Uni-ball Vision Elite Roller Pen Review - 0.8mm Blue/Black

The Uni-ball Vision Elite Roller is a pen that goes way back with me.  Ok, maybe not WAY back, but definitely is a pen that saw some heavy rotation (if not dedicated for a time) a few years ago when I worked in banking.  It was a great pen for taking notes and for when clients needed to sign documents.

The Elite is what I'd consider to be a smart looking pen, or attractive at least for your "over the counter" office supply pen.  It almost has a sort of futuristic look to it with the oblong oval shapes that grace the cap and clip, and also the transparent color indicating piece that stands proudly at the top of the pen.  

It isn't just a circle, line, or other marking, it is a piece of plastic that is sculpted to flow with the overall design of the pen.  I like it.  The 0.8mm pens have a silvery white barrel that fades in and out from the ends.

My main draw to the Vision Elite is the ink flow and just how easy it is to get words on a page.  Honestly, the 0.8mm is kind of an odd size in the pen world.  We usually only see 0.38, 0.5, 0.7, and a few jumbo 1.0mm.  Not sure what the rationale by Uni is for it (maybe to add to the unique factor?), but that extra 0.1mm seems to do the trick.  The blue-black ink is definitely that and is a rich, unique color.  

While writing with this pen I feel that my letters are more expressive and, oddly enough, maybe even a bit neater?  There are certain pens you write with that do that and it makes you feel good while writing.  The ink in the Vision Elite is Uni's pigmented ink which means fade-proof and archival quality which is great for sensitive and permanent documents.

If you more prefer a finer line then the 0.8mm may not quite be for you, although they do make a 0.5mm which comes in a black barrel.  I haven't used one of the 0.5mm for quite awhile, but I'm certain I have in the past.  I'd be interested to try them again to see what my feelings are about the finer experience with this pen.

I do have a few gripes about the pen, primarily the finish on the barrel.  Actually, the barrel itself too.  The painted finish tends to scrape off pretty easily leaving small scratches and "unsightly" blemishes all over the cap and barrel.  As I said above, this is an attractive pen and it is unfortunate that this feature is so easily diminished with use.

Battle Scars...

An oddity is that Uni-ball actually sells refills for this pen.  I don't quite understand this as the barrel is easily scratched and the refills are literally maybe $0.50 cheaper than buying an entirely new pen?  For a fresh barrel, I'll spot a couple of quarters particularly if using it in a business setting.  

The refill is also extremely huge and is practically a pen in and of itself.  It consists of the tip, grip section, and a fairly large reservoir that fills most of the barrel.  In my heart of hearts I wish Uni would figure a way to re-engineer this pen so that a refill could go in a more durable, higher end barrel.  We can dream, right?

The barrel situation aside, I really enjoy the Vision Elite and need to pull it back into my rotration from time to time.

Zebra Sharbo X ST3 Multipen Review and JetPens Giveaway

Where to start with the Zebra Sharbo X?  For starters, one of these has been on my list for a VERY long time (not sure why I never picked one up), but my friends at JetPens kindly sent one over to me for review and they are also sponsoring a fantastic giveaway of the same model.

The Sharbo X ST3 is a highly customizable, three way multipen that is pretty much as cool as the name sounds.  Serious.  From the second I picked this thing up I knew I had an absolute winner on my hands.

The first thing you find yourself doing while holding it is is twisting the mechanism that extends the various tips.  The mechanism is quiet and smooth which I find appealing, and the pen makes a subtle and silent "clunk" so to speak when one of the refills is completely extended.  It doesn't lock into place necessarily, but you know that it is in the right place.  The barrel itself also has three tastefully placed lines of "I", "II", and "III" marking the various points where the refills extend for your reference.  

The barrel of the Sharbo is made primarily of brass which provides it a really good weight, but not heavy.  I really enjoy the feel of this pen and the size seems just right.  There are a couple of plastic pieces, but overall the pen feels extremely solid.  In using and handling the pen I don't feel that quality control is much of an issue with these.  The grip section is smooth and without taper which might cause some grief for those that have a tough time hanging onto pens.

If you include the refills and pencil mechanism, the Sharbo has 8 removable parts in total which is pretty crazy.  I few posts ago I talked about how much I don't like a bunch of random parts on pens that can get lost, but with the Sharbo it is a non-issue as they always have a place to go all the time.

The main draw to these pens as mentioned before is the ability to customize your writing experience exactly how you want it.  It takes two of the D1 sized pen refills for which there are literally dozens if not 100 options or more and three pencil sizes in 0.3, 0.5, and 0.7mm.  I'm running the Zebra branded 0.5mm Royal Blue gel and 0.4mm Carmine Red gel refills and a 0.7mm pencil mechanism in this one, and I'm really enjoying the blue one a lot, but the ability to "fit your fancy" is pretty easily attainable.

Now, with all this customization there is a catch...  The Sharbo X comes standard as just a barrel with no refills or pencil components which need to be ordered separately.  Pencil components run about $5 each and the refills about $3, so you'd need to plan on spending another $10-12 in addition to get it up and running.  At $50 for the barrel alone this aspect is definitely a consideration, but I feel this pen is easily worth $65.  

Another consideration with most D1 compatible pens is that you'll cruise through refills pretty fast if you use it as your primary carry.  I've even heard that with the Zebra gel refills they could run out in a week with heavy use.  At about $3 a refill it could get spendy if using it to write for long sessions all the time, but may be worth the price of the experience for you.

Under the end cap there is a small mechanical pencil eraser that works about as well as most.  More for those erase in a pinch moments for sure.  The pencil mechanism works on an internal spring once put into place with the tip extended, and the space or indent in between the barrel is where the "click" action takes place.  From a design standpoint I've had a few people mention it wasn't really their thing, but I don't mind it so much.

I'm very impressed with the Sharbo X ST3 and definitely give it high marks.  

Now for the fun part...

To enter the JetPens Zebra Sharbo X giveaway that is running through April 24, 2014 at midnight PST, visit their giveaway page and make sure you are a JetPens newsletter subscriber.  This giveaway is currently only open to residents of the US, but there will be more international giveaways soon!

Thanks again JetPens


Pilot Juice 0.38mm Blue Pen Review

I have to admit, there was a time when I couldn't stand using an ultra fine gel pen.  Every time I picked one up I felt like I was writing with a pin dipped in ink.  Although, I've found over the last few years that I have grown to really enjoy them for specific purposes like note taking or when drawing more "technical" sketches.  For writing out a birthday card or signing a check?  Nope.

Now, I'm sure you might have heard of the Pilot Juice pen over the last year as there are many people on the bandwagon with these.  It has taken me up until now to try some, but in my last JetPens order I stocked up a bit...

The Pilot Juice I'd probably put in the category of the G2, 207, and Energel type pens, but the options available are literally insane.  Pilot knows how to do it right people.  There are at least 24 colors available (that I know of) and three sizes in a .38, .5, and .7mm.  If we do the math, that is ALOT of options for not only one pen brand, but one pen model.

Upon writing with the Juice I've found it to be excellent.  Even the .38 I'm using lays down a nice crisp and dark line with each stroke.  At only $1.65 apiece, these will definitely be making their way into my regular writing.

The barrel on the Juice isn't really anything to write home about.  Granted, it is a cheap pen but the barrel doesn't feel nearly as sturdy as a G2 and all the innards have kind of that low cost feel.  I'm glad the writing experience is top notch!  

The beauty of the refill is that it is the same size as the G2 so it will fit a variety of your favorite pens like the Karas Kustoms Retrakt, BIGiDESIGN Ti-Click Classic, or the upcoming Tactile Turn Mover.

I also bought some blue black and grey versions, but will likely be trying out more.  Seriously, for $1.65, toss a couple colors into your cart through JetPens to try as these are fantastic.

Palomino Golden Bear #2 Wood Cased Pencil

Alright folks... after nearly a year of Clicky Posting, I have yet to review a wood cased pencil mostly due to the fact that I don't use them and don't really know much about them.  What makes them good?  What makes them poor?  All of this is still a mystery to me, so for my inaugural wood cased post you'll just have to bear (golden?) with my ignorance as I am way out of my league here.

First and foremost I'd like to give a big thanks to my friend Tim from The Writing Arsenal for setting me up not only with this pencil, but nearly a dozen of what I would consider "fancy" pencils like the Palomino Blackwing 602, Pearl, and many others.  I think he is trying to convert me... I've been sitting on this stash of pencils for a little while now waiting for the right time to dig in.

Instagram Shot of Tim's Stash

Instagram Shot of Tim's Stash

What has prompted my desire to break out these pencils is listening to the Erasable Podcast put on by Tim, Johnny, and Andy (all of whom are pencil addicts) that is centered around the wood cased pencil scene.  Pretty legit, and these guys definitely know their stuff.  The podcast is still in its infancy, but is gaining traction so make sure to give them a listen if you want to be "schooled".  Tim is a teacher too, so he knows what he is doing in that arena... 

Honestly, this review may not be entirely technical when it comes to what is good or bad about the pencil (because I don't really know...yet), but may more so be about how I felt while using a pencil again.

Why did I choose the Palomino Golden Bear for starters?  Well it has an orange eraser which I thought was pretty slick, and it is a Palomino so it has to be good, right?  You see?  Ignorant, but learning.  

I'm not used to erasing what I write since using ink is a bit more permanent, but I did give the Golden Bear's eraser a whirl and it seemed to do alright.  It still left a pretty good outline of the words on the page, but it could be that the Doane Paper Idea Journal paper is a bit porous and traps more of the graphite. 

One thing I really enjoyed about the using a wood cased pencil was the smell while sharpening and while writing.  Really, what I think is a lot of the draw to wood cased pencils is the way we feel when we use them.  Although pens are tactile, a wood cased pencil feels more raw and more organic; they are simpler it seems.  They are light weight, but still sturdy to hold and everything we do with them seems more temporary.  Personal perhaps?  There is definitely some nostalgia to the experience as it takes me back to days in grade school when using these was a daily occurrence.  With pens things seem a bit more "business".   

The Golden Bear is a #2 style which is usually the equivalent of an HB on the lead hardness scale.  I generally prefer leads that run a bit softer in the 2B range because they put down a darker line.  I'm excited to do some comparisons as I move through the set that Tim gave me.

I have perhaps an embarrassing confession to make... as I hadn't used wood cased pencils for literally over a decade, I did not have a decent sharpener about.  Not sure if I picked up a good one, but I decided to buy one that looked to be of quality so that I would give the pencils the best experience possible.  I'll have to peruse JetPens to see if they have other sharpeners that people like.  Any suggestions?

This review was a lot of fun and I need to take a pencil with me more often or have some at work to use.  Thanks again, Tim!

For the wood cased pencil experts, visit these blogs:

The Writing Arsenal


Pencil Revolution