Is this pencil from the future?
This is the Orenz Nero, the most premium offering in Pentel's Orenz mechanical pencil lineup featuring a unique auto-advancing mechanism that prevents breakage. It's available in 0.2 mm, 0.3 mm, and 0.5 mm lead diameters (fitting, as any higher diameters would render the technology useless) and looks absolutely stunning.
The Orenz Nero has a high-quality and lighter body. However, I wouldn't call it a lightweight pencil. The mechanical pencil still has a decent amount of heft, mostly from the grip section, resulting in a low center of gravity. The finish of the pencil is quite nice, and I find the grip especially intriguing. It's pretty long and has a unique disk pattern for extra grip.
The knock is quiet and one of the most satisfying ones I've ever tried. It's quite a shame that it won't be used much with the inclusion of the auto-advancement mechanism that essentially renders the knock obsolete.
The pencil comes only in black, which suits it nicely. With the Nero's sleek geometric design, it'd be hard to create a satisfying color palate for the mechanical pencil. It's one of the nicest-looking pencils I have and fits nicely with nearly any desk setup.
A Closer Look
Of course, with an intricate mechanism, the Pentel Orenz Nero has a few issues. I have clogged the lead pipe several times, and it's extremely frustrating to clear it out. Usually, it shouldn't be too hard to do with a cleaning rod, but it's not the case here. The Orenz Nero doesn't come with a cleaning rod; even if it did, it'd be hard to use. Due to the mechanism, the lead pipe moves back and forth under pressure, so it's hard to fit the rod to unclog the system.
I find the Nero's clip to be on the better side. It's springy enough to be usable in many situations without feeling like it'll snap off. The pen itself also generally feels very nice to use on a daily basis. I love the smooth, sleek finish that gives the mechanical pencil a futuristic feel.
Like other models in the Orenz series, writing with the Nero works surprisingly well. The retracting lead pipe makes the pencil harder to break, but it's a sensation that may take getting used to. The writing experience has a greater amount of friction and doesn't feel as streamlined as writing with a traditional mechanical pencil. However, this is easily counteracted by the lead pipe's added strength to prevent breakage.
In the future, I'd probably opt more for the Orenz AT. Although the Orenz Nero is an extremely solid pencil, I simply prefer the added colors on the AT. Quite honestly, I don't understand what Pentel is trying to do with their Orenz lineup. As of writing this article, there are four different models of the Orenz, with the most premium being the Nero and the AT. It looks like Pentel is trying to deviate from the sleek aesthetic of the Nero (probably less appealing to the masses) and make the Orenz lineup more mainstream with the release of the AT, which features a wide array of colors.