I like push erasers. They provide a precise, long lasting erasing in a compact form-factor. However, since an eraser only erases as good as the eraser material, not only is the design of the push-mechanism important, but the refills themselves have to be decent.
The Pentel ZE-21 and the Pentel ZE-22 are the two models of “Clic” push erasers. The ZE-22 can still be purchased at local office supply stores, while the ZE-21 has been discontinued. Today, we’ll be taking a look at the two and I’ll be explaining why the Pentel “Clic Eraser” ZE-21 is in my EDC.
Place of manufacture: Japan
Price: $3 (ZE-21, must be purchased from reseller), $4 for four (ZE-22), $16 (box of 24 ZER-2 refills)
The ZE-21 is made completely from plastic while the ZE-22 has a plastic body with a rubber grip. On both, pushing the pocket clip down and then forward extends the eraser. The clip assembly holds the eraser refill through friction.
On the ZE-21, the body is smooth down to the grip, which is simply the same material, but ribbed. It is not particularly grippy, but is textured enough to get a firm grasp on when erasing.
The ZE-22 on the other hand has textured plastic, as well as a rubber grip with a texture of the same design. This adds a few millimeters to the diameter. The rubber is soft and can be removed.
The clips have slightly different designs with the ZE-21 having a flatter and more boxy look while the ZE-22 has more curves. The plastic used for the clip is darker and has a shiner finish on the ZE-22, which matches the type of plastic used on the body. On the other hand, the plastic used on the ZE-21 is duller and feels a tad rougher.
The end caps on the ZE-21 and the ZE-22 differ a bit, with the ZE-21 having a more refined look with an indentation, while the ZE-22 is flatter. The flatter look accentuates the molding lines on the plastic, although the ZE-21 has a very noticeable bump in the middle of the cap.
The refill comes either in boxes of 24 or individually. The individual refills are packaged in thin plastic with a sheet with instructions surrounding the refill itself.
Though the model number is ZER-2, it appears that the “2” was not stamped on this particular packaging or that the packaging is generic.
Fit and Finish
The product was not meant to be an expensive one and the fit and finish is reflective of this. There are molding lines on the plastic and the parts have uneven colors. The lettering on the body is a bit uneven and is prone to wear.
The first thing you notice when you see my ZE-21 is that the paint has worn off the body. I didn’t intentionally scrape the paint off with my nail, but instead, the paint wore off through use and wear in wherever it was thrown into. The force required to extend the eraser has lessened over time, although this is only obvious through the different sounding clicks that it makes.
ZE-21 vs ZE-22
With respect to erasability, since the refills are identical, they have the same performance. However, while the eraser holders look similar and share many attributes, their differences make one superior, in my opinion, to the other.
The ZE-22’s action does not feel sturdy after multiple uses. I believe this to be because of the design of the clip itself. The clip, while stylish, is connected by a thin piece of plastic. On the other hand, the ZE-21 is held together with a shorter piece of thin plastic, giving it less wiggle.
Further, the ZE-22’s grip “improvement” is a short term and unnecessary improvement. With the rubber grip, the ZE-22 is no longer able to be placed flat on a surface. Further, the grip accumulates dirt and grime quickly. After a while, the elasticity of the rubber will degrade and the grip will not fit flush with the body of the eraser.
The ZE-21, on the other hand, is simply one piece of plastic. As such, it’s only weakness is the “press” tab on the side of the eraser, which can lose its tension over time. This tab can However, as this is not necessary for the eraser’s usability, it is not important that it remain in perfect condition.
The push eraser has a special place in a stationery user’s arsenal. It is compact and convenient while providing accurate erasing. The Pentel Clic series uses the polymer eraser refills that Pentel is known for in a mechanism that is cheap and simple. While Pentel has tried to improve on the product, the older ZE-21, in my opinion, beats out the newer ZE-22. However, either eraser would prove to be useful and, at this price point, getting a few spares won’t break the bank.