Review – Paper:Mate Design Mechanical Pencil 0.7mm

t’s always nice to try new mechanical pencils, and I’ve been looking at a few recently. One that is around what might be considered “medium territory” is the Paper:Mate Design pencil (7mm #2), which has a few nice features that make it nicer than some others I’ve looked at.

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Starting at the mechanism, the button is quite small and has a slight angle to the top so that one’s fingers will just slide off that much easier. That being said, it works quite well. I haven’t had any issues with it, and the click is both minimal and satisfying. Removing the metal sheath reveals the eraser, which does its job. Removing the eraser gives one access to the lead, and removing the eraser holder allows one to disassemble the pencil, which is handy (one would need to unscrew the front to do that). Down from that is a clip with the Paper:Mate logo. It needs some finesse to clip on, but both holds well and is fairly easy to detach. The barrel is a medium-sized metal tube with a nice finish that simply says Paper:Mate (personally I’d’ve liked more info, but that is literally only me). The grip is a fairly hard rubber with several lines running parallel that don’t seem to do anything to improve grip. It is a bit slippery, but not to a degree that it will distract you unless you’ve used a ton of pens and pencils. There is a metal cone that leads to a smaller, retractable metal cone tip the lead flows out of. This retractable tip means that the pencil will not scratch the inside of a pocket or something, which is quite nice.

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The lead is alright. It is standard HB but feels a bit smoother and more break-prone than other brands of HB I’ve used. That being said, it’s broken about the same amount. I was at first apprehensive when using this pencil. It has no shock-absorbing spring and when one pushes down just after clicking, the lead retracts and makes a distracting clicking sound. This is a major problem in pens for me, and hearing the sound again and again drives me crazy, but fortunately this pencil holds the lead tight enough that I only ever hear the sound at the start of a writing session. What it does mean that is annoying, though, is that if the lead is only advanced a slight amount, a problem this pencil tends to have, then one can easily push the lead back into the pencil and be unable to write. This is actually not as major a problems as it sounds, but I feel it should be mentioned.

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Overall, this pencil exceeds my expectations. The retracting point and stainless steel barrel are nice features. And aside from a few minor things, everything else does its job well enough. The pencil really feels solid and good in the hand without being too heavy, and the writing experience is quite smooth. If you’re looking for a tough mechanical pencil for some mid-length writing sessions, I’d seek one out, though if you’re in an extremely demanding location or are writing for a long time (the grip is poor) you might look elsewhere.

Review – Bic Atlantis Ballpoint and 0.7mm Pencil

Bic is one of the most prominent manufacturers of cheap pens and pencils (and other necessary cheap plastic things). They have several lines of pens and pencils, some as expensive as a dime and some a bit more. The Bic Atlantis is a set of pencils and pens in various colors, which happen to be called the same thing. Today I’ll be taking a look at the Blue ballpoint and the 0.7mm mechanical pencil.

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Despite sharing a name, the pen and pencil don’t share bodies. They do have similar styling that can be described in the same way, with the pencil being slightly thicker and a bit longer. Starting from the tip, there is a small cone, metal on the pencil, plastic on the pen. This is followed by a thin, hard rubber grip which is all right, but might as well not be there, in my opinion. Within the grip it is a clear plastic wave in the pen, while the wave is impressed into the grip of the pencil. The barrel is relatively smooth and has all necessary information. Neither have a way to twist open the barrel, but around the clip both can be opened and the insides removed (the pen is glued). Above that is the clip, which is quite different on each. The pen is a very firm, stiff piece of metal, while the pencil is much more loose and is wrapped over into the plastic body. On the top is a clicking mechanism. The pen is surprisingly quiet and unsatisfying. You’d never know it clicked if you closed your eyes, but it works well. The pencil has an eraser and a cap on it, the eraser can be removed to allow the pencil to be refilled, and the clicking works well. So both are quite different, but they are similar enough to be in the same category.

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The pen gives a very fine line, which is quite smooth. However like most “smooth” ballpoints it tends to blob often and pick up paper fibers. The color is also, like most ballpoints, quite waterproof, meaning it won’t run without being completely and utterly soaked. The pens can technically be refilled, but they aren’t supposed to be. The pencil is standard 0.7 and HB, meaning it is smooth but not too smooth. They also have a retractable metal tip to prevent the inside of pockets and bags from being torn, and there is a spring which prevents the lead from breaking due to excessive pressure. I honestly think that HB (#2) is a bit too soft, but for most writing and sketching purposes it does quite well.

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Overall the Bic Atlantis set is very lopsided. The pen is standard fare and not really worth much. It doesn’t do anything better than anything else in the price range, though they are quite cheap. The pencils are twice as expensive, at least, but are much more worth it. They come with extra lead and erasers, and the spring and cover mechanisms for saving the eraser and lead are almost unique for the price. It’s a great little thing that I quite enjoy using. And it might become a sketching mainstay.