The Eco is TWSBI's entry level fountain pen, TWSBI aim to maintain their notorious build quality and top performance whilst competing with other budget fountain pens such as the Lamy Studio.
Body Material: Plastic
Length (capped): 13.8cm'
Length (uncapped): 13.1cm
Length (posted): 16.6cm
Nib material: Stainless Steel
Weight (all): 24 g
Filling system: Piston-filler
Unlike most entry level fountain pens which opt for a bold and eye catching design, the TWSBI Eco has opted for a smart, classy aesthetic. The Eco is available in various designs including: clear, white and black trims; each variant looks as stylish as the next, there's no weak link. It's worth noting that the clear version allows you to see the ink swishing around inside the pen; a feature many love.
The Eco sports a very minimalistic design; the black barrel is only complimented by the chrome accents. Usually a lack of decorations can make a pen look bland and dull but the Eco uses it's minimalism to pull off a premium aesthetic. It isn't the most exciting pen on the market but if you're looking for a low-key yet classy design this could be the pen for you.
(Photo taken from Pavel.satrapa, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons)
The only aesthetic flaw is the sleek, cigar-shaped design of the eco is contrasted by a clunky hexagonal cap. Depending on how much attention you pay to it, this contrast can ruin the overall smooth design that the Eco was aiming for.
To further separate itself from the competition, the Eco is presented in a fancy package. This makes for a satisfying unboxing and further adds to the impression that this pen fits in at the higher-end of fountain pens.
Known for their durability, TSWBI show no signs of slowing down with the ECO. Every aspect of the pen feels sturdy and robust. Despite being plastic-made, the barrel feels far from flimsy. Additionally, TSWBI have decided to mould the body and the section together to reduce the cracking issues you see with far too many budget fountain pens.
In an effort to be as economical as possible, the Eco's only non plastic features are it's accents, nib and clip. The small curved nib is made of stainless steel, it feels sturdy whilst also having a nice bounce to it. As for the clip, it's fairly flexible and lies straight alongside the pen, the clip stays clipped to most materials and rarely feels like it's going to fall off. As for the oddly shaped hexagonal, it's a screw fit and is a very tight fit when capped. Thus it's going to be very unlikely that the cap falls off when carrying it around and even less likely that the ink dries out.
A downside to the Eco is whilst the barrel is strong, the Eco tends to pick up alot of scratches and scuffs. And not only does it pick up scratches, the scratched are prominent and start to peel off the coating. This starts to make the pen look raggedy and worn out fairly quickly.
Due to being predominantly plastic-made, the Eco is very lightweight. As it's so light, the balance of the pen really doesn't matter. Furthermore, due to how light it is, the pen feels comfortable and relaxed even when writing for longer periods of time.
The Eco is on the larger side of most fountain pens, but due to its lightness, when it's posted it still feels as comfortable as when unposted. Similarly, the grip also has a bigger circumference than most other fountain pens; therefore for those with small hands you may want to try the grip out first if possible before purchasing. As for the grip shape, you can tell that TWSBI have paid a lot of thought on how to best shape it for maximum comfortability. It's a unique shape with ridges to guide your fingers so you can find your own grip. This grip is ideal for younger writers who are still trying to perfect their grip as it can get them used to holding a fountain pen in the best position.
Alongside their durability, TWSBI have always provided a great writing experience for it's consumers. The TWSBI Eco has opted for the bog-standard #5 nib. As usual, this TWSBI fountain pen is buttery-smooth whilst offering minimal feedback. Furthermore, it's wet enough to produce sleek lines whilst also not taking too long to dry. Despite, it's low price tag you can expect to see no hard-starting or skipping from your Eco.
The nib is fairly flexible which is unusual considering its made of stainless steel. Therefore by applying different amounts of pressure, you can vary your line width. However, It's not quite flexible enough for those who are interested in calligraphy.
A drawback to the TWSBI Eco is the nibs aren't interchangeable unlike other TWSBI products. Therefore, if you're not happy with the writing experience that the Eco provides than you're going to have to invest in a whole new pen. However a new nib would cost the same price as the TWSBI Eco, therefore it does make sense that the nibs are not interchangeable.
Unlike most TWSBI fountain pens, the TWSBI Eco has opted for a piston-filling system. this process involves dipping the nib into your preferred bottle of ink, then twisting the nib to draw the ink up into the ink chamber. The whole process works effortlessly and only takes a minute or so. And unlike most budget fountain pens where this process can get quite messy and tedious, the piston-filling system on the Eco allows for very little spillages. The only drawback to the Eco being a piston filler is those who own or prefer ink cartridges will have to invest in a bottle of ink, further adding to the cost of the pen.
TWSBI have done a great job with the Eco to make it as easy to clean as possible; removing the nib only requires a small pinch whilst all the other parts of the pen dissemble with ease. Furthermore, the packaging includes a small tool which helps dissemble the pen if you can't do it yourself, as well as a bottle of lubrication grease to keep the pen running smoothly for years to come.
Value for Money & Conclusion
You can find the TWSBI Eco priced at the £20-£30 range and can be found at most high-street stationers due to its popularity, as well as online retailers such as Amazon. The TWSBI Eco is definitely one of the best value fountain pens on the market and perhaps the best budget option at the moment. It provides a good writing experience, a subtle yet classy aesthetic and great longevity through it's robust construction quality.