A retractable eraser is an eraser refill held within a pen-style holder that has some mechanism for retracting and advancing the refill. A retractable eraser may be more convenient to use than a traditional block eraser, is better for erasing in small spaces, and fits better in many pencil cases. Both of the retractable erasers that I'm reviewing today are older models; the Sanford SpeedErase is sold today as the PaperMate SpeedErase, and the current design of the Pentel Clic Eraser has a slightly different grip and clip than the one I'm reviewing here.
Both retractable erasers look similar on the outside: both have a basic clip and textured plastic grip section. Where these erasers are different is in their retracting mechanism. The SpeedErase operates like a normal retractable pen. You simply press in the plunger at the end, and the eraser will be advanced. The fun part is these "teeth" (sorry, I don't know what else to call them) that come out at the top when you do. I assume they help to move the eraser refill along, and they do create some scuff marks on the side of the eraser refill as they catch on it. I suppose those marks might bother some perfectionists, but they've never bothered me. The Clic Eraser, on the other hand, works like a box cutter or utility knife: you slide the clip along the side, where it snaps into different positions and advances the eraser refill, making an obvious and rather loud clicking noise. This is also kind of fun, but could get annoying. And, also, when your eraser is getting used up, your clip will end up near the top of the eraser body, which would just be weird.
|Retracting mechanisms of the SpeedErase (top; the right photo shows the "teeth") and the Clic Eraser (bottom).|
Both erasers erase fairly cleanly, although I do see slightly more shadow remaining with the Clic Eraser than with the SpeedErase. Both leave little eraser dust to brush away. The small size of the end of the eraser (comparable to the size of an eraser on the end of a wooden pencil) makes it easier to erase smaller areas. I also find that these erasers are easier and more comfortable to grip onto than a block eraser. You can find refills for both the SpeedErase and the Clic Eraser, and you may also be able to find refills from other brands that will fit. Avoid the Staples brand refills though; I've used those in the past and they're rather awful. The refills from the Clic Eraser will fit in the SpeedErase, but if you want to use the SpeedErase refills in the Clic Eraser, you'll have to cut them shorter and carve one end narrower. The Clic Eraser refills are held in place in a slot inside the eraser body that the narrower end pushes into, and without that they'll just fall out.
That was kind of confusing so I hope it made sense! Here's a photo showing how they erase (sorry for the poor quality of this photo):
Overall, I don't see any strong advantages of choosing one of these retractable erasers over the other. To me, the retracting mechanism of the SpeedErase is more convenient and less annoying than that of the Clic Eraser, although the Clic Eraser is more fun to use. (I'm sure if I had owned a Clic Eraser when I was younger, I would have driven everyone crazy by clicking it back and forth constantly.) I am biased in favour of the SpeedErase since it is one of only a few supplies (the others being the Pilot Hi-Tec-C and the Zebra Sarasa) that I have used ever since high school. But both the PaperMate/Sanford SpeedErase and the Pentel Clic Eraser are good choices. Although I do use block erasers more often now than I used to, retractable erasers like these are still my first choice. If you've never tried a retractable eraser, I would recommend either of these.
And don't forget to submit your questions to my upcoming Question & Answer post!