A technophile lawyer rediscovers the joys of pen and paper

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Booker-Palooza 2012 Review and Giveaway #3: Pentel Tradio Fountain Pen in Pearl Black Finish (Entries closed and winner announced)

Welcome to day 3 of Booker-Palooza 2012. This is the third givewaway of the week, with two more to follow, so make sure you check back daily.

Please note that because I screwed up the timing of this post and it published late, I will keep entries open for an additional 24 hours, until 12:01 a.m. on Friday, September 7.

Pentel Tradio Fountain pen, Black Pearl Finish

You're probably wondering how I decided to give away this this Pentel Tradio Fountain Pen after spending 28 bucks on it a year or so ago. The clue is in the last part of that sentence. I purchased this at least a year ago, tried it out for a day to write the review, then put it away and never got around to writing the review. Something tells me there are not legions of Tradio fans scouring eBay for a deal on this pen, so I figured, what the heck . . . give it away! So, here we go.

The Review

The Tradio is comparable in size to a Lamy Safari (though here, I have it pictured next to a Lamy AL-Star,) at least in length. But it tapers more at the ends and is thus less cylindrical. It feels uch smaller than the Safari, though, perhaps partly because of its shape and partly because it's virtually weightless. When you're writing unposted, there's no heft to the pen at all. Some people will like that, some won't.

While I'm comparing it to the Safari in size, I might as well make the comparison in a few other ways, especially since they are similarly priced (in fact, at Jet Pens, the Tradio and Safari are both priced at $26.00) and both could be considered "entry level" pens.

Pentel Tradio and Lamy AL-Star side-by-side, capped
Top: Lamy AL-Star, bottom: Pentel Tradio
The finish on the Tradio is a little fancier, probably designed to give the illusion that the pen has a gunmetal body instead of a plastic one. It looks more purple in the photos than it does right in front of you. (The picture of the cap captures the finish better.) But if you like shiny, metal-looking plastic, the black pearl Tradio is for you. The other Tradio finishes look, online at least, like they would be more obviously plastic. So, in the fancy-shmancy category, score a point for the Tradio.

The Tradio doesn't feel very durable, but I have to admit I never really put put it to the test. Perhaps it is because the pen is so light, but I just would not have the same confidence shoving this pen into my jeans pocket as I would carrying a Safari that way. It feels more breakable to me, but I have no scientific evidence to back that up.

The wire Safari/AL-Star clip is very distinctive, and I've read a lot of negative comments about how ugly it is, but I happen to like it in both form and function, and I do not like the Tradio's clip as much. The cap and clip on the Tradio are part of he same molded piece of plastic; there is no spring for the clip except for whatever physical properties the molded plastic has. While not quite as guaranteed to go over your pocket every time, the Tradio clip is nonetheless pretty consistent. But I have to give the nod to the Safari in this one.

Pentel Tradio fountain pen cap
One-piece clip and cap; view window near top
The Tradio cap, like that on the Safari, clicks on rather than screws on, and has one feature that I consider somewhat gimmicky: a window in the cap that lets you see the nib while the pen is capped. I'm not sure what function that serves, though I suppose it's possible you might have a Tradio rollerball in the same color and want to be able to tell the difference. If you're going to put a viewing window in a fountain pen, better to have it so you can view the ink level, like on the Safari.

The nib on the Tradio writes incredibly smooth for a pen at this price point. Really, really , nice. I actually like the feel of this nib much better than any on my Safaris.And it has an aesthetic leg up on the Safari nib as well, with some design on the nib and, according to Jet Pens at least, some gold plating. Unfortunately, the design of the nib was usually obscured by ink; this nib displayed lots of nib creep when inked with Noodler's Navy, but I didn't try other inks and for all I know, that same ink would creep on a Safari. But the Safari has something else going for it: the nib is easily changed, and relatively inexpensive replacement nibs (around $10 each, I think) make it economical to experiment with different nib widths, including three widths of italic nibs.

Overall, the Tradio is a solid entry-level pen or daily writer for those accustomed to fountain pens. It's a viable alternative to a Lamy Safari if you happen to like the design silhouette or finish better, want a fancier nib, want a smoother writing experience (though your mileage may vary on this consideration), or, like a lot of people, are turned off by the Safari clip.

I got my Tradio through Writer's Bloc; they still carry the pen in a few other finishes, but not black pearl.  You can find the black pearl finish and several others at JetPens. I've ordered a lot more over the years from JetPens than I have Writer's Bloc, but they are both reliable vendors in my experience.

The Giveaway

 If you'd like this pen, here's how to enter the giveaway.

Please note that because I screwed up the timing of this post and it published late, I will keep entries open for an additional 24 hours, until 12:01 a.m. on Friday, September 6. 

You can enter by email, by commenting, or by both. It's perfectly OK for you to enter both ways. Not everyone is necessarily going to take the time to do that (very few did on the first giveaway), so entering both ways may increase your chances of winning.

To enter by email, send an email to me at notebookeresqATgmail.com, with the following word, and ONLY the following word, in the subject line:

Lower case or upper case doesn't matter, as long as your email reaches me by 12:01 a.m. Pacific Time, Friday morning, September 7. You may send only one email per person.

To enter by commenting, click in the comment field, then use one of the login methods displayed or click in the NAME field to comment as a guest. Please note that if you log in using your Twitter or Facebook account, I will not have your email and will not be able to contact you directly if you win. In that case, you'll have to return to this post to see if you are the announced winner and claim your prize. (If you are concerned about privacy, note that your email will not display in the comment.) Your comment must be timestamped no later than 12:01 a.m. Pacific Time, Friday, September 7.

Good luck, and check back tomorrow for giveaway number 4 in Booker-Palooza 2012. Remember,  each of the giveaway posts this week goes up at 12:01 a.m. and the sign up period on each is only 24 hours, so you'll have to check back every day to make sure you don't miss your chance at something interesting.

UPDATE: 29 emails and 19 comments equals 48 total entries. And the winner is . . . drum roll please . . . [CYMBAL CRASH] . . .
Kyle, the third email entry received. Congratulations, Kyle!



  1. I have been wanting to try Tradio for awhile. Thank you for the chance!

  2. I'm just getting seriously in to fountain pens and would love the chance to try this pen too!

  3. Another new item to me, since I don't know anyone that has it - thanks for the 411.

  4. Hope I win this one. And Thanks!

  5. NIce Giveaway!

  6. This pen is beautiful! I've always wanted to try a fountain pen.

  7. What a lovely pen! I love the finish. Thanks for the opportunity!

  8. Count me in for this one. Thanks for the giveaway!

  9. Looks like a pen I'd like to try! Thanks for the giveaway!

  10. That's a neat looking pen, so add me to the seekers. Thanks for sharing.

  11. Would love to have this pen!!

  12. I would very much love to win this pen. Let's hope luck is on my side. ^_^
    Thank you for the chance.
    Sara A
    justdiysara at gmail dot com (in case disqus isn't playing nice)

  13. I'd love to try this! Hope I win:)

  14. Emailing and commenting, again. Very interested in this one! Thanks for the review :)

  15. I have a Lamy Safari and really like the look of the Tradio.

  16. I'd love to try out another fountain pen, and I really like the looks of this one.

  17. I would love to try this pen.