Review: Uni-ball Shalaku Mechanical Pencil
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.
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. If it is difficult for you to get lead refills from Uni-ball, you can use Camel Hi-Par 0.7 mm B leads that are readily available from retailers in India in these Uni-ball Shalaku pencils. I have personally used Camel 0.7 mm B Hi-Par leads in Uni-ball’s pencils, both Shalaku 0.7 and Kuru Toga 0.7, without any problem.
An afterthought: I have already mentioned that Uni-ball Shalaku mechanical pencil has a large eraser. These are as large or even larger than the pink erasers that you find attached to your yellow wood pencils. So if you don’t like to use a separate eraser, you may consider buying Uni-ball Shalaku just for this feature!
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.