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Reviews Written by xiaomage

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Uni Penmanship Writing Pencil - Triangular Body - 4B - Pack of 3 - UNI UKS3K3P4B
  It's soft, and thus is..., November 2, 2010
It's soft, and thus is not really suited to sustained writing unless you're fond of sharpening a lot. The lead is wide, which may be useful to some, but since I'm a writer and not a sketch artist, it makes no real difference to me.

This pencil is relatively unknown, which is a little surprising as it's a little bit nicer than any of my other soft pencils, including the lauded Staedtler Mars Lumograph 4B and hyped Palomino Blackwing. In some way, the silent, humble excellence of the Uni Penmanship is attractive, but it also seems a little unfortunate that it's so often overlooked.

If you're a writer who likes soft pencils, this is probably the best available, and almost nobody knows it. For sketching, I'll defer to Alberto.
Tombow Mono 100 Pencil - 2B - Pack of 12 - TOMBOW MONO-1002B BUNDLE
  While a lot of folks..., August 23, 2010
While a lot of folks are fawning over the Hi-Uni, I have to say these are among my new favorite pencils. For a while I've been looking at darker pencils to use for writing heavier text (headers, etc) in my notes. At first I gave the Hi-Uni B a shot, and then the Uni Penmanship Pencil in 4B (carried by JetPens at the time of this writing), then this one. While the 4B Mitsubishi is quite an impressive instrument and is exceedingly smooth and dark with minimal pressure, it wears down quickly and the marks are rather smudgable. I was a bit surprised at how fragile the Hi-Uni B was; almost every time I wrote a "ping na" stroke in a Chinese character, the tip would snap from the extra pressure. It was getting really maddening, and I didn't have much hope for the Mono 100 in 2B. However, my fears were misplaced as the Tombow has excellent point durability, and did not break a single time in dozens of characters. It does of course wear down faster than an HB, but is quite dark and rather smooth. I think perhaps it gives up a little bit of the slipperiness of the Hi-Uni on some papers, but then it seems equally smooth or even a little smoother on some other papers, and the gains in precision and point durability are nothing to scoff at.

Truly a marvelous writing implement, and I think I'll need to get more of them.
Tombow Mono 100 Pencil - HB - Pack of 12 - TOMBOW MONO-100HB BUNDLE
  I'm a little surprised..., August 1, 2010
I'm a little surprised how little love the Mono 100 has gotten in reviews.

I've been using high-end Japanese pencils for a while, and while I do like the Hi-Uni a lot, I find myself gravitating more toward the Mono 100 for writing. The real-world differences are pretty negligible unless you are obsessively comparing the two back and forth on a variety of surfaces (guilty), and even then the differences are small. They are both smooth as far as HB pencils go, but I find that the Hi-Uni is slightly more slippery on a Rhodia page, while the Mono feels a bit more viscous. Both qualities can be very desirable, and my feeling is that the Mono gives a very slightly superior degree of control and precision for writing. When moving the pencil a lot faster, in sketching for example, the slightly lower resistance of the Hi-Uni might be more appealing. I also have had fewer point breakages with the HB Mono 100 than with the HB Hi-Uni, though both are rare.

Both pencils are excellent, probably deserving of being called the best pencils in the world today. If you're struggling to decide which to get (and can't afford both), flip a coin or choose by aesthetics or brand identity and you won't be disappointed.
Sun-Star SharPits Lead Holder Refill - 2 mm - B - Pack of 3 - SUN-STAR S4451880
  When I first saw these..., July 28, 2010
When I first saw these (and their holders), I dismissed them completely. They looked like cheap toys, rather than high-quality stationery. However, I eventually decided to try the leads after they were recommended to me. Long story short, I was impressed.

They're very, very smooth. Dark too. They are a little on the soft side for their grade, as is common in many of the high-end Japanese pencils (the leads are Japanese as well, though the holder is made in China). I hadn't expected anything special, so it was really a shock to use them the first time. In a heavier leadpointer, it's a fantastic writing experience.

However, they're not perfect. Even for a B grade, they're a little soft, and will not retain a super-fine point very long. If you're an ultra-small writer, these aren't really ideal...but then again, neither is any other B pencil. They work wonderfully though if your handwriting isn't microscopic.

All in all, this is a great lead. Well worth checking out if you're into darker/smoother graphite.
Sun-Star SharPits 2 mm Pencil Lead Sharpner - SUN-STAR S4305280
  These little sharpeners..., July 27, 2010
These little sharpeners are great. I've got a few pocket lead pointers from KUM but rebranded for Staedtler and other companies, but I never really liked the points they made. The SharPits pointer creates a very acute point, and its design makes it less likely to pop open and dump graphite all over. I use this to sharpen my HB Uni leads, and the results are simply excellent.

If I had to think of a downside, I guess it can be a bit TOO fine a point for softer leads. The SharPits B leads (which are very nice, by the way) are a bit fragile if given the sharpest point possible.
Staedtler Silver Series 2 mm Lead Holder - STAEDTLER 92525-20
  I think this is a wonderful..., May 30, 2010
I think this is a wonderful product. I keep one in my bag, and combined with Uni HB leads, it delivers nicer lines and a more pleasant writing experience than pretty much any other pencil I've ever used. I have a bunch of Mono 100s and Hi-Unis lying around my place, but when I'm at work and want to use a pencil, this is the one I reach for most often.
Pentel Hi-Polymer Ain Pencil Lead - 0.3 mm - 2B - PENTEL C253-2B
  This lead is excellent,..., May 30, 2010
This lead is excellent, but yes very easy to break with many pencils. For a long time, I tried, without success, to use the 2B with a Pentel S473, but 2 clicks would bring the lead too far out to avoid breakage. It eroded quickly enough that 1 click would result in me rubbing the pencil sleeve against the paper. Very frustrating, and almost made me give up entirely on 0.3mm (HB isn't dark/smooth enough in my opinion).

However, with a GraphGear 1000, a couple clicks is just the right length, where the lead doesn't break so easily and doesn't vanish completely right away. It's great for situations where I can't sharpen, but want a nice smooth dark lead in a fine line.

In terms of darkness, it really doesn't compete with the best wooden pencils, but Ain in 2B is pretty dark and rich. Not a bad lead at all, and one of the best options conventionally available in my opinion.
Uni Mitsubishi Lead Holder Refill - 2 mm - HB - Pack of 6 - UNI ULNHB
  After reading some of..., May 11, 2009
After reading some of Alberto's reviews about the Uni, praising it compared to the Staedtler, Faber-Castell, Koh-I-Noor, etc. alternatives, I decided to give them a shot, since I hoped for a dark, smooth lead that would compare with my high-end pencils (Hi-Uni, Palomino, Craft Design Technology).

I was a bit reluctant at first since Mitsubishi also had marketed a Hi-Uni lead alongside the standard Uni, and also for a brief time sold a variety called the "Uni Artis". Both were higher-priced and supposedly came with correspondingly higher performance, but now both are discontinued and becoming rare. I lucked out and sourced some of all three offerings, and spent some time comparing them to discern differences.

While there were some slight differences between the leads, I think that much of it is negated through the use of a substantial leadholder (I use a Staedtler 925-25). The Uni holds its own pretty well, and in HB is quite good. This was a bit of a relief, since I don't know how my luck will be in sourcing the discontinued offerings.

That said, I would still prefer the Hi-Uni or Uni Artis leads if they were readily available and cheaper, but since the Uni is much cheaper, much easier to get, and very very nearly as good as the "premium" versions, it seems to be a no-brainer for anyone who wants to use high-end tools without fear of suddenly running out (Blackwing 602 lovers know what I'm talking about).
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