Rotring Quattro

I currently use the shiny silver version, as reviewed in The Gadgeteer. Before that, I have had two different models of the black versions – one the same as this silver, and before that, the more basic model.

So what is it?

It’s a four-in-one pen. The four features you get depends on the model you buy, but can include different coloured pens, .5mm or .7mm mechanical pencils, several colours of highlighters, and a PDA stylus tip in either white or yellow.

At the moment, mine contains a black pen, a red pen, a .5mm pencil, and a yellow stylus.

The Pens

Pen

Works pretty well, and makes a fairly nice even line. Small refils, so won’t last long if used heavily, but they’re also small enough to keep spares handy. Check you can get refils, as they’ve become more difficult to get hold of in the UK now.

Pencil

The mechanism in the pen I have now has lasted quite a long time, but I’ve had some of these mechanisms start to wear themselves loose after a while. I tend to use the pencil quite a lot, but they don’t seem to take the heavy use so well. May have been earlier quality problems, as the most recent one has been fine.

Highlighter

These aren’t much thicker than a ballpoint pen, but do make a nice bright mark that won’t cover existing text or writing. You have to scribble over something to highlight it rather than just drawing across it once.

PDA Stylus

Nice, fairly sharp tip. The only slight problem is that the pen is much heavier than the standard sort of stylus that comes with most PDAs, so it could be a bit heavy on the screen. I fine it easier to use than the short, fiddly, lightweight stylus that came with my iPaq hx4700, and much better than the stylus that came with the Sony Clie nx73v I had for a while.

The Finish

This is the biggest problem I had with these. The first one I had was a basic model in black, and the labels to tell you how to open each ‘pen’ quickly wore away. This was followed by most of the black finish, leaving much of the pen shiny scuffed silver. A life in a pocket didn’t suit it. I replaced that with the black ‘executive’ model. I thought this one would last well, as the surface was so tough and thickly painted as to feel like it was enameled. It started cracking and flaking off after a while.

I still have that one, as it does at least look like it’s all brass underneath, and might look quite nice if I get all the paint removed and polish it to a good shine.

I’ve now had the ‘silver’ executive model for quite a long time, and it’s still working fine. Even the pencil mechanism is holding up to the use quite well.

Conclusion

I do love this pen. I hate the fact that I’ve had three of them, and probably gone through five pencil mechanisms, but the wonderful convenience of having a standard sized pen in my pocket that can do so much just keeps bringing me back. I also love the confusion when someone borrows it and just can’t work out how to get the pen out 😉

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