Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Pentel Jolt AS305 Mechanical Pencil Review

Pentel Jolt AS305 Mechanical Pencil Review

Here’s one of Pentel’s newer additions to their range, the AS305 Jolt mechanical pencil. At the time of writing it is available as the AS305 0.5mm or AS307 0.7mm, each in four different colourways.

First off then the Jolt is a pretty interesting looking mechanical pencil, and I mean ‘interesting’ in a good way. I’ve got to admit that personally I much prefer the pink and orange colour options as they look so bright, cheery and fun.
pentel jolt as305 mechanical pencils

Then there is that clear window in the body. It’s reminiscent of some sort of reservoir level window in a pen so you can see how much ink you’ve got left. My first thought was that it would allow you to see how many leads you had inside the pencil, but I was wrong.

The eraser is moulded and shaped to be an extension of the design lines of the pencil body. It’s not just the usual standard cylinder of eraser material chopped off to length and stuck in a hole. So, there’s no denying it, when it comes to aesthetic styling, Pentel have done some mighty fine work with the Jolt. This is a pencil of dramatic looks.
pentel jolt mechanical pencil as305

In the hand, the Jolt is about what you would expect. A lightweight all plastic pencil with rubber grip. It looks and feels reasonably substantial given those parameters. The only slightly surprising thing is that the grip felt wider than it looked, if that makes sense?

So anyway, what about that window? Like I said, my first thought was that it would let you see how many leads you had inside the lead chamber. Well, it doesn’t. Rather it lets you see the shaker weight that operates the lead advance mechanism when you give the Jolt a shake or two. The weight is actually a spring, and it’s even painted in a nice colour so it looks good in the window. I told you, there’s some serious attention to aesthetics here.
windows on pentel jolt mechanical pencils

So, this is a shaker mechanism pencil and the shaker weight is in the form of a spiral wound spring. Note the stretched ends of the spring which provide some impact cushioning when you shake the pencil. It’s very subjective, but I felt that the Jolt requires more of a shake to activate the lead advance than most other shaker pencils do. Things go best if you first extend the lead sleeve out of the tip by using the push top button before you start shaking away.

Pentel describe the Jolt as an automatic pencil with a shaker mechanism. I quote from their USA website, “Revolutionary Sliding Sleeve Technology automatically advances lead for uninterrupted use. Click pencil top to advance tip, then shake twice to expose lead.” Talk about marketing department exaggeration. “Revolutionary sliding sleeve technology” – hmmmm, that would actually be the normal everyday sliding sleeve that’s been on millions upon millions of mechanical pencils for decades. “Automatically advances the lead” – umm, no it doesn’t. The sleeve simply slides back a couple of millimetres to expose some more lead if you press it back. No lead is advanced, and after its retracted if you keep on writing you will have to manually operate the lead advance mechanism to advance some more lead. It is not an auto-advance mechanism at all. Pentels use of the word automatic to describe their mechanical pencils is quite confusing and somewhat misleading. I admit that they are just being historically consistent and continuing their tradition, as they originally used the term decades ago to mean that a new stick of lead from the lead chamber would automatically feed itself into the mechanism if you just kept clicking away. However these days when many mechanical pencils have auto-advance mechanisms, a lot of people get confused and think Pentel’s ‘automatic’ means auto-advance of the lead as you write and wear down the lead, particularly when Pentel state “Automatically advances the lead”.

As well as the shaker mechanism, the Jolt is of course also a standard push top button ratchet mechanism. Ten activations of the mechanism – by clicking or shaking – will get you about 6mm of the 0.5mm lead. The lead sleeve is a short retractable cone, so the pencil is pocket safe.
pentel jolt pencil tip

At the time of writing that nice looking eraser on the top of the Jolt is irreplaceable. Pentel state the eraser refill for the Jolt is their standard plain PDE-1 eraser refill. Garrrr!!! How boring! And talk about ruining the looks of your beautiful pencil.
eraser for pentel jolt mechanical pencil

See above how the original moulded eraser even fits into a positioning slot cut into the eraser housing! I assure you the PDE-1 does not do that! Nor does if maintain the aesthetic contour of the body.

As usual you remove the eraser to access the lead refill chamber.
pentel jolt pencil lead refill

The pocket clip is an integrally moulded plastic clip, but quite strong and springy. Most importantly it is fitted to the main body such that it is sprung tight against the body. There is no annoying gap between clip and body like you get on many cheaper pencils.
pentel jolt pencil pocket clip

The grip zone is a moulded rubber section. It is round and generally smooth with only a couple of indented lines down low. The rubber compound is quite hard and not particularly grippy. So, the grip looks good, but…well you know I’m not a fan of rubber grips so let’s say no more. One problem I did have with the grip zone is that the clear window is raised slightly up out of the body, and it extends down low enough to sometimes interfere with my fingers when gripping the pencil.

Markings on the pencil pocket-clip are ‘Pentel’, ‘Jolt’, ‘AS305’, a mould or some other such ‘production identifier number’ and ‘0.5’ for the lead size. The sticker on the main body states “Made In China”.

Overall then, the Jolt AS305 mechanical pencil is a worthy addition to Pentels range, and to your pencil case.
  • Best Points – Looks great. Love the shaker viewing window.
  • Not So Good Points – The rubber grip is a bit of a let down, and the window interfering with the grip. No proper replacement eraser available.
  • Price Range – Economy.
  • Does this pencil make it into the Top 5? - No.
Dimensions – Length 143mm, diameter 11mm. Balance point about 75mm up from the tip.

The Pentel Jolt mechanical pencils featured in this article were kindly sent to me as freebies by Cult Pens.

13 comments:

Stationery Traffic said...

I am amazed to see Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall on your blog! I guess River Cottage is popular down under.

memm said...

Hugh had a guest appearance earlier this year ...and there's also Matt Lucas and David Walliams :) but since we have Flight of the Conchords in the UK it's only fair :)

I really like the colours of the Jolt, but not the shape :(

ThirdeYe said...

I have a .5mm Jolt in the green/black combination and I was "mislead" by the automatically advancing sliding-sleeve as well. I even went so far as to e-mail Pentel customer support about it and they stated that it will go as far as 3mm and doesn't actually automatically advance, like you said. However, they were nice enough to send me some of the white erasers and some .5mm lead to go with my new pencil. I was surprised they didn't have a black replacement to match the pencil better. I guess that's what my Tri-Eraser is for...

When you say it will advance more lead if you push the sleeve back, do you mean manually with your hand?

Kiwi-d said...

ThirdYe - yes, I mean if the sleeve is pushed back by hand or by pressure on the writing surface then more lead is exposed. But its not the lead being advanced, rather the sleeve going back and exposing more lead, but only a couple of mm as thats all the sleeve can retract. Its not automatic lead advance, its automtic sleeve retraction :-)

Anonymous said...

these are labelled 'AS305 Shake' in some markets, I have both.

Dubai Wanderer

Richard said...

So! What was too inflammatory for your readers to see on the program notes? Oops.. should that be programme?

Kiwi-d said...

Yea, I'm a bit traditional so it's programme. Mentioning it here would defeat the purpose of blocking it out.

2nd_astronaut said...

I am glad about your clear words about this "automatic" pencil rubbish from Pentel. A shame for the company which built the Technomatic. It seems they have Alzheimer.

Julian English said...

Made in China? That's a surprise and too bad. I've seen some cheaper Pentel pens that were made in India, but everything else I have by them was made in Japan. Does anyone have an idea how much of their product line is made outside of Japan?

Lexx said...

So beautiful! *-*

Gonna buy the orange one! Yup! ;D

Pilot Lover said...

Finally, a shaking Pentel!

Pilot Lover said...

Would you recomend this pencil?

Kiwi-d said...

Pilot Lover wants to know about a Pentel? :-)

Sure, it's a good pencil. If you are after a shaker then you could certainly do worse than this one.