Pilot Birdie Switch Combo Pen and Zebra Mini Ballpoint


Well, I’ve got some good news and some bad news… The good news is that I have some new stuff to review (Yay!). The bad news, is that I’ve decided to take a hiatus from Pens’n’Paper (Boo!)… I know, I can already hear the hissing and “buts” on people’s lips as I write this, but there are several valid reasons for my putting a pause on my blogging endeavours. Firstly, cost… In today’s economy, with me being a poor college student working a part-time job, I am already experiencing mental angst when paying out for a tank of gasoline. It’s been over a month since I’ve bought a pen or a notebook, because I simply look at the price and can’t justify purchasing it. I have over 300 barely used pens and 100 notebooks lying around in nice orderly boxes at house, and even my obsession for pens can’t overrule my super-thin wallet… Secondly, I’m short on time… Between, church, work, girlfriend, school, and the million other things I have to do, blogging just hasn’t been a priority lately, and for that I apologize. So, after I complete two more reviews, I will be taking a sabbatical. No, Pens’n’Paper won’t be shut down. I still plan on paying for the domain name and leaving it up as a resource, and perhaps even returning to it someday.

But anyhoo, enough of my pity partying, let’s get on to today’s review…

 Up for a look today are two tiny pens which were sent to me by the amazing Andrew from over at MyMaido.com. The Pilot Birdie Switch Combo and Zebra Mini Ballpoint both are extremely small and would easily slip into the pine of your favorite high-end notebook or clip onto the rings of your spiral wound.

The Pilot Birdie Switch Combo Pen is interesting in that it’s a self-contained multi-pen with a pencil on one end and a ballpoint pen on the other. In order to switch from pencil to pen or vice-versa, you simply remove the cap (similar to most old-fashioned mechanical pencils) and place it on the opposite end. The Birdie features a 0.5 mm mechanical pencil and a 0.5mm black ballpoint and also comes with a black refill for the ballpoint.

This combo pen/pencil is a decent offering from Pilot. The mechanical pencil is mechanically sound and the supplied lead is smooth. The ballpoint is a bit scratchy, but that’s something I’ve come to expect from fine-tipped ball points, so I won’t harp on it too much. My main qualm about this combo is the fact that there’s no eraser… Having a mechanical pencil is kind of pointless if there’s no eraser available, but I guess it was sacrificed due to size.

Next up, we have the Zebra Mini 0.5mm Ballpoint. This small pen features a clip retracting mechanism, so in order to retract the tip, you have to push down on the clip, releasing the spring. The ballpoint writes relatively smooth, again a little scratchy because of the fine point, and the sleek barrel is an attention-getter. This pen also came with a refill, so that when you run out of ink you can replace it and continue on.

Both of these pens feature stainless construction and are very small (see the picture where they are compared with a dime), and would not be out-of-place on any person’s notebook. Thanks again Andrew for the awesome opportunity to review these two items from MyMaido.com!


Zebra V-301 Stainless Steel Fountain Pen


Zebra V-301 Stainless Steel Fountain Pen

Up for a look this time is a brand-spankin’-new fountain pen offering from Zebra, which was kindly sent to me from Canada by Halden J., a Twitter acquaintance! This pen is due out for US release some time in the Spring of this year, but I guess they had an earlier release date in Canada, where it can be found at Staples.

So, as for my opinions of the pen. I took some photos, opened the package, then took some more photos before actually loading an ink cartridge in the pen. s with all the fountain pens I use, I turned it up on its end (nib down) and left it for five minutes in order to facilitate ink flow. The ink is fed through a wick nib feed (which may present some difficulties when it comes to flushing it out and using another ink color) which, I was soon to discover, did not feed ink quickly at all.

After five minutes or so, I posted the cap only to find that the cap does not post firmly  and rotates and bounces on the end of the barrel (although this may be a fluke) and that the pen would not yet write. So, I thought the feed might be a little slower, so I left it turned upside down for another 5 minutes or so, and finally, after some furtive scratching on a piece of Rhodia paper, ink flowed from the nib.

I thought this might be the end of the problem, but I was soon to discover that this happened every single time I stopped using the pen for more thn a few moments. It was almost as if the ink was drawn back up the wick feed into the cartridge, leaving me with a dry nib each and every time.

The ink itself is decent. It’s a grey/black ink that dries very quickly (a little less than 5 seconds, which is great for lefties) and doesn’t bleed through the paper. The nib is a medium stainless steel nib, which is a bit more broad than what I’m used to and lays down a good amount of ink. The grip is a bit of a disappointment, since it’s made completely of a hard plastic with bumps and no rubber coating, which promotes the “death-grip” while writing. The barrel and cap are made of stainless steel and are actually just a copy of Zebra’s stainless highlighter range that came out last year.

So, we have a decent refillable (although only with Zebra’s cartridges. So far, converter/international cartridge attempts have failed, at least by what I’ve seen around the web) stainless steel fountain pen at a relatively decent price (I believe it was about $3.89 Canadian, which equals out to $3.94 US). Although there are several issues (ink feed problem and loose cap), and I can’t really see myself personally using it everyday, it might work well for others.

Questions and More…


Yup, time for another one of these posts… I’ve been looking over my blog for the past couple weeks and I’ve noticed a couple things… First of all, I haven’t been posting horribly regularly. Mostly, I post one day, don’t post for 3-4 days, then post two days in a row to make up for my missing, then don’t post for another 3 days… I see a vicious cycle beginning, and it’s not one that I’m proud of. I feel that in having such long breaks in between my posts that I’m doing a disservice to my readers, who come looking for new content and discover the same old post from last time. When I started this blog, I wanted to try to post once a day if at all possible, but since I’m carrying a full college schedule and working a job, I don’t have as much time as I would like to put into this blog…

Which leads me to my second point. I’ve not been using my nice little “rating sheet” or even giving scores to things. The reason for this is the amount of time it takes to fill out a sheet and scan it in and edit it so that the ink color looks relatively the same as in real life. Add to that the time it takes to take photos, crop and edit them, and then upload them and I’ve easily put in a half hour before I even start thinking about what to write for the review… Overkill a bit? I think so…  So, in order to solve this problem, I’m debating on removing all reference to any type of scoring system and letting the pens, pencils, paper, and notebooks speak for themselves. I’m really torn over whether or not to do it (although I’m leaning toward the removal), so I am putting the question out to you… What would you like to see? While I do write this blog in part for my personal enjoyment (because I truly do love what I write about), I also do it in order to help out my readers. Do the ratings/rate sheets help you guys, or are the inconsequential? As you might’ve noticed (in example the Derwent pencil post) that I’ve been trying to put a bit more information in the posts rather than just opinions and fluff. Is that a good thing, or would you rather me go back to the simple, quick review format?

Next, I’ve been debating about changing the design of the blog… When I saw PenAddict change, I had a twinge of sudden jealousy… 😉 But the question is, is it time for a change, or would you guys rather I left it the way it is?

Please, use the comment section below to post your thoughts, ideas, critiques, etc… 🙂

Also, an awesome pic directed to me on Twitter (feel free to follow the blog, btw, just click on the nice little twitter icon up at the top or follow @PensnPaper) by the Zebra Pen Company (@ZebraPen) had me excited this morning, so I thought I’d share it with you guys too (click for larger size)…

Zebra V-301 Stainless Steel Fountain Pen

Zebra F-701 Stainless Steel Ballpoint


Pen #9.
Zebra F-701 Stainless Steel Ballpoint

Well, I was cruising through Staples (on a pen run again, of course) and happened to hear this beauty calling my name from the shelf. With a tip, barrel, clip, and “clicker” crafted from polished stainless (1/8″ thick on the barrel), who could resist? Zebra also decided to forgo the industry standard rubber grip and instead etched the bottom of the barrel into a “knurled grip”. This pen also performs as advertised, delivering a fine 0.7 mm line, and writes very smoothly (especially when you consider that it’s a ballpoint). While some may shirk at the price tag ($5.92 for a single pen), you must keep several things in mind.
1.) It’s crafted from stainless
2.) It’s a Zebra.
3.) It’s refillable.
All in all, another excellent piece of work from Zebra. Now, I wonder if I can find a gel refill?

5 out of 5 Stars!

Zebra G-301 Stainless Steel Gel Pen

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Pen #4.
Zebra G-301 Stainless Steel Gel Pen

Zebra is quickly becoming one of my favorite pen manufacturers for several reasons. One of these is construction. I mean, how many other manufacturers make a pen that has only three plastic pieces on the body (grip, top, and a small disc on top of the push button) and then makes the rest of the pen out of stainless steel? The pen delivers ink in a fine 0.7mm line, and writes very smoothly. Since I received my first Zebra several years ago – a telescoping stainless steel ballpoint – I’ve kept my eyes peeled for others. Having already purchased some stainless steel ballpoints and a mechanical pencil, I was just waiting for Zebra to add a new addition to the family. My one gripe is that the grip is made of molded plastic rather than rubber. My fingers tend to slip down it as I write and I have to adjust my grip. Other than that, an excellent pen.

4.5 Stars out of 5

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