For as long as I can remember - or, okay, at least since midway through middle school, when I stopped writing everything with metallic purple Gelly Rolls - I have been on a quest to find the perfect black ballpoint pen. Don't suggest gel pens, or heaven forbid, liquid. Blegh! I am irrationally attached to ballpoints, for reasons I can't seem to articulate. I have tried everything: Bics, Papermates, RSVPs, and Xtends. I even engaged in a several-year relationship with the Pilot Dr. Grip Center of Gravity, but this past summer, that all came crashing down when I discovered The Pen Addict. There, I read of a magical pen called the Jetstream, and its enchantingly smooth, streak-free dark-black ink... and I wondered if it might be The One.
You know, my personal Prince Charming in pen form, my príncipe azul, whatever you want to call it. (Except I totally want the prince from Beauty & the Beast, because he has an awesome library, and probably some fabulous writing instruments to go along with.)
So I ordered one (alright, several - I need all the colors, okay?) from JetPens, and what do you know, it was true love the first time pen hit paper!
And then I discovered the Pilot Acroball. And then the Zebra Surari came out. And just recently, the Pentel Vicuña. All with similar hybrid oil-based ink formulas. Apparently, my taste in pens is a little like my taste in men: when I find something I like, I want to try out every other similar variation.* The problem is, of course, that I now have a collection of nearly-identical pens in 3 different colors. So I thought I might do something useful with my stash, and compare them for comparison's sake.
Left to right: Uni-Ball Jetstreams, Pilot Acroballs, Zebra Suraris, and Pentel Vicuñas, all with .7mm points, and in standard black, blue, and red.
And a quick writing sample, on a Maruman Report Pad with 6mm lines. (Click for lots of zooming action.)
Of the four, the only one of these pens I could happily do without is the Pentel Vicuña: the lines it produces are noticeably wider than the other .7mm lines; the ink is prone to globbing (this is worst in the blue - just look at the "n" in "incitáis" - but also characteristic of the black); and the red ink, while it has the best actual writing performance, tends visibly towards being a pink-red, which I don't like at all. ("Eew, pink!!" I sound like the eight-year-old tomboy I once was, for the six months I had a hissyfit and decided to hate skating. I got over that, but I cannot get over pink-red ink, or makeup.) Plus the hard plastic body and ridge-y grip feel kind of cheap and are less than comfortable for anything more than dashing off a quick grocery list.
The other three are pretty much equally good in my eyes: the Acroball wins the most comfortable barrel/grip design; the Jetstream wins just by a hair in the smoothness contest, and it has the best black ink; and the Surari's ink colors are just precisely how I would design them - it has the darkest, most saturated red, and a perfect blue (the Acroball's blue ink is a shade or two too light for my personal liking, and the Jetstream blue is one too dark, plus it's slightly thicker/more flowy than the other colors). I keep all three in my regular rotation, using Jetstreams and Acroballs for lecture notes and the library, and the Suraris mostly stay clipped onto the notebook that I use for learning Euskara (Basque). The Vicuñas stay in my pen drawer, far from the light of day, and from my fingers. I might accidentally leave them in a common room or something one of these days...
Anyway, the conclusion is that the Jetstream was not The One, in the end, but it's definitely one of The Ones. I have several other styles of Jetstream body, as well, but that didn't sway me, in the end. I'm tempted to say that my Jetstream multi-pen (four colors! swoon!) is actually definitively The One, but there's now a Surari multi-pen which I need to evaluate in order to be able to make that call. But I'm still waiting for the Surari to get to me (why yes, I did in fact order more goodies from JetPens, is there a problem? I use them way more frequently than most of my makeup collection, anyway...) so the duel for my heart will have to wait a few weeks.
In the meantime, I hope this comparison is at least somewhat useful; comments, thoughts, and rotten tomatoes are all welcome, and thanks for reading!
*(On that note: don't worry, I will be reviving my pictorially-enhanced musings on beautiful Spanish men soon!)