Last week, I posted a brief announcement for the Trilogy Zero Minimalist Fountain Pen, which is now live on Kickstarter. Before I get into the details of this pen review, I should say that the pen Trilogy sent me for review is a prototype, NOT a final product. Trilogy was very insistent that the prototype had certain flaws that they plainly identified to me before sending me the pen, and which will be corrected before the final Kickstarter products ship to buyers.
That said, I like the Trilogy Zero overall, and I came away from the review impressed. This pen is not for everyone, but most machined metal pens aren't. Let's take a look in a bit more detail.
What I Liked about the Trilogy Zero
- Size and Comfort. As other reviewers have observed, the Zero is larger in real life than it appears in the pictures, or at least it ended up being much larger than I expected. The added length balances the pen well for writing, especially since the cap doesn't post. The section is rather large, without a pronounced step down from the rest of the barrel, so you should be able to get a comfortable grip no matter how you hold your pen.
- Presentation. The packaging is sleek and well-made. I like the concept of the wood box/pen rest that ships with the Zero, but wish that they had spent a bit more time on the finish. More on that from Mike Dudek. With a bit of polishing, the wood box might make an excellent piece for your desk.
- Flat Ends. The Trilogy is completely flat on both ends, creating a tapered cylinder that will stand up vertically on your desk. I've done this at work and at home, and haven't had it fall over yet. The Zero's design reminds me of a more slender, tapered Newton Shinobi.
- Nib. Trilogy uses Bock nibs, and the medium I received is a good one. I've had hit-or-miss experiences with Bock Nibs in the past, but I can't complain here. The black nib is coated, including the underside of the nib and tipping material, so there may be a brief period after you first receive the pen where there is slightly more feedback. I experienced this as the nib "squeaking" for the first page or so that I wrote, but it disappeared as the nib broke in. Again, I've noticed this on other PVC-coated nibs, and is nothing unique to this pen.
What I Didn't Like
- Portability. Size is a double-edged sword. The Zero is very comfortable to write with, but it's not very portable. The length of the pen when capped makes it difficult to fit the Zero into certain pen cases and pen wraps, and it's impractical to carry in my pants pocket. This may be a personal preference, but when I think "minimalist pen," I think of something that I can slip in my jeans pocket and take anywhere on a moment's notice.
- Wear on the Finish. The black coating on the aluminum looks great, but has a tendency to wear along sharp edges, especially the threads. I haven't used this pen that hard yet, and I expect to see similar chipping and flaking on the flat-end of the Zero.
- Squeaky Threads. This issue is something that Trilogy is aware of, and has indicated that they have resolved in the final production specs. I'm not really sensitive to it, but some people have noticed a "nails-on-chalkboard" noise when you screw/unscrew the cap.
- Marketing. I found the emphasis on "minimalism" in the Kickstarter marketing materials to be a bit over the top. ("A Minimal Fountain Pen Designed to Distill Writing to its Finest, Most Essential Form. A Seamless Link Between Mind and Reality.") That's a personal preference, though, and may speak to some people more than others.
Should You Back this Kickstarter?
If you enjoy pens like the Namisu Nova, the Karas Kustoms Ink, or the Tactile Turn Gist, the Trilogy Zero caters to a similar niche. You should expect some of the issues I highlighted in this review to get ironed out as Trilogy finalizes their production specs. I consider the Zero a relatively low-risk Kickstarter project to back because the price of the pen is so reasonable. While Early Bird and Super Early Bird pricing is sold out, you can still pledge $60 and receive one Zero, or $105 and receive two. Pens are available in silver or black, with the option of a steel, gold plated, or coated black nib.
This price point also bodes well for Trilogy in the market as a whole. There's a relative dearth of quality fountain pens out there in the $50-75 price range, and if Trilogy continues to target the $55-$60 price point post-Kickstarter, they could really have something here.
Multiple bloggers have reviewed the Trilogy Zero since the Kickstarter launched. If you'd like to read other people's reactions to the Zero, check out these reviews over at Gourmet Pens, The Clicky Post, and Pens! Paper! Pencils!.
Disclaimer: Trilogy Pens provided me with this pen at no charge for review purposes.