While PaperMate is definitely not one of my favourite brands, the X-Tend appears to be serviceable. The main thing it's got going for it is its grip. The grip is fat and squishy and - best of all - tapered down to the tip, which is ideal for me since I tend to grip my pens and pencils close to the tip. However, I'm not too fond of the slightly sticky texture of the grip, which also makes this pencil into a magnet for dust and lint. (Seriously, you could probably use it as a substitute for a lint brush.) But the grip is comfy, and I probably would have appreciated this pencil during some of my math and physics exams in university.
|Look, it retracts! I felt so clever when I figured this out. Also, the disgusting linty grip.|
I like that the eraser on the end is a decent size and not hidden under a cap (which can easily be lost). I also like that the pencil is available in 0.5mm, not just 0.7mm. And I like that you can retract the tip of the pencil into the barrel, a feature I only discovered while writing this review (could this possibly be the origin of the name "X-Tend"?). But the paint on the barrel is of poor quality, with several scratches in it. Over time, it will probably wear off completely. Until then, it can match the linty grip and, since I find this pencil rather ugly-looking already, it doesn't really harm the appearance.
Overall, the PaperMate X-Tend mechanical pencil gets points for its grip (and bonus points for being able to retract the tip), but not for much else. I'm still happy to have discovered it, though, since discoveries of new (to me) pens and pencils always make me happy. I'm not sure if PaperMate still makes these pencils (I didn't see them listed on their website), but they seem to be still available in various places online - though they're probably not worth seeking out unless you really fall in love with the grip.
Related review: Alexa's Mechanical Pencils.