Review – Uni-Ball Kuru Toga Mechanical Pencil

When talking about mechanical pencils, as with many things, it’s hard to get away from the idea that there must be some way to improve upon past designs, and that the standard design we use today has enough flaws in it that seem easily fixable that they should be promptly corrected. The Uni-Ball Kuru Toga is a mechanical pencil that is designed to fix one of the long-standing problems with pencils: unevenness of the tip due to use. Let’s see how it works out.

20141126-005210.jpg

The body of the Kuru Toga is quite simple. The barrel is almost entirely featureless until getting close to the point, where there are a few ridges for “grip”, and then a small metal step-down to the lead point. Interestingly enough, unlike most mechanical pencils, this metal step-down is not integral to the design and the pencil will function fine without it. At the top is a small click-advance system, with a transparent eraser cover that is the accent color. The eraser is small, but works quite well, and most packs come with a few replacements. The cover makes a satisfying clicking noise as it moves into place. The clip has all the info you’ll get about the pencil, which is just enough, though not very much. The clip itself is functional, but not the best. The barrel is semi-transparent with a logo, giving the pencil overall a very interesting look.

20141126-005215.jpg

The lead is HB, and, according to the package, diamond-infused. It is harder than most other HB’s I’ve used, and I haven’t had a lead break on me yet, though that’s more because of the lead advance, which tends to give less instead of more, meaning I have less lead available to break. Overall, the lead is smooth enough and doesn’t write very bold or dark. The real feature of this pencil is the turning point, which acts with the pressure of writing and supposedly turns the lead to prevent breakage and to create a more even tip. I’m not sure if it works, or even if it is working, as I’ve never felt it when using the pencil, but I have also never had the lead break, so there’s that. I wouldn’t say it improves the writing experience by creating a sharper point, but it certainly doesn’t make it worse. Perhaps this feature for me is unnoticed since I naturally rotate the pencil around in my hand willy-nilly. That’s just how I write.

So overall, how well does this pencil do? Pretty good, I guess. I’m not a fan of the overall design, and the lack of any grip on the smooth plastic can make it hard to hold. Like I said, I can’t even tell if the feature is working, but I’ll go ahead and say that, at least through a combination of factors that went into the design of the pencil and lead, it is much less prone to breakage than other models. So if you have a problem with breaking your leads, I’d certainly have a look, but if you value the comfort in hand more than the lead quality, I might look elsewhere.

 

Advertisements

Review – Pilot Precise Colors, Green and Purple

I’ve taken a look at the Pilot Precise V5 pens before, and they’re pretty good pens in the standard compliment of black, red, and blue colors. But they also have a few other colors available, and in this little review I’ll take a look at the purple and green offerings.

Pilot precise green and purple

First the purple, which is much darker and a much truer purple than most, which are more a fuchsia. The color is deep, but not deep enough to be washed out. It could still conceivably be used in an office setting, but might be pushing it. And while there are rarely truer purples, it doesn’t have a very natural look to it. Perhaps it exists in some deeps shades of flowers, but otherwise it is far too dark. Startup with this color is easy, and while it does fade with water, it is still readable.

And second, the green, which again is much darker and much truer than other greens. It is unmistakably green, but darker than what one would usually think of green as being. It doesn’t get close to a forest or hunter, but certainly is far from a light or lime. I couldn’t think of any office uses, unless you’re a teacher who doesn’t want to use red. It is just light enough to stand out and not look professional. In art, though, it is a wonderfully natural color, and it shades a little bit for interesting effects. It has a bit of a startup problem (or a drying out problem) and is the less water-resistant of the two, but it is still adequate.

Is it worth moving over to Pilot Precise pens just to get these colors? Unlikely, but they are great colors that add to an already nice lineup. I enjoy them, and very similar colors are hard to find in disposable rollerballs or gel pens. They might be worth a look.

Review – Scotch Transparent Tape

If reviewing Scotch Tape means I’m out of ideas, then call me out of ideas (I do have plenty more things to look at, though). But really, who doesn’t have a use for tape? And when buying that tape, couldn’t shaving off several pennies save quite a bit of money over time? Is the brand name really worth it (It’s pretty generic-sounding, now, isn’t it)? Let’s see.

20141111-234203.jpg

First thing, the container: Scotch Tape comes with a clear plastic, simple, but quite durable dispenser. The roll of tape is clicked into place on the wheel and at the front are several teeth for separating the tape into strips. Is any of this the best quality? No, but it gets the job done, and very cheaply. If one has a tape dispenser that they like, individual rolls can be bought, so I’d say that this works quite well.

Now onto the tape itself, which certainly isn’t “magic” or “invisible”. The stuff I’m looking at is just labeled “transparent”, and that it is. The tape is easy to see through and sufficiently sticky that it will hold most documents together without a problem in either holding or reading. In fact, the tape itself is very strong, and the adhesive is more likely to break than the tape itself (or perhaps what it’s taped to). Given that it does have a certain rigidness to it, though, it isn’t a tape for repairing any item that, like a tool, will be used, or will move. It is surprisingly strong, but really only good for paper products.

Now, is it worth it to buy Scotch Tape and not some other tape? Given how inexpensive Scotch Tape is already, I’d say yes. And if it isn’t right where you’re shopping, I’d even hunt around for it. The two rolls that come in a pack for around a dollar will last for quite some time. And I’ve seen other brands for around the same price that cease to be sticky once they came off the roll. In short, there’s a reason we say “Scotch Tape” and not “transparent adhesive tape”.

Review – Papermate Mirado Black Warrior

There are a lot of pencils out there, and it seems there are even more cheap pencils (that isn’t possible, I realize, but it made sense when I was typing it). How good can some of these pencils be? Today I’ll be taking a look at the Paper:mate Mirado Black Warrior Pencil.

20141105-010555.jpg

The pencil body is simple and round, which is surprisingly not a standard pencil shape. I always had round pencils at school (a set of leftovers from my father), and people always liked the way they felt when I loaned them out (which is why I lost so many). The shape is quite comfortable, and just that little bit better than a hexagonal pencil. The set of pencils that I received have a satiny finish that make them fairly grippy even with sweaty hands (from what I understand, they used to be more shiny and slippery). The rest of the body is a plain black with “Mirado Black Warrior” in gold on it in a poorly chosen font, as well as HB 2 and the Papermate logo, the hearts of which take away from the “warrior”-ness.

20141105-010601.jpg

The back of the pencil has a standard pink eraser, which does its job and hasn’t dried out in the time I’ve had it. I’d guess it isn’t the best quality and if you always want to erase what you wrote I’d recommend getting a dedicated eraser, but these work fine for most of us. The lead is HB, but feels much softer than most HBs I’ve used. Perhaps that is just me, but I’d say it is at least a little softer and it covers smoothly and well. A good pencil for filling in scantrons or shadows. Because it is so soft it is not too great at holding a point, though.
Is it a good pencil? Definitely, and for the money it’s really just a matter of preference.

There are loads of good pencils in this price range, so if one that is round (make sure your desk isn’t slanted) and has a slightly softer lead sounds good to you; or maybe you just like the “stealth” idea of an all-black pencil, this one is at least worth looking at. And like I said, for the price almost anyone could afford to pick up a box to compare to any other pencil they happen to be using.