(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.
- 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
- 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)