When the Ain Stein first came out, I saw a few reviews in Japanese onnlie, and they also reported no significant difference.I'm wondering about the similarity of the Ain Stein to the Mitsubishi Nano Dia. When I compared the Nano Dia with the Pentel Ain, they wore at the same rate and looked very close on paper. However, the Nano Dia felt kind of powdery and the 0.9 mm actually squeaked when I wrote. To me, the Ain clearly felt better. (BTW, differences are much easier to detect with thicker leads, so I usually buy some 0.9 just for comparison purposes.)After introducing the Nano Dia, Mitsubishi all but dropped their previous standard line, the Shu. I'm afraid Pentel may be planning the same fate for Ain. If the Ain Stein is like the Nano Dia, I'd better buy a lifetime supply of Ain while I can.Regarding the comments about colored lead, I have three suggestions. One, get a pencil with a sliding sleeve. They allow you to press much harder without breaking the lead. Two, if you can live with a 1.1 mm lead, buy vintage. Leads were made in darker colors back when. Since fatter leads aren't popular now, you can find vintage pencils and colored leads relatively cheap on eBay. Three, consider a woodcase colored pencil. The Prismacolor Verithin and Col-Erase are made to be equivalent to a No. 2 pencil. They are the only artist's colored pencils I know of that can keep a point well enough for writing.