Zebra Blen Review: A Blend of Cheapness & Stylishness

Cheap pens, available at a dollar, have the advantage of being readily available everywhere. Still, many of them are not so cool because of their poorly designed look. The product that broke the standards is Blen, launched by Zebra in 2018. Here is Zebra Blen review and introduction of recommended accessories.

Basic Features

Length143.6mm (5.76 inches)
Diameter (Ø)11.8mm (0.46 inches)
Weight12.3g
Price (inclusive tax)¥165 (about US$1.5)

Design

zebra blen design
zebra blen logo
zebra blen internal structure

At first glance, it doesn’t look like an inexpensive pen in the $1 class, with its minimalist look and elimination of unnecessary design. It is undoubtedly the most stylish pen in its price range.

Colour variations

It is available in five different colour combinations.

  • Black × Grey
  • Grey × White
  • White × Grey
  • White × Blue
  • White × Red
white and black colour versions of zebra blen
Black × Grey
White × Grey

Refill variations

Refills are available in black, red, and blue colours, with two thicknesses: 0.5mm and 0.7mm.

zebra blen refill

Compatibility with other pens

The refill has a unique size, both in length and thickness. So it is unlikely that we can exchange it for another refill unless you use the adapter mentioned later.

What Makes It Special?

Why it’s called Blen?

The name “Blen” comes from the Japanese word “Burenai”, meaning “unshakeable”. As the name suggests, the pen’s unique internal structure ensures that the pen tip remains stable while we are writing.

image of internal structure by zebra official
Image source: www.zebra.co.jp

The main reason for this stability is a small part built into the pen’s nib. This small part, which can be seen in the photo, holds the tip firmly in place when released, thus preventing it from shaking.

Here’s a video showing how it compares to a normal pen.

The difference is obvious in the video, isn’t it? In fact, the writing experience is very good with comfortability.

Biggest competitor of JETSTREAM?

In Japan, JETSTREAM, produced by Mitsubishi Pencil, has been the most popular pen since its launch in 2006. But Blen could be a rival because of its minimalistic design and innovation.

Things I Noticed

White body is stain-resistant than expected

The white body is quite stylish to look at, but its grip seemed vulnerable to dirt and stain at first as it has pure white colour. I’ve seen some of the pens’ grips used by other users had a yellow discolouration deterioration over time.

Blen’s grip after a month of use

I’ve been using it for about a month by carrying it in my backpack pocket, not even in a pencil case. It’s certainly getting a little darker than its body colour, but not so noticeable at all. But for long term use, a black one is recommended unless you buy new ones frequently.

Ink is not so good, not so bad

Blen uses Emulsion Ink which is a mixture of permanent and non-permanent ink developed by Zebra. But the quality itself is not outstanding level as it sometimes gets a little fainted.

Ink comparison between Blen and JETSTREAM on Midori MD notebook

As you can see, Blen is a little blurry, but the JETSTREAM is smooth, and the colour is more vibrant.
I think JETSTREAM is the best permanent ink, so I use a special adapter that allows us to use JETSTREAM refills with Blen’s body. It’s produced by a third party at JPY 800, which is far more expensive than Blen itself. However, I think it is the most potent combination.

special adapter for blen
comparison between blen refill and special adapter
Left: Blen adaptor with JETSTREAM
Right: original Blen refill

Overall Score

overall score
Overall Score: 4.0 / 5

The most significant features of the Blen are its writing comfort and appearance, so it gets full marks without any doubt. However, it is not possible to replace the refills with other manufacturers’ ones, which is a negative point. Also, because of the reasonable price, they are inevitably less durable in terms of staining. But I think it’s an acceptable level as we can get them on Amazon Japan with less than a dollar.

Hope this zebra Blen review was helpful for you.

Additionally, you can find out how to order from Amazon Japan by the following article.

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