Friday, July 18, 2008

Pentel Energize PL77 Mechanical Pencil Review

Pentel Energize PL77 Mechanical Pencil Review

Sunday night, just got home after an 8 hour drive, feeling a bit run down, getting some stuff ready for work the next morning, time to quickly choose a pencil for the coming week…well there it was, the EnerGize Pencil by Pentel. To make matters worse, Monday was the first day of the new financial year, so lots of reports to write…I was certainly going to need an extra dose of energy.
Well, that was a couple of weeks ago back at the start of month, so now I’ve finally written this review and got it published.

The Energize is a little bit of a change from the pencils I’ve been using lately. It’s a rather plain shape – basically just a long straight tube. No bulbous grips, tapering or curving bodies, etc. Instead Pentel have done a great job with the colour scheme. My silver-grey version really does look great – it’s simple, stylish, and yes, somehow energized looking.
Picking it up, this pencil is lighter than I expected. I know it’s only plastic, but with all that metallic colouring I still sort of half expected a little more weight. As a lightweight pencil the balance is fairly neutral. As for the grip, well, it’s a rubber grip and we all know my opinions of those. Hold on, back it up, change the record - I am impressed with this rubber grip. This is one that gets it right. The surface is not slippery. The concentric wave pattern grooves feel almost like little flanges sticking out to massage your fingers and they do add to the grip. The compound has just that little bit of cushioning to it under finger pressure. This is the grip that other rubber grips aspire to be. This is a rubber grip that I do not object to – coming from me, that probably counts as serious praise. Well, that’s my opinion anyway.

The lead advance is a standard push top ratchet mechanism. 10 clicks will get you 10mm of the 0.7mm lead. That’s quite a bit for Pentel. The tip is a retractable cone, so it’s fully pocket safe. Underneath the top button is the usual small disappointing eraser. You pull that out to load the lead magazine. It’s a fairly wide diameter tube so you can get a decent supply of lead in there. The top button is an unusual one. Firstly it has a sort of click-fit back onto the pencil rather than the usual push type feel. It’s also fairly gentle so you can definitely get it back on without activating the lead advance. The cap also has 4 little slots cut into the top of it, similar to the Forte Pro II as recently reviewed on this blog by AndrewJ. After his review was published, Andrew mentioned that he had been told that such slots were breathing slots in case a small child swallowed and chocked on the top button. I don’t know if that’s actually true, but it very well could be, and it’s obviously a good idea. Of course, on the Energize, they also double as cooling vents. :-)

One strange thing did happen to my Energize. Twice the front section unscrewed from the body. That’s very strange for me and Pentel, but then the rubber grip does sort of make me twist and rotate the pencil around, so that was probably the cause of it. Giving it a little extra twist when tightening back up did finally cure this problem.
The pocket clip is another piece of superior stuff. It is metal, good and sturdy, works well, and really fits in with the overall look of the pencil. See how the shape of the top of the body, and the graphics all lead your eye out to the pocket clip.To me, everything about this pencil indicates that one day the Pentel design department assembled their “A-Team” and this is what they came up with. Get yourself one.
  • Best Points – Lots, but I’ll single out the rubber grip again.
  • Not So Good Points – I don’t want to put anything here.
  • Price Range – Economy/Low.

Dimensions – Length 150mm, diameter 11mm. Balance point about 75mm up from the tip.


r.e.wolf said...

Never thought I'd ever see you like a rubber grip, much less include it as a good point!

kiwi-d said...

Yep, never thought I'd see the day either. She's a strange old world full of surprises.

Mike said...

Beautiful pencil. Like you, I think the Pentel design team put some serious thought into this color (colour?) scheme.


Mike said...

Here, apparently, is the patent for the choke-proof-pencil-cap-thing:

Of course, I'm no expert on these things, so I have no idea if that is an official website.


Anonymous said...

to add to this antichoke discussion, here's the bic website discussing pen caps:

Time Waster said...

I think the parenet to this pencils is teh Energel gel pen series.

That rubber grip scares me :) it's ribbed :)

B2-kun said...

Thanks for this review. Picked up a 2-pack at the local office supply store after seeing it. Good value sketching tool although it' a tad thick for my drawing style. Not like I needed much of an excuse to add pieces to my ever growing collection of mechanical pencils and leadholders.

Germ said...

My daughter gave me one of these for my birthday last year, or was it fathers day? no biggie. Not a fan of the pencil, but isn't terrible. It just feels cheap to me. go figure, when i like the sharplet series, which were the lowest of the low back in the day.

B2-kun - one never needs and excuse to get more geeky pencil stuff. :)

GolemdX said...

I bought one of these, and it is great! Actually, I got a 0.5 model, since that's the type of lead I use. Much better than all my others...

Andrew said...

I just picked up one of these today and it really does work great. A nice price for a two pack, .5mm versions too. But the .5mm pencils didn't have two silver/grey color schemes -- it was either silver/grey and silver/blue or silver/grey and silver/pink. Of course I'd be getting the blue one. :)

If I like this pencil even more, I might even think about getting the .7mm model.

Andrew said...

So after a busy day of writing today with my new EnerGize MP, I found some flaws.

On my pencil, the tip wobbles. It doesn't bother me a whole lot, but after getting so used to the Pentel P205 rock solid fixed point, it did irritate me slightly near the end of the day.

The grip moves too. It slides around just a bit. The grip itself is nice but why does it have to move?

But besides those two, the overall design and durability isn't that bad at all. I dropped my pencil quite a few times today.

Anonymous said...

Got the 0.5 model today and yes as Andrew says the tip does wobble or is that cushioning?? I can't tell whether it is side to side wobble or up and down cushioning. And yes the grip turns around and around and around. Nice pencil though but I couldn't handle .7 - too wide and would need lots of constant turning to keep a clear line. Compared to the Pilot Nextage Shaker .5 (H-295) which I also got today, the Energize wins hands down, although the Shaker does work well, but the pencil is a big lump and much too heavy and wide bodied for my taste.


Anonymous said...

Actually, the more I use this pencil the more obvious the tip wobble and tip noise is. I'm afraid it is going to get assigned to the "no further use bin". Shame really but its positive attributes do not outweigh these obvious defects.

2 1/2P

kiwi-d said...

Hi 2 1/2P. I'm a little surprised at your comment. I didn't really notice either of these problems during my review. I've grabbed my Energize again and had a little practice - can't say I notice any tip noise out of the ordinary. Tip wobble - well there is a bit, but nothing unusual for a retractable sleeve and plastic body. Still, could be production varainces, and different opinions on what is out of the ordinary or not.

Anonymous said...

Well the hornets nest has been stirred - When Dave doesn't get the same results my immediate thinking is to check the whole thing out all over again - so this is what I did. Firstly I lined up 8 RETRACTABLE TIP pencils and compared them for tip wobble using the pinch test between forefinger and thumb on the tip sleeve and checking for movement and 2. I then used a Dot stipple test where the pencil tip is repeatedly tapped on paper - this is a typical drawing technique and will expose any extraneous tip noise quite readily (not the natural dampened tapping noise of pencil hitting paper).
Faber Castell Grip 2011 0.7 - Pinch test - solid as a rock,Dot Stipple - natural tapping noise only
Faber Castell TK Fine 0.7 - Pinch Test - Solid no movement. Dot Stipple - Slight squeak/rattle
Faber Castell Gripmatic 0.7 - Pinch Test - slight wobble. Dot Stipple - Slight squeak/rattle
Staedtler Triplus Micro 0.5 - Pinch Test - some moderate movement. Dot Stipple - moderate squeaking
Faber Castell TK Fine Executive 0.7 - Pinch Test - very slight movement. Dot Stipple - natural tapping noise only.
Papermate Pacer 500 0.5 - Pinch Test - Solid no movement. Dot Stipple - Natural tapping noise only.
Pentel Graphgear1000 0.3 - Pinct Test - Rock Solid.
Dot Stipple - Natural tapping noise only.
Pentel Energize PL75 0.5 - Pinch Test - Definite side to side wobble. Dot stipple - significant extraneous tip noise - squeak/rattle.
Tied first: Grip 2011 and Graphgear1000
3rd TK Fine Excutive
4th Papermate Pacer 500 (very surprised)
5th Faber Castell Gripmatic
6th Faber Castell TK Fine (5th and 6th very close)
7th Triplus Micro
8th Pentel Energize
Of course like everything here it is also subjective and the pinch test was a bit hard to do with some of the pencils with a small sleeve, like triplus micro. But I think the dot stipple test is a reasonably accurate guide as if you try this with a noisy tip it will drive you mad in no time flat.
I did also do a side test with a pentel 209 and that would certainly have been first if I had included non retractables. Anyway thats as fair as I can be.

2 1/2p

Anonymous said...

By the way Dave,for your US readers the Pilot Nextage (H-295) mentioned 4 comments above is called the Pilot OPT in the states. Exactly the same pencil.

2 1/2P

kiwi-d said...

Hi 2 1/2P, well I commend you on your test regime, but I won’t try to replicate your experiment. Having said that I did do a quick test with Energize, and 3 of your test subjects. Ranked below in order of Pinch Test result. The order is very definite, clear progression of number 1 (best) to number 4 (most wobble).

FC Grip 2011 = Pinch test – slight wobble. Dot stipple – slight rattle.
Staedtler Triplus Micro = Pinch test – slight wobble. Dot Stipple - Natural tapping noise only
Energize = Pinch Test - some moderate movement. Dot Stipple - Natural tapping noise only
FC Gripmatic = Pinch Test - Definite side to side wobble. Dot stipple - slight rattle.

Obviously my results are at quite some variance to yours, e.g. Gripmatic, you rate slight wobble, better than Energize, whereas the position is reversed for me. On Dot Stipple test Energize and Triplus are the best performing for me.

Readers have previously raised tip wobble, and I must accept that my reviews are weak in this area. Clearly the issue is not as important to me as it is to some readers. Since it was initially raised some time back I have kept a bit of an eye on it and mentioned it in a few reviews. I will make an effort to be more informative and precise regarding this in future, but the above results clearly indicate issues of reproducibility and repeatability, so my experience and opinion maybe at great variance to others, making the information of rather questionable value.

I don’t actually have a standard review procedure, rather just an informal one developed and changing over time. I have to be a little careful though, I don’t want my reviews to devolve to a data list, e.g.
Lead Sleeve = 4mm steel pipe, retractable.
Sleeve Wobble = average
Lead Wobble inside Sleeve = minimal
Combined Wobble = average
Eraser = 3mm dia x 15mm long, PVC compound, split sleeve holder.
Clean Out Rod = No

I like to WRITE my reviews, meander off topic, burble on when I feel like it. Imprecise reviews of precision tools.

Anonymous said...

No, we like your reviews just the way they are - this is just my style and I aint the boss. Your results indicate how difficult these things are to compare, but I will say that you just know when something isn't quite right with a pencil - its just so darn hard to define. My attempt was merely to check other pencils of the same ilk to see if I could see some sort of pattern.

Dave , whilst I have your ear - When is a Retactable tip a sliding sleeve? Well Pilot http// believe that their RexGrip & Supergrip pencils are sliding sleeves "....Features full sliding sleeve(the tip fully retracts within the body of the mechanical pencil)". I thought this described a Retractable Tip mechanical pencil?.

So confusing!!

2 1/2p

kiwi-d said...

Garrr!!! You are prodding me along! Fair enough though. For quite sometime I have been meaning to attempt to standardise some terminology by putting a draft out there for the readership to debate. So, retractable tip and sliding sleeve are closely related, often the same thing. Just for starters - Pentel PS315 has a sliding sleeve that does not retract fully back inside the tip. Most sliding sleeves are retractable, some non-sliding sleeves are "retractable" (e.g. think that terrible 'double-knock' mechanism terminology).

I'll kick off a definition off the top of my head.
Retractable = the lead sleeve goes fully back inside the tip.
Sliding Sleeve = the lead sleeve slides back up as the lead is worn down.

Hmmm, of course maybe first we should define "lead sleeve" and "tip"
Let the debate begin.

Anonymous said...

Dave, your definitions are exactly my understanding.This whole definition thing started because I was interested in buying a sliding sleeve pencil and Googled "sliding sleeve mechanical pencil" - the only thing that came up was the PentelPS315 - are there any others out there that are relatively easy to acquire?. And of course "Sliding sleeve" is used widely to refer to retractable tips as evidenced by my google search. I understand that the Triplus Micro is a sliding sleeve but can find no evidence of this on the Staedtler site. Also the Mars Micro is also supposed to have a sliding sleeve in its unlocked form but I have had no luck getting this to work satisfactorily. I dont really understand the advantages of a sliding sleeve - Whats so hard about pushing the top button te get more lead or if you use a pencil with a cushioned tip a quick press on to the paper with the tip will expose more lead - try Faber Castell TK Fine Executive with this method.

I think the tip descriptions are the most confusing,
how about this - just for debate mind you: Primary tip (for the main tip area) Secondary tip for the final metal lead sleeve or small conical section Or major tip and minor tip Or initial tip and final tip. See how hard it is. Well all of you having a good laugh - its your turn.

2 1/2p

animatorgeek said...

I can point out some of the advantages I find from a sliding sleeve. The PS315 is my favorite pencil for these reasons:

- It provides the precision of a metal-sleeve drafting pencil, as opposed to an auto-tip-advance mechanism, which is always made of plastic (unless I'm mistaken), which occludes the drawing point, making it harder to know exactly where the mark will show up.

- It supports the lead along its whole length. This isn't super-important for a 0.5mm pencil with HB or harder lead, but woe on he who tries to use soft lead in a non-sliding, non-auto-advance pencil. Also, it makes the Pentel PG02 possible -- a 0.2mm lead pencil, which uses lead so thin that it would incessantly break in a standard non-sliding sleeve.

- It lets me draw for about ten minutes without having to think about advancing the lead. Lead advancing takes me out of the moment, interrupting my flow of thoughts. With the sliding sleeve I'm able to just advance it when I sit back and ponder my work, when it won't distract me from my thoughts.

Nycteris said...

I have one - I also am not a fan of rubber grips, but I am with you here and like this pencil. Not my new "absolute favorite", but so functional AND stylish! I'd buy another.

John Garcia said...

I like this pencil! I only don't like the "disappointing" skinny eraser...

Slywy said...

I have bought a bunch of these in .7 and .5. No wobble, no sliding grip. I like the jeweltone colors on the blue and purple. For general writing, these may be my favorites behind the Kuru Toga. I also just got me a Sharp Kerry. Now don't get me started on all the woodcase pencils I have, too . . .

Anonymous said...

After your review, I bought an energize last fall. It had a great feel, and the included replacement erasers were a plus since they are so small. It was a great pencil until I lost it after a month. :/

Aiiiiiiiiiiii! said...

Beware!!!!! When dissasembled, it uses a plastic clip for the lead!! You'd think for the looks that it ought to be a metal clip!!! You don't get good things for your money these days!!

Anonymous said...

It works great, only after awhile the grip gets stretched out and slides off the pencil.
This happened to both of mine and many others.
You have to be careful.

Anonymous said...

I've been using it for almost 5 years now. A great pen worth every pennies....

Kevin said...

This one keeps coming unscrewed. Very annoying.
Other choices are better.

eeks said...

Was at a local store and it seems that Pentel has a new Energize Version. Not sure if it would replace the old Energize with this revamped version.

The more prominent changes are:
- A new colour scheme (no more silver)
- Changed eraser cap
- Plastic Clip
- Sleeve now cannot be retracted (tip doesn’t wobble as much)
- Grip doesn’t rotate freely anymore (looked underneath the grip and realized they had added 4 protruding flaps of plastic to hold the grip in place)
- This pencil is under Pentel’s Recycology program (Part of the pencils are made from recycled materials)
- Costs cheaper than the old version

Anonymous said...

I have owned two or three of these pencils and all three have lost their "sliding sleeve". They just fall out. Once they come out, you can replace it, but it is never again secure. It will repeatedly come out again and without it, the lead has no support and breaks at the slightest pressure. This is great pencil until this happens and it has been consistent with every one I have owned.

lakshwadeep said...

Thanks for this blog, Dave! Based on your review, I got a Pentel Energize. I frequently lose pencils, but for some reason this one was special, and I made an effort to keep it for over a year. I love the weight and feeling.

A few days ago, I lost it, and I was hating the quick replacement I had (some complementary pencil). I soon got a new one, apparently the same as what eeks mentioned.

Anonymous said...

... i wish i looked mech. pencils up here first

Chip said...

First time poster, long time reader. Thanks for all the insight.

Picked up a 3 pack at the start of the semester and have have been very satisfied thus far. My one complaint is that I burned through the erasers very quickly; 1 week per pencil. The reloads work great though.

TheMoonIsASickleCell said...

Recently received this pencil as a gift from a DMP follower!! It's excellent! Love the way it writes - so crisp and smooth!