Pilot Birdie Switch Combo Pen and Zebra Mini Ballpoint

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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!

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Stainless Steel Sharpie (Refillable)

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Pen #68.
Stainless Steel Sharpie (Refillable)

An impulse buy from Quill.com the other day, this Stainless Steel Sharpie came into my hands mainly because it was on sale and came with a free refill (not counting the one already inside the marker case itself). I will admit that I’ve been on a stainless kick for a while, having purchased almost every single member of the Zebra stainless line as well as any other alloy-based pen on the market (Pentel Energel, Bic Steel, etc.). While I’m not an enviro-nut (sorry guys), I am into the concept of stewardship, so any time I can get a “refillable” pen that has refills readily available, I will more than happily use and reuse.

The first thing that comes to mind when I see the SS Sharpie is the sheer elegance of it. You can tell just by looking at its polished stainless surface, shiny ring and clip, and styled Sharpie logo that it has much greater aspirations than quick homemade signs and writing on CD-ROMs (although it’ll do those great too)…

So, is there truly any difference, other than aesthetics, from your normal everyday Sharpie? Yes, there actually is… Firstly, it’s refillable, which automatically promotes a little bit of enviro-sustainability. Secondly, it’s a bit longer than the regular Sharpie (see reference photo below). Thirdly, it handles a little bit differently than a regular Sharpie. There’s a lip where the refill cartridge meets the pen body which allowed me to get a better purchase on the marker. The refill “grip” section as well as the tip is also a little longer than the regular Sharpie, and the coolness of the stainless on my hand while I’m doodling/marking/writing is actually a little soothing.

All in all, an excellent offering (and a much needed boost in my confidence) from Sanford’s Sharpie line…

Zebra Sarasa Stick 0.3mm Blue-Black Gel Pen and Pentel Hybrid Technica Retractable 0.5mm Blue Gel Pen

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Pen #35.
Zebra Sarasa Stick 0.3mm Blue-Black Gel Pen

Well, I happened to have these two pens on hand, so I thought I’d go ahead and get their reviews out-of-the-way… First off, we have the Zebra Sarasa Stick 0.3mm Gel Pen… I have to say that a few of the pens that I bought this time from JetPens were a little too fine for my tastes (yes, there is such a thing as “too fine”). This 0.3mm gel pen teetered on the brink of being too fine, but barely managed to squeak out as ok.

The pen design in itself is interesting… The cap features a binder clip, much like the Sarasa Clips. The grip is interesting in that it has two strips cut out of the rubber (which I assume is meant to be where you hold it), and I will admit that it’s relatively comfortable.

Now for the downsides… While I’m normally a fan of the Zebra Sarasa line, this pen has a couple of drawbacks. First, as I mentioned above, the tip is almost too fine for my tastes. Not enough ink is laid down on the paper as I write, and it makes a huge amount of noise while doing so (ie. pen scratching on paper). I’m sorry Zebra, but you didn’t capture my heart with this one… Better luck next time…

2.5 out of 5 stars…

Pen #36.
Pentel Hybrid Technica Retractable 0.5mm Blue Gel Pen

After my last Hybrid Technica Review , I was a little wary (due to ink/tip quality) of ordering another one, but when I saw that JetPens had a blue retractable (and a red refill) on sale, I figured why not go ahead and at least give them a try… So, I did, and I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised! This Technica writes extremely smoothly (close to Energel quality) and seems to just flow over the paper. There’s little to no scratchiness or skipping while writing, and the ink is a beautiful, deep blue… I actually can’t wait for the ink to run out of the blue cartridge so that I’m able to try out the red cartridge! The pen is also pretty comfortable to use, featuring a nice, wavy-line textured grip which is easy to hold onto. I definitely will have no qualms about ordering some more of these in the future!

5 out of 5 stars!

Sanford Uniball Vision Retractable Rollerball (Gel) 0.8mm

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Pen #27.
Sanford Uniball Vision Retractable Rollerball (Gel) 0.8mm

Strolling through Office Max again the other day (no, I still haven’t learned to avoid office supply stores), I was looking for something different. So, for the first time in a while, I skipped over the gel pen section and went to the rollerballs. This pack of pens caught my attention because 1.) they looked cool, 2.) were an oddball size (0.8mm), and 3.) they were a retractable version of the Vision line (I always liked the needlepoint version). I must admit, these are quite different than what I expected. While they were in the rollerball section (and are supposedly part of the Vision rollerball product line), these seem to be more of a gel roller than a true water-based rollerball. Not that I’m complaining, mind you. I must admit that I like the futuristic design of the pens, and they seem to be pretty comfortable to write with. They are also very smooth and lay down ink relatively consistently (although this red one seems to be a little defective). I also like the clamp-style binder clip (which also causes the pen to retract, making sure it won’t leak in your pocket/backpack).

5 out of 5 stars!

Zebra Sarasa Clip 0.4mm Gel Pens

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Pen #26. (Technically four, but just one…)
Zebra Sarasa Clip 0.4mm Gel Pens –
Tea Brown, Viridian Green, Cobal Blue, and Gray

Since I’ve always been a fan of the Zebra Sarasa product line (they’re actually still my favorites), when I saw that JetPens had the Sarasa Clips in several new colors for 2009, I figured I oughta at least give them a try. So, I ordered the four new colors that came in the 0.4mm size. As with all the other Zebra products I’ve purchased in the past (less the Jimnie Gel), I think I’m going to be pretty happy with these. I will be the first to admit that the tea brown is my favorite color in this batch (with the cobalt blue being second). I mean, how often do you see a brown pen, much less a 0.4mm gel pen? I’m not all that happy with the gray, it writes way too lightly (and actually has stopped writing altogether all of a sudden). All of the pens (with the exception of the gray) write very smoothly and truly live up the 0.4mm Extra-Fine label. Truly another excellent product from Zebra, and a great buy from JetPens.com as well!

5 out of 5 stars!

Zebra Eco Sarasa Clip + Zebra Eco Jimnie Clip

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Pen #17/18.
Zebra Eco “Sarasa” Clip + Zebra Eco “Jimnie” Clip
Well, I was going to sit down and write two completely seperate reviews for these two pens; at least until I figured out that both of them are simply “environmentally responsible” versions of two of Zebra’s standards. There are two main “drawing points” for these two pens. 1.) The adjustable clip (enabling them to be clipped onto thicker binders and such.) 2.) Both pens claim to be made from approximately 70-75% recycled materials (although, both use standard refills). Both pens live up to the quality standards I have come to expect from Zebra (although the ballpoint skips a little), and both are exceptionally comfortable to write with (cause we all know recycled rubber grips are 10 times more comfortable than the non-recycled kind). The “Eco-Sarasa” lays down a smooth consistent line, and while I personally wouldn’t purchase many of them (due to the fact that I’ve only seen them in black, no blues or reds), it’s still an excellent pen.
“Eco-Sarasa”: 0.7mm, 4.5 out of 5 stars…
“Eco-Jimnie”: 0.7mm-1.0mm, 3.5 out of 5 stars…


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