Soft Landing: Uni Jetstream Alpha Gel Grip Ballpoint

Thank you to JetPens for supplying this Uni Jetstream Alpha Gel Ballpoint pen for review. I was not compensated monetarily or in any other way. I am allowed to keep the pen. This review reflects my personal observations and experiences with the pen.

(Click on any image for a larger view.)

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Uni Jetstream Alpha Gel

I probably told this story before— how years ago I picked up a pack of Jetstream Sport ballpoints from one of those office supply stores, ripped open the package in my car, scribbled on some scrap paper, and heard the angels sing. THIS was the ballpoint experience I’d been looking for my whole life.

This is not hyperbole.

In junior high, I’d squirrel away lunch money to buy pens from the school’s bookstore, always to be disappointed by the tepid performance of my purchase. I scouted the aisles at Woolworth’s for new and promising offerings. For awhile Papermate pens satisfied my desire for something that wrote better than the light streaky ink in the ubiquitous BIC line of pens. The quest continued throughout college and beyond, with only fair to middling results.

Uni Jetstream Alpha Gel

And then, decades later, I found the Uni Jetstream. Hallelujah.

Uni Jetstream ballpoint

The oil-based ink in the Jetstream line hits the ballpoint pen trifecta of darkness, smoothness, and solidness. In short, pure ballpoint joy. There’s no drag, and very little white space in your writing (really, none to the naked eye). The 0.7 mm tip glides across paper and lays down a wonderfully dark, tight line. There’s nothing remotely wimpy or washed about this ink. Other very good oil-based inks have since hit the market, but my heart belongs to the Jetstream. Because—you know— angels singing. You don’t easily forget that moment.

Uni Jetstream Alpha Gel Grip

So we’ve established that the ink in this Uni Jetstream Alpha Gel Grip ballpoint is superb, but here’s what make this particular model so special. Two words- GEL GRIP.

Holding this pen is like coming home and putting on your comfortable clothes— broken in jeans, your favorite sandals, a soft t-shirt. Clothes that make you say, “Ahhhhhh.” Clothes that soften the hard edges of your day. The addictively squishy grip on this Jetstream provides perfect comfort, as well as traction, for your fingers. It’ll make you wonder why all pens can’t be this comfortable.

Brushed metal body

The body is made of brushed metal—black in this case—which gives the pen a polished and classy look. The knock is solid with absolutely no wiggle, and there’s not a hint of rattle from the 0.7 mm refill. It’s a very solid, well-made pen. The clip—perfectly springy and tight—complements the matte look of the pen. There’s not one misstep here.

Disassembled

Jetstream branding and clip

One thing to note— the gel grip attracts dust and tiny fibers so the pristine look of that beloved grip doesn’t last long. BUT, there is a simple solution. I periodically clean the grip on my pen with a strip or two of scotch tape. Fast and simple. Works like a charm.

Uni Jetstream Alpha Gel

The world can be a hard place. Your pen doesn’t have to be. The Uni Jetstream Alpha Gel Grip ballpoint pen gives your fingers a soft landing while you experience the luxuriously smooth and dark Jetstream ink.

Yes— you, too, can hear the angels sing.

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The Uni Jetstream Alpha Gel Grip ballpoint is available at JetPens for $16.50. Along with the black body/black grip version reviewed here, the pen is also available with a pink or silver body. Both of those versions feature white grips. Refills are available in black, blue, and red for $1.55. JetPens offers free shipping for all orders over $25.

Set Them Free: A Pen Purge

Years of buying and trying out all kinds of pens led to this…

Pen cups

And this…
More pen cups

Pen miscellanea

Looking around at the various pen cups in my office, I decided it was time to take action (quickly, before I changed my mind). A pen living in a dusty mug is not a happy and healthy pen so I knew I needed to find them brand new homes.

Free pens!

Luckily, because I work at a college, I have a steady flow of students who are thrilled to test-drive and adopt my cast-offs. They’re amazed to be offered free pens and often admit to having a bit of a pen addiction themselves. So we bond a little bit as we discuss our particular likes and dislikes. A few ask, “Why do you have so many pens?” I briefly explain that I have a clinical condition known as “hyperpenopathy”, which might be completely made up, yet very real.

Before long, the pen herd has been thinned. It’s a bit like when vultures swoop in and pick a carcass clean, but in a good way.

Post-purge

I’m happy to see my surplus pens and pencils put to good use before the ink has fossilized and the erasers turn to dust. It really is a win-win situation.

uni-ball Vision Elite rollerball

Sometimes, though, I find MYSELF rooting through the pens I’VE JUST DECIDED TO GIVE AWAY, when one of them catches my eye. Such was the case with this uni-ball Vision Elite 0.5 mm orange rollerball. Something about seeing it get picked over made me want it back. So I snagged it, and have been using it ever since for jotting quick (orange) notes, and for checking off to-do list boxes.

uni-ball Vision Elite rollerball

Reduce.

Reuse.

And, if you’re me, reclaim.

That’s MY kind of “ink joy.” (With apologies to PaperMate)

Ink Joy pens

Do you ever give away pens? Do you trade with friends? [Hmmmm...maybe we should do this!] Do you donate to a favorite school or program? Do you set them free in the wild? I’d love to hear your stories in the comments.

Value Menu: Uniball Signo RT1 (0.38 mm, Blue Black)

Uniball Signo RT1

As a $2.25 pen, the Uniball Signo RT1 is definitely from the “value menu” of pens, but that doesn’t mean that it’s lacking in performance. On the contrary, this 0.38 mm Signo RT1 writes first time, every time, and has one of the crispest and cleanest lines that I can recall. I’ve been a fan of the Uniball Signo DX for years, but haven’t ever tried the retractable (RT) version. According to the literature, this RT1 model is an “upgrade” from the original RT. The RT1 features an “edge-less tip” (???) and newly formulated ink for an even smoother performance. I don’t have a clue what the “edge-less tip” means, but I can vouch for the smoothness of the ink. For such a fine line, the conical tip exhibits NO dragging or snagging. Which means that the tip doesn’t pick up stray paper fibers and clog.

Tip & grip
Tip & grip (+ obligatory dust)

I love my Pilot Hi-Tec-C 0.4 mm pens, but they CAN be finicky. Sometimes I have to do just a bit of scribbling to get the ink flowing from the Hi-Tec-C’s needle tip. Though not a big deal, it can be an annoyance for some. That little bugaboo goes away completely with the Signo RT1.

Integrated knock & clip
Knock & clip in one

There’s nothing fancy here, but that’s fine by me. The richly colored plastic body, with its integrated clip/knock, and rubberized grip are all you need to get the writing job done. Since the clip is molded plastic, as opposed to metal, it IS possible to snap it off, if you’re rough on clips. I find the clip a bit loose fitting in a pocket, but that’s nit-picking. The rubberized grip is smooth and makes up about one third of the pen’s body, so no matter where you grip your pen, you’ll have no trouble with slippage.

Integrated clip
No frills clip

Circling back to the “edge-less” tip thing, I MAY have discovered what this means when I cropped my photos. In the photo below, take a look at the tip of the RT1 on the left, vs the DX tips in the center and one the right.

Edge-less tip?
Left to right: RT1 (0.38 mm), DX (0.38 mm), DX (0.28 mm)

To my eye, it looks like the “ball” in the tip of the RT1 is barely visible, as opposed to the DX tips, where the ball seems to be much more visible. Maybe that’s what Uniball means? Speculating here.

RT1 vs. DXs

I’ve developed a “thing” for blue-black inks (especially for my fountain pens) and this one is particularly well-balanced. The color is rich and saturated, and spot on to my taste in blue-blacks.

RT1 vs. DXs
For your viewing, and writing, pleasure

The Signo RT1 proves that you don’t have to drop a bundle on a pen to have a great writing experience. When an ink performs this well in a pen that costs so little, that’s value. Available in both 0.28 mm and 0.38 mm tips, and a bunch of colors, the RT1 certainly deserves a spot on your gel pen roster.

NOTE: I’d like to thank jstationery.com for reaching out and providing this review pen. They’re a US-based company specializing in fine Japanese stationery. Shipping is free for orders over $20. My honest opinion was offered here. I swear. In a court of law.

Love At First Write: The UniBall Signo MF3 Multipen

Is it Uni-Ball or UniBall or uni-ball? Is it multipen or multi-pen or multi pen? You’re right. Who cares? (I’ll just pick one and try to be consistent. Or not.)


UniBall Signo MF3

Because I love my UniBall Signo DX so much, I did a little browsing on the JetPens site to see if there were any Signo multipens, and wound up adding the Signo MF3 to a recent order. Even though there were other pens in the order that I was more excited about, the MF3 quickly rose to the top of the pen heap. Let’s see if I can figure out, and explain, why.

Three options for all of your writing needs:


A writing sample

Most of the time, the three options (black gel, red gel, and pencil…all 0.5 mm) cover my writing needs. I’m a big list maker (in my Planner Pad, in my Field Notes, etc.) so I use all three equally. The gel inks are solid performers, which is not surprising given UniBall’s reputation. The pencil is fine, too. though I’ll probably swap the lead for a 2B one, as I prefer a softer, darker line. (Pencil OCD.)

Just the right size:

Not to get all Goldilocks on you, but the size of this pen is JUST right…not too thick, not too thin. It feels very good in hand. I haven’t experienced an iota of fatigue. (Well, not WRITING fatigue, anyway.)

Nice color chooser thingie:


Dialed in for red

Switching from black to red to pencil and back again takes just a little twist of the body. Once the clip is aligned with the desired color indicator on the barrel, you’re good to go. Set the clip in between the color indicators and all tips are retracted into the barrel. See?


Setting to retract the tip

You’re basically twisting across 180 degrees of the barrel, from black to red to pencil and back again. You can’t twist around the entire barrel (i.e., there’s no way to go from pencil to black without passing through red). Is this a hardship? Not to me. I haven’t experienced any issues with the mechanism hanging up, which can be a multipen annoyance.

I also like that the front end of the barrel is translucent so you can tell which tip you’ve deployed. As I’ve said in other reviews, this is a failing of mine…wanting to write in black, but having red selected. Your color choice is pretty obvious in this pen.


I want red & I see red. Perfect.

The grip:

The grip is smooth rubber and is well positioned. Some grips are placed too high on the barrel so that they aren’t much use to “low grippers.” Not so with this pen. There’s no texture, but there’s still enough grippiness (and I’ve been using it during sweltering days and evenings). No slippage, even at a zillion % humidity!

Though the Signo MF3 is fairly basic in design, and very reasonably priced ($6.75 at JetPens), it is a stellar performer.

I expected to like the UniBall Signo MF3, but I didn’t expect to experience love at first write.

Cheesy, but true. Very true.

Edited to add:
This is wrong: You’re basically twisting across 180 degrees of the barrel, from black to red to pencil and back again. You can’t twist around the entire barrel (i.e., there’s no way to go from pencil to black without passing through red). You CAN rotate 360 degrees around the barrel. I’ve been using this pen a lot this week, and discovered my error in the original review. All better now!

Short and Sweet: Uniball Signo DX 0.28 (Brown-Black)

I’ve been down with the plague, so I lost the weekend and the beginning of the week. Here it is, Thursday already. Time to post, but time is short. So let’s just get to it with this current favorite, the Uniball Signo DX 0.28 mm with brown-black ink.

I purchased this awhile ago and kind of back-burnered it, but recently picked it up again and boy oh boy, it’s pretty sweet. (Not short, just sweet.)

Super affordable at a mere $2.50, the Signo DX could be considered a basic gel pen, but that would be shortchanging it. The body, though plastic, is solid. Basic, but solid. The tip is sturdy, even at the ultra-fine 0.28 mm. You could lean on this bad boy point and not do it any damage.

The grip perfectly suits the pen, very functional with a simple “dimpled” design. It just feels good.

The best part about this pen is the ultra-crisp line that it lays down. There is a bit of feedback from the fine, fine tip, but nothing that I’d call scratchiness. I just love how super sharp my words look. How crisp. How clean. (Oh, my…it sounds like Sprite.) And I’m a big fan of the brown-black ink having recently developed a “thing” for brown inks.

There’s a satisfying, but subtle, “snap” when you post the cap or recap the pen. And a cute little reminder to “Recap After Use.” CLICK.

If you’re looking for a super affordable, but well-made pen, with an ultra-fine line, the Signo DX 0.28 mm is a sweet, sweet choice.

And that is that.