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Zebra F-301 Ultra Short Review


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#1 s5s

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Posted 17 January 2012 - 03:17

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I've realized that if I want permanent inks I need to use ballpoints, rollerballs or liquid/gel ink pens. I picked a Zebra F-301 Ultra some time ago and thought I'd do a short review.

First of all the pen is a good length. It is just a few millimeters longer than Parker Jotter ballpoint and is about the same weight. The pen is made of both plastic and metallic parts and seems well made.

I used Parker Jotter ballpoint as my only pen for about 3 years and I used to write a lot. These days, I find it is too thin at the gripping section and is too uncomfortable. The Zebra doesn't suffer from this problem. The gripping section is perfectly sized and has a spongy rubber which is firm but yet soft and is comfortable.

Unfortunately, the pen comes with a proprietary refill which contains very little ink for a ballpoint of this size. That is not the biggest problem however, because the refills are fairly cheap. The problem which I think will make you throw the pen out is that the ink seems to be low quality or the cartridge itself is cheap and badly made. As a result, the pen produces a line which varies in intensity as the ball at the tip probably suffocates and doesn't get an even coating of ink. It is very unpleasant to the eye. This effect used to happen to Parker Quink ballpoint refills just before they run out. The Zebra writes like that with a brand new refill.

The pen is nice, looks good, feels good but due to the refill (and the fact that you are stuck using their refills which seem to have problems) you will not want to write with the pen as the writing will be an eyesore. If it is ever released with a standard Parker cartridge I would recommend it. As of now, I would not buy it.

Edited by s5s, 17 January 2012 - 03:22.


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#2 OrangeJoe

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Posted 17 January 2012 - 03:32

I've realized that if I want permanent inks I need to use ballpoints, rollerballs or liquid/gel ink pens...


What turned you away from permanent FP inks?
You need to evoke more terror in your co-workers. No one would grab Darth Vader's fountain pen. Hmm, I wonder what kind of pen that would be.
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#3 s5s

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Posted 17 January 2012 - 03:58


I've realized that if I want permanent inks I need to use ballpoints, rollerballs or liquid/gel ink pens...


What turned you away from permanent FP inks?


This is a recent discussion started by me: http://www.fountainp...__fromsearch__1

There seems to be only 1 true competitor to ballpoint, rollerball and liquid inks in say disposable pens and that's Noodler's inks. There is nothing else that I see stands up. Other inks fail either in permanence, fading or both.

Diamine registrar and ESS registrar inks are iron gall but they have very low saturation compared to colours from liquid ink Pilot/Uni-Ball/Rotring disposables. Furthermore, they come in black only (more of a darkish gray).

Lamy Blue-Black is Iron Gall and is not a bad colour (you need to leave it for a while and I'd prefer black but...) but I just didn't like how it writes. Maybe the pen was dirty I don't know but it wasn't as nice as Quink black. It is also not very fade proof and if in damp conditions the non-waterproof part of the ink smudges or if really wet can wash away. The problem with people making tests is that they run it under water where the ink disolves in the water. The reality is that it's going to smudge on the page making a mess and ruining whatever didn't wash off.

Noodler seems to be great but is hard to get in the UK and although it is (I'd say) reasonably priced (because it comes in a 3oz/90ml bottle) it is still expensive. I'd rather be able to get 1oz/30ml for 1/3 of the price to try it. To get black and red I need to invest 30 GBP (and I already have a ton of ink! for FP). At the end I might not like it so that would be 30 GBP for nothing...

Furthermore, it sort of negates one of the best features of FPs - the amount of inks available. I've heard that Noodler's black (the ink that I was thinking of getting) is very nice to write with and from what I've seen from tests it is really bulletproof so this is indeed an alternative to ballpoints/liquid and gel inks in terms of water and fade proofing but you're sort of stuck with it. If it turns out you don't like it there isn't anything else (apart from choosing other bulletproof/eternal inks).

However, most of my disposables resist a bleach attack so instead of me having to always carry a pen filled with noodlers I think it's more practical to use a disposable for archival documents.

PS
Although for me that's not much of an issue, Noodler's does seem to use pigment and some inks have sedimentation when left to settle. I think some people have reported problems with dried out pens. I'm not sure whether pigment inks gradually clog pens over time even if not left to dry out but with refillable ballpoints/rollers and disposables you are effectively changing the whole writing mechanism every so often. I love the smoothness and ease of writing with a FP though. It leaves no strain in my hand. I write a lot and I would literally have to stop and rest every 10 pages or so with a ballpoint. That's why these days I am mostly using FP and liquid ink disposables for permanent documents.

Edited by s5s, 17 January 2012 - 04:05.


#4 Maccabee64

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Posted 17 January 2012 - 04:01

I have this pen and have the same problem with the refill, unfortunates because it is pleasant to hold.
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#5 professionaldilettante

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Posted 17 January 2012 - 04:03


I've realized that if I want permanent inks I need to use ballpoints, rollerballs or liquid/gel ink pens...


What turned you away from permanent FP inks?


This is a recent discussion started by me: http://www.fountainp...__fromsearch__1

There seems to be only 1 true competitor to ballpoint, rollerball and liquid inks in say disposable pens and that's Noodler's inks. There is nothing else that I see stands up. Other inks fail either in permanence, fading or both.

Diamine registrar and ESS registrar inks are iron gall but they have very low saturation compared to colours from liquid ink Pilot/Uni-Ball/Rotring disposables. Furthermore, they come in black only (more of a darkish gray).

Lamy Blue-Black is Iron Gall and is not a bad colour (you need to leave it for a while and I'd prefer black but...) but I just didn't like how it writes. Maybe the pen was dirty I don't know but it wasn't as nice as Quink black. It is also not very fade proof and if in damp conditions the non-waterproof part of the ink smudges or if really wet can wash away. The problem with people making tests is that they run it under water where the ink disolves in the water. The reality is that it's going to smudge on the page making a mess and ruining whatever didn't wash off.

Noodler seems to be great but is hard to get in the UK and although it is (I'd say) reasonably priced (because it comes in a 3oz/90ml bottle) it is still expensive. I'd rather be able to get 1oz/30ml for 1/3 of the price to try it. To get black and red I need to invest 30 GBP (and I already have a ton of ink! for FP). At the end I might not like it so that would be 30 GBP for nothing...

Furthermore, it sort of negates one of the best features of FPs - the amount of inks available. I've heard that Noodler's black (the ink that I was thinking of getting) is very nice to write with and from what I've seen from tests it is really bulletproof so this is indeed an alternative to ballpoints/liquid and gel inks in terms of water and fade proofing but you're sort of stuck with it. If it turns out you don't like it there isn't anything else (apart from choosing other bulletproof/eternal inks).

However, most of my disposables resist a bleach attack so instead of me having to always carry a pen filled with noodlers I think it's more practical to use a disposable for archival documents.

Have you tried Sailor's Carbon (Kiwa-guro?) or Platinum's inks? Nothing will touch those inks. If used everyday, they are well behaved, and very maintenance free. I personally use Pilot Blue-black, because it's as water resistant as I need it (very) and since I keep my most important writings stored out of light in a journal, light fastness isn't much of an issue, although Pilot blue-black is pretty robust in that regard. There are plenty of permanent inks out there, and you just have to look. You have ruled out IG inks... but the fact of the matter is that the longer it's on the paper, the more it reacts (part of the whole turning black part). Most tests don't take this into account. Sure, it's a bit dryer, but IG inks are the way to go. If you wanted black, there's always noodler's in 4.5 oz bottles, but hey, your loss man...

Edited by professionaldilettante, 17 January 2012 - 04:08.

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#6 s5s

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Posted 17 January 2012 - 04:28

Have you tried Sailor's Carbon (Kiwa-guro?) or Platinum's inks? Nothing will touch those inks. If used everyday, they are well behaved, and very maintenance free. I personally use Pilot Blue-black, because it's as water resistant as I need it (very) and since I keep my most important writings stored out of light in a journal, light fastness isn't much of an issue, although Pilot blue-black is pretty robust in that regard. There are plenty of permanent inks out there, and you just have to look. You have ruled out IG inks... but the fact of the matter is that the longer it's on the paper, the more it reacts (part of the whole turning black part). Most tests don't take this into account. Sure, it's a bit dryer, but IG inks are the way to go. If you wanted black, there's always noodler's in 4.5 oz bottles, but hey, your loss man...


No but I hear these inks are not as good as Noodler's and are more likely to clog your pen and cause problems in general. I'm still writing with FP. I do a lot of exercise and notes which I don't plan to keep but for things which are to be kept I have started to switch to a non-FP. I might invest in a Noodler's but maybe later as I've been spending like crazy recently (new computerS, new monitors, new pens, expensive nights out...).






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