Last summer, in one of my first JetPens purchases, I got myself a Jetstream four-color multipen, because if there's something I like more than pens, it's pens which have lots of colors! I was a big fan of the horrible four-color Bics when I was a kid, and I also had an amazing multi-color mechanical pencil which once belonged to my grandfather. (I suspect, since he was an engineer, that it was actually some manner of drafting pencil, but I didn't know that when I was eight. I'm going to make an effort to dig it out when I'm home this summer.) I'm fond of taking notes in black with important bits written in other colors (usually blue and red), and since I'm always learning new languages, four colors correspond perfectly to my method for parsing sentences. Anyway, point is, my Jetstream 4+1* has been my faithful companion, holy-grail pen for almost a year now. (I got it last August.) I have also been enjoying the single-color Suraris I got last summer (I use them in my Euskara notebook, which is a topic for another day), so when I heard that Zebra were putting out a Surari multi-pen, I decided I absolutely had to have it. But even then I wondered if it could replace my one true love, the apple of my eye - so as soon as I got it, I decided a comparative exercise was in order. A fight to the death, if you will - a duel for my heart, and my writing hand. For paper, I've used a Kokyuo Campus Wide B5 notebook with 6mm lines - possibly my new favorite notebook!
And in the spirit of a courtly duel, the poem I've copied out is a cantiga de amigo, a type of medieval Galician-Portuguese courtly-love poem, by the trovador João Garcia de Guilhade, who wrote in the second half of the 13th century. It's one of my favorites, for the rather cynical humor. The English translation is my own, not-very-good, and the product of my sleepy brain at 2:30 in the morning, but I think it gets the meaning across, if not the nuance. And certainly not the metrical subtlety. Sorry! Read on (and click the pictures to enlarge) for the results of the face-off...
*I am a notorious pencil-hater these days, so the +1 part is going to be ignored for purposes of this review. I do have a post/review/rant about pencils in the works, though.
Superficially, I think the Jetstream looks more polished - it *is* the pricier pen, and it looks it. It's also quite heavy and has a wide barrel with a smooth grip, while the Surari has a lighter plastic body and a rubbery grip with a few grooves in it. I grip quite low on the pen, so my fingertips don't really rest on the grips, but neither one causes discomfort even with long-term low-gripping. The color tabs on the Jetstream are more subtle - all black with a tiny strip of color to match the ink - while the Surari color tabs are colored plastic all the way through. I like the idea of using the clip for the black ink, but one major gripe I have about the Surari is that the inks are in reverse order! Multipens usually have black first, and then blue, green, red, going counter-clockwise around the pen, but the Surari has them going clockwise! Being accustomed to the Jetstream (and also my Acroball multi), I frequently click the red Surari tab expecting to get blue, and so on. It's a little bit annoying, but not insurmountable. The Surari is also a little bit slimmer than the Jetstream (probably on account of having 4 pen components instead of 5), but I quite like wide-barrelled pens, even with small hands, so neither pen body presents a problem.
In the looks department: a clear Jetstream win.
And now, on to the truly important inside-stuff: the ink!
(Both pens are 0.7mm.)
First up: black ink. Unsurprisingly, this is where the two pens have the fewest differences. Black ink, I assume, is what gets made first, and is therefore the most "perfected". Or perhaps it's the easiest to get right, I don't know. In any case, there's not much to distinguish the Surari ink (left) from the Jetstream ink (right). They're both nice dark black, very smooth, consistent lines, no streaking, no white spaces, no problems with ink globbing or anything like that. The Surari ink feels perhaps a teeny bit thicker (see the beginnings of the 2nd and 3rd lines), but I'd say they perform about equally well.
If I had to choose? Jetstream, by a sliver of a hair.
Next up: blue ink. Even from the un-enlarged image, it's pretty obvious that the Surari ink is a lot thicker and quite a bit more prone to globs (though I should note that the blue Jetstream is also the globbiest of all the Jetstream colors, in my experience). The Surari is also more saturated, while the Jetstream displays a greater tendency towards white streaks. They're both just about the same shade of dark blue.
Winner: Jetstream. By a mile.
Now my favorite: green ink! As you can see, these two are the most radically different. They almost don't even look the same color! The Surari ink is a dark yellow-green, while the Jetstream has quite light blue-green ink. The Surari suffers from some of the same globbing problems as the blue ink, but it's a bit less severe, and the saturation makes up for it in my opinion. The green Jetstream ink is definitely my least-favorite of the four, because it isn't nearly as smooth as I expect a hybrid ballpoint to be. It's also just too pale for my tastes. The richness of the darker green ink is definitely enough to offset the minor globbing problem.
Winner: Surari, by several miles.
Last but not least: red ink! Similar differences as the green, with the Surari being darker and thicker, while the Jetstream is lighter and thinner. I'd also say the Surari is more of a true-red ink, while the Jetstream reads slightly pink-red to me. (In MAC lipstick terms, for my fellow beauty junkies: Surari red is like Viva Glam I or Russian Red, while Jetstream red is more like Lady Bug.) Again, the Surari has globbing problems, though they're less problematic with the red than they are with the blue or the green. I do prefer the darker ink, but the Jetream writes more smoothly and evenly.
Winner: Jetstream, just barely.
The Jetstream walks away with the lady's heart, still. The Surari is a nice challenger, and certainly excellent as a more affordable option, and it's very alluring with all that beautiful green ink (can someone make that shade into an eyeliner, please?), but it still needs a bit of work before it can compete with the big dogs (or blooded knights... hm, I think I'm mixing my metaphors here!). I will probably keep them both in my daily pencil case, though, because a girl can never have too many multi-pens!
Disclaimer: All pens and paper bought with my own (ever-dwindling supply of) money. I may have recently bought myself a green Jetstream 4+1, and also one for my sister as a birthday present. I won a Surari 4C from The Pen Addict on Twitter, but by the time it made it across the pond, some postal service or other had managed to lose all the important bits, so I bought my own because I was going to do that anyway. I'm not affiliated with JetPens, other than the part where I throw wads of cash in their general direction in exchange for enabling my stationery addiction, and occasionally tweet them pictures of my pens in action because I am vain like that.