would look more pleasing if the clip was more integrated into the click mechanism or the body of the pen. As it is, it looks like someone super glued it onto the pen. It's my least favorite feature of the pen.

I went for the black model, and if I did it again I'd go the other way. I think the silver model would look much better in person. The black model has a small red section in the body under the clip. It gives the pen a cheap, gimmicky feel.

Now, after those harsh words, I still enjoy using the pen. For one, I love the way it feels in my hand when writing. It's a very comfortable grip and it also uses those fantastic Jetstream refills. Win-win situation.

The tip of the pen screws off of the body, and it's made of plastic. I really wish it was made of metal instead of a plastic that is painted to look like metal. It would improve the look of the pen quite a bit.

Overall, I don't know if I can recommend this pen unless you want to collect all of the different Jetstream offerings. It's a good pen, but I can't justify the cost. At just under $12, I don't think it's any better than the Jetstream Rubber Body Series, which is just over $4.

Ideally, I'd like to find a metal body that accepts the Jetstream refill. Until then, I'll use the Premier and enjoy it for what it is: a pen that feels good in the hand.

Posted on October 29, 2014 and filed under Jetstream, Pen Reviews, Uni-Ball.

Uni-ball Vision Elite BLX Roller Ball Pen - 0.5 mm - Purple Black Review

In the world of non-standard inks, purple black is only behind blue black as my favorite color outside of the standard black, blue, red trifecta. If I could only use blue black inks the rest of my life I would be happy, but dang it if purple black doesn't sneak into the rotation frequently.

Uni-ball introduced their BLX lineup in 2012 to some fanfare but I personally never fully embraced it. That was a mistake because these are really good pens. And after using the Vision Elite 0.5mm Purple Black model I think I am ready to name it my number one liquid ink roller ball when I add that list to my next Top 5 Pens update, which will be out before the end of the month.

I've defaulted to the Pilot Precise line as the best liquid ink roller ball pen for years, but the Vision Elite is where it is at, especially in the 0.5 mm tip size. The line is super clean and as smooth of an 0.5 mm pen as you will find. The barrel design is great, including the comfortable cross-hatched grip. On top of that, the Vision Elite uses archival ink, and the pen is airplane safe. What more can you ask for?

The only knock you are likely to have is that while the pen is refillable it is not very cost or size effective. Due to the design, and assumedly to keep it airplane safe, the "refill" comprises replacing at least 50% of the total pen, if not more. It is a huge piece that includes the grip section and pen tip, along with the ink reservoir. I think most users would just buy a new pen.

That oddness aside, I love this pen. I've long been a fan of Uni-ball's use of lavender black in the Signo DX and Signo RT so I am glad to see this similar color make its appearance in on of Uni-ball's main line products like the Vision Elite. The Signo 207 and Jetstream lineup also feature the same colors. I hope to add those to the arsenal soon.

(JetPens is a sponsor of The Pen Addict and I received this product at no charge.)

Posted on October 6, 2014 and filed under Pen Reviews, Uni-Ball, Vision Elite, BLX.