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





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





Pilot Hi-Tec-C Coleto 5 Color Multi Pen – Pen Body – Clear Black with ERASER (& other stuff)

23 03 2011

Gaze into the eye. Ignore the other terrible drawing. You see only the eye.

So the title was going to get all kinds of unruly; here’s your full title: Pilot Hi-Tec-C Coleto 5 Color Multi Pen – Pen Body – Clear Black with Three 0.5mm Mechanical Pencil Components, 0.5mm Black Multi Pen Ink Cartridge, and ERASER COMPONENT.

I’d been collecting some Pilot Hi-Tec-C Coleto Multi Pen(cil) components before in my quest for the perfect multi pencil, but previously I was unimpressed by the ink cartridges (also, negatively impressed on several occasions, but let’s stay positive), and the mechanical pencil components didn’t swing my opinion one way or another since the additional ink components couldn’t carry me away from my previous multi-pen(cil) love. The body options for the Pilot Hi-Tec-C multi pen, I admit, are much more extensive and much nicer than what’s available for the Uni-ball Style Fit (which has recently added a few bizarre polka dotted options in a misguided attempt to bring something interesting to the table), but the pencil components were close enough to identical that the presence of a Jetstream component kept my loyalty with the Style Fit. Not anymore.

IT'S BECAUSE OF THIS

Ladies, gentlemen, individuals not constricted by societally prescribed gender, THAT IS AN ERASER. It is an eraser, and it is coming out of that multi pencil. We have seen the promised land. Our hopes, prayers, and animal sacrifices have been answered.

The finest plastic that three dollars and seventy-five cents can buy

The addition of an eraser, in spite of a lack of a satisfying pen component, puts the Coleto multi pen line in front running for Best Multipencil. Let’s take it from the top.

or the tips. from the tips. whatever.

I decided to go with the 5 component body—I wanted 3 pencils, the eraser, and figured it might be worthwhile to throw a pen in the mix (it wasn’t).

Unlike the Style Fit, disassembling the Coleto mechanical pencil component was not an esoteric challenge of obscure pentuition—just pull the long silver tube away from the plastic. Ta-da.

In hindsight, it would have made aesthetic sense to put the pen component opposite the clip. TOO LATE FOR SENSIBILITY NOW

It doesn’t fall apart, but it comes apart as easily as I think a component should. The eraser comes already in the metal sleeve. I haven’t gone through it yet, but we’ll see how long the eraser lasts and how easy refilling ends up being. The ink component is totally discardable—ok, maybe I’m being too harsh, but for me it ranks far below the Signo DX style ink cartridge and the Jetstream cartridge. If I can find a way to shove one of those in here instead, I’ll do it. We will henceforth refrain from commentary on the lowly ink cartridge and my infinitesimally low opinion of it.

The components drop down into spring-loaded tubes, then the lid snaps shut on top, securing the components in place. It’s very easy to rearrange components, swap them in and out of different bodies, and devise new orderings to try to get around the aesthetic nightmare all those plastic wings create. Score one point for convenience.

 

I wish there were a better way to differentiate between mechanical pencil components than a bit of Sharpie, but it’s all I’ve got.

Even though the plastic wings look odd and unpleasant, they are kinder on the thumbs than the wings of the Style-Fit, and advancing the lead seems much easier. Switching between deployed components isn’t always as smooth as I’d like; it doesn’t seem like pushing down on a new component always automatically makes the other component pop back up, and I’ve occasionally had trouble getting the component to stay down after I first push it (but once it’s in place, I haven’t had one retract while in use). I haven’t had any problems with the lead slipping back into the barrel, or at least haven’t had any vague hallucinations of such being a problem (one of which had to be the issue I was having with the Style Fit mechanical pencil components).

I am especially pleased with the performance of the eraser—I wouldn’t use it to clear out big areas, but it’s perfect for fixing lines in a quick sketch. The only drawback is having to overcome the learned urge to flip the entire unit around when I want to erase something. Once I learn to not do that, I think use of this multi pencil will be even easier, since I won’t be wasting time flipping the unit constantly (we will assume I’m going to be making a lot of little mistakes).

This is how smooth and beautiful it's SUPPOSED to look

The only mark against this multi pencil set up is that all these pencil and eraser components rattle around for some reason. When I fill the barrel with all these colorful, sleek little pen components I don’t get the rattling. And the only mark against the five-body model in particular that I have is that, unless I want to put another pencil in, I have no need for 5 component slots. This particular 0.5 mm black pen had no redeeming features that made it worth keeping in the mix, and it detracted from the otherwise uniformly wonky visual set-up the pencils and eraser provided. I found the grips on the barrel unobtrusive but …useful? I don’t know; I don’t really tend to have a particular need for a grip, but for those of you that do, this model does have a grip where the Uni Style Fit does not.

In going for a pure multi pencil, the Pilot Hi-Tec-C Coleto line has everything I’ve been looking for: convenience, ease of use, comfort, nicer component bodies, and above all, AN ERASER. If you’ve been trying to put a bunch of pencils together in a single house of plastic, jump on the Coleto; it’s the best option I’ve seen so far.

 

It's coming for you, like a doofy-looking starfish in search of a hug.

 

 

Pilot Hi-Tec-C Coleto 5 Color Multi Pen – Pen Body – Clear Black at JetPens

Pilot Hi-Tec-C Coleto Multi Pen – 0.5 mm – Mechanical Pencil Component at JetPens


Pilot Hi-Tec-C Coleto Multi Pen – Eraser Component at JetPens








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