Jetstream BLX 1.0mm – Green Black, Blue Black, and Purple Black

6 02 2014
I spent an embarrassing amount of time trying to find my red black Jetstream BLX to work on this review, only to realize eventually that I never even owned any such pen.

I spent an embarrassing amount of time trying to find my red black Jetstream BLX to work on this review, only to realize eventually that I never even owned any such pen.

I first saw the Jetstream BLX in a big box store, on a special Uni-ball endcap display. I immediately texted my local pen store (“I saw Uni-ball Jetstream BLX colors in an evil boxstore; when r u getting them so I can buy?”) and brought another Jetstream into my life. Would it be like the glorious Jetstream standard, or would it be a crushing disappointment like the newer color series?

If only looks were everything...

If only looks were everything…

In the realm of design, good work. The rubbery black body (with subtle microsparkles in the material) provides good traction for gripping, and the material has a pleasant handfeel without picking up too much debris.

Excellent use of colors. Better even than the Signo BLX.

Excellent use of colors. Better even than the Signo BLX.

The rest of the pen is either silver accents, or translucent plastic matched to the color of the refill. Love it. No complaints on style.

Here's where things fall apart

Here’s where things fall apart

But I do have complaints, and unfortunately, they’re about the writing experience. You can feel ink gunking on the ballpoint tip, clogging, with results ranging from episodes of writing not being smooth (being rather jarring, jerky, uneven feeling) all the way to not even writing at all.

How appropriate that it couldn't write out the word DISAPPOINTMENT, because that's exactly what it is.

How appropriate that it couldn’t write out the word DISAPPOINTMENT, because that’s exactly what it is.

I don’t know what the problem is. The colors look great, but the writing is unreliable. Would a smaller tip size help? Why would it, when the 0.5mm Jetstream color series also performed poorly, and black 1.0mm Jetstreams have done just fine? Maybe that blue-black Jetstream color ink series I got so long ago was just a fluke when it comes to the behavior of Jetstream inks with colors.

In the trendy garbage can where it belongs

In the trendy garbage can where it belongs

Sorry Jetstream. Sorry Uni-ball. But these BLX models are terrible.

But if you want to give them a shot, I’m not stopping you. You’ll find them at many box stores and also at JetPens.

Dong-A Cronix Ballpoint Pen with Hybrid Ink – 1.0 mm – Black Ink

24 10 2012

See that shadow line at the top? That’s from using a Rhodia Dot Grid notebook, writing several reviews in advance while out and about, having to fold back the review to start the next one…so inconvenient.

Any time hybrid ballpoint ink pops up, I’ve got to check it out. Thanks to JetPens for providing this sample!

Your basic clicky ballpoint

The Cronix is a no-nonsense situation: monochrome, with a semi-translucent smoky dark gray barrel and lightly accented gray grip.

There you go, that’s the only decoration you get

It’s simple. It works.

The final word is how it writes, and how it stacks up in the super-smooth pantheon. It’s pretty dark, but not every stroke achieves maximum darkness, with the overall effect being writing that isn’t as dark as the full capability of the ink (such as the darkness achieved on multiple passes, when coloring something in).

I really hope they come out with smaller tip sizes. I am not used to non-microtip pens nowadays.

Smoothness, however, is pretty good. I do sense some rare occasions of a sort of microhesitation, as if at times debris or a smidgen of gunked ink has to pass clear of the movement of the ball, but overall the smoothness is satisfactory. The Cronix isn’t going to unseat such kings as the Jetstream or the Vicuna, but it certainly beats out a regular ballpoint pen.

It’s like the Jetstream’s less-cool little brother or cousin or something. Forever doomed to live in the shadow of a greater pen…

If you’re looking for a down-low understated-looking super-smooth ballpoint pen, and for whatever reason the Jetstream just doesn’t do it for you (maybe you hate Uni-ball or kittens or something, I don’t know), take a look at the Dong-A Cronix.

Dong-A Cronix Ballpoint Pen with Hybrid Ink – 1.0 mm – Black Ink at JetPens

The Write Dudes Super Smooth Retractable Ballpoint Pen

13 07 2011

Do you see these colors? Am I hallucinating this?

Another product from the package of samples that Andrew V with the Write Dudes sent to me! This package originally included 18 smooth & retractable ballpoint pens, but my cat has teleported two of them into an alternate dimension accessible only to felines.

Not that you can really tell, but there are only 16 pens in this picture

The package promises only “assorted colors,” so I have no idea if red, orange, green, purple, light blue (all 2 pens each), blue (4) and black (also 4) are the standard colors, but that’s what I got.

Almost a full rainbow. Everyone always "forgets" to invite yellow...but even when you put him on the page, he barely shows up. </bad joke></barely even a joke>

The look of these pens is like a procrastinated school project hastily rushed to completion five minutes before class; it looks good from a distance, but the shortcuts show a mile wide if you get close. The only parts of the pen NOT made of plastic are the spring inside the pen, and the actual ballpoint nib attached to the ink refill (though I get the feeling there’d be no hesitation to make those out of plastic too, if it were possible). You pick up the pen, and it is lightweight to the point of feeling unmistakably cheap.

This...just....looks....unnecessarily tacky.

It’s a shame, because otherwise I actually quite like the design of these pens. Simple yet modern, with ink color clearly conveyed through the design of the pen body. The grip is comfortable, and thoughtfully molded into a triangular shape for better gripping posture. But that clip, I mean, look at that plastic seam running right down the middle. It’s garish. And I have full confidence that the plastic will quickly break if I try to make use of the clip. If The Write Dudes were to make the silver parts of this pen out of metal—any metal really, I don’t care if it’s cheap so long as it isn’t radioactive—then they’d have the design nailed.

Things get better at this point. These points.

I admit, before I first put these pens to paper, I’d already built up a bias. The cheap construction did not instill great confidence that these pens would even be smooth, let alone super. And the first few strokes of every pen weren’t great (even after first use, if the pen had been sitting unused for a while it was the same situation). But once I’d written a letter, perhaps two, definitely by the end of the first word, I found that these pens were actually, to my astonishment, smooth. Super smooth? Heck, I’ll give it to them. The line quality is decent, as good as any standard ballpoint, and certainly vibrant enough for me. Comparing the black pens, the Write Dudes super smooth ballpoint pen is gray when put next to Zebra’s Surari Emulsion ink or Uni-ball’s Jetstream (which is essentially like writing with liquid night 500 miles from civilization dark). But I think the Write Dudes ballpoint is intended to compete more with the low-end fare (in the neighborhood of, say, Bic sticks and no-name ballpoints), and in that class I’d say it’s a good contender. And I really enjoyed doodling with these pens. I’ll probably draft the light blue ballpoint into my daily arsenal/legion (blue ink/lead has a special property of making all doodles look magically better).

I think these are 1.0mm, by the way. In an ideal fantasy world, these would also be offered in 0.5mm. I'll keep dreaming.

Unfortunately, I can’t find a link on the Write Dudes website to the exact product pack I reviewed. Here’s a four-pack, featuring not my favorites among the colors I received. Try looking in your typical big box stores, like Office Max or Target. I don’t know what the full 18 pack costs, but based on the pricing of the 4-pack, this seems like a darned good value.


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