Review: Pentel Orenz

Okay, it's pretty obvious by now that I'm a sucker for gimmicky pencils, and the Pentel Orenz is no exception. With so many brands all claiming to have perfected the snap-free mechanical pencil, it's easy to confuse them: Orenz, OLEeNU Shield, and most recently, the DelGuard. The Orenz stands out in its unique protruded lead sleeve.
The Five Original Colors of the Orenz
Instructions Included with Package

 As seen in the second figure, you only need to knock once to write. Instead of protruding out like other pencils, the lead in the Orenz is protected by the metal sleeve, which retracts with the lead upon wear. I know some of you are skeptical at this point; wouldn't the pencil get scratchy? I, too, was a bit wary at first. That's why I was pleasantly surprised by how smooth this pencil writes, which brings us to another merit of the Orenz, that is its lead diameter. Correct me if I'm wrong, as of December 16, 2014, the Orenz is the only pencil in production to support a 0.2mm lead size. Some of you seasoned fanatics may point out that Pentel has indeed manufactured a 0.2mm drafting pencil in the past, but it lacks the lead protection system of the Orenz and has been discontinued for quite a while now. With the Orenz, you can have literally the finest writing in your school, office, wherever! Okay, I know some people may be turned off by that, but personally, I love 0.2mm lead. It's particularly useful for writing complex Chinese characters. See the comparison between lead sizes below:
From kenkihou.com
I have read in some reviews that the Orenz may experience lead jams, but it does come with a needle on the bottom of the eraser so hopefully it won't be a problem. It also boasts a super-handy tip retraction feature which is especially important to protecting its needle-thin tip. But how does it compare to the 0.3mm Kuru Toga? I've compared the two and it appears that the Orenz still produces slightly thinner lines, not to mention it is a lot more stable. The Orenz simply has no competition in fine writing; however, the only company that currently manufactures 0.2mm lead is, you guessed it, Pentel. Pentel 0.2mm comes in a shiny gold package befitting of its price tag. The typical 0.5mm Pentel lead costs about 200 yen (roughly $2) and comes with 40 pieces of lead while the 0.2mm version costs the same but only has 10 pieces of lead, so you're basically paying four times the price of regular lead for your Orenz, maybe even more in some countries.
Is it worth it? You decide.
In a nice turn of events, the Pentel has announced the release of a 0.3mm version of the Orenz along with some new colors of the 0.2mm version in January of 2015. So now you'll only have to pay 2 and 2/3 the price of regular 0.5mm lead for your Orenz, hurray! 
Released 2014.12.12
That aside, I really do like thinner lead, so I'll probably get the 0.3mm version even though it'll mean that my $5 (approximately) for the original Orenz just went down the drain. With the 0.3mm Orenz, the future of 0.2mm lead seems bleak, but that's all too early to say.

The Rundown:
Pros: Extended lead sleeve, lead jam pin, 0.2mm lead, retracting tip
Cons: Lackluster design, relatively expensive lead
Estimated price: $5.00
Writing performance/stability: 
Overall: ½

Would I recommend the Orenz? It depends whether you prefer finer writing or not. I suggest getting the 0.3mm version if you're looking to save some money. Personally, I'm not 100% satisfied with the design of the Orenz. I wish Pentel had made the body hexagonal like the Zebra Color Flight. Most of all, I don't like the old-fashioned curved clip and hope Pentel would release an upgraded version of the Orenz in the near future. But if you're fine with its current design, then go ahead and get it.

Edit: Since the time of the last review, I've discovered a major flaw in the Orenz that could compromise your writing experience if you frequently use a ruler with your pencil to draw lines. Friction from the ruler causes the metal sleeve that protects the lead to slip, exposing a good portion of lead, causing it to snap almost immediately. This is a huge disappointment to someone relies heavily on rulers for note taking and assignments. I apologize for neglecting to inform you of this earlier, but it's a flaw that I've never encountered in other pencils before. So indeed, Orenz + Ruler = Oreru :(

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