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Review: Zebra Delguard Mechanical Pencil

Let’s start this review with this fact, the Zebra Delguard is a budget-friendly mechanical pencil. It is no way competes with great mechs like the Rotring 600 or TWSBI Precision. If you are looking for a wallet-friendly upgrade from your Bic Mechanical, this is a good choice. The pencil comes packaged with a 12-pack of HB leads.

First off in the look department, this pencil is a charcoal gray and black pencil with chrome and orange accents. The top half of the body has a pinstripe visual look that seems as if it is intended to look like carbon fiber or something a little fancier. It looks pretty nice. The grip section is molded smoke-colored translucent plastic. You can see the workings of the DelGuard mechanism inside. The nock and the point are the only external metal parts of the pencil. The nock covers a tiny niblet of an eraser, so carry a block eraser. Internally you can see springs in the DelGuard mechanism. A single click extends 0.5mm of lead every time.

A big negative for me is that there is no way to unscrew the pencil should the mechanism jam, you are in a word, screwed, should the pencil jam up. That said, it’s a $4.99 mech readily available at big box, drug, and grocery stores; most likely you won’t cry if it gets jammed you’ll have the funds to buy a new one.

In hand this is a VERY lightweight pencil. It’s a barely there feeling that I expected to hate, but I didn’t. I wrote page after page and enjoyed it far more than I expected. It felt good despite weighing so little.

As for the mechanism, it works. When the lead is extended at a typical amount the little tip pushes out and protects the lead. At a high angle or a low angle, it works. The only time it broke in regular use was when I extended the lead more than 2mm, even then you could see the tip beginning to extend to protect the lead. The key to the DelGuard mechanism working properly is extending the right amount of lead at a time. And it does work. When I wrote with a heavy hand the tip extended.

The included lead is a true HB. It’s decent on rough paper but is nothing to write home about. I did find it decently smooth, though not as smooth as NanoDia leads.

My experience with the DelGuard is positive. I’m encouraged by how well the mechanism works on their lowest end version of this mech. It makes me want to invest in a higher end version from JetPens. If I had a teenager or friend who I was attempting to get them away from disposable mechanicals this would be a fabulous cheap option.

Jetpens has a bunch of higher end options which are still south of $15.

Review: Zebra Surari 4C

I really don’t understand the love of the Zebra Surari. I want to love it. The body of this pen is sharp- pretty in a way most multi-pens are not. It’s got smooth lines and it feels really good in the hand. I was able to get mine in a nice dark teal, it’s a fantastic shade. It’s also available in other colors too. The knock is smooth and snaps into place with a satisfying click. The tip has minimal wiggle and wobble. If that were the review, it would get an A+ and we’d move on, sadly, I used this pen for a a couple of weeks and that is where this pen starts to fade.surariI purchased this pen specifically to be on my on-the-go in-my jacket-pocket pen to be paired with my Field Notes, my mind dump Mt Tom, and to use the red or green ink to highlight something important. And for the occasional highlighting it does just fine. The issues arise when I use it for something more lengthy than a couple of words. That’s when the blobs and, for lack of a better description, webs begin.surari surari

As I write with this pen it blobs and from those blobs, as I move from letter to letter, and word to word, tiny strands of the ink stick to the tip and are stretched across the letters. These strands stick to the paper and are ugly. The blobs are bad enough, but the webs are even worse. It makes my already crappy cursuscript look even more horrible.surari

Let’s discuss the drying time. It’s horrible. When I use my Field Notes I fold it over on itself and sort of hold it with my thumb on the page I’m writing on, and move my thumb around to stabilize the notebook. I suspect this is how most of hold them. Sometimes my thumb is under the stuff I’m writing and others it’s over it. When I’m placing my finger on top of the writing it picks up the ink, even if it’s a few minutes old. I also found that this occurs on any paper. Usually all my pens dry in record time on the Staples comp books- they are so absorbent that they dry things fast. Not so with the Surari. I did a brainstorming session of about 15 minutes and found that at the end my fingers were still picking up ink from stuff I’d written at the beginning. I thought that maybe this was simply a one off incident, but then I noticed that it also happened in my Field Notes and my Mt Tom notebook.surari surarisurari

If I want ink on my fingers I’ll use a fountain pen.surari surari surari

The Surari is a really good looking pen that blobs and doesn’t dry quickly enough for my needs. I really don’t get the fervent love for this pen that I see in every review on the net. They mention the blobs, but in passing as if they “aren’t that bad.” They are bad enough that I found them annoying and frankly I LIKE pens like the BIC crystal and the BIC 4-color. I would use the BIC 4-color over this pen on any day. I don’t care how smooth this pen writes. It makes a mess of my ingers in all 4 colors.

Review: Zebra V-301 Fountain Pen

I had read a few good reviews of the Zebra V-301 Fountain Pen (V-301). The V-301 features Zebra’s typical mixture of stainless steel and black plastic barrel. At first blush it’s not a bad looking pen. The imprint is a crisp clean screen print. The black plastic is well molded and looks pretty nice. The center section, is the grip and has a waffle pattern that keeps the plastic from being slippery. Which brings me to the first detraction I’ll make of the pen. At each end of the pen the plastic is shiny but the middle section is flat. This makes sense because that waffle patterned plastic is the grip. I find it odd to mix matte and shiny plastics on the same pen.zebrafp

The pen is a nice diameter, neither too slim nor too thick. It’s a great size for gripping, even with my small hands. It is just large enough that it wouldn’t look ridiculous gripped in a big meaty paw. Without posting the pen is okay for writing but the cap is small and light enough that this pen can be posted without feeling off balance. It’s not a particularly long pen, even posted. The cap slides on and off the pen with a reassuring click. Letting you know it’s been removed or replaced. Even when you post it there is a click.zebrafp

My second issue with the pen is that the nib is diminutive when compared to the size of the pen. It’s on the ridiculous side and doesn’t look quite right. While others have reported that the pen writes well straight out of the package mine did not. It was quite scratchy. I had to get out my loupe and push and pull the tines into alignment and then I had to smooth it. Even still it’s not my favorite nib. It’s good for quick notes and such, but I wouldn’t want to take notes with it for a whole class nor would I wish to write out journal pages.zebrafp

The ink that arrives with the pen is acceptable, but nothing to write home about. It appears to take standard international cartridges. I have yet to test it with anything but the cart that came with it. I find the ink to be poorly behaved, feathering on a lot of papers and soaking through many others.zebrafp

Overall, this is a $5 pen available at places like Walgreens across the US. I think it’s a horrible introductory pen for people. I’d much rather see people get the Parker Vector* (are they still made?) or another brand of fountain pen than this one. I know that others have reported good luck with these, but I really see this as a good pen for someone willing to tweak the nib and play with the pen to get a good writing experience. I think that you have a better chance of getting a good experience with a Platinum Preppy.

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