Mini Review – Zebra 1.6mm Bold (F-301)

The Zebra F-301 is my favorite pen. It might not be the best pen I’ve ever used, but it is sturdy, good-looking, and reliable. Recently I was grabbing some new ones and mistakenly picked up the Bold 1.6mm version. As some of my readers may know, I’m more of a fine-tip person, so I had to go back and get another set. But a broad tip still has its place. In many cases it can make the writing process smoother, prevent hand cramps, and make the final product more legible. So how well does this version work?

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The body is no different than the regular Zebra F-301 (save having “1.6mm” printed on the side) and it does not affect the function of the pen in that regard. The only real difference is the tip, which is considerably larger (being more than twice as big as the “fine” and half-again as big as the “medium”). The ink hasn’t been adjusted for the size, as becomes evident when the pen is left for a time and the tip dries. However, aside from minor startup problems resulting from that dry ink, the pen is remarkably smooth, especially if one has a firm hand.

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If you’ve ever found yourself frustrated with the small size or stiff writing of a standard ballpoint, but still want the general water-fastness and convenience of one, this might be the pen for you. It’s a thick-line (thicker than I personally like), smooth-writing pen in a solid shell.

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Mini Review – Peruvian 2B Pencils

At this point, I’ve gotten through the reviews of most of the non-U.S. purchased products I’ve received. But down at the bottom of that list are these simple little nameless pencils that came from Peru in what I understand was a larger bundle. And I’d like to take a quick look at them before moving too far beyond.

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The body is your standard yellow, hexagonal fare, without a ferrule or eraser at the back, replaced with a white band and then a black “cap” of paint. The only other adornment is “2B” stamped in a gold color. They come pre-sharpened, and thus a little shorter than your average pencil, being around 7”.

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The lead is a 2B, so it’s a little softer than your #2 HB’s, but it’s far from too soft, and the difference is really hard to tell. That probably stems from it not being a very well refined graphite, making it more toothy and gritty than one would generally expect from this hardness of pencil.

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The build quality is work-able, with the wooden body being quite sturdy, and the absence of an eraser making things easy. There is some variance in how well the lead is centered, though, making sharpening sometimes difficult. In the end they’re what you’d expect from a cheap no-name pencil, but they get the job done.

Mini Review – TxDOT Highlighter

This review is going to be a bit different than my normal ones (hopefully quicker). I found this highlighter for almost nothing in a charity shop where it seems someone donated whatever they didn’t give away. It’s got no branding save a message not to drink and drive (fine advice) and such a strange shape that I wanted to take a look.

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The body is a very large cylinder that bubbles out in the front and has 3 flattened areas that are ribbed for grip. It’s mostly smooth, save for a coarse area in the back where messages can be printed, so obviously it’s from some bulk-online company and the only logos are the ones that are being advertised. At the back, there is a giant, super-satisfying click mechanism and a surprisingly robust clip. The mechanism is a standard one (that you can see through the translucent body) that should perform all right and keep the tip from drying out immediately. The ink is a very pale, lackluster orange that doesn’t have a good smudge-resistance but does what one would expect.

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I just think it’s a nice, chunky, fascinating thing. It isn’t very practical but it gets the job done and it shouldn’t be possible to lose. And it’s made of a sturdy (and thick) enough plastic that if the refill is any good it should last for years. And hey, if you managed to get one, it was probably free! (Also it comes in one of those terrible plastic bags that I think is supposed to prevent it from drying out and which I can’t imagine working.)