Uni Jetstream Prime 3 Color Ballpoint Multi Pen – 0.7 mm – Navy Body

29 05 2014
Delays in getting this post done brought to you in part by: getting a new dog

Delays in getting this post done brought to you in part by: getting a new dog

Either the Uni people listen or they came to the same logical conclusions their customers do—there should be a fancy Jetstream multi pen, there should be D1 Jetstream refills—VOILÀ! Both of these things, in the same pen. Thanks to JetPens for providing this sample.

And most of all, thank you for blue, and not pink. Pink exists now though, for those of you who are not me and love pink

And most of all, thank you for blue, and not pink. Pink exists now though, for those of you who are not me and love pink

The body is metal (type unspecified), the paint job that same enchanting metallic finish typically reserved for bumper cars. But classy. Like a Ferrari bumper car.

Exactly like a Ferrari.

Exactly like a Ferrari.

Up top, we’ve got some of the most subtle multi pen markings I’ve ever seen, coupled with what I’ll assume is a curious homage to Legos. Sure, you are a fancy businessperson now, but your heart hasn’t forgotten how crucial the carefully collected gem panel was to the city-defending death ray you had Lego Anakin Skywalker man. Or whatever it was you used your Lego gems for.

Put them in treasure chests? But then where would we keep all of Lego Queen Amidala's extra hairstyles?

Put them in treasure chests? But then where would we keep all of Lego Queen Amidala’s extra hairstyles?

The knocks are so smooth, strangely smooth if you’re used to multi pen components that are pressed inward and down to deploy. They are extremely satisfying to manipulated, and probably guaranteed to drive coworkers crazy. At least they won’t drive you crazy—they never fail (not in my experience so far, no getting stuck, no randomly undeploying, just solid mechanisms).

Looks vs. comfort. Typically this is a battle that plays out over fashionable shoes.

Looks vs. comfort. Typically this is a battle that plays out over fashionable shoes.

I do question the comfort of the all-metal body, especially in the grip area, particularly if you like to grip hard. I have to catch myself when I’m writing to readjust away from a death grip, lest I press the pen uncomfortably into the base of my thumb. Maybe adding a regular grip would do nothing to alleviate this, but an Alpha Gel Grip? What you’d lose in svelte aesthetics you’d gain in heavenly grip comfort. Maybe if I suggest it enough times, it will be reality. Alpha Gel Grip Jetstream Multipen of Fanciness. Alpha Gel Grip Jetstream Multipen of Fanciness. Looks like for now, this will remain but a dream.

You could definitely fit more in here. Oh, perhaps a secret message could go in here too?

You could definitely fit more in here. Oh, perhaps a secret message would fit?

Moreso than the Uni Jetstream 4&1 multi, these refills rattle when writing. When I pick the pen up and put it back to the page I can hear it, enough to be noticeable. Not quite enough to drive me up a wall yet, but given the choice I’m inclined to go for a quieter writing experience. Or, there are some sounds that are soothing to hear when you write, like the gliding of a nib as it lays ink on the page. Refills rattling is not one of those pleasant sounds.

I almost want to ask for more colors, but knowing the track record I've experienced with non-traditional Jetstream color inks I think I'll keep my mouth shut

I almost want to ask for more colors, but knowing the track record I’ve experienced with non-traditional Jetstream color inks I think I’ll keep my mouth shut

The performance of the refills is satisfying. The colors are rich, and above all stay off my hands. The black seems to perform best of the three colors, but that might just be my imagination. Is it as good as a regular Jetstream? Perhaps not on the most microscopic, nitpicky level, but it’s much smoother and more satisfying than any other D1 ballpoint refill I’ve tried so far. Is there a bulk discount on these refills? I have a lot of mini ballpoint pens I’d like to upgrade.

Set it down like this and no one even knows about your allegiance to the plastic brick

Set it down like this and no one even knows about your allegiance to the plastic brick

Is this the best multi pen your $45 can buy? I guess it depends on how much of your childhood was dedicated to Legos. This is the sort of pen that would make a great gift to receive, but might not necessarily be a pen body you clamor to buy for yourself. The D1 refills that this body brought to pen existence are another matter entirely, and I strongly advise you to stock up and retrofit as many little pens as possible.

Uni Jetstream Prime 3 Color Ballpoint Multi Pen – 0.7mm – Navy Blue Body at JetPens





Uni Jetstream 4&1 4 Color Ballpoint Multi Pen and Pencil – Purple

15 04 2014
Someone hand me some failing tests, that red is just itching to give out a big glowing F minus minus

Someone hand me some failing tests, that red is just itching to give out a big glowing F minus minus to some poor sap not smart enough to be using a Jetstream

What’s better that a Jetstream? Several Jetstreams rolled into one. Thank you to JetPens for providing this sample!

It comes it several colors, but obviously dark purple is the superior choice

It comes it several colors, but obviously dark purple is the superior choice

The body is simple and professional, with tasteful silver accents. The markings to denote refill colors are unobtrusive—quite appreciable, as multipens are ever in danger of looking like rainbow vomit with their many-colored plungers.

I like how the pencil is referred to as "0.5mm SHARP"...it makes a mechanical pencil sound so much more dangerous and exciting

I like how the pencil is referred to as “0.5mm SHARP”…it makes a mechanical pencil sound so much more dangerous and exciting

The sticker on the body was easily removable and left no residue. Coupled with the subtle branding imprinted on the clip, you’ve got a pen that looks good and keeps distractions low key.

Things I was not expecting to find in here: metal. Things that all of in here consists of: metal.

Things I was not expecting to find in here: metal. Things that all of in here consists of: metal.

The pen itself is nicely balanced, with the majority of its light weight focused lower, in the grip. The grip section is metal, with a nice grippy rubber on top (though it would be PHENOMENAL to have the grip be Alpha Gel instead, that would probably make the pen unbearably wide, and would collect more debris than this grip does). The upper half is mostly plastic (excepting the clip), and the overall composition of the pen makes it pretty comfortable for a longer writing session.

In the event of a graphite emergency, break the snap seal located on the top of your multi pen and apply eraser directly to the emergency

In the event of a graphite emergency, break the snap seal located on the top of your multi pen and apply eraser directly to the emergency

Normally I’m not a fan of easily-lost caps covering uselessly tiny erasers, but this cap hold surprisingly firm to the pen. It’s not going to get lost unless you set it down and forget to put it back on. The eraser itself isn’t much to speak of—more of an emergency provision. The pencil component is deployed by pressing down on the clip, and lead is advanced by pressing the deployed clip down again. It’s a wise design choice, providing a larger plunger for easy use of the pencil while concealing it design-wise in the clip. The only improvement I’d like to see here is for Uni to find a way to shrink the Kuru Toga mechanism into the size of a multi pen refill. A multi pen made of Jetstreams and a Kuru Toga would be unstoppable.

If you need more colors than this, be sure to give yourself a stern lecture about how back in my day we didn't have any newfangled ink colors. Pens were also used uphill both ways. In the snow.

If you need more colors than this, be sure to give yourself a stern lecture about how back in my day we didn’t have any newfangled ink colors. Pens were also used uphill both ways. In the snow.

I’ve had some problems recently with certain Jetstream color models not living up to the Jetstream name—consider this pen redemption. All colors perform smooth and vibrant, as a Jetstream should. The 0.5mm provides crisp lines that glide onto the page with almost no pressure whatsoever. The barrel is a bit wide, as almost all multipens are, but it’s not unwieldy—only if you really prefer a slim pen will it be something that might bother you. And, after handwriting out this whole review, the side of my hand is clean. This is the Jetstream I know and love.

If someone at Uni isn't feverishly working right now on adapting the Kuru Toga mechanism for multi pen use, then they don't know good money

If someone at Uni isn’t feverishly working right now on adapting the Kuru Toga mechanism for multi pen use, then they don’t know good money

If you use red, blue, green, and black ballpoints on a regular basis, you’ve got to give one of these a try. I’m thinking especially professionals and students in the science, technology, engineering, and math fields, plus anyone who needs to mark up papers, or just likes having access to all the traditional pen colors at once. The refills are smooth, the mechanisms solid, and the pen looks good. Classic Jetstream goodness!

Uni Jetstream 4&1 4 Color Ballpoint Multi Pen and Pencil – Purple at JetPens





Zebra Prefill 3 Color Multi Pen

29 01 2014
In honor of the fast-approaching Valentine's Day, this scan has decided it wants its magenta-purple ink to appear pink instead. I give up

In honor of the fast-approaching Valentine’s Day, this scan has decided it wants its magenta-purple ink to appear pink instead. I give up

These names for multi pens get unwieldy. This is technically the Zebra Prefill 3 Color Multi Pen – Light Blue Body Component / 0.3mm Mechanical Pencil Component / 0.4mm Sarasa Gel Ink Components – Black and Purple. There, that’s everything.

In the world of budget-priced, customizable multi pens, there’s no perfection—only some pretty good options. The Prefill (‘preferred’ + ‘refill’) is Zebra’s pretty good option.

Simple and clean. Like that song. This will now be the soundtrack for the Zebra Prefill.

Simple and clean. Like that song. This will now be the soundtrack for the Zebra Prefill.

The body is hard plastic, and comes in a range of colors and patters (you can get a 3 component body or a 4 component body). Like the original Uni Style Fit, we’ve got a see-through grip to easily identify which components are loaded. Advantage over the original Style Fit: lead advances when a pencil component is deployed by pressing down on the top knock button. Disadvantage: the Prefill has no eraser (also, the Style Fit fixed that problem in another body). That’s right: no eraser; not on top, useless and tiny but still existent, nor as an optional in-body component, like the glorious Hi-Tec-C Coleto line.

Help me I'm still listening to the song. Hold me, Zebra Prefill, whatever lies beyond this morning....

Help me I’m still listening to the song. Hold me, Zebra Prefill, whatever lies beyond this morning….

Biggest thing going for the Zebra Prefill is probably this clip. Cribbed from their Sarasa Push Clip, Airfit Jell, and Surari 4C multi pen, its hinged clips pinch right on my heartstrings. Love a hinged clip.

I SWEAR IT'S MAGENTA PURPLE. NOT PINK. WHY. DOES THIS KEEP HAPPENING. WITH THE SARASA PURPLE.

I SWEAR IT’S MAGENTA PURPLE. NOT PINK. WHY. DOES THIS KEEP HAPPENING. WITH THE SARASA PURPLE.

A lack of eraser is a serious negative if the Prefill ever hopes to be a strong multipencil, buuuut among the Prefill, Style Fit, and Coleto systems, the Prefill is the only one with three size options (0.3mm, 0.5mm, and 0.7mm) for the mechanical pencil. The Coleto has 0.3mm and 0.5mm, and the Style Fit only has 0.5mm for its pencil component. It all depends on what your priorities might be in building an affordable multipencil.

Fine, I give up. Whatever. It's pink.

Fine, I give up. Whatever. It’s pink now.

If you’re a Zebra fan (think Sarasa gels and Surari super smooth ballpoints), then the Prefill is a good way to bring your loves together in one body, with some caveats. First, there’s only one size option listed for your various gel pen colors (0.4mm) and one size option for your ballpoints (0.5mm)—though the 0.7mm Surari ballpoint refill from my Surari 4C fits in the Prefill, making that 2 ballpoint size options. Second, it seems like individual Sarasa Pens write better than the components in the multi pen. Sometimes a little sacrifice is in order when you want compact convenience. But it’s like there are these times when the gel ball tip feels a little odd while writing…not so consistently nor terrible as to render the pen totally annoyingly unusable, but know that this may come up for you, and you may not like it.

Here's where an eraser would go...IF THE PREFILL HAD ONE.

Here’s where an eraser would go…IF THE PREFILL HAD ONE.

Zebra may be a little late to the low-end game, with not as many gel size options, but the Prefill is a comfortable start. I don’t think it’s enough to unseat the Style Fit or the Coleto, but it should at least pique the interest of Zebra’s Sarasa and Surari fans.

Zebra Prefill Multi Pen System at JetPens





Bic Duo – Ballpoint Pen and Highlighter

17 01 2014
Do not be deceived by the scan---the highlighter color is the ordinary screaming fluorescent yellow of most common highlighters

Do not be deceived by the scan—the highlighter color is the ordinary screaming fluorescent yellow of most common highlighters

My local pen store carried these for a while, and though I don’t normally make a habit of buying BICs, this was enough of an oddity to be worth throwing down a couple bucks.

You can see the highlighter lifeblood pulsing beneath the pearlescent skin. Is it alive?

You can see the highlighter lifeblood pulsing beneath the pearlescent skin. Is it alive?

The matte black/pearlescent mix body, with this streamlined flare-out to a wider curved cap…it’s a surprisingly attractive combination for a cheap pen.

Pretty, but hard plastic. Advantage: no debris! Disadvantage: ow, hard plastic.

Pretty, but hard plastic. Advantage: no debris! Disadvantage: ow, hard plastic.

The matching grip looks nice with the securely posted cap up top, but the hard plastic won’t be doing your hands any favors in the comfort department. This is not a marathoner pen—it’s a study pen. Here’s why:

Look at that live twist action!!

Look at that live twist action!!

Twist the grip, and you deploy a hollowed-out, fully functional highlighter around and past the fixed ballpoint tip. The highlighter sort-of clicks securely in place. The ballpoint pen, though far from the best, performs well enough (a little slow, not jet-black, but no skipping or blobbing). This is the perfect pen to go with a pdf printout of some material that you’re supposed to read for class—make little notes in the margins, highlight the important bits—just you and some pieces of paper and the Bic Duo out on the quad.

Maybe Bic Duo will ask you out to that sweet mixer you've been hearing about

Maybe Bic Duo will ask you out to that sweet mixer you’ve been hearing about

The Bic Duo isn’t perfect, but it is unique and useful. Finding one might be a bit tricky, but if the price is good (as in, NOT the $45 for a 6 pack offer on Amazon), I’d say grab one.

Bic Duo Product Page





Mini Review: Uni-ball Style Fit Mystar 5 Color Multi Pen Body Component – Black

23 12 2011

Old body, new body, and my bathroom counter.

Can’t go mentioning the sleek new 3-component Mystar Meister without also acknowledging the slightly cheaper (in all senses of the word) 5-component body. In my undoubtedly never-ending quest for the Perfect Multipencil, the Mystar Meister is an upgrade from my first multipencil/my first Style-Fit body.

The new body might be the teensiest bit thicker than the old body, or I might be the teensiest bit hallucinating; it's hard to tell.

I didn’t get any new components to go in the new body, because why would I need two fully-loaded multipencils at the same time (/why would I need to spend an extra quantity of money exceeding $10)? So this will just be about the body. The Mystar Meister has a matte finish to its plastic body (as opposed to smudgy-fingerprint-showing slick plastic), a tapered end with streamlined plungers (as opposed to airplane wings), a metal clip on a plastic plunger (as opposed to an all plastic clip that could break at any moment), and an eraser with easy-to-lose cap (as opposed to no eraser whatsoever). I like these improvements, for the most part, but there are still some problems with the Mystar Meister’s overall design.

You don't need to know what components you're using, right?

The tiny window is a slight problem. All the labels, on the gel pens especially, are at the bottom, now hidden by the grip. The only thing I can see on this 0.28mm Black Gel component is the beginning of a label that says ” .24 BLACK” (what happened to 0.28??) and the only thing I can see when that component is deployed is “CK”…. ink components need to be labeled with all Style Fit bodies in mind, not just the original model.

At least I could relabel the pencil components myself.

Remodeling the plungers, however, was a good move. Looks much nicer/less like a rocket ship.

No one is ready for take-off now

Much of the improvement in this model is geared toward making the Style Fit a better multipencil. The old model body, while technically multipencil capable, was a pain in the thumb when you needed to advance lead. You had to press down on the little airplane wings, which were not exactly optimized for the task. And the old model body had no eraser.

Let me quote my first Style Fit review: "I think I’d rather have no eraser at all than be saddled with a uselessly small eraser beneath a tiny, easily lost plastic eraser cap." ...... it's like they listened...to half of what I was saying.

I still much prefer the Hi-Tec-C Coleto eraser component. I’m glad to see an eraser on the Style Fit…but I doubt I’ll use that dinky thing very much.

Finally, I want to mention the biggest improvement/problem in the new Style Fit:

Forget doofy wings; we can go back to advancing mechanical pencil lead in the way our ancestors intended.

Deploy pencil you want to use. Push down on the top. Lead advances. EXCELLENT….at least conceptually. In practice, I have frequently (not always, but enough to be very annoying) had the component I was trying to advance lead on spring back up into undeployment whenever I clicked the top to advance lead. The lead advanced, the component retreated. NOT EXCELLENT.

The design is a much better—and most importantly, more aesthetically pleasing—way to advance lead (PILOT I HOPE YOU ARE TAKING NOTES). But Uni needs to work out whatever design bug is causing this frequent retraction problem. I don’t know what condition causes it (I am sitting here right now trying to replicate the problem on command, but the multipencil refuses to obey, as if to say “I can change! Please don’t tell the world about my one major design flaw! I swear I won’t do it again!….until after you’ve posted your review”)…and that unpredictability makes it all the more annoying.

I can be a good multipencil! A good multipencil like you wanted!

It’s an improvement, yes, but it still has a ways to go. If you’re looking for a good multipencil without outrageously flaring wings, I’d just load up the Mystar Meister 3-component metal body. No eraser, true, but I haven’t had any problem with components waywardly retracting in that model. And it looks all kinds of snazzy.

 Uni-ball Style Fit Mystar 5 Color Multi Pen Body Component – Black – at JetPens





Uni-ball Style Fit Mystar 3 Color Multi Pen Body Component – Brown

14 12 2011

I was going for "autumn" but it seems I achieved "Halloween"

I’ve been waiting for this pen body to exist ever since the first Style Fit model rolled onto my radar. Lo, I asked for a nicer body around the $15 price point, and I have received.

It's like they read my mind. Or my blog. Or really, just came to the conclusion that any sane individual would: Style Fit is awesome, needs more bodies.

The Style Fit Mystar/Meister (which is it? Jetpens says “Mystar,” which sounds demure and twinkly; the stickers on the pen say “Meister,” which sounds like Burgermeister Meisterburger, and the only thing to do at that point is just accept that Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town) is made of lovely, shiny metal that looks like Serious Modern Business but isn’t heavy to hold. Deploying the components has been changed from plunger-deploy to twist-deploy, making the pen look much more neat and normal.

Mystar/Meister spelled here simply as: <>

Plus there’s a sturdy metal clip now.  I’m very happy with this model; you can have a Jetstream and a Signo DX in one sharp looking pen ….AT THE SAME TIME! The only thing missing is a Kuru Toga component (if only such were possible); that alone would make the Style Fit an instrument of utter perfection.

Now you know the difference between daylight white balance and incandescent white balance on my camera when sitting by a window inside a cafe while drinking an Irish coffee. So glad we cleared up that mystery.

The three components I chose to load the Meisterburger up with are an 0.38mm brown-black gel ink component, an 0.7mm black ballpoint ink component, and an 0.38mm golden yellow gel ink component. As I mentioned before, the gel ink is the same as that found in the Signo line, and the ballpoint ink is Jetstream ballpoint ink.

I had my Style Fit customized with an extra-dimensional portal so I could include a fourth component.

For curiosity’s sake, I swapped in one of my pencil components to see how it works in the Burgermeister. Much more comfortable than the plungers on my old Style Fit model. You just push the top down when the pencil is deployed, and the lead advances. It’s exceedingly satisfying, and unlike the previous model, doesn’t make my thumb feel like it’s going to slowly transform into a bloody stump.

Hey, the components are helpfully labeled! Hey, wait, this isn't actually helpful.

Brace yourselves for my only complaint. Though the component refills are labeled with size on a background of easy to discern color, you can’t see any of that through the window on the Mystar. They were designed for the see-through grip of the first model. It would be nice if labeling could continue up the barrel so that the little window is actually useful; the coloring on the tubes fades out right where the window starts, and there’s no indication whatsoever of tip size. But that’s a minor annoyance in light of the overall improvement that this model offers! Good job, Uni-ball.

The pen:

Uni-ball Style Fit Mystar 3 Color Multi Pen Body Component – Brown at JetPens

The components seen here:

Uni-ball Style Fit Ballpoint Multi Pen Ink Cartridge – 0.7 mm – Black at JetPens

Uni-ball Style Fit Gel Ink Multi Pen Ink Cartridge – 0.38 mm – Brown Black at JetPens

Uni-ball Style Fit Gel Ink Multi Pen Ink Cartridge – 0.38 mm – Golden Yellow at JetPens





Pentel Vicuna Super Smooth 2 Color 0.7 mm Ballpoint Multi Pen + 0.5 mm Pencil – Sky Blue Body

29 07 2011

I think if it had a highlighter too, you'd have everything you need for school in terms of writing instruments.

I think this is the last sample from the recent batch of goodies JetPens sent me. Poor thing got overshadowed by my excitement over the Jetstream alpha gel grip and the new Pilot Petit series.

Sky blue is a great color, just not as exciting as electric purple or epileptic orange.

The body’s comfortably sized, not too thick (a typical problem for some multi pens). Light plastic, smooth rubber grip. The rubber in the grip is NOT made of the typical debris-magnet material, meaning I need not worry about recklessly throwing the Vicuña into bags, pockets, sandboxes, etc. The grip has small, recessed ridges (ravines?) for better traction. I don’t have traction problems when using pens, so I can’t speak to how effective this design is.

Something is missing here

The plungers work well, no complaints. But what do you not see on the end of this thing? AN ERASER. I thought it was pen law that every multi-pen with a mandatory pencil component had to provide an eraser or face heavy fines from the Council of Regulatory Administration of Pens. Maybe no eraser is better than an insultingly dinky eraser, but I think I would have appreciated at least a token effort in the eraser department.

The weapons at your disposal

The black ballpoint was suitably smooth, but I had problems with the red. You can see up there how there’s red ink gunk caked around the rollerball. There’s clearly something not going right there, and the result is that the red was far too often being reluctant to put ink on the page. A smooth ballpoint should have no skipping; it should certainly not have so much that it’s a noticeable problem. I don’t know if the problems I had with the red ballpoint were a fluke, or a common problem.

I do not recommend writing with the barrel off.

They weren’t very good serious doodle pen components; you can see in the writing sample how streaky and icky thin, light lines often looked. Not a problem that came up in writing (except for the aforementioned red problems). The mechanical pencil performed its task as a mechanical pencil should, and I noticed nothing to complain about.

I do like how they've got the name underneath the translucent grip. Nicely done.

Is this the best smooth-ballpoint-and-mechanical-pencil multipen? Probably not—the competition in the smooth ballpoint category is fierce, and I think the Zebra Surari multi pen has the lockdown as best in the lower price tier. But I don’t think you’d be disappointed in picking one of these up. It’s thin, light, pleasing to the eyes, and if it weren’t for that red ink component and lack of eraser, I’d recommend it without any caveats.

 

Thanks again to JetPens! :)

Pentel Vicuna Super Smooth 2 Color 0.7 mm Ballpoint Multi Pen + 0.5 mm Pencil – Sky Blue Body at JetPens








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