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Review: Uni-ball Shalaku Mechanical Pencil

Posted by on Mar 12, 2017

I have been using mechanical pencils for writing for the last couple of years. I have brought products made by Kokuyo Camlin, ITC and Luxor and have seen quite a few made by Faber Castell’s Indian division. A cursory glance at these Indian products will tell you that the Indian stationery products manufacturers do not take the adult and mature users of pen and pencils very seriously. Or else it is difficult to explain why all these mechanical pencils are made of cheap plastic and their very appearance and the choice of colours seem so puerile. The sheer fragility of these writing instruments makes it clear that companies that produce them do not want them to last more than a few months. They are intended to be lost or left behind in your college or office! I used to buy those Indian mechanical pencils for Rs. 10 or Rs. 25 apiece.

line and wash drawing of a ghat

It was such a relief then when I found Uni-ball’s (a brand name of Japan’s Mitsubishi Pencil Co.) Indian website uniball.in from where they sell all kinds of stationery products. Uni-ball’s mechanical pencil, sold under the name Shalaku, costs Rs. 50 per pencil. The very appearance of the pencil will make you feel that here is a writing instrument meant for the adults! Shalaku comes in six body colours: pink, red, black, light green, light blue and blue and in two versions: M5 228 for 0.5 mm leads and M7 228 for 0.7 mm leads.  In my view the black pencil is the handsomest of them all. I prefer the 0.7 mm leads for everyday use but pick your choice according to your own preference.

Shalaku mechanical pencil has a contoured plastic barrel and a metallic tip. The barrel is partly transparent, so you can observe the mechanism that works inside. The grip area is the fattest. The lead advancement mechanism is at the front. Shalaku  has convenient side-click mechanism for advancing the lead which obviates the need of going back to the bottom tip to click and advance the lead. When you write continuously, you won’t have to stop writing even for a split second to advance the lead. Although I rarely use the erasers that come with mechanical pencils, Uni-ball’s Shalaku has a large, replaceable eraser covered with a plastic cap.

The pencil comes with Uni-ball’s Nano Dia leads that are strong and smooth. What I like most about Uni-ball’s Shalaku is how it feels in my hand. The pencil has a nice balance and its shape and grip is just perfect for long hours of writing. It will not tire your hands and, for this reason, the slightly higher cost is justified. After all, you do not buy a mechanical pencil every day and used with care, these should last a long time. Try it and you will not want to go back to the cheaper Indian brands.

Uni-ball Shalaku can be yours for only Rs. 50 from uniball.in. A tube of 12 leads cost only Rs. 35 and is available from the same site. If you use your pencils a lot, I am sure you’ll never regret this purchase.

Do you use mechanical pencils for writing or drawing? Please use the Comments feature below to tell us about your preferred brand of mechanical pencils.

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Review: Uni-ball SA-R Ballpoint Pen

Posted by on Feb 28, 2017

Being a fountain pen enthusiast, I never had much enthusiasm for trying out any other writing instruments. Being a man of austere habits (read a miser), I do not want to spend a fortune on the pens, inks, refills or paper I use.

Now, good writing paper is expensive and, as a professional translator, I do write a lot. The most inexpensive paper is newsprint or paper of similar quality. Who can think of writing with a fountain pen on such cheap paper? If you try, you will get feathering and blotting and, at the most, you can use only one side of the paper for writing and the other side will be unusable due to blotting.

havana-brown-ink-sketch-pen-and-wash

When I use cheap paper for making my drafts, I have two alternatives: either to use a mechanical pencil with B or 2B grade darker lead or an inexpensive ballpoint pen. I prefer the mechanical pencils, Uni-ball’s Shalaku or Kuru Toga are my favourite pencils, but at times, I do use a ball pen. Recently, I discovered that the entire range of Uni-ball’s writing instruments is available online in India! Uni-ball is a brand name of pens and pencils and other stationery products manufactured by Japan’s more-than-a-century-old Mitsubishi Pencil Co.

The cheapest ballpoint pen available on uniball.in is the SA-R pen that costs only Rs. 15. I have seen it in colleges and offices in the past and it seems to be an old favourite of many. The barrel of the pen is made of transparent recycled plastic. The two ends of the transparent barrel and the cap are made of plastic too and have the same colour as the ink of the pen. The barrel has ridged grip for support. It has the words ‘uni-ball SA-R Mitsubishi Pencil Co.’ embossed on it.

uni-ball-sa-r-ballpoint-pen

The Uni-ball SA-R ballpoint pen writes smoothly. It produces a uniform and fine line unlike the cheaper varieties of ballpoint pens and never skips. It shows no smudging and if you write with this pen, your handwriting will appear immaculate indeed.

uni-ball-sa-r-ballpoint-pen-writing-sample

Writing Sample of Uni-Ball SA-R Ball Pen

The Uni SA-R refills come in three ink colours: Blue, Black and Red and each refill costs Rs. 10. The tip of the refill has a 0.7 mm tungsten carbide ball which perhaps explains why it writes so smoothly. I am sure that these refills will serve you for longer and write more than most ordinary refills and thus offer value for money. The ink never gets dry. If you buy your refills in bulk from Uniball.in, you can even enjoy volume discounts. Both the pen and the refill come in plastic pouches.

If you are looking for a good ballpoint pen that writes a fine line and never skips and will not make a dent in your pocket, Uni-ball SA-R ballpoint pens appear to be a fine choice. Highly recommended!

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This is a spontaneously written review. I have bought the pens at my personal expense from uniball.in and am not compensated for writing this review.

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