Review – Pentel GraphGear 500 Mechanical Pencil

Now, I’m a cartoonist, and when I am penciling and there is no wood pencil to be found (as there unfortunately often isn’t these days), I do use a mechanical pencil. But which one do I use? There are many “alright” and “good” mechanical pencils out there for very cheap prices. Well, I was looking for one a little better, and I found the Pentel GraphGear 500. Let’s check it out.

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The top of the pencil is rather bland, with a simple metal button and a clipped-on metal clip (interesting). Down from that there is a thin hexagonal black plastic barrel with all necessary information printed on it, and then printed again on a sticker that it will all rub off of. The sticker also has some other, less-necessary info and a barcode, and has the benefit of being removable. The grip section is a very interesting knurled metal that holds quite well in the hand, isn’t sharp, and doesn’t leave one’s fingers smelling like metal as some pen/pencils do. There is then a smooth step-down/tapering tip all the way down to the lead, which in this particular model is 0.5 HB (#2).

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The lead is standard HB and writes quite smoothly, it feels a bit harder than many other #2’s I’ve used, which may just be a feeling in my hand. The entire thing feels very sturdy in the hand and is great for both technical drawings and sketches. The lead is “hi-polymer”, whatever that means, but it is good, and since there is no shock absorber it has to be good at not breaking, which it also is.

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There are several packages, and the one that I got has no spare erasers and only one spare piece of lead, ensuring that I have to go back and get more.

Overall the pencil is great. It works very well and is very nice to hold. It’s sturdy and keeps up with minimal wear. It’s easy to hold, easy to write (or draw) with, and stays well in the pocket. It doesn’t have any fancy features, which one could get in the higher end models, but it does cover all of the basic features and does them really well. If you want a good pencil without all the bells and whistles, I’d definitely check out the Pentel GraphGear 500.

Review – Zebra Sarasa Gel Pen

Every pen brand has its own main gel pen model, and Zebra is no exception. The Zebra Sarasa is Zebra’s main gel pen, and likely their most-recognized pen behind their steel line. How do they hold up? Let’s see.

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The Sarasa starts with a very classic push button. Below that is a unique clip that holds tightly but is easy enough to get out of your pocket without a problem. Some information about the pen is printed on the clip, and nowhere else on the pen. The barrel is clear and round, down to the grip. The grip section is rubber and hard. It has a slight hourglass taper so that your fingers want to rest in the middle, and it’s harder for them to slip off. It also has several quite annoying stripes that don’t aid your grip, but instead simply make your fingers feel uncomfortable. After that is a transparent cone leading the the metal tip of the roller-ball. It’s a fairly simple and standard design, but effective.

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The ink goes on the paper nicely and smoothly. It is not particularly quick to dry and can smudge easily. It is advertised as archival quality and acid-free, which I believe but haven’t tested. And while it certainly isn’t water-proof, it is water resistant. The line is medium (0.7) and the black color is quite black, and a cold black, very nice. It does absorb a bit more into cheaper paper making it harder to write in a way that looks nice, but it does preform well.

Overall, the Zebra Sarasa is an alright pen. It works well, but not as well as some other brands. If you really don’t like the grip on the Pilot G-2, or the expense of some better gel pens, then you might want to try this one out. The pocket clip is notably better, but not so much better that it’s worth getting the rest of the pen. Fortunately, it does come in a variety of colors that some other brands might not have and may come in handy.

Review – Pentel Twist-Erase Click

When looking at all of the options for mechanical pencils, one will inevitably come to the conclusion at some point that there just has to be a more efficient way to do the things mechanical pencils do. Fortunately, Pentel has you covered with the Pentel Twist-Erase click mechanical pencil, which hopefully is a lot more convenient than all of those other pencils you find around.

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The top of the pencil starts with the eraser, which has a small turning ring around the bottom that can be twisted to extend the eraser as the name implies. The eraser is very long, extending to a least five times its original length. Below that is a tight, functional metal clip that holds well and is held in place by a piece of plastic. On the same lateral space is the information about the pencil, where all necessary information is written in a fairly out-of-the-way manner. Below this is a rather interesting curved breaking point in the pencil which will separate and allow the lead to be inserted. Then we get to the side-mounted click mechanism, which is placed both just above and in place of the rubber grip section.  The button has a few grooves to ease pushing, but is otherwise smooth. The grip section is a thin rubber that does not let ones’ fingers slide but does not give to create something super comfortable. It is functional. Then there is a semi-transparent cone, leading to the thin metal tube that the lead will dispense out of.

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The two main features of the pencil work well. The eraser twisting is easy if not buttery smooth.  The pencil comes with several additional erasers which are just fine for what they are, though they won’t fully remove a hard pencil line. The side-click mechanism is easy to use, and out of the way enough that it doesn’t affect normal writing. The standard lead is HB and is really nothing special. It writes well, without any flaws that stick out. There is no shock absorption, so the lead is more likely to break than in a pencil with such a feature, but that really isn’t an issue. There are a few pieces of lead already in the pencil and it comes with a replacement container.

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Really, if one is looking for a different mechanical pencil, or specifically for a longer eraser or a side advance, on a budget, this is easily the best model. There are really no frills or problems, it just functions as advertised. Sure, there are more expensive models that could do better, but one would have to pay a premium for such items. For the sake of convenience I would definitely look into and consider the Pentel Twist-Erase Click.