Pros: sturdy, gets the job done every time
Cons: noisy, heavy and not all that easy on the eyes
We bought the Boston Powerhouse Electric Pencil Sharpener about 2 years ago. With two school-aged children in the house, we were constantly picking up shavings from handheld sharpeners that gave dull tips - or worse, extracted the lead from pencils completely.
We finally got smart and spent the $20 on this unit, which we keep on our desk right by our computer for easy access at homework time.
Style and Design
This unit comes in blue and black with the brown Boston Powerhouse logo emblazened across the side. At best, the style is utilitarian and would be appropriate for either home or office use.
It's roughly 4 inches tall at its tallest side (front) by 6 inches long by 2 inches wide. The cord isn't very long - just long enough to reach from the desk to the power outlet just behind the computer.
It is pretty heavy - maybe about 2 pounds - but its weight adds to its sturdiness while sharpening.
This unit is advertised to be "quiet" but it's actually just as loud as you'd expect a pencil sharpener to be! It does get audibly quieter when it's done sharpening, and has a Pencil-Saver that prevents oversharpening.
We've used this unit with many different kinds of pencils of varying price ranges without any trouble. We don't use charcoal or other specialty pencils (such as pastels) with this product, but I have seen it advertised on drafting and architecture supply sites. The hole for inserting pencils won't take very oversized pencils, as there's barely any wiggle room around a standard no. 2.
The product description says: "This is a heavy-duty motorized, commercial grade electric pencil sharpener. It features X-Acto precision steel spiral cutters, a Pencil-Saver that prevents oversharpening, and an Auto-Reset mechanism that eliminates motor burnout."
I do think that the steel spiral cutters are fantastic, as this unit is far better than the model we use at my office. Pencils come out with a clean, sharp tip and the lead remains embedded in its wooden casing. I'm convinced that this product has saved us money in pencils alone, since cheap sharpeners eat and destroy pencils and don't discriminate on factors such as the quality of the wood. I know it's saved us a great deal of time and headache in picking up stray shavings and losing handheld sharpener tops.
Cleaning the Unit
Shavings are housed in a transluscent plastic compartment on the front of the unit, that pulls out easily when grasped from the sides. The tray isn't very big. It holds about 1/2 cup of shavings, but we rarely need to change the tray.
When the tray is pulled out, there are inevitably shavings inside the unit and a few that dust the desk's surface. This is a small price to pay for a durable, trusty pencil sharpener.
If you have kids, like doing crosswords in pencil, or are starting up a home office, I highly recommend saving yourself plenty of time and hassle by investing in a high quality product like the Boston Powerhouse Electric Pencil Sharpener.
It only slips in the ratings for me because of its average noise level, hefty size and utilitarian design.