Posts filed under Cross

Cross TrackR Ballpoint Review

Cross TrackR Ballpoint Review

There is no sense in burying the lede with this one: The Cross TrackR Ballpoint exceeded my expectations. Not only is it a better writing pen than I expected, the technology involved actually works.

The idea behind this pen is straightforward: It’s a nice pen that you can’t lose. Cross is the first writing brand to add TrackR technology to the pen itself, allowing the pen to be tracked if you leave it behind or are separated from it.

Like with any analog/digital crossover product, I was skeptical. This is simpler technology than handwriting conversion products like the Moleskine Smart Writing Set, but any time new technology is added to classic writing tools, the odds of usefulness decrease greatly. Not with the Cross TrackR.

Top to bottom: Cross TrackR, Studio Neat Mark One, Retro 51 The System

Top to bottom: Cross TrackR, Studio Neat Mark One, Retro 51 The System

The first thing I was concerned about was the pen itself. It’s large - a requirement to fit the batteries and TrackR components - but quite usable. The metal barrel is lighter than anticipated, and is well balanced even with the additional hardware in the upper section of the pen.

Cross TrackR Ballpoint

When I took apart the pen I was surprised that the refill was only D1 sized. That’s about as small as refills go, but it makes sense for this pen because the area for the refill is limited to the lower half of the pen. The included Cross medium black ballpoint refill is nice, and D1 sizing gives you other refill options, but I do think a pen this size would be better served with a larger capacity refill. It just may not be technically possible.

Connecting the TrackR technology does require you download an app to your iOS or Android phone. Setup is as simple as pairing a new Bluetooth device, and once connected, you can adjust the alerting settings as needed. In my tests, once I walked approximately 25 feet away from the pen it began to alert me. “Hey, don’t leave me behind!” The pen plays an audible ring until you pick it up and press the TrackR button, letting the app know it is now in hand.

If there is any concern that your pen will be going off all the time in your house or office, fear not. The TrackR app has a section for Wi-Fi Safe Zones, which once added, keep the alerts off when connected to approved networks.

Cross TrackR Ballpoint Bluetooth

If you are thinking about purchasing this pen for yourself or as a gift, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. One, the price. At $95 it isn’t cheap, but with the built in technology and overall quality of the pen, I think it is fair. The accompanying app is free to download and use. Two, it’s fidgety. There are batteries to keep up with (a backup set is provided), a low-capacity refill (extras are also provided), and an app to set up. That’s way more than your normal pick it up and go pen.

That said, the Cross TrackR is a nice pen. It is a quality writing instrument - which has to be first on the list of requirements - and has the added benefit of TrackR technology for those who enjoy that aspect. All in all, I’m impressed, and I’m glad I have this pen in my arsenal.

(Goldspot provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)


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Cross TrackR Ballpoint Writing
Posted on May 14, 2018 and filed under Cross, Ballpoint, Pen Reviews.

Cross Click: Marvel Hulk Edition Review

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(Jeff Abbott is a regular contributor at The Pen Addict. You can find more from Jeff online at Draft Evolution and Twitter.)

Tapping into a well-known entertainment franchise and doing so in a tasteful way that appeals to fans is always a solid bet, and that's exactly what Cross have done with the Marvel editions of the Click ballpoint pen. The Hulk edition that I've had the pleasure of using over the past few weeks has led me into a slippery slope of branded writing instruments that may end up costing me more than I anticipated.

The Cross Click is a standard offering in their ballpoint lineup, and it's a great pen overall. Let's focus on the standard pen and how it performs.

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The Click is a slim body pen with a click mechanism for retracting/extending the refill. The click is a bit noisy, but it feels solid and the noise plays into the namesake of the pen. It has a nice feel, and it adds to the "premium" experience. The clip is petite, but it's hella strong — it fits in nicely with the Hulk (and Marvel) background well.

As far as slim body pens go, the Click is still pretty comfortable to use. I've used this for long note-taking sessions and haven't had any issues with comfort. There's a texture on the body that adds a bit of grip as well.

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One downside is that the refill rattles around inside the pen when it's in a retracted state. It takes a good bit of movement to make the rattle manifest, but it's noticeable and detracts from the overall premium feel of the pen.

The Marvel branding is subtle, which is exactly why I love it. There's some nice green graphics on the body, but my favorite part is the Hulk fist jewel on the top part of the clip.

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The standard refill is black and performs well. I've used several Cross ballpoints in the past, and I've always enjoyed it. As far as ballpoints go, this is a great option. There are other color options, as well as some gel rollerball refills that look interesting. Like most Cross pens, these refills are proprietary, so good luck finding a suitable replacement outside of the Cross lineup.

The Cross Click Marvel edition pens are fun, nicely done, and affordable. It's a perfect combination of factors that make this pen a no-brainer for Marvel fans. They're currently on sale at Goldspot Pens, so don't miss out!

(Goldspot provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)


Enjoy reading The Pen Addict? Then consider becoming a member to receive additional weekly content, giveaways, and discounts in The Pen Addict shop. Plus, you support me and the site directly, which I am very grateful.

Membership starts at just $5/month, with a discounted annual option available. To find out more about membership click here and join us!

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Posted on October 4, 2017 and filed under Cross, Ballpoint, Pen Reviews.

Why I Bought the Cross Townsend Star Wars Limited Edition Fountain Pens

(This is a guest post by Jon Bemis. You can find Jon on Twitter @jtower42.)

Episode IV: A New Pen

"Force Friday," as it was called, was one of the most impressive marketing and merchandising accomplishments I've seen as a consumer. A few teases, a few leaks, and then BOOM, Star Wars swag everywhere. Lego. Furniture. Toys, of course. Apparel. Thursday, nothing. Friday, it was as if though thousands of retailers cried out in joy and were suddenly overwhelmed with shoppers.

I was enjoying watching the hype and goings-on via social media in a sort of detached way when a tweet from a pen retailer popped into my feed and my eyes bugged out like Jar-Jar Binks'. Hands trembling, ears filled with the sound of rushing water, I clicked on a link that included the words "Star Wars" and "pen."

I've been a Star Wars fan as far back as I can remember. I was born after Episode IV came out, but I remember it being shown on network TV when I was a kid, back when you couldn't just pull up stuff on Netflix and VHS tapes were $100 a pop. My parents said I could stay up late to watch if I put my PJ's on before the movie started, and I remember selecting jammies with multi-colored stripes because they looked like blasters firing. On my second date with my future wife, just as the Fox fanfare was playing, I leaned over and whispered to her, "I saw Episode I FIVE TIMES in the theater."" And today, I am introducing my four daughters to the Star Wars universe.

So of course I was drawn to the "fine writing instruments" Force Friday tie-in, the Cross Townsend Star Wars Limited Editions. There were three designs - C-3PO, Stormtrooper, and Darth Vader. These were the pens I was looking for, and I immediately ordered all three.

Little did I know that much of the rest of the pen world was reacting differently. The Fountain Pen Network Facebook page was a wretched hive of scum and villany. Reactions ranged from the ostensibly helpful ("Keep an eye out on Overstock next year") to the rude and nearly unintelligible ("WHAT THE FUGGH?!")

The primary complaint was the price of these pens. They are expensive, no doubt, at $575 each. But in a world where beloved brands like Montblanc and Nakaya START above that price and where it seems like everyone is waiting for a bespoke pen from one of the community's artisanal pen-turners, this hysteria seemed as forced as Hayden Christiansen's line readings..

Even the Pen Addict Podcast hosts got their pokes in:

"They don't LOOK good," opined Myke. "They're not PUTRID," Brad sort-of demurred.

Additional pithy thoughts from the gents included "asinine," "embarrassing," "ridiculous," and "a joke." Against both the tide of public opinion and my better judgment, I posted in the live chat room that I had ordered all three, which Brad noticed. Myke was incredulous. "I didn't BELIEVE him."

I felt kinship with the Star Wars fans that hold a wildly unpopular opinion like "I like the scene Lucas added where Han steps on Jabba's tail," or "the whole midichlorians thing totally makes sense," or "Jar-Jar Binks is my favorite character." I felt the need to defend myself, like Luke deflecting blaster fire while practicing with his lightsaber. I mean, I really liked the look of these pens from the first. But more than that, what really drew me to these pens was that they represented the nexus of two of my favorite things. Whenever I see a product that does that I get a feeling like that product was made just for me.

In the pen world, Retro 51 has nailed this concept. Their special editions are always aimed at different niches - sports fans, space fanatics, dog lovers, retro gamers, even ugly sweater enthusiasts - and typically sell out quickly. Personally, my family and I are huge Disney fans, so I have spent a fair amount of time hunting down Disney Retro 51s and Uni Kuru Togas. There are parallels to Field Notes as well. My favorite edition is Traveling Salesman because I AM a traveling salesman, and I love Two Rivers and Shelterwood for their connections to my beloved home state of Wisconsin. So when nerdy hobby "Pens" intersected with geeky obsession "Star Wars" it was pointless to resist.

Brad swept in like Han Solo in the trench and commissioned, right there on the air, a review of my newest pens for the Pen Addict blog. So here is my review of the much-maligned Cross Townsend Star Wars Limited Editions. (I hope it's not a trap.)

Episode V: The Reviewer Strikes Back

The low-resolution images on some of the retailers' websites have disappointed for the last time. In person, these pens are just stunning. While the basic design of the Cross Townsend is so classic and simple as to nearly be boring, the details added for these editions elevate the pens to something special.

While it looks like a standard brass pen body from a distance, close up the C-3PO is fluent in over six million forms of beautiful. It is gold (of course) and covered with accent lines recalling the curves and circles etched on Threepio himself. The clip is centered in a ring of concentric circles like those in the center of the protocol droids chest, and the caps finial looks like his eye.

The Darth Vader is deep matte black with Vaderesque pinstripes running the length of the barrel, and the cap has subtle lines recalling the Sith Lord's mask under the clip. A red crystal is set in the caps finial, and while normally I'd scoff at the addition of a Swarovski crystal as a selling point - seriously, what is the deal with Swarovski? Isn't it just, you know, crystal? - it is a nice touch here as a callback to the color of Vader's lightsaber.

The Stormtrooper is my favorite of the three. The pen is, naturally, stark white with black furniture, and the finial has the mesh pattern of the communicator on the helmet. It's a very simple design but elegantly so, just like the armor for which it is named

The one design quibble I have is a fit and finish concern. Where the barrel and section thread together is meant to be a seamless fit, but the joint is not quite perfect and means there is a tiny mismatch between the barrel and section.

I have read comments that the Cross Click Gel Star Wars editions are better because they sport bolder design elements, including a badge on the clip that identifies the character. Thing is, I really like that the design on the Townsends is subtle. I love the idea that I can be sitting in big important formal meeting and be using my nerdy pen and no one will even know.

These pens look great...but so did the pod race. A good fountain pen is not as random or clumsy as a ballpoint; it is a more elegant writing instrument from a more civilized age. Even so, a bad writing experience will ruin even the best-looking fountain pen. So how do these pens write?

Episode VI: Not Returning the Pens

The nibs on all three were very smooth right out of the box with almost no feedback. They are not "soft" nibs per se, but as with most 18K nibs, these have a little bit of softness and create a little bit of line variation, which is an awesome bonus. Ink flow is fairly wet and broad, and there is little difference between the fine and medium nibs, which are the only available choices. Using the included Cross black cartridge on 80 gram Rhodia paper, there is some very minor ghosting, but no bleedthrough of any kind.

The Townsends are slim, which is a Cross design hallmark, but not so slim as to be uncomfortable to use for extended writing sessions. The section is plastic, which I prefer, and offers a solid grip. The caps post solidly, but being solid brass, make the pen untenably back-heavy when posted.

Overall, I really love the way the pen writes - the quality and tuning of the nib are top notch, and I've enjoyed using them in the weeks since they arrived.

Having never owned a Cross fountain pen, I didn't know what to expect, and part of me was worried I'd be disappointed. I did hesitate (briefly) before I ordered them, but then I remembered some excellent advice. "C'mon, let's keep a little optimism here." Happily, my leap of faith was rewarded. The Force is very much with these pens.

Posted on December 10, 2015 and filed under Cross, Fountain Pens, Pen Reviews, Star Wars.