Posts filed under Zebra

Zebra SL-F1 Mini Ballpoint Pen Review

Zebra SL-F1 Mini Ballpoint Pen Review

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

I've been on a small pen kick recently, and I've been using the Zebra SL-F1 for the past couple of weeks. It's an interesting little pen that has a unique open/close mechanism, and it is certainly a solid performer with plenty of refill options for stowing in bags, cars, purses, and other odd places where you might need a pen in a pinch. But, similar to other small pens I've used, it just isn't sensible for normal use.

A few weeks ago, I reviewed a mini mechanical pencil (also from Zebra), and I had the same complaints. I have many small and uber-portable pens that I love, but it seems a killer (not the good kind) combination is a short pen with a very slim profile. There just isn't enough to grip! One thing my favorite portable pens share in common is a short size, but normal width.

Zebra SL-F1 Mini Ballpoint Pen Expanded

Even though the Zebra SL-F1 Mini isn't practical for an everyday note-taker, that doesn't mean it's unremarkable. If you approach this pen with the mindset that I believe Zebra designed this pen for, there's a lot to like and enjoy. This is another of those pens that falls into a specific category for me: backup situations. After all, a short, slim, uncomfortable pen is better than no pen!

Zebra SL-F1 Mini Ballpoint Pen

Being as small as it is, this pen can really fit anywhere and go unnoticed. The clip is strong enough to keep it stowed on a pocket or interior bag flap, and the color options make it stand out against dark backgrounds if you want. Even the black model has chrome trim that easily catches what little light is available.

The aspect I enjoy most about this pen is the open/close mechanism. It's very similar to the Lamy Pico (which I can't recommend enough), and it's equally as enjoyable. To open the pen, simply pull on the two ends of the pen. The pen expands and the refill pops out of the front. To close it, simply push the two ends together and the refill disappears. It's an incredibly smooth action with a satisfying click on both ends. And, unlike the Fisher Bullet, there's no cap to lose.

Zebra SL-F1 Mini Ballpoint Pen D1 Refill

Possibly one of the most attractive aspects of this pen is the refill type it uses. I'll be honest: the refill that comes with the pen isn't that great. It's a 0.7mm Zebra ballpoint with a dull black ink. It works great for what it is, but it's no gel ink. But, if you want to swap it out for a gel, your options are vast since it takes the popular D1 size. The D1 is known for it's diminutive size but excellent color and tip options. It's a popular choice for multi pens, but many small pens use it as well for the size advantage.

Zebra SL-F1 Mini Ballpoint Pen Comparison

As a backup pen to stow in areas or pockets where you might need a pen in a pinch, the Zebra SL-F1 is a great option. It's incredibly affordable (less than $5), incredibly small, and incredibly flexible given the refill compatibility. It's available in black, navy, silver, white, light blue (featured here), and pink. All colors use the same 0.7mm black ballpoint refill. Pick up a couple to stow away for when you need a pen.

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


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Zebra SL-F1 Mini Ballpoint Pen Writing
Posted on May 29, 2019 and filed under Zebra, Ballpoint, Pen Reviews.

Zebra Techo TS-3 Mini Mechanical Pencil Review

Zebra Techo TS-3 Mini Mechanical Pencil Review

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

Over the last several years, I've certainly tried a fair share of mechanical pencils. These range from really high end to super affordable and ubiquitous. One genre I was reluctant to try was the ultra compact mechanical pencil market. The allure of an incredibly small and portable writing instrument is adorable at first glance, but I always figured it would be too small to use properly. As I dip my toes into this pool for the first time, I've decided to try the diminutive Zebra Techo TS-3.

First things first: this pencil makes quite a strong first impression. The tiny size is unique and not something you see often. The initial surprise of "OMG, it's adorable" is (in my opinion) worth the $5.25 price tag alone.

Once you pick it up and start writing, you'll quickly notice how much additional effort it takes to draw your usual letters. Your handwriting doesn't quite look like your own. In my case, I resorted to writing in all-caps because it's the only way I could write legible letters with such a small tool. Still, it was fun! How could something so small still work?

Zebra Techo TS-3 Mini Mechanical Pencil

After writing a few quick lines, my fingers and hand started to feel some fatigue, which quickly intensified as I continued writing. Phew, time for a break! Unfortunately, I could never write more than a few lines before needing to put it down and let my hand stretch out a bit. After the initial fad wore off, I quickly realized that there are major tradeoffs to such a small pencil. Sure, I knew this in my head before I even picked it up, but now I precisely understood the limitations of the design.

In my experience, a slim writing instrument is still usable as long as it's still a standard length. This gives enough balance and a good resting place for the body on the top part of your hand (you know, that place between your thumb and index finger). That little bit of stability goes a long way. Likewise, a really short pen is also easy to manage as long as it is thick enough. Think about using a Kaweco Liliput without the cap posted. It's not ideal, but you can still write in your usual style without too much discomfort.

Zebra Techo TS-3 Mini Mechanical Pencil Eraser

As the Zebra Techo TS-3 demonstrates, a writing instrument that is both slim and short is incredibly difficult to manage -- at least for me and my standard three finger grip. There just isn't enough solid object to hold on to for my fingers to properly make the letters and lines they've been trained to create over my lifetime of using "standard" size tools. It's just a no-go for regular writing, and I can't recommend it all for that purpose.

However, it does have some major advantages. The main one being the man small spaces you can store this pencil. It can fit in most spiral bound notebooks perfectly. It can clip on to a cover of a notebook while still allowing it to close. In bags, purses, and some wallets, it can stow away into a seam without disrupting the functionality of the bag at all. You'll be surprised by all the little spaces this little guy can hide.

Unfortunately, it's not a good fit for slipping into your pants pockets since the lead pipe doesn't retract. You're liable to poke (or stab?) yourself frequently with this little guy in your pocket.

Zebra Techo TS-3 Mini Mechanical Pencil Comparison

Ultimately, I still like the Zebra Techo TS-3 strictly as a backup utilitarian option. It's not the first thing you reach for, and possibly not the second. But when all other options have failed or aren't nearby, it gets the job done. You definitely don't want to write the next American novel with this, but it's great for doing some quick math, jotting down a quick note, or throwing in your bag as a "just in case" pencil.

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


Enjoy reading The Pen Addict? Then consider becoming a member to receive additional weekly content, giveaways, and discounts in The Pen Addict shop. Plus, you support me and the site directly, for which I am very grateful.

Membership starts at just $5/month, with a discounted annual option available. To find out more about membership click here and join us!

Zebra Techo TS-3 Mini Mechanical Pencil Writing
Posted on May 1, 2019 and filed under Zebra, Mechanical Pencil, Pencil Reviews.

Zebra Sparky-2 Highlighter Review

Zebra Sparky-2 Highlighter Review

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

Highlighters are one of those stationery items that many people keep on hand without fussing about the features and quality of the ink, tips, and other items. Even though highlighters aren't an exciting genre of our world, they are something you expect to work well when you need them. When it's time to mark up a book or some notes, it's good to have options. The Zebra Sparky-2 highlighters are great at both making marks and providing a great amount of variety in color and tip size.

Double-sided highlighters aren't a new invention, and you could even argue that they're the new baseline these days. Who doesn't want the option of a thick or thin line from the same pen? Even so, manufacturers have to tick several products and offer a compelling product. The Sparky-2 is a well-performing highlighter with a couple of nice features to set it apart from the pack.

Zebra Sparky-2 Highlighter Colors

The liquid ink is resistant to both light and water, making it a great option for annotating notes and textbooks. Your marks will stand the test of time and play nicely with most inks and papers. Fountain pen inks can sometimes bleed and smear under a highlighter, but this is a problem that impacts any highlighter. With gel pens, ballpoints, and pencils, you'll never deal with any smearing or bluring.

The ink is also very bright and fluorescent without being too dark. I've used highlighters in the past that made it difficult to read the text or notes that they covered. This is not the case with the Zebra Sparky-2 highlighters, and I'd even prefer the green highlighter to be a bit darker.

Zebra Sparky-2 Highlighters

Another great trick that the Spark-2 pens offer is a protective covering around the tip. The purpose of this small sleeve is two-fold: one, it adds rigidity to the tip so that it doesn't collapse over time, and it also prevents ink from getting on a ruler or straightedge if you run the highlighter alongside it. It's not something I've ever wished for, but now I wish that all highlighters were made this way!

Zebra Sparky-2 Highlighter Cap

As an added bonus, both caps can post to their sibling cap, meaning you don't have to keep trck of these small, clear caps. Losing a cap is a death sentence for the liquid ink tip!

Finally, the number of color options available in this line is astounding. At a total of ten (10!) colors, you should be able to differentiate your notes and research with no problem. Add in the fact that each pen has two sizes of tip, and that's effectively 20 highlighters.

The three-pack of yellow, green, and pink that I'm using comes in at just $6, which is a great deal for such a great and useful product. If you spring for the 10-pack of all colors, they'll come in just under $16, which is also an incredible value.

Pick up a set for yourself or the industrious student in your life!

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


Enjoy reading The Pen Addict? Then consider becoming a member to receive additional weekly content, giveaways, and discounts in The Pen Addict shop. Plus, you support me and the site directly, for which I am very grateful.

Membership starts at just $5/month, with a discounted annual option available. To find out more about membership click here and join us!

Zebra Sparky-2 Highlighter Writing
Posted on February 20, 2019 and filed under Zebra, Highlighter, Pen Reviews.