Posts filed under Pencil Reviews

Uni NanoDia Low-Wear Pencil Lead 0.5 mm HB Review

Uni NanoDia Low-Wear Pencil Lead 0.5 mm HB Review

I think we are on to something here.

Towards the beginning of this project, I reviewed the 0.7 mm H-grade version of the Uni NanoDia lead. It was good, and I saw why it was popular. It just wasn’t for me specifically. Little did I know that a lead one size and one hardness away from that one might be the one I have been looking for all along.

The Uni NanoDia 0.5 mm HB lead is my favorite lead I have tested so far. Many of you are yelling at me right now saying “We told you so!” But, I’m stubborn. I had to find out for myself. I actively avoided choosing to review it too, knowing that it is one of the more popular leads on the market. It only came up this time because I chose to make a blind choice for this review, reaching into my pouch of 15-plus packs left to review and sticking with whatever came out.

Uni NanoDia Low-Wear Pencil Lead 0.5 mm HB

I’m glad this one did. Being 0.5 mm and HB makes this one of the most standard leads on the market. The middle ground, stock lead, if you will - but with added diamond particles for durability! From the moment I loaded it into my Pentel P205 I knew it was going to be good. The darkness was right, and most importantly, the feel was right.

Uni NanoDia Low-Wear Pencil Lead 0.5 mm

I’ve said in nearly every mechanical pencil lead review I have done that I want the graphite to feel like graphite, not plastic. There has to be feedback and texture. I understand that additives are required due to the fragility of the individual sticks of lead, but they can’t feel fake. This one delivers on that feeling of authenticity.

Uni NanoDia Low-Wear Pencil Lead

This is the first lead I have wanted to keep loaded in the pencil after I was done with the review. That surprises me because I thought for sure I would land on the harder end of the graphite scale. And maybe I will as I continue to go through these tests. But until then, the Uni NanoDia 0.5 mm HB is the best lead I have come across.

(JetPens provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)


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Uni NanoDia Low-Wear Pencil Lead Review
Posted on May 14, 2019 and filed under Uni, NanoDia, Mechanical Pencil Lead, Pencil Reviews.

Zebra Techo TS-3 Mini Mechanical Pencil Review

Zebra Techo TS-3 Mini Mechanical Pencil Review

(Jeff Abbott is a regular contributor at The Pen Addict. You can find more from Jeff online at Draft Evolution and Twitter.)

Over the last several years, I've certainly tried a fair share of mechanical pencils. These range from really high end to super affordable and ubiquitous. One genre I was reluctant to try was the ultra compact mechanical pencil market. The allure of an incredibly small and portable writing instrument is adorable at first glance, but I always figured it would be too small to use properly. As I dip my toes into this pool for the first time, I've decided to try the diminutive Zebra Techo TS-3.

First things first: this pencil makes quite a strong first impression. The tiny size is unique and not something you see often. The initial surprise of "OMG, it's adorable" is (in my opinion) worth the $5.25 price tag alone.

Once you pick it up and start writing, you'll quickly notice how much additional effort it takes to draw your usual letters. Your handwriting doesn't quite look like your own. In my case, I resorted to writing in all-caps because it's the only way I could write legible letters with such a small tool. Still, it was fun! How could something so small still work?

Zebra Techo TS-3 Mini Mechanical Pencil

After writing a few quick lines, my fingers and hand started to feel some fatigue, which quickly intensified as I continued writing. Phew, time for a break! Unfortunately, I could never write more than a few lines before needing to put it down and let my hand stretch out a bit. After the initial fad wore off, I quickly realized that there are major tradeoffs to such a small pencil. Sure, I knew this in my head before I even picked it up, but now I precisely understood the limitations of the design.

In my experience, a slim writing instrument is still usable as long as it's still a standard length. This gives enough balance and a good resting place for the body on the top part of your hand (you know, that place between your thumb and index finger). That little bit of stability goes a long way. Likewise, a really short pen is also easy to manage as long as it is thick enough. Think about using a Kaweco Liliput without the cap posted. It's not ideal, but you can still write in your usual style without too much discomfort.

Zebra Techo TS-3 Mini Mechanical Pencil Eraser

As the Zebra Techo TS-3 demonstrates, a writing instrument that is both slim and short is incredibly difficult to manage -- at least for me and my standard three finger grip. There just isn't enough solid object to hold on to for my fingers to properly make the letters and lines they've been trained to create over my lifetime of using "standard" size tools. It's just a no-go for regular writing, and I can't recommend it all for that purpose.

However, it does have some major advantages. The main one being the man small spaces you can store this pencil. It can fit in most spiral bound notebooks perfectly. It can clip on to a cover of a notebook while still allowing it to close. In bags, purses, and some wallets, it can stow away into a seam without disrupting the functionality of the bag at all. You'll be surprised by all the little spaces this little guy can hide.

Unfortunately, it's not a good fit for slipping into your pants pockets since the lead pipe doesn't retract. You're liable to poke (or stab?) yourself frequently with this little guy in your pocket.

Zebra Techo TS-3 Mini Mechanical Pencil Comparison

Ultimately, I still like the Zebra Techo TS-3 strictly as a backup utilitarian option. It's not the first thing you reach for, and possibly not the second. But when all other options have failed or aren't nearby, it gets the job done. You definitely don't want to write the next American novel with this, but it's great for doing some quick math, jotting down a quick note, or throwing in your bag as a "just in case" pencil.

(JetPens provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)


Enjoy reading The Pen Addict? Then consider becoming a member to receive additional weekly content, giveaways, and discounts in The Pen Addict shop. Plus, you support me and the site directly, for which I am very grateful.

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Zebra Techo TS-3 Mini Mechanical Pencil Writing
Posted on May 1, 2019 and filed under Zebra, Mechanical Pencil, Pencil Reviews.

Palomino Blackwing Natural Pencil Review

Palomino Blackwing Natural Pencil Review

The Palomino Blackwing 602 has been my pencil of choice for years. I use pencils that are firmer, darker, lighter, or better looking on a regular basis, but I always go back to the 602. There is something about the feel and style of the pencil that draws me in. Blackwing’s Firm core has been perfect for me.

Based on my pencil core likes - firm, dark, good point retention - you think I would have latched on more permanently to Blackwing’s Extra Firm core when they first introduced it a few years ago in the Blackwing Volume 24 edition. I loved it, of course, yet for some reason, I kept reaching for the 602.

Palomino Blackwing Review

I think the reason was psychological. What if I use up all of these pencils and there are no more? So I wouldn’t use them. This errant line of thinking has been something I’ve been trying to erase from my stationery mindset over the years. Use the things I like whenever, wherever, and however I want, no exceptions.

Palomino Blackwing Natural Pencil

In the case of the new Palomino Blackwing Natural, it took a stock offering of their fantastic Extra Firm core to save me from me. This core may be better for me than the Firm core in the 602, and I’ve been too stubborn to find out.

The Blackwing Natural was announced at the National Stationery Show back in February, and since their initial retail release in March, have been exceedingly hard to come by. They’ve appeared and vanished at all of my favorite retailers faster than I could buy them. It took a post-Atlanta Pen Show trip to Archer Paper for me to accidentally stumble on a box to purchase. Yes, a box of a dozen. Single pencils begone!

Palomino Blackwing Natural Writing

I took the Natural out for a spin last week to use with my CW&T Studio Sketchbook at my son’s baseball practice. This notebook is an excellent choice for pencils with its textured paper, and I have been using it for brainstorming product ideas and general doodles.

As I began writing, I just kept saying to myself “Huh.” As in, “Huh, this is better than expected, “ and “Huh, I’ve been missing out.” Don’t let the Extra Firm designation trick you into thinking the Natural is something along the lines of a 4H grade pencil. As someone who enjoys those H-grade nails, this is nothing like that at all. Palomino’s Blackwing designation of Extra Firm is in relation to the other cores in the lineup, which range from Soft to Balanced to Firm, to now Extra Firm.

Palomino Blackwing writing samples

Comparing one pencil core to another can be difficult when they are somewhat close. Slight differences in hand pressure can change everything, so view my tests and commentary with that in mind. That said, the Natural is as dark, or darker, than the 602. That is what’s confusing me. Can this really be firmer and darker than the 602 at the same time? And keep the same, or better, smoothness? Maybe so.

(Note: I ordered and tagged the Pearl and MMX incorrectly on the page. The Pearl is the Balanced core and the MMX is the Soft core, and they perform exactly that way.)

Palomino Blackwing Tip

This brings me back around to the 24 edition. Did I miss this the first time around - over three years ago - because of some weird limited edition angst? And, miss future opportunities with the release of the 530, 54, and others, for the same reason? I only have my mindset to blame.

Palomino Blackwing Eraser

Visually, the Natural is everything that Blackwing fans have been clamoring for from the beginning. It was inevitable that Palomino would release a raw barrel in the lineup. It was also inevitable that once they released the Extra Firm core in the Volumes lineup that it would come to the stock lineup eventually. The combination of those two things is why they have been running behind in production and are hard to find right after release.

I still think the 602 is better looking, but I do love natural barrel pencils. I upgraded this one with an orange eraser, as I also do for my 602 pencils. All that’s left to wonder is if the Natural will take the top usage spot over from its stablemate in the long term. It may already have.


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Palomino Blackwing Natural Page
Posted on April 15, 2019 and filed under Palomino, Blackwing, Pencil Reviews.