Review – Tech Gear Pencil Case

Finding the right case is a difficult thing, there’re so many options that come in all different sizes, and with features ranging from tons of little pockets and organizational tools to nothing at all. Even where a zipper is positioned can really affect how convenient a product is to use on a day-to-day basis. So today I’ll be looking at an inexpensive pencil case available in a wide range of areas (at least it was when I bought it at a grocery store, but it takes time to properly test a case and I don’t know what’s going on with them now).

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The Tech Gear pencil case is a simple thing, being made of mostly black nylon in a rectangular-ish shape that’s about 8” long and 4½” wide. There are two support pieces, one going around the bottom, and another on the “lid” and they keep everything roughly in the right place. Just underneath this support piece is the zipper, which runs along the top edge. When unzipped, the “lid” (which has a rubber logo patch, 5-stripe “design”, and possibly a different color upper half) hinges back along one of the long edges revealing the inside, which is just a “bucket” about 1” deep where you can dump things. This “hinge” is reinforced by another piece of nylon both inside and out.

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The inside is a smoother texture than the outside, with several of the seams covered up by a plastic-ish, almost electrical-tape feeling material. There’s a tag that tells you it was made in China, but otherwise it’s just an empty cavern into which you can dump whatever you want that’ll fit. And that is pretty much anything that is the same length or shorter than a standard, unsharpened pencil (about 7½”, you might be able to squeeze longer things in if you’re creative) and about 1¼” thick (even that might be stretching it). And that’s a fair amount of stuff. I’ve been using it to carry around my “to-review” items and never had a problem with space. I’ve only got around 15 items in it now, but it can hold 30 writing implements and a few other bits and bobs comfortably.

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But it is a cheap case, so how well does it hold up? Reasonably, I’ll say. It’s been a long time since I went to school (and I just used a Ziploc for my pencil case then) and I know I would’ve been much harder on a case then than I am now, but after carrying it around for a while now there is very minimal wear (a loose thread here and there and the rubber patch on the front is a little scuffed, but nothing significant). Still, I can see a lot of the cheapness in its build quality; most seams are unfinished and liable to tear or unfurl, and the material itself isn’t that strong a stuff in the first place. The zipper works but the material is cheap and soft (and paint already flecking), etc. For someone like me who won’t put it through much hard work it’s fine and’ll probably last for quite a while, but in school I’d say it’s about a 1-year bag.

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And that’s pretty much it. The bag has some organizational problems but it’s also fairly small so nothing should get too buried. And it’s got some craftsmanship problems but for the price you couldn’t really expect better. It’s good for what it is and if that’s what you need it’s easy enough to get. So if you just need something to dump your pencils in and won’t worry about having to replace it later because it’s cheap, this one’s a good thing to look at.

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Review – Up&Up Clipboard with Storage Case

Sometimes I end up reviewing things that are much closer to being “office supplies” rather than “art supplies”, but surely most things needed and used in an office will be needed by artists at some point, or otherwise have art uses. Anyway, somewhere in there is my justification for looking at what I am reviewing today: the Up&Up (Target) Clipboard with Storage Case, which is really just a handy thing no matter who you are.

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The whole thing is what one would expect: a decent quality but nothing spectacular. It’s about 9½” x 13¼” and a little less than an inch thick excluding the clip. The plastic is pretty thin, translucent, and flexible. At the front there is a simple snap closure on a plastic (not in the engineering sense) hinge. The main hinge on the back is also made in this way by bending the plastic of the body in a thinner part. This makes the item easy to produce (one piece of plastic) but it will lead to structural problems over time. Fortunately, the plastic is high0enough quality that this isn’t an immediate concern. The back is basically flat but slightly recessed (half an inch in all the way around). The inside front is also pretty flat but with a small trench at the bottom for catching writing utensils and a spring clip riveted to the top. The clip is made of a few different parts with a “wire” acting as the clamping mechanism. There are pieces of plastic attached where the clip holds down the paper to reduce damage and a nice bend in the center of the wire to allow it to be lifted easily. The wire disappears into a rolled tube attached to the case inside of which is a spring that is pretty strong (enough to hurt but not seriously injure), and it does a good job of holding papers down while keeping a much lower profile than traditional clipboards.

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It’s a good version, if it’s the kinda thing you need. I have a sturdier case of similar design that I’ve been trying to get a second one of, and this does the job well (but it isn’t a replacement for me). It does bend and bow (writing with it empty for more than a few words feels a bit weird) and lack proper hinges. I’m not sure it would stand up to extended use in harder conditions, but for office work it is very serviceable. The inside compartment easily holds 30+ sheets of standard office copy paper with room for a writing implement, and the clip keeps things firmly fastened to the face with minimal “denting”. If you’re in the market for a clipboard with a document storage compartment this is an inexpensive and quite serviceable option.

Review – Lihit Lab Pen(cil) Case

I might be a little bit late for the back-to-school season, but I do have a pencil case I wanted to talk about. Most pencil cases tend to be of the “dump everything in and fish it out” variety, even if the only hold a few pencils. The rarer breed is the organizational pencil case (that isn’t attached to some other “organizer”). One of the simplest, least expensive, and easiest to get a hold of versions of this is the Lihit Lab Pen Case (I can’t find a certain model name {maybe Teffa?} or number that seems to fit {maybe A7551-24?}). Is it worth it?

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The outside of the case looks pretty standard (mine’s black, but there are lots of available colors), the back is blank and the front has two almost-useless pockets with a small rubber “designed for arrangement” badge. The (double) zipper is roughly in the center of the bag (and it even has the same logo as the front badge on it) and it feels very sturdy and secure, though it has no “brand-name” on it. The hinge is made of a double layer of the same fabric as the rest of the case and shows no sign of wear from several months of use. The whole package comes in at about 8”x4½”.

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The inside is a brown version of the same color polyester fabric (regardless of outside color). On the inside of the front there are two roughly inch-wide bands to hold in pens, and on the back inside there is a simple mesh covering about half the area (to hold other items). There is also a center divider/organizational area that is strangely attached to the inside of the back half and not in the middle. I suppose that would have interfered with the hinge, but its placement near the back (really it just favoring one side) can be a problem at times. The front of this divider has another inch-wide band (higher up this time) and a thin pocket (not mesh) at the bottom, and the back has three mesh pockets, the top two being slightly larger than the bottom one.

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So the configuration of the whole case is to hold pens in the front and other art/office supply things in the back. This works pretty well, especially since the back can hold either. I have 24 pens or pen-like things in mine* and 10 (or so, paper clips are counted as one thing) other things including an eraser, Swiss Army Knife, stapler, pencil sharpener, notepad etc. It fits everything nicely and is very flexible with its organization. I was surprised with what I could fit in it (almost everything I wanted), and I’ve been carrying it around wherever I need pen(cil)s for months now and it shows no sign of stressing the material or really any wear whatsoever.

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My concluding thoughts could just be “it is the pencil case I use, and I don’t see that changing soon”. And that would be true, I really like this case, it is perfect for my exact usage scenario, but due to its popularity and the number of photos of it I see online, it looks like it could fit quite a few usage cases. It’s inexpensive relative to other cases its size (it probably helps that there is no packaging needed, but it does come with a cute little card that folds out as a representation of how to use the case), it’s durable, flexible (both in the physical and organizational sense), and it’s attractive. I’d definitely recommend it as an upgrade to the regular zipper bag most people use.

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* Pencil Case Full Contents List

    • 2 Pentel Pocket Brushes
    • Pigma Brush
    • 2 Tombow Duos (N95, N60)
    • Liquid Accent Highlighter
    • Sharpie Twin Tip
    • Autopoint All American in Blue (Caran d’Ache Sketcher Non-Photo Blue Pencil)
    • Pigma Graphic 1
    • Pigma Micron Technical Pens (005, 01, 02, 03, 05, 08)
    • Le Pen 0.03 (003) Technical Pen
    • Tombow Mono Zero Eraser (Round 2.3, Rectangular 2.5×5)
    • Scotch Tape Roll
    • Pad of Generic Sticky Notes (3”x2”)
    • Twist Ties x2
    • Paper Clips x5 (Insulated)
    • 4 inch Ruler
    • Pentel .5 HB lead
    • Pentel Graphgear 500 .5
    • Swingline Tot 50 Mini Stapler
    • Staedtler Mars Plastic Eraser (With Plastic Case)
    • Victorinox Super Tinker**
    • Zebra F-301 (Black, Blue, Green, Red)
    • Paper:Mate Liquid Paper Correction Pen (Signo Angelic White Gel Pen)
    • Kum Pencil Sharpener

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Last two photos from Jetpens.com (http://www.jetpens.com/Lihit-Lab-Teffa-Pen-Case-Book-Style-Black/pd/7665) I just had to include a photo of the "booklet" and originally couldn't find mine.

Last two photos from Jetpens.com (http://www.jetpens.com/Lihit-Lab-Teffa-Pen-Case-Book-Style-Black/pd/7665) I just had to include a photo of the “booklet” and originally couldn’t find mine.