Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Pentel Client AL905 Mechanical Pencil Review

Pentel Client AL905 Mechanical Pencil Review

I see plenty of very nice looking ballpoint pens around the office at work. They invariably have a rubber grip, shiny metal trims, and the name of one of our suppliers printed on their brightly coloured metal bodies. Hey, everyone likes a freebie. The problem I have is that initially they always look quite good, but after a few months or so you can really see they were all surface and no substance. The rubber grips are falling apart, the trims and body colours are wearing through showing base metal or corrosion. Of course they have often had a hard life with little care or attention so the scratches, bent pocket clips, chewed tops, etc are wilful neglect and abuse but the end result is the same – from beautiful show-pony to ugly mutt in a short space of time. Most of these pens seem to be of a very similar style, and my problem is that the Pentel Client looks like it is part of that same continuum. It looks like the flash but cheap pen one of my suppliers leaves on my desk along with one of their printed notepads. It’s called Client which even implies it’s something you give away as a promotional item. Then I see “Made in China” on the sticker and the warning bells just start ringing inside my head.

I visited the Pentel USA website and they describe the Client thus, “Smooth, sleek, affordable automatic pencil with an expensive look and feel. Matching design with BK910 Client ballpoint pen.” With expensive look and feel – see, that doesn’t really make me feel any better. Having to point out that your product looks and feels expensive, well that never fills me with confidence. I’d really like to put the Client through a 6 month review period but I just don’t have the time. I thought maybe I should cancel this review because I was probably too prejudiced to be fair, but I decided to persevere.

Right then, away we go. Well, Pentel are right, the Client does look and feel expensive, but as above you know that to me it is that standard inexpensive “expensive” look and feel. So, maybe I’m a snob and the truth is out? Leave you to judge that. Anyway, my Client is blue because that’s one of my favourite colours, and it’s a really nice deep lustrous blue. In artificial light you also get some nice colourful effects. The body is metal, coloured blue, with chrome metal trims and a black rubber grip. The pocket clip is a good sturdy piece of chromed metal - there will be no accidentally sliding off whatever you have clipped to. One of the things I often dislike about these “expensive look” pens and pencils is the pocket clip. Anything more than a quick glance reveals that they aren’t, expensive. The Pentel Client’s pocket clip is no exception. It's the way they attach the clip to the body that always seems to let the side down. Nice fancy clip...lets just bend the end over and stick it on.I’m not a fan of rubber grips, but this one does have some mitigating features. It’s a standard round cross-section and the compound is quite hard so there isn’t really any give in it, but it does have a little tack and thus grip to it. However its number one good point is its shape. The contour is very well sculpted to position and hold your fingers in the correct position. Excellent stuff, I don’t know why more grips aren’t contoured like this. I think most people would like the feel of the Client in their hand.No prize for guessing this is a push top ratchet lead mechanism. Ten clicks will get you 5mm of the 0.5mm lead. Remove the top button to reveal the usual mini eraser and you pull that out to access the lead chamber. Down at the other end of the pencil, the lead sleeve is a writing style short cone, retractable for pocket safety. I’ve reviewed plenty of very expensive pencils and plenty of economy priced pencils too. Many of the economy and low priced pencils have been excellent products, but I just don’t get a good vibe from the Client. I’ve always thought of Pentel as a good solid, reliable honest no-nonsense brand, and the Client just doesn’t fit that picture. It’s trying to be something it’s not. I say spend you money on an Energize or a P205 or any of the other many excellent pencils that Pentel offer.
  • Best Points – The grip contouring is very well done.
  • Not So Good Points – Trying to masquerade as something it’s not.
  • Price Range – Low.

Dimensions – Length 138mm, width 10mm across the main body. Balance point about 65mm up from the tip.

I hate writing negative reviews.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Okay, you win! I'm having a hard time typing this I'm laughing so hard :>))). But I'm still hoping there's a hirsute visual in my future.

Barrel Of A Pencil

Germ said...

I'm not digging these Chinese made and designed pencils. They try to look nice, but really they are promoting their cheapness... IMO, of course.
As usual, a fine review. Wish I could do it your way. :)

kiwi-d said...

Don't worry Barrel, all will be revealed in due course.
Urrgggh, that's a worrying thought.

Blog Trotter said...

I just bought a blister pack that came with 3 of the Pentel Client for like 8 dollars or something. What sold me on them was the retractable barrel which will hopefully protect them from breakage. Most of the negatives that you mentions I don't think I mind. The only problem I think I might have with them is their weight. They're heavy! I think that causes my hand to cramp up faster while I'm sketching. I don't like that they're made in China either.

Anonymous said...

I have been using the Pentel Client for 5 years in a medical facility. The ink is smooth and consistant. I had to put amy name on the pen because everyone who uses it tries to "accidentally" not give it back. It is not an expensive pen, but as most pens are lost, this is a plus, not a negative. Even after 5 years, it is the pen I choose when I have the choice.

Anonymous said...

This Pen is AWESOME! and yes... It does tend to disappear whenever I lend it to someone.. It's nice and heavy the ink flows smooth. Pretty nice for it being Chinese made.

Anonymous said...

I have both the pens and mechanical pencil sets of these, and I love them! I have taken very good care of both of them and nothing has happened yet! if you want best pen results, by foray gel pen ink cartridges. dont buy parker pen cartridges though, they may look like they work great, but the truth is, theyre expensive and my client hates clicking them. there are some differences between the pen and the pencil, like on the pencil the top is indented for some reason and on the pen its not. but, if you take care of it and treat it nicely, its a very good pen/pencil! slugbird

Anonymous said...

I like the original Client pen, but Pentel seems to have changed the design. The original Client (BK910) was all metal, including the part near the grip. Also, the grip was securely attached to this section. The newer model (BK910+7G) grip section is made of plastic and, after moderate use, it will become loose. I would be willing to pay a bit more for the original model as opposed to paying the same price for one of cheaper quality.

That said, I still like the pen. It uses the same refill as the Parker Jotter, but I believe the Pentel refill has a better flow. They're a bit harder to find in retail stores, so I order them online in bulk (to justify the shipping costs).

ThirdeYe said...

I just bought one of these earlier today and it does indeed advertise a retractable tip. The only thing is, I can't get my tip to retract! Do you just hold down the top and push the tip up? I tried to do that like I would with any other retractable tip pencil I have (such as the Uni Shalaku) and it just won't budge. I don't want to bend the tip, either...

ThirdeYe said...

Okay, never mind on my stupidity with the retractable tip! Apparently I just wasn't pushing hard enough, it finally retracted. I feel like a schmuck now. :)

Kiwi-d said...

Yea, I've had some really stuck retractable tips from time to time on one pencil or another.

Anonymous said...

The worst I have come accross is the Staedtler Mars Micro 775 for difficult retractablity.

ThirdeYe said...

I've been using my client more and I have mixed feelings about it. Sticky retracting sleeve/tip aside, I somewhat like the bulk to the pencil. I don't feel like I have to press as hard or hold the pencil as firmly because it helps do the work for me. I don't mind the looks of the pencil, as long as I took off the "Made in China" sticker on the barrel :) The one thing I'm not completely digging though is the one point you enjoyed, the contoured grip. I don't like having to be forced to hold something in a certain position, as I have a different writing style than most. Plus, I feel it's too far up the barrel and I prefer to grip it closer to the tip.

Anonymous said...

I love your photos - the backgrounds are hilarious!! Great, detailed review, too.