Review – Uni-ball Jetstream Bold

Some people search for the best of something. I never really looked at my collecting in that way. I just like using a variety of things, and for me I know that there’s no one perfect thing. But that doesn’t stop me from liking sites like TheWireCutter.com, which finds the best product in a given category for the average consumer. I was recently featured in their article about the best mechanical pencil (along with several other, well-known reviewers), and while I was talking to them, I thought I’d try out their recommendation for best ballpoint pen: the Uni-Ball Jetstream. If you read their mechanical pencil article, and my review of their pick the Uni Kuru Toga, this might seem familiar. I do understand why people like the pen, but I don’t like it so much, and here’s what I think of it.

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My particular Jetstream is the bold 1.0, and starting at the top it has a nice, beefy, chrome click button that is very satisfying to use. Down from that is the logo, size, and a solid clip that does its job. The majority of the barrel is rubberized, with the Jetstream logo in the top half in a hard-to-read, reflective plastic. There are slight divots on the section for grip, which actually flares out, instead of tapering in, making it quite large in the hand, and then an interesting-looking chrome cone that leads to the point. This cone does screw off and the pen is easily refillable.

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The ink itself is a nice, cool black that slides onto the page easily. There is an ever-so-slight amount of dry time, after which the ink is quite waterproof. While the ball does roll nicely and the ink flows smoothly, I still get blobs and stuttering, blobs being less frequent than with comparable pens, and stuttering much more frequent. This slight stuttering is hardly noticeable when writing, but is virtually the only feedback the pen gives. It is most definitely the smoothest ballpoint I’ve ever written with but I don’t feel like I’m in control of it when I’m writing. The stuttering is easy enough to overlook when the writing is done, though.

Overall it’s a well-designed, sturdy pen that I don’t want to write with. The point slides out from under me, and the thick grip cramps my hand after a while. It’s also extremely light, which makes me want to hold it tighter so as to not lose it. Still, the fit and finish are great, it’s very satisfying to hold, and if you want an “inexpensive” smooth ballpoint, it really can’t be beaten

Review – Uni-Ball Kuru Toga Mechanical Pencil

When talking about mechanical pencils, as with many things, it’s hard to get away from the idea that there must be some way to improve upon past designs, and that the standard design we use today has enough flaws in it that seem easily fixable that they should be promptly corrected. The Uni-Ball Kuru Toga is a mechanical pencil that is designed to fix one of the long-standing problems with pencils: unevenness of the tip due to use. Let’s see how it works out.

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The body of the Kuru Toga is quite simple. The barrel is almost entirely featureless until getting close to the point, where there are a few ridges for “grip”, and then a small metal step-down to the lead point. Interestingly enough, unlike most mechanical pencils, this metal step-down is not integral to the design and the pencil will function fine without it. At the top is a small click-advance system, with a transparent eraser cover that is the accent color. The eraser is small, but works quite well, and most packs come with a few replacements. The cover makes a satisfying clicking noise as it moves into place. The clip has all the info you’ll get about the pencil, which is just enough, though not very much. The clip itself is functional, but not the best. The barrel is semi-transparent with a logo, giving the pencil overall a very interesting look.

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The lead is HB, and, according to the package, diamond-infused. It is harder than most other HB’s I’ve used, and I haven’t had a lead break on me yet, though that’s more because of the lead advance, which tends to give less instead of more, meaning I have less lead available to break. Overall, the lead is smooth enough and doesn’t write very bold or dark. The real feature of this pencil is the turning point, which acts with the pressure of writing and supposedly turns the lead to prevent breakage and to create a more even tip. I’m not sure if it works, or even if it is working, as I’ve never felt it when using the pencil, but I have also never had the lead break, so there’s that. I wouldn’t say it improves the writing experience by creating a sharper point, but it certainly doesn’t make it worse. Perhaps this feature for me is unnoticed since I naturally rotate the pencil around in my hand willy-nilly. That’s just how I write.

So overall, how well does this pencil do? Pretty good, I guess. I’m not a fan of the overall design, and the lack of any grip on the smooth plastic can make it hard to hold. Like I said, I can’t even tell if the feature is working, but I’ll go ahead and say that, at least through a combination of factors that went into the design of the pencil and lead, it is much less prone to breakage than other models. So if you have a problem with breaking your leads, I’d certainly have a look, but if you value the comfort in hand more than the lead quality, I might look elsewhere.

 

Review – Uni-Ball Vision Elite Bold Black, Blue, and Red

When looking at the Pilot Precise two weeks ago, it occurred to me that there might be people who don’t have Pilot pens available, or don’t like them, so I looked into a different set of pens that have similar features. And I found the Uni-Ball Vision Elite Bold, in Black, Red, and Blue.

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The body and cap are simple and smooth, with a nice white-to-grey fade, a conical top, and a rounded bottom. The clip is metal with a few divots and is very tight. The top of the cap has the color of the ink and there are a few windows below to allow you to see the feed. On the barrel, the brand is stated twice and the model once, but there is no size information. Removing the cap exposes a transparent yet grip-covered feed, and the conical tip to a standard metal roller-ball point.

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The three inks aren’t too special in properties. The black is a thick, nice color. It is a warm black, fairly formal, etc. The bold line on all of these pens is enough to bleed through on cheaper copier paper, but the ink dries surprisingly fast. The blue is a dark blue, again fairly formal. It’s almost a navy or a blue-black color and it works well in most situations. I’d say it’d even work well for some artistic endeavors. The red is fairly bright and red, but it isn’t eye-hurting. It is a very deep, nice color, but it could still be considered aggressive. It is also good enough to have some artistic potential.

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The point is nice, and it writes smoothly, especially in the bold I have here. There is a lot of line variation, though, meaning drawing is a bit harder (or easier, depending on how you look at it). Like I said, there is some bleed-through, but not much. The writing is dry almost instantly from when I pick up the pen, which is amazing and leads to a much smoother writing experience.

Overall, the Uni-Ball Vision Elite is a great little roller-ball with quite a few office applications. The colors are nice without being overbearing, and the writing experience is fast and clean. Artistically they are limited, having little line consistency, but on the color side they have potential. They’re a nice set of pens.