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Pentel Tradio (Metal Nib)


Geordielass
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This is my first review, so I'd appreciate any constructive criticism, please. Sorry it's so long, but I thought that since no-one else has reviewed this pen, I'd try to be comprehensive.

 

 

Bought: September 2013, amazon.co.uk (marketplace) for £4.99 inc. p&p (I'm not plugging amazon, it's just for reference) – that's about $8, at time of writing.

If you have an amazon account, you'll probably know that, when you log in, it gives you recommendations. That's how I found this pen – usually I just ignore them, but this came up and it seemed like a smart-looking pen for £4.99, so I thought I'd just have a look, not to buy it, of course, just have a quick look... honest... Anyway, one of my “every day” pens is on it's last legs, so I thought this might be an interesting cheap one to try. (Funny, I went on to see if they did a specific book for kindle and came away with a pen – bad habit that).

In the picture, it looked like metal, but the site was clear that it was only plastic, so I wasn't too disappointed when it arrived and discovered it was very plasticky indeed. OK, I was, because you can get decent quality plastics fairly cheaply, and this isn't made of those, but I consoled myself that when you pay about the same for a pen as you would for a McDonald's meal (personally, I'd rather eat the pen, but that's beside the point) you shouldn't get sniffy about the looks, as long as it does the job. Which it does, it definitely does. I was very pleasantly surprised by the nib once I started writing with it. Anyway, I'll move onto a “proper” structured review format to give more details.

Appearance/Design:

First off here's a link which shows all the colours you can get it in – http://www.cultpens.com/acatalog/Pentel-Tradio-Fountain-Pen.html#a17758. As you can see, it isn't £4.99 everywhere! Here's some pictures of mine:

http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3672/9896858264_a374e7c22d_b.jpg
Tradio by Geordielass78, on Flickr

It has a “cigar” shape, with a “step” towards the end of the barrel. I assumed the step must be to do with posting the cap securely and but I've given it a damned good push to try to get it to click on and it definitely doesn't. The clip is just moulded as part of the top, so it really doesn't have a lot of give – you should be able to clip it onto a shirt pocket, but I haven't tried anything much thicker as I doubt it could cope. The “hole” in the cap is a window made of clear plastic, through which you can see the nib, that's no problem, but it looks slightly dusty (it's actually a touch of condensation, I think). The nib itself is two-tone – it wouldn't even occur to me to question this if I hadn't seen the picture of the other pens which don't have two-tone nibs. Since everything else on the pen is silver-coloured, why stick some gold paint on the nib? Very minor gripe, that one, though.

OK, the plastic... It's not the nicest looking stuff. The inside of the barrel is plain white plastic, so the outside is some sort of coating/paint and is supposed to look like chrome I guess... and if were looking at it from right at the other end of the room, I suppose it would. Basically it looks like what it is, a cheap pen. The section again looks fine at first glance, but again is a bit too shiny and, for want of a better word, too plasticky as well.

The problem with all this shininess is, of course that unless you polish it (I gave it a quick rub with a cloth before I took the photos) it tends to look all smeared with finger prints. It can't be helped, but it's why I always prefer metal (or, in this case, faux-metal) pens with a matt finish. I also worry that in a year or so, unless I'm very very careful, that coating will be all chipped (and the whole point of an “every day” pen, for me, is to have one that I can just push it into the pocket of my handbag, right next to my keys, and not be bothered about it). I've only had it for three weeks and so far so good, but I've mostly had it in a pencil case.

I suspect part of the problem is the finish on this. I'm only going by that Cult Pens picture, but I think I'd like it better without the shiny coating, in a different finish, this section of the review might well have had a lot less complaining and more about the cheerful, fun colourfulness, great for kids, that sort of thing. (Actually, the only other colour on amazon is green, and it is a couple of quid more, so I doubt I would have bought it, it was that attractive “under a fiver” that spurred me to impulse buy).

How would I score it? If I'd payed full RRP (£16.50 or £18.84, depending on where you look), I'd be giving this about 3/10, it looks cheap, but for £4.99, I'll add a point – you can't get too upset when something that was very cheap looks it. Also, I like the design, I just think the materials don't do it justice, so perhaps another point is in order. So 5/10.

Construction/Quality:

As cheap as it looks, once you get past that, it seems far from badly-made for the money. Again, whether the outer coating chips away in the next few months may mean a score that gets revised downwards in the quality stakes, but aside from that it is made of smooth plastic, with no rough edges, and while you can see a fine seam running up the cap it is very fine and doesn't really bother me. There aren't any seams on other parts, by the way. The two rings at the “join” between the barrel and section are the only metal on the pen (apart from the nib). They are very smooth and are polished to try to look like the outer coating (they are a shade or two greyer, so on close inspection they don't, but they aren't a bad try.

The barrel's all plastic which would make it a great eyedropper candidate, except that it has tiny breather holes in the bottom, so maybe not. Then again, the holes are inside a small “indent” so that should allow you to plug the holes from the outside as well as the inside for extra security, so perhaps you could still use it that way.

The section is very smooth, and if I'd got the pen a couple of weeks earlier I'd have been able to tell you if it was too smooth for sweaty hands in hot weather (we've had an unusually hot and humid summer in the UK, but it's cooler now). I'd rather have something slightly less smooth, but it's no worse than many inexpensive pens and once I'm writing I tend to forget that because of the nib.

Ah the nib – this is the saving grace of this pen. I have to admit I wasn't expecting too much but, boy, was I surprised! I'll save the details for the “Nib Performance” section but even if this is a cheap and cheerful nib, it's very cheerful, and writes like a high quality one.

I'll make this a 6/10, since the nib is really scored elsewhere.

Size and Weight:

It's a light pen and what I would call “average” sized. I'll put a couple of pictures here that show it with a Platinum Preppy and my Parker Vector, (I think most people will have some idea of the size of at least one of those pens), for comparison:

http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5333/9896817425_ae047a71c3_b.jpg
Tradio Comparison by Geordielass78, on Flickr

It isn't heavy, though a little heavier than the Preppy, it's roughly the same weight as the Vector (and my Parker Reflex, for that matter), if that's any help. The section is broad enough to make it a comfortable pen to hold, so I could imagine someone taking notes in an hour-long lecture without much cramping, for instance.

It's light enough to write either posted or unposted without feeling much difference, but it is more than long enough to hold comfortably without posting (bear in mind that I have very big hands for a woman, larger than some men I know).

It's a great size, not too big to be cumbersome and not too slim to be difficult to hold for prolonged periods. It's also a light pen, which is much easier in many circumstances (I quite like a heavy pen, but even so, this weight is great for longer writing sessions). No pen can please everyone, so I can only give a subjective 9/10 from me.

Nib Performance:

Very very good for the money. It's a medium – well it actually doesn't say, which sent me to pentel.co.uk to try to check it, they don't list the pen, so I went back to amazon, and they say that it's a medium, then two bullet points later they say it's medium-fine. Pentel are Japanese, so that probably means that it's a Japanese medium, which seems about right - definitely a lot closer to fine than broad. I feel I need to make that clear, because I always assume that a finer nib means a higher chance of scratchiness (maybe I'm wrong, but that has been my experience) and this isn't scratchy at all!

This isn't like my Faber-Castell, which is unbelievably smooth for a steel nib, but it come closer than I could have expected. The Vector in the pictures is 12 or 14 years old - lots of time to work out the kinks and adapt to my idiosyncrasies – and it's smooth with good flow, but the Tradio is just as good, straight out of the box. It isn't a wet nib, but it certainly isn't too dry either, basically just has good, unremarkable ink-flow, without ever skipping etc.

Definitely 10/10 for this money!

Filling System/Maintenance:

It came with a long international standard cartridge of blue ink, which I decided to use to see what the Pentel ink was like (or whatever it is they use) – it's a nice bright cheerful blue. Since it can take a long cartridge, it can, then, also take a converter (though I'm still on the cartridge, I'd forgotten how much a long one holds!). I've only had it three weeks and I've had no reason to take it apart so I can't comment on how easy it is to disassemble the feed/nib etc. I'll try to add that later as/when it becomes necessary.

It's only 8/10, as I can't comment on all the basic maintenance aspects, but it does have the advantage of the easiest to find/cheapest cartridges and can happily take a converter.

Value for Money:

Since I was on amazon checking the nib size, I double checked the price, and it's risen in price – it's now £5.00 instead of £4.99. Inflation's terrible! ;)

So, I can still evaluate this as a fountain pen for a fiver. If the quality of the plastics was even slightly better, I think I could give this 10/10 at this money, especially since it has a brilliant nib, but good as it is, the rest of the pen must count for something, so I'll give it 9/10 instead.

Final Conclusion/Score:

I don't think Pentel are offering it any more (I checked both pentel.co.uk and pentel.com, neither has it listed) so if you fancy giving it a whirl you'll need to get it fairly soon. If you do like the look of it, do try it out, it really is a shame that there's no indication that Pentel will be using that nib again in an inexpensive fountain pen in the future.

Can I recommend it? Absolutely, as long as you don't pay anywhere near the RRP. I think it would be especially good for students and high-school pupils in the bright colours, but anyone could be happy with that nib, it just depends on whether you are looking for utility or a status symbol, really.

The overall score reflects that at 8/10.

NB I also have a Pentel Tradio “Stylo”, the delta nib “fountain pen” (the one that is actually a fibre tip - and seems like the offspring of an illicit liason between a felt-tip and this pen) that I could also review if anyone would like me to, let me know if you would. I promise I'd try to keep it a bit shorter!

Edited by Geordielass
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I may justy go back to jetpens (no affiliation) for another look.

 

Thanks for a good review.

“Don't put off till tomorrow what you can do today, because if you do it today and like it, you can do again tomorrow!”

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You're both very welcome.

 

I may justy go back to jetpens (no affiliation) for another look.

I don't use jetpens usually (the shipping cost to the UK stops me using US sites, normally), but I checked, and they do stock them. The coloured ones aren't striped and are "rubberized" plastic, apparently. For me that would probably make it a much less "cheap" pen (in the sense of the way it looks and feels). At $26.50 it's a judgement call, I guess, about whether you'd rather try this or, say, a Lamy Safari, for very little more, and, much as I like this pen (well, the nib), I can't say anyone who picked the Safari would be wrong, then again I don't think anyone picking this pen would be totally wrong, either. If you don't like the shape of the Lamy section, or you just love Japanese pens, it's a definite contender.

 

What did intrigue me is the Tradio Mini - I hope someone reviews that, at some time, for comparison. For me, though, that's way too small for my hands and, on the close up, the nib is similar, but not identical, so I'm sceptical about getting the same brilliant smoothness.

Edited by Geordielass
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What did intrigue me is the Tradio Mini - I hope someone reviews that, at some time, for comparison. For me, though, that's way too small for my hands and, on the close up, the nib is similar, but not identical, so I'm sceptical about getting the same brilliant smoothness.

I have the Tradio Mini. The design is interesting...for a cheap plastic pen. You are right about the nib. Briliant smoothness is not the phrase I would use to describe the mini's nib. I was disappointed in how it wrote. Maybe I'll break it out for a review. It's only saving grace was it took the short international cartridge. I would have been really bummed if I would have had to invest in yet another proprietary cartridge.

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Good review!

I remember considering buying this but not recalling why I decided against it - until you listed it as being available only as M. I was writing with a Pilot XF today and was slightly annoyed that it was too broad...

I seem to recall I've seen this listed as "Pentel France", is it made in Japan or is it by their French subsidiary?

Слава Україні!

Slava Ukraini!

 

STR:11 DEX: 5 CON:5 INT:17 WIS:11 CHA:3

Wielding: BIC stick of poor judgment (-3,-5) {cursed}

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I have the Tradio Mini. The design is interesting...for a cheap plastic pen. You are right about the nib. Briliant smoothness is not the phrase I would use to describe the mini's nib. I was disappointed in how it wrote. Maybe I'll break it out for a review. It's only saving grace was it took the short international cartridge. I would have been really bummed if I would have had to invest in yet another proprietary cartridge.

 

Oh, well that stops me wanting to try it even with my big hands.

 

You should definitely review it, when you are in the mood. I get sick of seeing loads of reviews for pens I just can't afford, it's nice to have a wider variety of price ranges. It's also useful to see reviews of pens to avoid (sounds like the Mini may be one).

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Good review!

I remember considering buying this but not recalling why I decided against it - until you listed it as being available only as M. I was writing with a Pilot XF today and was slightly annoyed that it was too broad...

I seem to recall I've seen this listed as "Pentel France", is it made in Japan or is it by their French subsidiary?

 

Ah, well it is definitely on the fine side of medium, but if you like Japanese XFs...

 

As for where it is manufactured, I no longer have the packaging, in fact I can't remember exactly what the packaging was, since I didn't buy it from a "proper" pen website, but an amazon marketplace seller it may not have had its full packaging anyway - so no help there. The Pen says "Tradio TRF Pentel" on one side of the lid and "Pentel JAPAN" is on the other side - don't know if either of those is conclusive. On the basis of the "Stylo" being called that, I think its cousin must be French manufactured (well probably) but no idea on this one.

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I had a Tradio Stylo, while it said it can take refills, I found what they meant was that I could keep the cap and barrel only; that was a bit cheeky I reckon. But if this is a proper C/C then it works much better in the value department.

No, I am not going to list my pens here.

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I had a Tradio Stylo, while it said it can take refills, I found what they meant was that I could keep the cap and barrel only; that was a bit cheeky I reckon. But if this is a proper C/C then it works much better in the value department.

It seemed that way to me too, at first, then I thought about it and realised it had to be like that - the nib is fibre and the same as that of the disposable Fountain Pentel, so it really wouldn't survive more than one or two refill's worth of ink and the feed seems to have very fine "flanges" so it would probably be too fragile to be sold without some sort of "protection" around it, so I suppose it makes sense to have the section as part of the refill too. The objection I have to the refill is that it's actually a bit more expensive than just getting a whole Fountain Pentel, and you may as well just buy the disposable, since the Stylo refill is as big as a full pen, you aren't being environmentally friendly by going for the non-disposable option. I guess the advantage of the Stylo is a broader bodied pen that looks a little posher.

 

Because the refills don't seem worth it, and because the matt black plastic is a lot less objectionable, to my eyes, I'm probably going to change bodies with the fountain pen when the Stylo refill runs out - or I might spend £1.99 on the gel pen version to see if it gets the same matt body as the Stylo - not exactly going to break the bank, is it? I think they do a white body for that one as well as the black - might be worth a try.

Edited by Geordielass
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Geordielass,

 

If the difference between the Stylo barrel/cap and this metal nib version is merely the surface finish, perhaps you can do some mix and match: black barrel with metal-finish cap or something; that might look quite smart too.

No, I am not going to list my pens here.

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Geordielass,

 

If the difference between the Stylo barrel/cap and this metal nib version is merely the surface finish, perhaps you can do some mix and match: black barrel with metal-finish cap or something; that might look quite smart too.

It is the only difference, but the metal-look lid doesn't seem to click into place over the Stylo section so I'm not certain it wouldn't dry out (oddly the black one clicks happily into place on the fountain pen, though, so that's good) so I'll be leaving it as it is until the Stylo "cartridge" is empty, but then I'll just do a straight swap of bodies, probably - I'm not kidding about the cheap feel of the metal-look one, I wouldn't want to mix and match.

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Thanks for the review.

 

It coincides with my impressions (picked one in Paris last Fall for some 8 euros or so). The only difference is that I found my pen to be rather on the drier side and with some feedback (not scratchy, not teeth, just slight feedback). Tiny adjustment took care of the dryness and the feedback didn't bother me much to work on it.

 

I wish the pen was not so shiny. Be it any other way I could see it sneaking once in a while into my rotation, just for the heck of it. But as it is I couldn't make myself to use it: for the year I've filled it at most four times and two of them because I've tried different nibs (the pen takes the standard #5 nib). It's as if when they were thinking what to do with the pen, they were like "well, we have this nice 15 dollars pen but you know what, let's make it shiny and we'll get a nice 10 dollars pen!"

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Thanks for the review.

 

It coincides with my impressions (picked one in Paris last Fall for some 8 euros or so). The only difference is that I found my pen to be rather on the drier side and with some feedback (not scratchy, not teeth, just slight feedback). Tiny adjustment took care of the dryness and the feedback didn't bother me much to work on it.

 

I wish the pen was not so shiny. Be it any other way I could see it sneaking once in a while into my rotation, just for the heck of it. But as it is I couldn't make myself to use it: for the year I've filled it at most four times and two of them because I've tried different nibs (the pen takes the standard #5 nib). It's as if when they were thinking what to do with the pen, they were like "well, we have this nice 15 dollars pen but you know what, let's make it shiny and we'll get a nice 10 dollars pen!"

I know what you mean, it's almost as if they took the pen and decided to go out of their way to give it a finish that would cheapen the otherwise decent looks - unfathomable to me.

 

It's a shame your nib wasn't as good - I have to admit that if the nib on mine weren't quite so fab I would probably be thinking about just washing it out and putting it away for occasional use, now that the cartridge is finally pretty much empty - instead I'm looking forward to trying it with some more interesting ink. I don't think mine is just a fluke, though. Out of curiosity, after I posted the review, I decided to google for other reviews on the pen and discovered one on penaddict.com which also said that the nib was unbelievably smooth.

 

I hadn't realised that it took the #5 nibs - I don't think I'll be changing nib in a hurry, but it's useful to know, thanks.

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Thank you for the review. I have the weird Pentel Tradio porous tip "fountain pen" which is nice apart from the the fact that the refills tend to leak. You definitely got a good deal...I just searched for one and they all seem to be retail in the US. $26 US is a no go for me but at $10 I would be all over it.

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Good review! I liked the informal style and the very detailed comments on the pen. I think I will have to take some pointers from your review for my own as mine have been a bit lackluster of late.

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Thank you for the review. I have the weird Pentel Tradio porous tip "fountain pen" which is nice apart from the the fact that the refills tend to leak. You definitely got a good deal...I just searched for one and they all seem to be retail in the US. $26 US is a no go for me but at $10 I would be all over it.

The porous tipped Tradio is the "Stylo" I keep mentioning - called something else in the US - pullman, pulaman??? So far so good on the refill (which is the one it came with), it's not leaking, but then again it was bought, more or less, at this same time as this fp, so I haven't had it long enough to really comment. It's a good writer, for times when I'm not using a fountain pen, though. I had a disposable "Fountain Pentel" version until last month, but my mother nicked it when she was visiting, as she decided it was an ideal pen for taking shorthand.

 

Knowing that the vast majority of people reading these forums (should that be fora?) are in the US, I did think of trying to find out if there were any available at a comparable price over there, but once I saw pentel.com don't list them any more, I just decided they must be discontinued and didn't bother. (I assume the jetpens stock must be old, or coming in from Japan?) The thing is, that if the coloured "rubberized" plastics on the $26.50 models are better than on mine, they really can give popular starter/workhorse pens like the Lamy Safari a run for their money. Or maybe not, in reality; even if the quality is there, Lamy have a great history with that model and fps in general, so for a company like Pentel, who are known for disposable pens, to make any mark, they should have been pricing these to slightly undercut the Pilot Metropolitan, not the Lamy. Sorry, that turned into the Geordielass's ignorant ramblings on the economics of selling pens!

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Good review! I liked the informal style and the very detailed comments on the pen. I think I will have to take some pointers from your review for my own as mine have been a bit lackluster of late.

Thank you very kindly. If I'm honest, I know my style is informal, long-winded (thank you for calling it "detailed", though) and somewhat idiosyncratic, I think it's because I touch type, so what you see is basically stream of consciousness, edited to roughly fit the review format!

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This entry is the "Addendum" to my review.

 

After using my Pentel to write a page of notes, I got frustrated again by the disparity between the way it looks and the way it writes, so I tried again to get the shiny lid to fit over the Stylo section and with a bit of a push it clicked on so here is my "new" Pentel Tradio fountain pen with improved less shiny looks - it's just a quietly understated matt black pen now - yay!

 

http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5346/10000225156_29b56c7c06_b.jpg
Black Tradio by Geordielass78, on Flickr

 

It's possibly a bit more matt in real life, but for once we got a really sunny day in North Yorkshire, so the photo's a bit light saturated, on the upper side, at least.

 

Now my Stylo's ugly :(... oh well, you can't have everything!

 

 

NB, with the black body, I would score the pen an extra 1 point in Appearance/Design in the review scores, but that only takes the overall average score from 7.833/10 to exactly 8/10, so the (rounded) score is unchanged, either way.

 

Overall score still 8/10.

Edited by Geordielass
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