The Pencil (possibly, The Pencil Set) by Staedtler is a new generically named multi-functional pencil product.
The product is housed in a black cardboard box (mine was crushed in the mail, but I can imagine that a pristine store bought version would look rather nice) and contains three pencils and an extender. The pencils are black, round, and composed of Staedtler’s new WOPEX extruded wood product. Each pencil is also capped with a non-removable capacitive stylus.
The extender has a rounded square cross section, a clip, and features a sharpener and replaceable eraser.
The pencils have a unique appearance. Round in shape with four paired lengthwise grooves, the combination of graphite/grey/black is unlike any pencil I’ve ever seen. The styling is cool, fashionable, and current. The pencil is capped with a silver coloured cap that houses a capacitive stylus for use on capacitive screen smartphones and tablets. (“Capacitive” is used in contrast to “Resistive”, which is the technology that was used by the Palm Pilot.) The pencils are about 135mm stylus to tip – quite comfortable to hold.
The extender fits somewhat loosely on a pencil. The extender has three parts – the pencil fits into a sharpener (the first part). The sharpener is housed in the exterior container (the second part), and the container has a cap that houses an eraser (the third part).
The pencil can be sharpened with just the bare sharpener – or, owing to the exposed rectangle in the exterior section, a single sharpening turn can be taken with the exterior attached, expelling the pencil shaving from the rectangle. Another feature – a smaller rectangle on the other side of the extender allows for viewing the point while the cap is on.
So the pencil – it writes very well with a medium dark lead that seems to respond nicely to some pressure. The WOPEX is probably still a product under development, and I believe this pencil writes much better than the first Wopexen that I tried in 2010. The pencil body is dyed black – it looks great, and I wonder if we’ll soon see other colours?
As to the stylus – a Monteverde pen with stylus that is in the household never really worked well enough to use. It seemed to be formed from a solid rubbery substance. The Pencil is different – the stylus seems to be a balloon over an air pocket that houses a solid nub in the interior. I tried the stylus on my BlackBerry Z10 and Sony Xperia Z tablet – it worked as well as I’d hope. Thinking back to the learning curves associated with these devices, the stylus did well. A full evaluation would no doubt take quite a bit of time.
The sharpener is acceptable in a pinch, but seemed too cheap and plastic based for a product at this price point. Perhaps weight minimization was a design consideration.
The eraser worked well. In fairness, I believe the WOPEX lines are not known to be as erasable as typical graphite lines.
As an extender, that silvery piece on the pencil is used to form a grip – this is a nice feature.
The extender seemed fragile and unsubstantial. I realize Staedtler probably didn’t want to create a metal extender, but there are so many high quality plastics and carbon fibres today that I feel there must have been better alternatives.
Overall, this is an interesting product, and hard to assess – an innovative design, new materials, and a new marriage of pencil to stylus. Could the stylus be produced as a standalone pencil attachment? It almost looks so.
I think this is a product for early adopters to try, and for most of us to observe – it could very well reappear in a new iteration with improvements.
11 Replies to “The Pencil by Staedtler”
Thanks for showing us these details and providing more information.
The extender doesn’t look like plastic, so I was surprised to read from you that it seems fragile and unsubstantial. I guess that must mean that at least it’s not too heavy when you use the pencil capped. It does look rather chunky, compared to similar products from FC.
Thank you from me as well – the only version of this product I have seen was the prototype presented at this year’s Paperworld.
Regarding the erasability of the WOPEX: The patent documentation mentions palm oil. It facilitates the extrusion process but I assume that it also reduces the erasability.
How do the pencils sharpen? Do the end of the grooves catch on the blade, making it a little difficult?
The recommendation I hope most that Staedtler adopts is “Wopexen” as the plural. :)
Thank you for the comments. The sharpener seemed very basic to me, and I only succeeded at removing a shaving here and there. It keeps the pencil working.
Apart from “insubstantial” your comment about the sharpener is exactly what I thought about the Perfect Pencil (the UFO version at least). Mine never worked too well. Given that I have not seen any mention of replacement pencils, eraser or sharpener, the Cult Pens price of £35 seems rather a lot to pay for what could effectively be three pencils. I think I’m going to wait and see on this one and get the Grenade sharpener now that Cult Pens stocks it.
Thanks VERY much for this review! I was window-shopping this on the USA Amazon site. But $50 for three pencils and a plastic cap/sharpener is, as you point out, expensive. Metal, that’d possibly be a deal! :)
I’m with you and Sean on WOPEXEN also.
Gunther, isn’t palm oil a little controversial from the ecological point of view? I mean with Staedtler’s emphasis on the Wopex being kind to the environment perhaps they could have researched a lubricant that didn’t have such an in t on habitats as the growing of trees for Palm is said to have.
Sapphire: Yes, as far as I know palm oil is problematic, and I don’t know where the palm oil for the WOPEX comes from. As the patent documents show they have tested various oils but none was as suitable for the process as palm oil.
Wow, the pencils look nice, but the whole set is too pricy for me to consider. I wouldn’t mind taking a long look at it if it was in a store though!
I was surprised that the Wopex pencil I have doesn’t erase well since my memory of the Empire pencils were that they were easy to erase. It could also be that my memory is simply faulty though.
I bought the set, the cap/extender is very poor compared to the Faber Castell one. I was majorly disapointed having bought three different wopex pencils. The stylus does not work on my Xperia mobile ‘phone, is slightly better on my Blackberry Playbook and Sony Tablet. It does not have the same feel as the stylus on a Palm (I was a big fan of Palm PDA’s).