Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Pentel Technica-X PW45 Mechanical Pencil Review

Pentel Technica-X PW45 Mechanical Pencil Review

Maybe lots of people will disagree with me, but I’m always somewhat surprised by how few Pentel mechanical pencils have retractable sleeves. Pentel really seem to prefer fixed sleeves on their pencils which is fine, but not so good for the general writer and their pocket. So, I thought it was time I got around to the Technica-X, a Pentel vanishing point pencil.
Right, well let’s start with the mechanism, seeing it’s the main point for me choosing this pencil. Personally I prefer to call such mechanisms vanishing points rather than this crazy “double-knock” that seems to be gaining ground from, presumably, some Japanese mis-translation. Double-action would make sense, but double-knock is just nonsensical. So, usual story with such mechanism – the first push on the push-top button advances the whole tip section out of the body and locks it in place. Subsequent light pushes activate the ratchet lead advance mechanism, 10 clicks will get you 5mm of lead. A heavy full push releases the spring loaded system to retract the whole tip section back up inside the body. Great stuff. The ultimate in pocket safety and lead sleeve protection. In this case the lead sleeve is a thin 2mm tube. There is a fraction of play in the tip section so those who cannot stand any lead wobble and value super-precision should probably not purchase the Technica-X. But really, it’s only a fraction, unnoticeable in normal use.The push top ratchet lead advance is very nice and smooth. I’m sure the marketing folk would be saying something like “New improved super-smooth easy-action”. Hmmmm, almost too smooth and easy. I actually had a little trouble with being too heavy handed and thus retracting the tip when I only wanted to advance the lead. Still, you get used to such things, and I don’t really want to detract from my overall very favourable impression of this vanishing point mechanism.

Right, well that’s the mechanism. What about the grip? It’s a fairly standard sort of rubber grip. A medium hardness compound so there is the tiniest fraction of movement under hand pressure. The grip diameter is a little on the wider side of average. There are concentric grooves to improve the grip. (?!?) As with many rubber grips, I am unimpressed by the surface of the rubber feeling slightly slippery, almost as if it has some oil or silicon on it. I note that a long finger-like part of the rubber grip moulding runs up the main bodyThis doesn’t appear to have any purpose and makes me suspect it’s simply covering up something – like the slot where a side clicker button would go. I was intending to do some comparisons with my other pencils and see if the PW45 main body was the body of some other pencil, but circumstances have conspired to scotch that idea. So, if you happen to do the comparison, let us know.

The usual “occasional-use only” small eraser is found under the push-top button. You remove the eraser to access the lead magazine. It is difficult to put the top-button back on without operating the lead-advance mechanism.The pocket clip works well. It slides easily onto a shirt pocket, and off when required. The tip of the clip is clearly a bit better than many similar tips that are simply folded under to make the clasp.

In the hand the overall feel of the Technica-X is quite good. It’s a got a little more weight than most similarly sized plastic pencils and the balance is good. I quite like the smooth flowing shape of the overall look. Smooth and streamlined. Markings on the body are “Pental Japan” moulded in at the top of the body, and “Technica-X, PW45, 0.5, 9b” printed on the body. The “9b” is very small, and I’ve got no idea what it signifies.Bearing in mind the price range this pencil fits into, it’s a pretty good score. With this in mind I’m surprised Pentel USA only offer it in 2 versions - 0.5mm red body or black body. Does this imply it’s not a great seller?
  • Best Points – Vanishing point.
  • Not So Good Points – Not much really - the rubber grip?
  • Price Range – Economy.

Dimensions – Length 13mm, diameter 11mm at widest part of grip. Balance point about 60mm up from the tip.


Anonymous said...

Love the Owen Wilson picture :D


Time Waster said...

Great Review I like Slippery Rubber Grips actually.

Kiwi-d said...

OK Time Waster, I'll bite. Why?

Time Waster said...

I have a set of Papermate pencils with rubber grips and they have alot of traction kinda like a old tire.
To the point where you can't adjust your fingers on them so if there is too much tackiness you can't move your fingers.
The grip may have so much traction it cramps your writing or drawing style.

I haven't tried the Technica pencil
the grip probally has little to do with ergo but more with the general feel of it. Otherwise I generally don't like Rubber Grips either unless they are slippery or offer less traction.

Anonymous said...

Dave, I bought a Technica-X from Cult Pens in the UK, and mine's blue, so there are/were other colours. That's minor. What seems to me major is that the Technica-X's eraser is close to being dangerous. To use it, you have to extend the sleeve. Then if you're bending over you work trying to rub out something small, you're in danger of stabbing yourself in the eye with the tip. Paranoid, maybe, but I'd rather they left the eraser out altogether than include a barely-usable one that could lead you into serious injury. Compare the Paper Mate Apex, which is also vanishing point. The mechanism and handling are marginally less good than the Technica-X, but the Apex has a perfectly usable twist-extend eraser, and doesn't need the lead sleeve sticking out to use it. It's also arguably better-looking if you want something that looks accounts manager-friendly, but then again the Technica-X looks more space age.

Kiwi-d said...

Hi Anonymous
Thanks for your comments.
Thats a good point about having to extend the sleeve to use the eraser. I did actually notice that but didn't mention it in the review because I didn't use the eraser at all, and so didn't think about the restricted lines of sight. To be honest I generally just take one look at those small erasers and dismiss them. Poor reviewing practice I suppose. You could use the eraser with the sleeve un-extended but its equally or even more unsatisfactory.

Your comment about a poke in the eye reminds me that somewhere I have read a supposed quote by a (Russian?) professor to the effect of "Never use a pencil with an eraser on it because you will make a mistake, rub it out, lean down to check and lose an eye."

Akis said...

Nice review,
Digging today in an old bookstore I found some old mechanical pencils. One of them is a staedtler retro 0.5mm probably from the 80's with the same vanishing point mechanism like this one. Japan is written on the side of the clip as the country of origin. Probably kotobuki is the manufacture of these kind of pencils. I think I' ve seen same mechanisms in other pencils also but I have to dig better.

Germ said...

I love this pencil for some reason. Purchased mine about 6 years ago, in a slump time, I just had to have even above eating. :) I just like the way it looks, and the vanishing point mechanism is top notch.
I don't like rubber grips either, but with most quality pencils, I usually don't mind it.
Akis- nice score. Do you have a PW45?

Akis said...

hi germ,
Yes I have this one also. I bought it couple of months ago. I really love the vanishing point. One think I also like a lot is how soft is the push button afterwards.
It's really a very nice pencil.

Time Waster said...

Good pencil except for the general feeling of it when drawing. The rubber grip doesn't bother me one bit but the pencil is has a very lite wispy feel to it when writing or drawing. Pentel Kerry is still my weapon of choice :^)

Anonymous said...

I have a couple of PW45s I purchased five or six years ago. One is dark gray and one is blue. Instead of 9b, my pencils are marked 1A and 1D, respectively. Maybe it's a batch number or something.

Anonymous said...

Well, let's continue... Instead of 9B, 1A or 1D, the two PW45s I have bought on eBay (black and blue) are marked 7E, so I suppose this is a kind of batch number too.

Melón said...

I owned one of these Technica-X and went with me through my degree, masters and PhD studies. At some point I cannot remember the grip rubber started to go away and I had to use another pen's grip rubber over the original, but the mechanic part of this pen still worked perfectly. All in all it took several years of heavy use to break my pen, and since then I only order these pens.

Matthew said...

I left my beloved Technica in a classroom today, one I'd had for so long I couldn't even remember what the brand was. Thanks to your blog I was able to identify it and have just ordered three more to replace it. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

I've just purchased one of these and was disappointed to find that the retract mechanism cannot be activated without operating the lead advance. My old rotring Tikky double push was better, shame about the grip though.

And mine's a white 3E and they are apparently now discontinued.

I might have to give a Kuru Toga a go in lieu of finding a decent retractable option.

Mike said...

I tried a PW45 I picked up at a local grocery store in what must have been 2003 or so and have refused to use anything other than it since...I left one behind after an engineering exam once and my professor saved it for me in an envelope saying something to the effect of, "i know engineers and their pencils." Hah.

A year or two ago fearing discontinuation of this model I picked up a dozen or so on ebay. Colors are:
light blue
dark blue

And to further the dorkery, batch numbers for the pencils i own are as follows:
black -- 1A, 2E, 3E
white -- 6A, 8J
light blue -- 1D, 7E
dark blue -- 7E
red -- 9B

I can attest that one of these pencils went through a wash/dry sequence with a pair of pants and the mechanism still functioned, but poorly. I completely disassembled the pencil, wiped out all the lint, resembled it and it worked like new.

Issues concerning the eraser are moot as I seldom use the built in, in favor of the Staedtler Mars Plastic erasers which work great for everything. And in regards to the complaint above about not being able to retract the tip without engaging the lead advance mechanism: i work around this small annoyance by pressing the tip of the pencil lightly onto a hard surface when retracting the tip.

Definitely a good pencil for the $$. Highly recommended.

Anonymous said...

I have been trying to refill the pencil and can't seem to get it to work.
What are the steps involved?
I have been sliding the lead into the pencil from the writing end of the pencil.

Kiwi-d said...

Pull the top button off then pull the eraser out and stick more leads in down the tube, then start clicking away.

Anonymous said...

"Pull the top button off then pull the eraser out and stick more leads in down the tube, then start clicking away."

I did as you instructed but still nothing is comming out the writting end.
I clicked and I clicked and I clicked some more. I clicked until my thumb was sore.

Any other suggestions?

Kiwi-d said...

Perhaps the mechanism is jammed or broken. See the sidebar links
"Clearing A Jammed Pencil", and "Pencil Refill Instructions"

Anonymous said...

Can you please tell me which mechanical pencil is the best for school kids..in grade 7 and 8? We live in Canada. My son wants mechanical pencils, and when I went to the store..I was overwhelmed with the selection, and didn't know what to buy. Which is better, .5 or .7? What is the difference? Please help me!

Confused Mom on a budget :)

Kiwi-d said...

.5 and .7 are the thickness of the lead. School children might be better with a .7mm pencil as the lead is more break resistant.

Which pencil is best...that's for you to decide depending on your personal preference and needs. I'd suggest one of the economically priced ones from a major brand like Pentel, Pilot, Uni, Staedtler, etc would be best - it should last a while, but no great drama when it gets lost, stood on, etc.

Anonymous said...

Glad I found your site! I owned one of these and loved it, but lost it abroad, and couldn't even remember the brand. Seems like it's not sold anymore - but at least I know what it's called!

Jéjé said...

I still have my blue one, and its still my favorite
i'm looking into a Pentel Libretto set, but I can't seem to find them in Canada and Pentel doesn,t deliver in Canuck land...

Thanks for your blog and great reviews

Anonymous said...

I have been using this pencil for over 10 years now! Once walked into an art store looking for a new pencil and found this amazing pencil. I love that the tip retracts into the body and the full metal lead advance works forever! Great Review

Anonymous said...

My favorite pencil...lost. And can't seem to find a replacement. Sad.

I don't know what this feature is called, but the sleeve the lead comes out controls how far the lead advances. A twist of the tip allows for more or less lead, depending on what you like. I love being able to single click the exact length of lead I like to use. Variable lead advance? Would like to know what other mechanical pencils use this feature. I like the larger barrel size too.

Anyway, still looking for a replacement.

MC said...

I purchased a PW55 model in Japan in 1998. The difference between PW55 and PW45 seems to be the tip. The PW45 has a shiny, polished tip (the sloping metal area into which the writing mechanism retracts) and the PW55 has a matte metal finish there, which gives a nice blurry reflection. I'm guessing the color of the PW55 is different too--the one I own is a deep, slightly desaturated indigo blue. The rest of the pencil seems identical. I really enjoy writing with it and wish I could find a replacement PW55 somewhere.