Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Holiday Pencils

OK, well I’m off on holiday in a little while, so this blog will be on hold for a few weeks.

One of the most common enquiries I get is about small pencils suitable to put in your pocket, in a notebook, etc. I’ve never really had a good answer to these questions so I’ve decided my holiday is an appropriate time to check out a few mini-pencils. Accompanying me on holiday will be (in photo order, top to bottom)
  • Kaweco ‘Sport’
  • Pentel ‘Mini M.V.P.’ AL17MN
  • Pilot ‘Birdie’
  • Zebra ‘T3’
  • Ohto ‘Tasche’ SP-10T

Shameless Advertisement – I thank Cult Pens for giving me the ‘Birdie’ and ‘T3’. In a couple of weeks we’ll all know my opinion of them.

3 comments:

Wilson said...

I mentioned on the other thread that there is always the Retro 51 Elite. It's something like 90-95 mm in length but uses 1.1 mm lead but it looks completely pocket safe. It's a bit pricey at USD16-17.

I completely forgot about the Caran d'Ache Ecridor XS for those well-heeled readers. It's 96 mm in length and uses 0.5 mm lead. The tip looks like the standard "cone" that comes on Caran d'Aches and shouldn't be too hard on pockets unlike some of the pencils in your photo. Downside is the really spendy USD90 price tag.

Anonymous said...

Let me take this opportunity to thank Wilson for his Retro 51 Elite tip, and thanks to Dave for doing this research. I can't wait to see what the verdict is!

I bought both the Pilot Birdie and the Zebra T3, as well as the Pilot Dr. Grip XS.

The T3 vs the Birdie:

The T3 is definitely shorter (by about 0.5") and has a smaller diameter. It is also substantially lighter (haven't weighed it, but you can certainly feel it).

The mechanism is very similar in both, and both have the same eraser design, and both take 0.5 leads.

The one thing I didn't like about the Birdie is that the clip is soldered directly to the body of the pencil, whereas in the T3, the clip is attached to the removable cap shielding the eraser - so, for real minimalists, you can take off the clip on the T3 and shorten the length by another about 0.3" - with the Birdie you'd have to hack it off... not very elegant. The clip on the Birdie is also much bigger than on the T3.

The Birdie is slightly more comfortable to write with, though (for me).

Overall, for me (minimalist concerns) the T3 is the clear winner here. The downside is that according to an email I got from Zebra, the T3 has been discontinued, though it is still readily available.

The Pilot Dr. Grip XS is about a 0.25" shorter than the T3, but much thicker (the thickness of a man's finger!). It has a retractable tip which is nice, but the translucent plastic body just feels cheap. Not a fan.

Speedmaster said...

I really like that Kaweco!