I am reviewing the Rotring Altro, a cheap pen that was sold loose in the 1980s. This is not to be confused with a stylograph pen that was sold by Rotring at the same time and also called an Altro.
• First Impressions (7/10) – The Altro is a cheap pen, but the slightly unusual design makes it standout from the cheap pen crowd.
• Appearance & Design (7/10) – It is typical of what I would expect from Rotring, a clean functional design. There is not a single element that is just ornamental, everything has a purpose. It is all plastic with a steel nib. The plastic is thin and light but the ridges around the body make it very firm. The cap is very secure and needs quite a tug to remove it. The Altro came in a number of colours including white, pink and yellow. This one is a dull burgundy. I like the design, but it’s not to everyone’s taste
• Weight & Dimensions (9/10) – The length is almost exactly the same as the Newton 600. Capped it is about 15 cm in length and with the cap posted about 17 cm. I have large hands and it sits very well, giving me a very comfortable writing position. However, the single most striking thing about the pen is its weight. It is very light. I have no other all plastic pens to compare it against, but it feels as light as an ordinary school pencil. Posting the cap has no real effect on the balance of the pen.
• Nib & Performance (7/10) – The nib is medium (I understand that fine was also available) steel. It starts every time; no skipping although it is very slightly scratchy. I would say that it is on the moderate side of dry. In use the Altro medium nib seems very slightly thinner than the Newton 600 medium but it may be that the Newton is slightly wetter. I tend to prefer heavy pens, but the Altro, due to its weight and length feels like a pen I would choose if I had to spend the whole day writing
• Filling System (9/10) – Cartridge with space for a spare.
• Cost & Value (10/10) – I brought the pen the 1980's for £3 or £4 in an art shop that was also the local Rotring dealer? A pen dealer on eBay is currently selling them for about £14 plus postage. When I brought the pen I thought it was excellent value for money and used it for some months as my main pen. However, I wouldn’t pay £14 for one, but then again I don’t know what else is available for that money. When I dug it out of the draw last week (after about 20 years), I was surprised how easily it started, just a quick rinse under the tap, put in a 15 year old cartridge and worked.
• Conclusion (Final score, 8.1/10) – In summary, it is a very good cheap pen, reliable, well designed and comfortable to use. A real workhorse. When I brought it, I was looking for a pen for everyday use. A pen that if it was lost, it would be no more than a minor inconvenience. The Altro delivered on all these expectations.
Edited by vans4444, 17 March 2009 - 17:29.