In this video I review the TWSBI Diamond 580 AL R Fountain Pen. This is a demonstrator fountain pen with a piston filling system. This is one of the best fountain pens on the market under $100 as well as on of the best fountain pens on Amazon.
The highly anticipated TWSBI Eco is the company’s most affordable fountain pen to date at $28.99. The Eco features a clear demonstrator body with a piston filling mechanism; these attributes combined with its low price make for a very enticing pen.
The Eco is a full size pen at just under 14cm long capped. The Eco comes in only two colors white/clear and black/clear. I opted for the black.
Like most TWSBIs, the Eco’s design offers a lot to digest. The cap and piston knob are made of a faceted black plastic while the body is made of a round clear plastic allowing you to see the internal piston mechanism and the feed.
The Eco features a small stainless steel JoWo nib (the same that is used on the TWSBI Mini and Classic). For a full sized pen the nib is on the smaller side but at this price point it’s a pretty minor gripe. I ordered my pen with an extra fine nib and it is a delight to use. I was surprised how smooth it was; in fact it puts my medium nib Safari to shame.
The Eco does post but the cap doesn’t seat very far down on the body making it a bit too long. The pen feels solid in hand and overall the pen is well finished. A Lamy Safari by comparison looks a feels cheap.
The Eco is designed to be user serviceable and as such comes with silicon grease and a wrench along with directions for servicing your pen.
This is my new favorite entry level pen. To me is far better than the Lamy Safari and Kaweco Sport.
TWSBI is a Taiwanese fountain pen manufacturer that has been around for about half a decade now and for some reason they never really called my name. While in Taipei earlier this year I wandered into a fountain pen shop and walked out with a couple of TWSBIs, a Vac 700 and a Micarta.
When I picked up the Vac 700 for the first time I was impressed with how nice the pen felt. The body is made out of a laminated polycarbonate and compared to my other plastic and even celluloid pens it feels much nicer; more sturdy and more satisfying to interact with.
The design of the Vac is a bit of a pigs breakfast, mixing a bunch of different materials and shapes and yet somehow it actually looks pretty good (maybe not elegant but attractive in it’s own way). The polycarbonate is ultra clear and as a result the pen looks quite beautiful when filled with ink. The cap and the blind cap have a sort of diamond shaped faceting to them while the barrel is rounded with a slight taper to accommodate the vacuum mechanism.
The section and blind cap are made out of a translucent grey polycarbonate and all of the furniture except the clip is chrome. The clip has a very rough almost sandblasted aluminum look to it. It is rough to the touch but feels quite solid. The finial has a red jewel with the TWSBI logo. The cap band has big inelegant branding on it.
The vacuum filing system holds a good amount of ink and with some practice you can get about 2ml of ink into the body which is four times the capacity of your average converter. With the blind cap screwed down tight, air is shut off from the filing system making it airplane friendly. So far I have flow with it on eleven flights and can report that there have been no problems. It doesn’t leak and it works beautifully at altitude. The downside to the air shut off is that if you wish to write more than a couple of pages the blind cap needs to be unscrewed to keep the ink flowing.
The Vac 700 is about 14.5cm long and weighs a hefty 32.6 grams. The pen posts nicely but for my smaller hands it throws off the balance so I use it uncapped.
The large Jowo nib is nicely proportioned with the rest of the body. The 1.1mm stub point is a joy to use. No performance issues to speak of.
I LOVE this pen. This is my new favorite sub $100 pen that I have tried and I am hard pressed to think of a $200 pen that I like better.