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I have to admit i'm a bit of a stationary addict and love trying out different pens. I've been a fan of Zebra pens for a while and have several types in my collection.
I decided to try these pens a while back as i wanted some different colour gel pens to write in cards and make my revision notes for university more visually stimulating. This pack contains 10 different colours; Black, Bright Blue, Red, Pink, Yellow, Lime Green, Dark Green, Maroon, Navy Blue and Cobalt Blue. Most of the colours come out really nicely, however i'm not a great fan of the Yellow or Lime Green and think including purple and turquiose coloured pens would be better.
The ink flows freely in these pens and comes out smoothly allowing you to write with minimal effort. I find the cheaper gel pens are very 'scratchy' when writing and make my writing look more untidy than the Zebra alternatives which is a positive of these pens.
As I have used these pens for making notes in university and making revision notes, i have used them quite alot and found that each pen only lasts about 2 weeks when writing a lot. Biro's will last a lot longer and are cheaper but I do prefer writing with the gel pens. In terms of good quality gel pens though, these are one of the cheapest on the market, and when they are on speacial offer they work out even cheaper still.
The pens are nice to hold as well as they have rubber around the part that you hold to make writing more comfortable which is great if you have to do a lot of writing like me. The retractable feature is another bonus as you don't have to worry about losing the lid of your pen.
Overall, I really like these pens, I haven't found any competitors that I like as much yet and have bought several packets of these over time. They are reasonably priced, write very smoothly and are retractable. Like i've mentioned, the only downside for me is the Lime Green and Yellow pens as i'm not too keen on the colours, but other users might like these colours.
Writers are always looking for great pens, and I'm no different. Every time my boss goes to the USA I make him stop in a Staples or Office Depot and pick up something else I want. On one of his trips he came back with these lovely Sarasa pens by Zebra and I've been hooked ever since.
Firstly, these are gel ink pens. This means the ink inside is infused with a water-based gel which makes the ink a bit thicker. (Regular ball point pens have their ink mixed into an alcohol base, in case you were wondering.) In fact, when you look through barrel of these you'll see that above the ink level is some clear liquid. One can assume therefore that the pigment is the coloured bit and the gel is the clear bit.
One advantage to gel ink is that the pigments can be made up into many beautiful and vibrant colours. Zebra makes their Sarasa pens in 10 different shades which are sold in an assortment pack. The colours included are black, blue, red, lime green, mustard, fuscia, cobalt, mahogany, navy blue and forest green. As for this selection, not terribly keen on their lime green and would prefer the regular (bright) green from their Kendo line. The navy blue is very dark and is almost black - which isn't bad, but unless you see the two written next to each other, you might not know that it isn't black. I am also a touch disappointed that this line doesn't have a purple like in their J-Roller RX line, which also has a really nice light blue shade available. With these small exceptions, I think the assortment here is nicely done, but if they ever come out with a 12 pack assortment that included purple and light blue and substituted that lime green for the regular green, I'd be truly over the moon!
Another nice thing is that gel ink comes out of the pen very smoothly, meaning you don't have to use much pressure when writing with these. The disadvantage to this is that if the gel doesn't mix properly with the pigment, you could end up with what feels like lumpy ink and find there are tiny skips in your scribbles. I've had this happen with all of the lime green pens, and one of the cobalt pens, and since I'm on my fourth set of these, I think that's not bad at all. Also, as you get to the end of the ink in any of the pens, you do risk this happening as well, but that's pretty predictable.
I should note that in general, these pens are NOT very long lasting. However, from what I've read this is a particular characteristic of gel ink in general and isn't specific to Zebra pens. Of course, your mileage may vary but since discovering these pens I've needed to get new ones every year to 18 months. This may seem a long time but I don't use them for lots of heavy writing. In fact, all I use these for is to cross off my "to do" lists at work - I change colour every day so I can see what I got done and when. That really is light usage and I'm thinking if you write with gel ink pens a good deal, you'd probably see them last about 2-3 months before they go dry. A regular biro will last double, if not triple this (if you can hold onto them that long), and will be far cheaper to buy, so cost efficient these aren't. But hey, where's the fun in a cost efficient pen? That said, in looking at other pretty coloured retractable gel ink pens, these really are the best priced on the market (see Technical Stuff below), so as far as that's concerned, if you're looking for this type of pen, you won't find another brand at a better price.
Lastly, what I really love about these pens is their design. First of all, they're retractable - meaning no cap to lose. We all know that once you lose the top to a liquid or fiber pen, they tend to dry out very quickly, and having them retract truly keeps this from happening. This also prevents ink from coming out when you don't want it to - like in your pocketbook or pockets. These also have a very nice rubberized grip area that makes writing even more comfortable. The grip, clip and push button are all coloured the approximate shade of the ink, making it easy to see which pen is the colour you want. Also these are rollerballs, and so far, I've never had any of these get clogged up. By the way, these are packaged with a tiny drop of red plastic stuck over the tip so that if you don't use them right away (or they've been sitting on the shop shelves for a while) they won't be dried out when you begin to use them. All you have to do is pop that plastic off and you'll be ready to go.
After all that, what can I say? I really like these pens. While not all the colours are amazing, and only the ugly lime green tends to skip, the rest are all very nice, they write beautifully, are comfortable to use, are retractable which makes them convenient, last about as long as any gel ink pen will last and are reasonably priced in the market. I can highly recommend these and give them four stars. Go on, get yourself a set of these and put some flare and fun into the hum-drum chore of writing!
Thanks for reading.
Davida Chazan © March, 2008
The manufacturer of these pens is actually American and the page for this pen can be found at http://www.zebrapen.com/gel-sarasa.html. This particular collection is a set of medium point pens (0.7), but they do make both fine (0.5) and broad (1.0) versions but they don't come in all the fancy colours.
I found these pens available online at www.suppliesoffice.co.uk where you can get two of the 10 packs of different coloured pens for £39.26 (that's £19.63 per pack of 10 which includes a 'wallet' to store them in).
However, this same set is available at www.cultpens.com for only £13.00 and since this site doesn't charge for UK shipping on orders over £10, then that's the price you'll pay for these. Both sites have the individual pens available as well but Cult Pens also has refills for the black and blue of these - which makes good sense since those are the colours you'd use the most!
For those of you interested to know more about gel pens, take a look at the entry for them in WikiPedia here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gel_pen and on Wise Geek here http://www.wisegeek.com/what-are-gel-pens.htm