Before a few months ago, I really didn't know much about Aurora. Luckily, I had the opportunity to use a couple of top-notch pens that definitely ensured Aurora would stay on my radar going forward. There are several reviews already on the site for Aurora fountain pens that cost several hundred dollars, but the TU is more of an entry-level option.
The Aurora TU fountain pen from JetPens runs for around $125, and it does a great job of representing the brand at this price option. The model I have is the ivory resin with chrome trim, but you can also get a black resin model. The steel nibs come in a range from EF - B, so you're bound to find one that fits you well.
The TU is a small to medium size pen, but it feels great in the hand despite it's smaller size. The plastic grip section is comfortable to use, and the raised band close to the tip of the section is a nice tangible guide when writing with the pen. Depending on your grip style, this small bump may annoy you, but it's necessary as its job is to keep the cap on the pen when closed.
The cap is a snap cap mechanism that feels solid when opening and closing the pen. The snap also works when posting the pen, giving a satisfying "clunk" when it snaps in place. You definitely know when the pen is closed or posted due to this snap system. It's well done.
The pen is weighted evenly and feels very balanced. Some pens feel top or bottom heavy depending on the materials used, but the TU is a balanced pen even when posted.
The cap features several branding flares for the Aurora brand, and they might feel a bit gratuitous to some. The top of the cap has a prominent Aurora logo debossed into the chrome trim. The clip also has "Aurora" debossed along the side, and the band reads "Aurora Made in Italy." The nib is also branded with a very small Aurora mention along with the nib size. Apart from that, the nib is not decorated or flourished.
The pen as a whole is attractive. It's subtle, but has plenty of nice touches to set it apart from other pens. The flat ends are somewhat rare in my collection, so I have no problem telling it apart.
The nib is a crisp, well-tuned steel EF model. It did not require any tweaking since it wrote beautifully straight out of the case. It writes smoothly and has great ink flow, even for a small EF nib. Compared to other European EF nibs, it's on the small side, but I like that. The line looks like something between a 0.5mm and 0.38mm gel ink pen line.
Even though the nib works flawlessly, it does make some scratching noises. I'm not sure why it does this, as it feels very smooth when writing. I might do some nib smoothing at some point, but I really like how it writes at the moment. I don't want to risk changing that.
I haven't noticed any issues with dry starts or skipping, which is on-par with the other Auroras I've used. It's a great writer, and I've really enjoyed using it.
Is there anything not to like about this pen? Well, it turns out there are a couple of gripes. For one, this pen does not come with a cartridge-converter. You must purchase one separately, and it's on the more expensive side of the converter market. It costs $16.50, which isn't unheard of, but it looks like a slightly modified standard converter that you receive at no cost with pens that cost half as much. It would be awesome if Aurora would just include the converter with the pen. If you go in on the pen and converter combined, you're looking at almost $140. Strangely enough, Aurora includes a blank cartridge with this pen (along with a regular blue cartridge). My only assumption for this blank cartridge is that it's intended to be syringe-filled with an ink of your choosing, which is exactly what I did. I don't know if this was correct, but it worked! Still, syringe-filling isn't something everyone is comfortable with or able to do without purchasing a proper syringe.
Another problem that is a bit more difficult to pin down or support is that the price point feels awkward. This is definitely a well-made pen, but I'm not sure it fits in the $100 - $150 market. When you look at other pens that you can purchase in that price range, it doesn't look as attractive. And, I know that's a very subjective statement because this pen might be the most beautiful thing you've seen. Still, the point remains. When you're pricing a pen in the same ballpark as the Lamy 2000, Pilot Custom Heritage 92, the Pilot Decimo and Vanishing Point, and the Platinum 3776, there needs to be a clear distinguishing factor. For me, I can't distinguish it against this group. It's an easier task when dropped to the $75 - $125 range.
Pricing aside, it's a great pen that would make a great gift or first introduction to the Aurora brand. You get one blue cartridge with the pen, so be sure to either purchase more cartridges or a cartridge converter if you're not keen on syringe filling the provided empty cartridge.
(JetPens provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)
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