Pilot Dr. Grip Full Black Dual Layer Grip Shaker Mechanical Pencil – 0.5 mm – Blue Accents

8 08 2014
The more I think about it, the more I think that once upon a time I had a Dr. Grip mechanical pencil, not a pen when I was young

The more I think about it, the more I think that once upon a time I had a Dr. Grip mechanical pencil, not a pen when I was young

Let me just say that I almost nearly did a complete review of this pencil before realizing it was a shaker model. I was this close to making a complete fool of myself! And had I not written this, you would never have known!

Shaken, not stirred. Shake and bake and you'll end up with a mess of plastic and no one will help. Shake it like a Polaroid picture, only not like that you're not supposed to shake Polaroid pictures WHAT ARE YOU DOING

Shaken, not stirred. Shake and bake and you’ll end up with a mess of plastic and no one will help. Shake it like a Polaroid picture, only not like that at all you’re not supposed to shake Polaroid pictures WHAT ARE YOU DOING

The Dr. Grip Full Black mechanical pencil is every bit as attractive and its grip every bit as dust-collecting as its pen counterpart. The grip itself is more firm than the Uni Alpha Gel grip or the Pentel Selfit grip, while still possessing a little squish. The little weight of the shaker mechanism gives good balance to the pencil, but does bounce and make a noise if you lift your hand quickly. But maybe with enough practice I could work that to my advantage and shakerize to advance my lead as needed as I finish a line of text.

Look at that eraser, it's got a plastic rather than metal ferrule on it....my feelings on this are conflicted

Look at that eraser, it’s got a plastic rather than metal ferrule on it….my feelings on this are conflicted

Personally I find the shaker mechanism fun but a bit unnatural, so I don’t quite know how to evaluate them. What makes a good shaker mechanism? Do they make Dr. Grip pencil commercials of kids shaking these pencils around to a fresh beat until little sticks of lead go flying everywhere? MYSTERIES ABOUND. The shaker works, that’s all I can say, and I doubt it will ever be my go-to default way of advancing lead. But it’s good to know if I get my pencil glued to my hand and my other hand is lost in an unspecified tragedy, I can advance the lead without needing to be able to press the knock. The lead stays securely in place, and the eraser is your typical negligible little thing, its stark whiteness hidden away beneath a matte-black soon-to-be-lost cap.

This picture brought to you by subterfuge, chew toys, and lucky timing because a Malinois is pretty much never still

This picture brought to you by subterfuge, chew toys, and lucky timing because a Malinois is pretty much never still

Thanks to JetPens for providing this sample to review!

 

Pilot Dr. Grip Full Black Dual Layer Grip Shaker Mechanical Pencil – 0.5 mm – Blue Accents at JetPens





Tombow Zoom 505 Mechanical Pencil – 0.5 mm – Brown

27 06 2014
It has been requested that my new giant puppy dog make guest appearances much as my cat does, but she's currently too deeply embedded in the CHEW EVERY SINGLE THING stage to be trusted around fine writing utensils

It has been requested that my new giant puppy dog make guest appearances much as my cat does, but she’s currently too deeply embedded in the CHEW ALL THE THINGS stage to be trusted around fine writing utensils

This pencil was the very first item I put on my JetPens wishlist nearly four years ago, when the madness was just beginning to take hold, back when more than ten dollars for any one item seemed exorbitant, luxuries beyond the comprehension of my budget. Onto the wishlist this went, a maybe-one-day dream, until to my surprise I opened the bubble mailer to see that JetPens had sent me this sample to review. Inside the clip, I see the year stamped “2006.” I think I’ll consider this both a birthday (June 24th) and belated high school graduation gift (2006). Thank you JetPens for providing this sample!

Does this remind you of a robot cigar? A high-class fancy party robot cigar?

Does this remind you of a robot cigar? A high-class fancy party robot cigar?

The body is shiny aluminum, specially treated (so I’m hoping it will prove durable). The accent is rubber, like the grip. The whole thing looks fantastically executive, in spite of being a magnet for fingerprints and little debris specks.

Subtle "0.5" label in raised lettering, excellent choice

Subtle “0.5” label in raised lettering, excellent choice

Guess what happens when you post the cap? As you push down and it snaps into place…THE LEAD ADVANCES. Either right now you’re hearing a choir of dragonfly angels singing joyful hallelujahs, or you’re thinking, “DUH, why would it not?” Hypothetical second person, it only takes one pencil in your life where that’s not the case to turn such an intuitively expected bit of design into a delightful surprise.

It looks like it's got more ridges than a ruffled potato chip, but somehow still manages to be both comfortable and not covered in salt

It looks like it’s got more ridges than a ruffled potato chip, but somehow still manages to be both comfortable and not covered in salt

If you grip low (like on the nose cone), then this design won’t suit you, but for me the grip falls right in a goldilocks zone of comfort. The rubber has just the right amount of contour, and the material is neither too smooth nor too tacky. The pencil itself has a well-balanced heft to it, with or without the cap posted. Feels like I should be penciling in some significant or substantial things.

Book me to fill out your corner-office day planner today! Starting at a zillion dollars.

Book me to fill out your corner-office day planner today! Starting at a zillion dollars.

Technically, there’s an eraser. Practically, I would save it for only the most dire of erasing emergencies. If lives are somehow on the line, and erasing is the only thing standing between you and certain death. The eraser is the lead stopper; to get to it, you have to unscrew the grip from the body. Remember this when the time comes.

It was foretold at the hour of your birth that one day you would save the world with a tiny eraser. Probably.

It was foretold at the hour of your birth that one day you would save the world with a tiny eraser. Probably.

It’s lead! What more can you say? The sleeve holds the lead securely, and the cap keeps the whole stabby lead situation from escalating into puncture wounds if you’re reaching in somewhere blindly to retrieve this pencil.

Just needs a fancy matching easy-use eraser

Just needs a fancy matching easy-use eraser

The Tombow Zoom is a simultaneously shiny and classy mechanical pencil that seems to hit just about all the right notes. Thanks again to JetPens for providing this sample!

Tombow Zoom 505 Mechanical Pencil – 0.5 mm – Brown at JetPens

Tombow Zoom 505 Mechanical Pencil – 0.5mm – all models at JetPens





Eco-Essential Pen and Pencil Set

7 05 2014

 

Pen is Pilot Hi-Tec-C 0.5mm black refill. Can you believe I still haven't reviewed the basic Hi-Tec-C? Not yet anyway.

Pen contains Pilot Hi-Tec-C 0.5mm black refill. Can you believe I still haven’t reviewed the basic Hi-Tec-C? Not yet anyway.

Kickstarter has launched quite the Renaissance of pen bodies, mostly focused around the popular Hi-Tec-C refill (and why not, with all the colors and sizes it comes in). Now, I don’t keep my finger on the pulse of the Kickstarter pen community (because if I did, I’d be broke and buried in a mound of Hi-Tec-C bodies) but I don’t think I’ve seen another pen body on Kickstarter so prominently featuring wood. But then, I don’t pay much attention.

It is okay to drool. My cat does it all the time. But she usually isn't looking at pens.

It is okay to drool. My cat does it all the time. But she usually isn’t looking at pens.

The look is Ikea-chic, hip and minimalist, the aluminum in a tasteful matte finish, the sustainable bamboo luxurious. The Eco-Essential utensils are lightweight, but strong. It looks and feels like a quality product.

Can also be used as emergency Olympic Rings. If you pretend that orange is yellow.

Can also be used as emergency Olympic Rings. If you pretend that orange is yellow.

Customization begins at the cap. Do you want a flat top (with logo), or would you like a capacitive stylus? I prefer the flat top, as I’ve got no end of capacitive styluses in my life, but I appreciate the option. And what color accent would you like? I’m partial to this deep, beautiful blue.

I will admit, sometimes when I'm posting it takes me more than one try to align the threads properly

I will admit, sometimes when I’m posting it takes me more than one try to align the threads properly, especially on the pen

Both the pen and the pencil have twist-on posting/closing caps (one full revolution to open and close, about a quarter revolution to post). The grip unscrews just below the threads to either access the pen refill or pencil insert (which you can pull out to put more lead in, or you can also pull off the knock button on the outside end which honestly seems a lot easier and likely more what they were intending). The pen refill, I will note, is a tight fit when you’re screwing the grip back onto the body, but it will go back to being flush with the grip. Just keep tightening.

What other refills might fit this body? How the heck does the little spring included to adapt the G-2 cartridge to fit even work? These are mysteries for another day

What other refills might fit this body? How the heck does the little spring included to adapt the G-2 cartridge to fit even work? These are mysteries for another day

The pen is almost like air in my hand. Because everything is so lightweight there’s little difference for me between writing with it posted and unposted. Sometimes I think I’d like for the grip to be knurled, for better grippability; other times I’m pleased with the smoothness and wouldn’t have it any other way. The grip lines up perfectly with my hands such that I’m not on the threaded ridge, but your grip may vary. The only thing that would make me happier would be if this were a silky-smooth Jetstream refill, because my love of Jetstream knows no bounds.

For as much as you'd pay for this pencil, I'd expect significantly less critical flaws

For as much as you’d pay for this pencil, I’d expect significantly less critical flaws

Now, as much as I admire the pen, I do have some unfortunate things to point out about the pencil that lead me to suspect it was envisioned as more of a matching afterthought than its own stand-alone product. Post the cap on the pencil. Congratulations, now you can’t advance the lead. That’s pretty crucial for a pencil. Yes, I could just not post the cap, but then why bother even having the threading? Why include an option that renders the pencil practically unusable? The only advantage to not posting the cap is then you’re less likely to accidentally use the stylus as an eraser, since there’s no eraser on the pencil. The pencil is beautiful, but the functionality is lacking. This is the result of asking, how do we turn the Eco-Essential pen into a pencil with the fewest structural changes possible? And I get that. Keeps costs down I’m sure. But the end product suffers for it. Are there self-advancing lead mechanisms that would work in this body? Perhaps design a special knock-cap for the pencil?

 

So pleasing to hold and behold

So pleasing to hold and behold

Go for the pen, especially if you’re a Hi-Tec-C refill fan (like I mentioned, it also takes Pilot G-2 refills but we know how I feel about the G-2). The Eco-Essential is an attractive and professional pen body. I kind of want to crash a fancy business scenario just to bring this pen with me. Anyone got any important board meetings I can drop in on? I have a suit and impressive array of office supplies, which I’m pretty sure is all you need.

The pencil, on the other hand, I would pass on, unless you just really want a matching set. If that’s the case, it will match quite beautifully.

Thank you to ISHUJA for providing this sample set for review!





Uni Jetstream 4&1 4 Color Ballpoint Multi Pen and Pencil – Purple

15 04 2014
Someone hand me some failing tests, that red is just itching to give out a big glowing F minus minus

Someone hand me some failing tests, that red is just itching to give out a big glowing F minus minus to some poor sap not smart enough to be using a Jetstream

What’s better that a Jetstream? Several Jetstreams rolled into one. Thank you to JetPens for providing this sample!

It comes it several colors, but obviously dark purple is the superior choice

It comes it several colors, but obviously dark purple is the superior choice

The body is simple and professional, with tasteful silver accents. The markings to denote refill colors are unobtrusive—quite appreciable, as multipens are ever in danger of looking like rainbow vomit with their many-colored plungers.

I like how the pencil is referred to as "0.5mm SHARP"...it makes a mechanical pencil sound so much more dangerous and exciting

I like how the pencil is referred to as “0.5mm SHARP”…it makes a mechanical pencil sound so much more dangerous and exciting

The sticker on the body was easily removable and left no residue. Coupled with the subtle branding imprinted on the clip, you’ve got a pen that looks good and keeps distractions low key.

Things I was not expecting to find in here: metal. Things that all of in here consists of: metal.

Things I was not expecting to find in here: metal. Things that all of in here consists of: metal.

The pen itself is nicely balanced, with the majority of its light weight focused lower, in the grip. The grip section is metal, with a nice grippy rubber on top (though it would be PHENOMENAL to have the grip be Alpha Gel instead, that would probably make the pen unbearably wide, and would collect more debris than this grip does). The upper half is mostly plastic (excepting the clip), and the overall composition of the pen makes it pretty comfortable for a longer writing session.

In the event of a graphite emergency, break the snap seal located on the top of your multi pen and apply eraser directly to the emergency

In the event of a graphite emergency, break the snap seal located on the top of your multi pen and apply eraser directly to the emergency

Normally I’m not a fan of easily-lost caps covering uselessly tiny erasers, but this cap hold surprisingly firm to the pen. It’s not going to get lost unless you set it down and forget to put it back on. The eraser itself isn’t much to speak of—more of an emergency provision. The pencil component is deployed by pressing down on the clip, and lead is advanced by pressing the deployed clip down again. It’s a wise design choice, providing a larger plunger for easy use of the pencil while concealing it design-wise in the clip. The only improvement I’d like to see here is for Uni to find a way to shrink the Kuru Toga mechanism into the size of a multi pen refill. A multi pen made of Jetstreams and a Kuru Toga would be unstoppable.

If you need more colors than this, be sure to give yourself a stern lecture about how back in my day we didn't have any newfangled ink colors. Pens were also used uphill both ways. In the snow.

If you need more colors than this, be sure to give yourself a stern lecture about how back in my day we didn’t have any newfangled ink colors. Pens were also used uphill both ways. In the snow.

I’ve had some problems recently with certain Jetstream color models not living up to the Jetstream name—consider this pen redemption. All colors perform smooth and vibrant, as a Jetstream should. The 0.5mm provides crisp lines that glide onto the page with almost no pressure whatsoever. The barrel is a bit wide, as almost all multipens are, but it’s not unwieldy—only if you really prefer a slim pen will it be something that might bother you. And, after handwriting out this whole review, the side of my hand is clean. This is the Jetstream I know and love.

If someone at Uni isn't feverishly working right now on adapting the Kuru Toga mechanism for multi pen use, then they don't know good money

If someone at Uni isn’t feverishly working right now on adapting the Kuru Toga mechanism for multi pen use, then they don’t know good money

If you use red, blue, green, and black ballpoints on a regular basis, you’ve got to give one of these a try. I’m thinking especially professionals and students in the science, technology, engineering, and math fields, plus anyone who needs to mark up papers, or just likes having access to all the traditional pen colors at once. The refills are smooth, the mechanisms solid, and the pen looks good. Classic Jetstream goodness!

Uni Jetstream 4&1 4 Color Ballpoint Multi Pen and Pencil – Purple at JetPens





Pentel Jolt Mechanical Pencil – 0.5mm

26 02 2014
It comes with normal lead, but what's the fun in leaving a writing utensil unaltered? Gotta make it yours, though sometimes all that means is just putting in a different color lead

It comes with normal lead, but what’s the fun in leaving a writing utensil unaltered? Gotta make it yours, though sometimes all that means is just putting in a different color lead

Ever since the Kuru Toga came into my life, I haven’t tended to give much thought to mechanical pencils. But the Pentel Jolt has kept a stylish place in my heart, and it’s high time I got around to reviewing it.

Especially since I first mentioned the Jolt almost 3 years ago

Especially since I first mentioned the Jolt almost 3 years ago

Style style style style STYLE. I love the look. I love every part of the look. I love the faceted nosecone (and I love that it allows the tip to be retracted).

It's a pretty subtle faceting until you get right up onit

It’s a pretty subtle faceting until you get right up on it. Minus 2 points for me not having fully retracted the lead/tip in this picture

I love the zigzags indented in the grip, which is a nice grippy black rubber that doesn’t grab up a bunch of debris. And that shaker mechanism window, bright white spring popping against the black tube—

I could stare at this all day

I could stare at this all day

Just a solid YES. Even the branding looks good.

Probably named as a nod to Jolt Cola, that highly caffeinated beverage of my youth; consuming Jolt Cola will aid and amplify in the use of the shaker mechanism

Probably named as a nod to Jolt Cola, that highly caffeinated beverage of my youth; consuming Jolt Cola will aid and amplify in the use of the shaker mechanism

A++ on this design, Pentel. Please call up whoever worked on this design and remind them of what a good job they did.

This is a real eraser. None of those useless little crumbs that companies like hiding under an easily lost plastic cap

This is a real eraser. None of those useless little crumbs that companies like hiding under an easily lost plastic cap

Not content with mere aesthetic mastery, the Jolt hits as many functional points as it can. Number one in my heart is this extra large, wide black eraser. The only improvement there would be for Pentel to make it out of their hi-polymer black eraser material.

I don’t have many shaker pencils, so I don’t know exactly how to evaluate them. You shake the pencil, and like you’re some kind of wizard having a fit, lead magically advances from your flailings. Or, if you’re more traditionally inclined, you can advance the lead by pressing down on the eraser.

Strong lead for a strong pencil

Strong lead for a strong pencil

I forget what kind of lead it came with; I loaded it with Pentel’s Ain Stein enhanced 0.5mm blue lead. It’s smear resistant, with a reinforced silica core. Plus it makes all your drawings look cool.

Also comes in a lime green body for the 0.5mm; pink and orange bodies with white accents are for the 0.7mm

Also comes in a lime green body for the 0.5mm; pink and orange bodies with white accents are for the 0.7mm

At a little under $3 and widely available in regular office supply stores, the Pentel Jolt is probably one of the best-looking mechanical pencils you can get out in the wilds of the American market.

Pentel Jolt Mechanical Pencil 0.5mm at Pentel

Pentel Stein Enhanced Silica Pencil Lead – 0.5mm – Blue at JetPens





Zebra Prefill 3 Color Multi Pen

29 01 2014
In honor of the fast-approaching Valentine's Day, this scan has decided it wants its magenta-purple ink to appear pink instead. I give up

In honor of the fast-approaching Valentine’s Day, this scan has decided it wants its magenta-purple ink to appear pink instead. I give up

These names for multi pens get unwieldy. This is technically the Zebra Prefill 3 Color Multi Pen – Light Blue Body Component / 0.3mm Mechanical Pencil Component / 0.4mm Sarasa Gel Ink Components – Black and Purple. There, that’s everything.

In the world of budget-priced, customizable multi pens, there’s no perfection—only some pretty good options. The Prefill (‘preferred’ + ‘refill’) is Zebra’s pretty good option.

Simple and clean. Like that song. This will now be the soundtrack for the Zebra Prefill.

Simple and clean. Like that song. This will now be the soundtrack for the Zebra Prefill.

The body is hard plastic, and comes in a range of colors and patters (you can get a 3 component body or a 4 component body). Like the original Uni Style Fit, we’ve got a see-through grip to easily identify which components are loaded. Advantage over the original Style Fit: lead advances when a pencil component is deployed by pressing down on the top knock button. Disadvantage: the Prefill has no eraser (also, the Style Fit fixed that problem in another body). That’s right: no eraser; not on top, useless and tiny but still existent, nor as an optional in-body component, like the glorious Hi-Tec-C Coleto line.

Help me I'm still listening to the song. Hold me, Zebra Prefill, whatever lies beyond this morning....

Help me I’m still listening to the song. Hold me, Zebra Prefill, whatever lies beyond this morning….

Biggest thing going for the Zebra Prefill is probably this clip. Cribbed from their Sarasa Push Clip, Airfit Jell, and Surari 4C multi pen, its hinged clips pinch right on my heartstrings. Love a hinged clip.

I SWEAR IT'S MAGENTA PURPLE. NOT PINK. WHY. DOES THIS KEEP HAPPENING. WITH THE SARASA PURPLE.

I SWEAR IT’S MAGENTA PURPLE. NOT PINK. WHY. DOES THIS KEEP HAPPENING. WITH THE SARASA PURPLE.

A lack of eraser is a serious negative if the Prefill ever hopes to be a strong multipencil, buuuut among the Prefill, Style Fit, and Coleto systems, the Prefill is the only one with three size options (0.3mm, 0.5mm, and 0.7mm) for the mechanical pencil. The Coleto has 0.3mm and 0.5mm, and the Style Fit only has 0.5mm for its pencil component. It all depends on what your priorities might be in building an affordable multipencil.

Fine, I give up. Whatever. It's pink.

Fine, I give up. Whatever. It’s pink now.

If you’re a Zebra fan (think Sarasa gels and Surari super smooth ballpoints), then the Prefill is a good way to bring your loves together in one body, with some caveats. First, there’s only one size option listed for your various gel pen colors (0.4mm) and one size option for your ballpoints (0.5mm)—though the 0.7mm Surari ballpoint refill from my Surari 4C fits in the Prefill, making that 2 ballpoint size options. Second, it seems like individual Sarasa Pens write better than the components in the multi pen. Sometimes a little sacrifice is in order when you want compact convenience. But it’s like there are these times when the gel ball tip feels a little odd while writing…not so consistently nor terrible as to render the pen totally annoyingly unusable, but know that this may come up for you, and you may not like it.

Here's where an eraser would go...IF THE PREFILL HAD ONE.

Here’s where an eraser would go…IF THE PREFILL HAD ONE.

Zebra may be a little late to the low-end game, with not as many gel size options, but the Prefill is a comfortable start. I don’t think it’s enough to unseat the Style Fit or the Coleto, but it should at least pique the interest of Zebra’s Sarasa and Surari fans.

Zebra Prefill Multi Pen System at JetPens









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