Mechanical pencils come in all shapes and sizes, and it seems that most manufacturers try to introduce a unique angle or feature for their pencils to make them stand out from the pack. Some times, the features are pure gimmicks, but other times we benefit from the ingenuity of their design. In the case of the Zebra DelGuard Type-ER, it's the latter.
The DelGuard Type-ER looks like an ordinary mechanical pencil, but it has a couple of tricks up its sleeve. The first one involves the eraser. Many mechanical pencils hide the eraser under the click mechanism cap, which means you have to remove it in order to erase. Unfortunately, this makes the metal cap easy to lose. Other pencils use some sort of twist or push mechanism to show or hide the eraser when you need it. This is good, but the Zebra takes it a step further by relying on gravity and friction.
See, when you're writing with the pencil, the eraser is hidden inside the cap. But, when you turn the pencil upside down to erase, the eraser pops out. Once you apply some pressure to the eraser, the friction between the eraser casing and the pen body cause it to stay put while you erase. Brilliant. The only time this won't work well is if you're trying to erase in a position where the normal assumptions of gravity aren't true (say, upside down or up against a wall).
The other tricks this pencil boasts involve the lead system. We all know that if you press too hard on mechanical pencil pencil lead, it will break. Well, the DelGuard Type-ER has a couple of springs in the body that prevent that from happening. Are you pushing down on the lead too hard? Then the lead pipe will slide down to protect the lead until the pressure eases. Same thing is true if it detects too much sideways pressures on the lead. This is handy if you're tracing a ruler with the pencil at an angle and don't realize you're pressing down too hard. Very nifty indeed.
In my tests, this system works great. I'm more prone to put too much pressure on the lead from the side, so this feature is a lead saver for me. It also serves as a training tool to let me know (without wasting lead) that I'm pressing too hard while writing or drawing.
This pencil doesn't have a fancy click mechanism, a lead rotation device, or any of the other usual niceties, but the two features it does sport are down-right cool.
Apart from that, the grip on this pencil is extremely comfortable. Even without the lead protection system and cool eraser, this is a great pencil.
The Zebra Del-Guard Type-ER only works with 0.5mm lead, but it comes in a variety of colors (with an extra couple of erasers included) at JetPens. It will set you back about $12, but that's a sweet price for a pen with a couple of surprising tricks. I've been pleasantly surprised by it, and I'll be keeping it in my "top five" list of mechanical pencils for a while.
(JetPens provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)
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