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.
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.
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.
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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