I love the Pentel Sharp P205. It is built very well, reliable, comfortable, precise and everything else great about a Japanese drafting pencil. I find the plastic to be much more comfortable to hold than a heavy knurled grip for any long period of writing and it also helps to keep the weight down. The lead-extension mechanism is built to last. It has a very linear feel, projects EXACTLY the same (~0.08mm) line, and never allows the lead to slip through its clutch. Perhaps I am not the best judge because I am a bit obsessed with utilitarian designs, but I think the Sharp also looks fantastic. It means business. I can do anything pencil related with the P205, such as drafting, technical sketching, and writing. It never skips a beat or lets me down. Any time I am reaching for a pencil (which is admittedly not very often), there is a very high chance I grab the p205 over the rest. Many of my pencil-loving friends agree that the Sharp is one of the best, if not the best, all-around mechanical pencils. No, the tip does not retract into the barrel of the pencil and yes, the tip can get bent if you drop it. This is a drafter’s pencil–it needs to be able to trace around objects with ease. It would be nice to have a retracting mechanism such as the GraphGear 1000’s, but such luxuries would weigh the pencil down and add more bulk to the icepick-like design. The P205 is so universally popular that many try and imitate the Sharp’s greatness…
Enter the Korean-made Smart Jedo. A sticker on the side claims that a company called “Dartz” makes this model but I have seen similar (and likely the exact same from the same factory) pencils made by Morning Glory and Dong-A, and a host of other Korean brands. This Smart is the most interesting Sharp clone I have come across to date and at $1.25 I picked it up without hesitation. Just look at that silly little oven-mit logo! The dimensions and barrel are practically identical to the P205 as if it was cast in the same injection mold. Unlike the smooth-plastic pentel, however, the Smart Jedo is coated in a matte, non-slip material. The grooves are also cut deeper into grip, and the plunger-cap has been replaced with a lead-hardness dial. I commend this “Dartz” brand (whoever they are) for attempting to update the design a little bit instead of merely copying the Pentel.
Unfortunately, the Smart Jedo is no P205. While the non-slip coating is a nice touch, the hardness window isn’t even lined up correctly and rattles around a bit when I write. The lead-extension systems are night and day. The Smart’s mechanism is imprecise and unreliable, sometimes shooting out too much lead (~0.5cm) and sometimes not extending any lead at all. Here is what happens when you press the knocks down 5 times in both pencils:
I certainly cannot call the Smart Jedo a bad pencil. On the contrary I actually rather enjoy using it. The non-slip material works very well and is comfortable in the hand. The lead does not slip back into the barrel as far as I can tell. But when comparing the original Sharp to the Smart, I have no choice but to notice the obvious flaws form the first click of the plunger. It feels cheap, flimsy, and imprecise whereas the P205 feels sturdy, precise, and has a mechanism that would be welcomed in far more expensive pencils. If you ever happen to be in Koreatown or some other Korean marketplace (or Korea…) and have some change to spare, I would say go for it. I did, and I think it’s a fun little pencil. If you want a workhorse, save your money and get a P205.
Note: I used the included leads for both pencils. The Smart’s lead feels softer than HB and is more prone to breaking than Pentel’s lead. Easy fix though.