Monday, January 17, 2011

Pentel Quick Dock QD5

I stopped by Staples a couple of weeks ago and picked up the Pentel Quick Dock. I didn’t really know what to expect but the package contents intrigued me. After snapping pictures of the package with the pencil, plastic cartridge with 12 prefilled leads and 3 erasers, I opened and started using the pencil.
The first thing that I noticed is the lead cartridge system. When you’ve run out of leads, you pull the top where the eraser is and the entire plastic cartridge system comes out and snap in a new one from the package. Refills of these cartridge systems are available in packs of 2. If you just want to refill the leads without buying the cartridge plastic, no problem since you can refill by pushing leads into the bottom of the cartridge.
For the several weeks that I’ve been using it, I find the pencil very comfortable even with extended use. Its 5 ½ inches length is just about right with weight evenly distributed. It feels comfortable even with extended use. It has a retractable tip for carrying safely in a pocket. The metal tips and clips always give a pencil a certain degree of elegance and this is no exception. The black rubber grip is very comfortable and provides a good grip. In the middle of the plastic barrel, there is a small clear window for checking leads. Upper barrel is made of plastic in silver color. The eraser is extended by twisting the top. When I used the eraser, I didn't quite liked how it would get smudged and the lead would stick to it instead of falling off. Japan is printed on the top barrel along with Pentel QD5 and Quick Dock 0.5.

Use for – General writing and drawing.
Like it? – Sadly no, the pencil is too plain and the cartridge system is an interesting concept but doesn’t really do much.
Design suggestion – Take out the cartridge refill system altogether but if it must have it, make the refill system biodegradable. Also change the silver body to black and the printing to silver.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Mitsubishi Uni M5-552

I’ve wanted to buy some MP’s from Jetpens for some time now. Saving some money aside, I was able to take advantage of their free shipping by buying 3 pencils altogether. The first pencil that I picked was this Mitsubishi Uni 552 for drafting. I chose this because I haven’t bought drafting pencils with metal grips for a while and I think metal grips are cool.

Like most drafting pencils, this one has a .4mm non retractable tip which is typical of most drafting pencils. It has a very nice and light knurled metal grip. It also has a red plastic lead indicator that you can turn to choose lead type.

I like the smoke black plastic barrel. It seems to give the pencil that drafting look and feel. Stamped on the side is the 3 diamond logo and name of Mitsubishi followed by uni in small letters, 0.5 MS-552. The short metal pocket clip is thin on the side but wide on the front. It’s plain except for the word JAPAN engraved on the metal part that wraps around the barrel.

The pencil also features a nice metal cap that can be removed to reveal a small blue eraser. The eraser itself is inside a metal casing holder with a cleaning needle for clearing jammed leads. The lead advances by clicking the top.

My first impression when I first picked it up was that it was very light considering that it had a metal grip. I’ve held others like the Alvin and the Berol but they weren’t light like this. I do like it though. The circumference of the barrel is just right for my hand. And I love metal grips. They have that high end look and feel that distinguishes them from cheap blister packed, over the counter or hanging on the shelf mechanical pencils. Writing with it, you can really make thin lines and it feels like using a .3mm lead.

Use for – Drafting and general writing.
Like it? – Yes, writing was very comfortable and the grip felt great to the touch.
Design suggestion – I like to see a spring mechanism in the lead so you can advance the lead by pushing it down on paper.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Pilot The Shaker

Another awesome pencil from Pilot. I called in the order after I saw it in an online catalog from a local art supply store. It took about a week before they called me about it and I picked it up that weekend. The lady at the store asked about why it was called the Shaker as I was paying for it. She smiled in disbelief when I answered that it was because the lead can be advanced by shaking the pencil besides clicking.

The pencil has a smooth black plastic finish with orange accents and a grip diameter slightly bigger than the body. It has a pointed conical tip with a sliding sleeve that makes it pocket safe. Speaking about pockets, this has a soft, flexible wide metal pocket clip making it easier to slide into a shirt pocket sleeve.

I liked how the ribbed plastic grip is more than an inch long which makes for effective gripping when writing. Its stylish and has a great look to it. However I do prefer rubber grips over plastic since I have a heavy hand and I find it more comfortable.

I noticed how far the grip is from the tip. At more than an inch away from the bottom end of the grip, the balance, angle and control isn’t as good when writing. The farther away my fingers are from the tip, the less control I had in my writing and I’ve broken quite a few leads when I wrote. The picture on the left is a comparison with an Alvin Grippy.

The cap can be removed to reveal a small white rubber eraser which covers the lead compartment. I like how the cap has a wide top which felt very comfortable when clicking.

Clicking and shaking are the ways for the lead to advance. Shaking was quite effective in advancing the lead and I didn’t have any issues while I was using it.

Use for – Drafting.
Like it? – For drafting, yes but for general writing, no. The grip was a bit far from the tip which felt out of balance.
Design suggestion – Move grip closer to tip and redesign the grip to be more comfortable.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Uni Shift 1010

After seeing this pencil on Jetpens, I knew I had to have one. I finally had a chance to get my hands on this plus 2 other pencils and take advantage of their free shipping on orders over $25.00.

The first thing I noticed when it arrived was that the tip was retracted.

So I held the barrel with my left hand and with my other hand twisted the metal grip counterclockwise in which you will feel a click. This releases the lock from which you can slide the barrel up to expose the tip. This pipe lock has a spring action when you let go of the grip which brings the barrel down to retract and protect the tip. Twisting it further, you'll feel another click which locks it into place. It was pretty cool, very unique and definitely a great addition to my collection.

The tip was needle shaped which makes the 0.5 mm lead appear very thin when writing. It's perfectly balanced to the front which lessens fatigue when writing. I used this pencil for about 2 weeks and I must say that it's very comfortable to write with. This pencil solves the problem of needle tips breaking when dropped (unless of course the tip was showing when dropped) and it also helps makes it safe for shirt pockets.

The 1 ½ inch metal knurled grip is long and perfect for gripping. The black plastic barrel complements the metal accents of the grip and the pocket clip very nicely. To advance the lead, you simply click the top cap. The cap is removed to reveal a small black eraser . The eraser can be pulled out to add more leads to the pencil. The cap has a hole on top just to give it that unique distinct design.

Use for – Drafting and drawing.
Like it? – Yes, the shift pipe lock design is very unique among drafting pencils.
Design suggestion – Eraser could be a little bigger but I don't use it anyway so not a big deal.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Alvin Grippy

I visited one of my regular art stores a few weeks ago looking for new Mechanical Pencils to add to my collection. They had some Koh-I-Noor, Staedtler, Alvin and Pentels but didn’t find anything new until my eyes caught a catalog that was on the counter. The front cover had pictures of some art supplies – protractors, brushes and pens but there was also a black mechanical pencil. I eagerly looked more closely to find out if it was the right one for my collection. It was and although the design looked strikingly familiar I got excited when I saw the Alvin logo. I didn’t pay much attention to it and asked the lady at the counter if they have it. She came back in a few minutes after asking her manager and informed me that it was new and will be special ordered. I wrote down my name and phone number on a piece of paper to give my order and they told me that they will be in touch once it has arrived.
I had already forgotten about my order and thought nothing of it for the next couple of weeks. About a month after that, I got a call from a lady who informed me that my Alvin Grippy was already at the store. I went to pick it up a couple of days later. I was again looking at anything new on their pencil display window before I headed to the counter. I smiled a bit when I noticed about a dozen Alvin Grippy on the pencil display area. They must have ordered a dozen and now excluding mine, the rest are now sitting on the display area. I purchased 2 and left the store. I was so excited when I got home that I examined my new pencil thoroughly. I noticed that it was dark blue in color and I was right about the pencil being familiar. I brought out my pencil display case collection and removed the Mephisto Kohinoor and compared it side by side. Except for the brand on the barrel and the color of the band above the grip, they were basically the same pencil. I surmised that either both companies had the same manufacturer for this pencil or one took over the design of the other. I really don’t know.

This pencil is very comfortable to begin with and is one of my favorites for all around writing after using it at the office for a couple of weeks. It has a 4mm non retractable tip which is great for drawing precision lines. An inch of smooth rubber grip provides a fair amount of comfort and grip to your writing. Since the grip is smooth, it doesn’t leave marks on your middle finger like some of the plastic grips. Above the grip is a colored band which indicates lead diameter of either blue or red with silver rings on each side. Mine is blue which indicates .5mm lead while the red band is for .7mm. The Alvin logo and Grippy 0.5mm Japan is written in silver on the dark blue plastic barrel.

It has a wrap around silver metal pocket clip which slides in smoothly in my pocket but since it has a non retractable tip, it’s not pocket safe. Its eraser is that of the twist erase design. I’ve swapped it with the Staedtler Integrity 9505, Kohinoor Mephisto and Papermate Technician. The eraser sticks out by twisting the barrel to the right while holding the top part in place. Although the eraser is thin, it provides an inch of useable eraser and is longer than regular erasers. The lead compartment is accessed by pulling out the twist erase mechanism. The lead advances by simply clicking the top.

Use for – Drafting and general writing.
Like it? – Yes, the diameter and length of the pencil fits perfectly on my hand and the smooth rubber grip feels great when writing.
Design suggestion – Automatic lead advance when writing. Add lead degree indicator on the band.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Pilot Dr. Grip Ltd

I was at my neighborhood Staples a couple of weeks ago and chanced upon a Pilot Dr. Grip package hanging on the Pencil aisle. I was looking for one in black for a long time and after several visits, they finally came out with one. Mine was a Dr. Grip 0.5 Ltd. I opened it up after a week and started using it at the office.

For starters, this pencil belongs to the fat/husky pencil category. I’ve owned 2 other fat/husky pencils before (Pentel Clarius and Uni Alpha Gel) and I always find them to be a bit heavy and uncomfortable to write with for longer periods.

This one is no exception, for as soon as I started writing whole pages of notes that my hand started feeling uncomfortable holding it. The grip which is a soft clear white rubber was quite good though although the Uni Alpha has a better Gel grip.

I wouldn’t recommend that you put it on your shirt pocket even though it comes with a very nice steel pocket clip that has the word Pilot and its logo engraved on it because the point is non retractable. I’ve noticed my shirt pocket pull forward when the pencil is there and the non retractable tip might poke a hole in your shirt or even worse your chest. It happened to me once when a heavy pencil is pulling the shirt pocket forward and I went under the table. When I came back up, the pencil got caught by the table end and ripped the left side of the shirt pocket as well as leaving a scratch on my chest.

It does have a shaker advance system which is quite useful when writing for long periods of time. Just shake it up and down once and a small lead will come out. The steel cap still functions as the regular click advance and holds a small white eraser underneath.

You can add more leads by pulling the cap and the eraser out or you can also twist the barrel open into 2 to reveal the plastic lead holder inside.

Use for – General writing. Good for arthritis sufferers as it is commended by the Arthritis foundation for ease of use.
Like it? – Not really a fan of fat/husky pens and this one is no different.
Design suggestion – Retractable tip.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Zebra Tect 2Way Light Frisha

Wow! This is one cool looking pencil. I really got lucky on a visit to the Tokyo Tokyo gift shop featuring items ranging from toys to stationery items. My son goes there to look at their cool Pokemon and Mario Bros toys while I have bought my first shaker pencil there. This time around, I chanced upon the Zebra Tect 2way light. It was in a simple plastic packaging with a free Zebra eraser. I’ve had a couple of mechanical pencils that both advance leads using both clicking and shaking mechanisms but the Zebra Tect 2way goes further by putting in a lock on the barrel that depending on the setting will enable or disable the shaker system.

The barrel is made of shiny black plastic and is complemented by chrome tip, pocket clip and band around barrel. Very classy.

The grip has 3 thin concentric rubber rings followed by 2 circular impressions on the barrel where there could have been 2 more rubber rings. The 3 rubber rings make quite an effective grip without making the entire grip out of rubber.

The lock twists to the right to enable the shaker and does not disable the clicker on top. Twisting it to the left disables the shaker.

The wrap around pocket clip has Japan engraved on it and is shorter compared to most mechanical pencils. Here is a picture comparison with the Pentel P205.

Having a 4mm non-retractable tip makes it ideal for drafting purposes but is actually even good for normal everyday writing. I’ve used it for a couple of weeks and other than the shaky cap, it is one of the best all around drafting/writing mechanical pencils I’ve used. The diameter and length is just perfect for writing.

The eraser as expected is small and is under the cap. The lead is refilled by pulling off the eraser.

Use for – Drafting and general writing.
Like it? – Yes, the concept of having a lock on the shaker system is really nice.
Design suggestion – Modify the cap so as it is not so shaky.