Monday, April 16, 2012

JetPens Review: Uni-ball Kuru Toga 0.5 mm Auto Lead Rotation Mechanical Pencil

This adorable pencil was sent by JetPens for review so here's a big thank you to JetPens for their generosity!
Uni-ball Kuru Toga Auto Lead Rotation Mechanical Pencil
This pencil is not unlike your average mechanical pencil in that it has: a barrel, an eraser, a clip, and a tip where lead comes out. Plus, lead is advanced by clicking the eraser bit. But it is very unlike your average mechanical pencil because this thing has brains!

Initial Impressions:
I was happy to see this pencil was not over-packaged. Sometimes companies pack a tiny article more than a $1,000,000 crystal vase would be packed when some rich oil tycoon in Dubai decides he wants it to sit on his toilet bowl for decoration.
Uni-ball Kuru Toga Auto Lead Rotation Mechanical Pencil Packaging
Uni-ball Kuru Toga Auto Lead Rotation Mechanical Pencil Packaging Back
One can't help but notice how adorable this pencil is. Notice that it's hot pink...just like my blog?? Okay so I was excited about the color right away. I also love the look of the "Kuru Toga engine", visible in the clear portion of the barrel. The pencil is not too heavy at all and is, not surprisingly, very comfortable to hold and write with. I think this pencil has the perfect barrel size for my hand. No need to grip super tightly - the ridged grip area is easy to hang on to. The clip is very functional - I am often concerned about a plastic clip snapping but I tested this one on quite a wad of paper and the pencil sat very snugly on the paper. Furthermore, there's this little ring of rubbery grip just below the clear portion of the barrel which - hallelujah! - resides right where my fingers grip the pencil! It's perfect for gripping the pencil and really is rather comfortable.
Kuru Toga Barrel
The brains of the operation.
I am hesitant to comment too much on the lead and how it writes because of course, this can vary depending what lead you refill with. However, this lead in particular, combined with the comfort of the pencil, resulted in very clean, smudge-free writing.

Lastly, I must re-mention the color.  Hot pink and white, with a tiny touch of orange in the barrel, is possibly the best combination of colors ever. And the cap over the eraser is translucent pink. So pretty.

Does It Work?
I'll admit, at first I was a wee bit skeptical about this clever pencil that could auto rotate its lead. Are pencils that smart?? Apparently they are. I have yet to write with a sharp or scratchy piece of lead. It hasn't broken once - which is unlike my usual experience with mechanical pencils, and the tip is evenly rounded. It's almost like writing with a ballpoint PENCIL. Which really is a unique experience, in my opinion.

I tried to observe very closely for the lead rotating, but I couldn't detect a thing. Either I'm inept at observing things, or the mechanism is so swift and fluid that I was unable to pick up on it. When I write, I lift my writing utensil often just out of habit so it is likely at those points that the lead rotated every so slightly. I'm very impressed with the mechanism and in the end, the lead was a smooth, rounded tip - which is not what you'd see in a typical mechanical pencil.
Pentel P205 vs. Kuru Toga
Top: Pentel P205 0.5 mm mechanical pencil. Bottom:  Uni-ball Kuru Toga 0.5 mm Auto Lead Rotation Mechanical Pencil.
You really may be surprised (as I was) at the difference in your writing with this pencil when compared to any other pencil. My writing was more uniform, more precise, and a lot cleaner than it was with the Pentel P205 mechanical pencil in the same 0.5 mm.
Kuru Toga Writing Sample
It is surprisingly nice for a pencil, right? Crisp and clean. Like an apple and laundry.
Pentel P205 Writing Sample
Can you tell the difference between the smooth part of the lead and when I switched to the sharper side? 
Other Bits to Ponder:
I wonder if recycled plastic could be integrated into the body of the pencil (I know you're all probably sick of me saying "recycled plastic" and a tiny baby kitten somewhere must lose its whiskers every time I write that), but it's just a thought I always have.

Secondly, the eraser is tiny. It works surprisingly well with this lead, but it's extremely small and I don't think will last very long. Of course, you can buy refills quite for only $1.50, but still. It's more about the convenience of the eraser. Also, don't lose the cap. Because then you will likely lose your eraser. And then you will lose your lead, because this is where your lead is refilled.

If hot pink isn't your thing - although I can't imagine why it wouldn't be... - check out the other colors offered by JetPens here, in both 0.3 mm and 0.5 mm. If you want to class it up even MORE, check out these high grade series pencils here and here!

Care for some more Kuru Toga?
East...West...Everywhere
No Pen Intended
Office Supply Geek
Dave's Mechanical Pencils
Agent Nerdy
Rhonda Eudaly
From The Pen Cup

Price
JetPens - $7.50
JetPens Eraser Refills - $1.50 for a set of five

Overall
I'm so glad I got to try this pencil because now I can confidently and happily recommend the Kuru Toga to others. This pencil has been on my JetPens wish list (granted, so is most of their entire site...), but because I mostly use pencils for outlines of drawings (which are hardly even drawings - such as this crocodile that looks like whoknowswhat), I had never yet purchased one. But, I am very pleased with my experience. If you had to pick just one pencil to keep in your pencil case, you definitely should get something awesome like this kitten here because no other mechanical pencil in this price range is going to leave you as happy as this one.

**I was provided one or more of these products for review, but all opinions are my own!

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GourmetPens by Azizah Asgarali is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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