I’ve seen the Zebra Sharbo X around some of my favorite office supply review sites such as The Pen Addict, and there have been tons of people asking if i have used one and plan on reviewing one, so I figured I should just take the plunge and see how it goes. Back in November I finally ordered the Zebra Sharbo X Carbon Fiber Multi Pen Review from JetPens and have been using it daily since then, is it the best multi pen out there? Well my verdict on this one might surprise some folks so keep reading and see to see how this pen has worked out for me and hopefully it helps you make the right purchase decision if you are considering the Sharbo X for yourself.
When I got the pen in the mail, I was immediately concerned that my fancy new multi pen might have been a bad idea. Unfortunately I didn’t think to save the box to share pictures with you, mostly because I was kind of let down and annoyed with it, but it was basically a cheap plastic box with a flimsy cardboard sleeve over it. Now I don’t know how many of you have purchased “nicer” pens or pencils before, but I’ve had pens that cost 1/3 of what this one did come in nicer boxes. Do I ever really need or use the box? Not really, but having that box be my first impression of the pen certainly was a downer. When I opened the box I was now very impressed by the build quality and the look and feel of my Sharbo X. There was a very nice heft to it, not too heavy, but just very solid, and with a quick twist, turn, and screw, I opened and removed each component of the pen and was impressed by the tight fit and smooth way that each part came apart and went back together. Sometimes with lesser quality pens, you get lots of play in the threading of the different components, which just give it a low quality feel, not the case with the Sharbo X though, I would say the build quality on this pen couldn’t be more solid.
A close look at the components shows you the mechanical pencil component of the Sharbo X on the top with the black collar, and just below is the blue black .3mm gel ink component, the one you can’t see is the .3mm red ink component. The awesome thing about this pen is that the components come in multiple types and sizes, you can get yourself not only ballpoint refills, but also gel ink refills in multiple sizes and colors, and obviously there are also mechanical pencil components that can be had, which come in three different sizes. The mechanical pencil component comes in .3mm, .5mm, and .7mm sizes, while the gel and ballpoint components come in .4mm, .5mm, and .7mm refills…again, in a variety of colors. The tip on each of the pen components is color coded with a ring so you can see the color when it is sticking out of the pen.
The above photo shows the twist off cap that reveals the eraser for your mechanical pencil. This is one of those areas that I mentioned before where when you unscrew and screw it back on, there is a very smooth and tight fit that indicates the high quality workmanship that obviously went into this multi pen. Now I do like the location and functionality of this cap, but the rubberized tip on it really just doesn’t work for me. On a pen that is entirely made of high quality metal and carbon fiber, I just wasnt expecting a rubber stopper on the top. It just seems out-of-place on this pen, and I’m concerned about the possibility of it getting nicked up or worn down, although it does seem like some pretty firm and hard rubber, so time will tell.
The way that you select the different components on the Sharbo X is pretty simple, just a quick twist of the body to one of three different positions reveals a different tip, either one of your two pens, or your mechanical pencil. They feeling when you twist between the tips is excellent, very smooth, and there is a solid “bump” that you feel when you lock into the selected tip. It is also nice that when you twist the pen to go to the next tip, you can go in either direction and continue in that direction forever, no need to go clockwise and then counter-clockwise because it goes perpetually in either direction. Now with that said, this part of the pen is also the part that gives me the biggest problem. When you twist from tip to tip, as I mentioned, the pen gives a responsive “bump “back to let you know that the color is now selected, BUT there is absolutely no “bump” or clearly marked spot to completely retract all of the tips. You basically just need to feel around for a place that “seems” right. I could be really dense and just missing something here, so feel free to point out what an idiot I might be, but had I known this before I bought the Sharbo X multi pen, it would have been a total deal breaker. There have been plenty of instances where I thought the tips were all retracted, but I still ended up with ink or pencil sticking me or inadvertently marking something up. I might just be a clumsy fool on this, but I really just can’t believe that such a well manufactured and thought out pen has such an obvious void that needs to be filled.
Now beyond my being possibly overly critical about the pen, there is one thing it does REALLY well, the writing experience is absolutely perfect with this pen in terms of the feel and results. The three colors that I tried all wrote incredibly smooth, and there was no bleed through, show through, or feathering of the ink, and the .3mm pencil even wrote well…and thats coming from a guy who hates writing with pencils, except for the Kuru Toga. I did most of my writing with this pen in my Levenger Circa daily planner, but also used the Black n Red notebook above for the actual writing sample. Another noticeable point when writing is that the tips of each component slide in and out of the hole with ease, but with almost zero play when you write, so you don’t get that awful rattle that you get with so many other multi pens, or regular pens with retractable tips. Again, the precision engineering of this pen are really evident through all of its design.
Overall I was mostly impressed with the Zebra Sharbo X Carbon Fiber Multi Pen Review, but I probably would not have purchased this had I known about the issue that bugs me so much regarding the inability to completely retract all of the tips in an easy way with a firm feeling about it. To make it better for me, what I’ve done is remove the mechanical pencil component, and I use that notch in the twisting motion to know that none of the points are extended beyond the tip of the barrel, but I’ve essentially removed 1/3 of the functionality of this otherwise fantastic multi pen by doing so. As far as cool office supplies and multi pens go, this Zebra Sharbo X is still something I’ll use pretty frequently, but that lingering oversight on the tip will always bug me, not to mention the rubber tip on the cap and that horrible box that it came in. Zebra did SO much right with this pen, so by setting the bar so high like that, it really makes the other shortcomings stand out more than they would otherwise.