Ohto Auto Sharp AP-205 Mechanical Pencil ReviewFor general writing mechanical pencils, I guess that effortless automatic lead advance, which the user is unaware of, is one of major goals for the designers. I’m not sure they will actually reach that goal with the current types of auto advance mechanisms as they are activated by physical contact with the writing surface, and thus the alert writer will always be aware of something going on. For perfect automatic lead advance I think we will have to wait for some sort of proximity sensor that knows the tip of the lead sleeve is getting too close to the paper and that it is therefore time to advance some lead.
I feel I should know better, but automatics do have a certain allure to them, and so yet again I found one in my hand. Will this tale of the automatic be the familiar one – long on promise, short on delivery? With pencils like the Super Promecha, Ohto are known for marketing some of the most advanced, customisable, technical, complicated, gimmicky (take your pick) mechanical pencils around. Surely an automatic from them is likely to be better than most?
So then, the Ohto Auto Sharp AP-205 mechanical pencil.
It’s a lightweight mostly plastic pencil. The styling and colour scheme are quite nice, although nothing outstanding. The body and the grip are triangular, although the front end of the grip does start to taper down and transition into round where the front tip screws in.
The triangular grip is made from a smooth rubber compound which is quite hard, with a relatively smooth surface. The rubber does improve the grip properties a small amount, but not by much. The grip is an average size so should suit most who like an average sized pencil.
Now, as we know, the Ohto Auto Sharp has an auto-advance lead mechanism. Firstly though it is also a standard push top ratchet mechanism pencil. Ten clicks on the top button will get you a whopping great 14mm of the 0.5mm lead. The lead sleeve is a short plastic cone which is retractable so this is a pocket safe pencil. Right then, how does this pencil perform when you don’t click the top button and let the auto-advance mechanism take over? Well, basically it performs as expected. It advances lead when the tip hits the paper and when that happens you can notice some small differences in the feel and lead application to the paper. For me personally the major issue I have with many auto-advancing mechanisms is ‘plunging’. That’s my name for the phenomenon of suddenly, whilst you are happily writing away, the whole lead sleeve retracts back up into the front tip and you ‘plunge’ forward. It’s really annoying and disconcerting. It sees to affect some pencils far worse than other…although for all I know they all possibly have the same design mechanism. Well, the Ohto Auto Sharp is one of the better performer in this aspect – whilst I did experience some plunging, it was relatively rare and not too dramatic. So, basically as always, I’d suggest you use the pencil in the normal manner, advancing the lead manually and just letting the auto-advance take over for those infrequent occasions when you are ‘caught short’, as it were.
Hmmm, just thinking about the auto-advance mechanism for a bit longer. It works by having the plastic lead sleeve make contact with, and thus rub on, the paper. I assume the plastic sleeve is made from a decent engineering plastic like acetal or something, but paper is just really compressed wood fibre and any woodworker knows that saws and all their other fine steel tools go blunt when in contact with wood. Really, despite what is feels like, paper is actually reasonably tough and abrasive. Cutting paper with a steel knife will dull the blade over time. So, how about that plastic tip then? Actually, I didn’t even need my magnifying glass. After two weeks of use, I could see the edge of the lead sleeve cone had been worn away. Viewing with a magnifying glass just confirmed it. The triangular grip on the Ohto Auto Sharp must actually increase the wear because the pencil can only held at three specific rotations, and because of the pocket clip, many users, like myself, will not even rotate it at all and thus the exact same spot on the lead sleeve will always be making contact with the paper and thus be worn down even quicker. Obviously paper type, amount of hand pressure, amount of use of the auto-advance feature and amount of rotation will all affect the rate of wear on the lead sleeve. Who knows how long it would take before the cone wears down so much as to affect the operation of the auto advance? I imagine though it would be a fairly long time, and most users would have misplaced their pencil before it happened. Still, it’s an interesting little thought process.
Carrying on then, as expected there is a small eraser under the push top button, and you remove that to access the lead refill magazine.
The pocket clip is moulded plastic and actually quite stylish and functional.
Markings on the body are “Ohto” printed on the pocket clip, and “Auto Sharp 0.5mm AP-205” on the body. I fail to find the word “Japan” anywhere on the pencil. I imagine that implies something.
• Best Points – The auto-advance works reasonably well.
• Not So Good Points – Considering what this pencil is, and its price range, then nothing much.
• Price Range – Low.
• Does this pencil make it into the Top 5? - No.
Dimensions – Length 141mm, width 11 mm across the face of the body. Balance point about 65mm up from the tip.
This Ohto Auto Sharp AP-205 mechanical pencil was sent to me gratis by Cult Pens. Thanks Cult Pens.