Official Gadgeteer Hands On Review: Rotring Quattro-Pen Data
by Julie Strietelmeier
Last date revised: 02/23/99

The German company Rotring has created a 4-in-1 instrument called the Quattro-Pen Data. Rotring has been producing high quality writing instruments since 1928. The Quattro-Pen Data is a stylus, pen, pencil, and highlighter in one slender package.

The body of the pen is metal and the finish is matte black. At the top of the pen near the plunger are icons. These icons are imprinted around the body of the pen. Each one denotes the tip that you wish to use. For some strange reason, they used a floppy disk icon to represent the stylus tip.  The other icons are easily recognized. To select a tip, you just rotate the pen so that you are holding it with the desired icon on top. Then you press the plunger and that tip is extruded. To change retract the tip, you just press the retract button located on the pocket clip.  This method of selecting the tips works about 95% of the time. Every great once in awhile I would get the wrong tip but it was probably because I wasn't holding the pen quite right.

The actual quality of the pen's nibs are all fine.  The black ballpoint pen has a 0.5mm tip. It seemed to write like any other ordinary ballpoint pen. The 0.5mm mechanical pencil was also just fine. The Quattro-Pen Data also includes a orange/pink (not sure exactly what color it is) ballpoint highlight pen. I'm not sure how large the tip is, but it's probably 0.7mm. I found that writing with this tip produced mixed results, most often the ink wouldn't be smooth. By that I mean that if I would draw a line or write, parts of that line would be darker than other parts. The ink tended to skip. I guess this isn't a big deal considering that you probably wouldn't be writing with the pen but underlining text.

The stylus has a smooth yellow tip. Writing with it is comfortable. The tip seems more pointy than most other styli that I have seen/reviewed. If I were to compare the stylus to the orange tip of the PDA Panache Trio-1, I would admit that I prefer the Trio-1's slightly softer tip. But, I prefer the feel Quattro-Pen Data's stylus over the Autopoint Stylus+'s stylus. Maybe the main difference is in the weight of the actual instrument.  The Quatrro-Pen Data and the Trio-1 are nicely balanced and just the right weight while the Autopoint Stylus+ is noticeably lighter.

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Now for the bad news.  First of all, this stylus is EXPENSIVE and hard to find in the US. It lists for $59. The cheapest I found it was for $51 at Discount Art Supplies. They also supply the refills which are $1.50 for the black pen, and $2.25 for the highlighter.

Another bad point about this pen is the finish. It scratches easily and shows grease marks. I don't particularly like the feel of the finish either. It sort of reminds me of holding a piece of chalk. It's hard to explain...

One other thing... not really a bad point, just funny. The pen comes in a big velvet lined plastic case that looks like a coffin. Maybe if they left this out, the pen wouldn't have to be quite as expensive!

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In summary, I'll say that the Rotring Quattro-Pen Data is a nice stylus. The only real advantage that it has over other multi-function pens is the addition of the highlight pen. Other than that, it's really no better than the others.  If you want the BMW of styli, then go for the Rotring. But if you just want a great multi-function stylus, go for the PDA Panache Trio-1 or AutoPoint Stylus +.

Price: $59 (list price)

4 writing tips in one package.
Slim design.

Black finish tends to scratch easily.


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