Gadgeteer Mail – What’s a Good Multi-pen?



Hey folks, I thought I would start up a new feature called Gadgeteer Mail. As you probably would guess, people are always emailing me asking for gadget advice. A lot of times, I can respond with info to help them, but sometimes, people ask me questions for which I don’t have a good answer. That’s where you guys come in. I know you are a smart bunch and can help me out when one of your own needs some advice, that I am clueless about. Our first question is about multi-pens.


My name is Richard.  I found your review on the Gadgeteer when looking for multi-pen reviews.  I’ve been looking at the Quin-Tek 5 Function Pen and some of the Lamy 4 pens.  I’ve been using the Staples multi-pen and it keeps “falling apart” in the center.  I then bought a Bic 4 color pen and couldn’t stand the lack of weight of the light plastic.

Could you recommend a solid-heavy, multi-color pen that will last longer than the Staples version?

PS  I prefer medium size ball point writing.
Thank you so much.

For those of you that use multi-pens, can you help Richard with some suggestions? I haven’t used a multi-pen in eons, so I knew my advice would be pretty lame.

Posted in: News
{ 16 comments… add one }
  • Dave R. December 24, 2008, 10:29 am

    My all-time favorites are the Rotring quad pens. A little on the expensive side ($50-$75), but solid. I am using the Staples pen. It is adequate, but not built to last. Oh, yeah, I’ve lost two Rotrings, so I scaled back (for now) :-).

  • OfficeSupplyGeek December 24, 2008, 11:11 am

    I use a Zebra Sarasa 3 which I bought at It is a great pen that uses gel ink, so it writes very smoothly, and it has a clip on it that forces the ink to retract back into the body of the pen when you clip the pen to something. In comparison to the Quin-Tek 5 and any Lamy, this pen is much cheaper (about the $5 range) so I cant compare to them, although I did just do a review of my Lamy Studio Fountain Pen on my site, so I know the outstanding quality of their products.

  • Julie December 24, 2008, 11:15 am


    I love your website! 🙂

  • OfficeSupplyGeek December 24, 2008, 11:20 am

    Thanks Julie! 🙂

    I posted a link to this question over there to see if anyone can offer some suggestions.

    Happy holidays!

  • Peter December 24, 2008, 11:47 am

    I have a thing about pens, so I probably own one of every multi-pen thats been on the market in the last 15 years. I entirely agree with the first comment that Rotring quatro pens are just about the best on the market. They have a pleasant weight to them and write well for a ballpoint. I even replaced one of the colours with a stylus for my PDA, as I just cant entirely part from my electronic gizmos.

  • smitty December 24, 2008, 2:18 pm

    I agree with Dave – there are few multipens out there that compare with the Rotring. I recommend the brushed metal finish. While the gunmetal/dark stained metal looks nice, it wears out after a while, both where you hold it and where the button is pressed down into the barrel. Mine is the colored type, and looks like it’s been through a war, but it’s still just as tight and functional as ever.

    One of the best styluses I ever had was the Duo from PDA Panache. They don’t show it as a current item any longer, but I have one that is just as shiny and beautiful as the day I got it. (Well, maybe there are a few scratches, but none that go through to the metal like the Rotring!) I bought it while carrying a Newton MessagePad in 1997, and carried it for the better part of 5 years.

    Oh, and regarding ink sizes – that’s easy to change by buying a different refill. Depending on where you shop, those small refills are $1 or so.


  • Rgrenader December 24, 2008, 3:13 pm

    I used to like Rotring pens, but they’ve stopped production, and anything built beyond the Rotring 600 is garbage. Look at Lamy, the 2000 4-color (black, blue, red, green). I took out the green refill and added a Lamy stylus point for PDA use.

  • Jackson December 24, 2008, 5:38 pm

    My second obsession after electronic gadgets is multi-pens. I had a great stock of Rotrings, but have now lost them all and can’t find any new ones to buy. The next best is the Lamy and the Q-4 by Fisher. Both great pens. I like the combination: blue, red, 0.5 mm pencil and stylus. Everything you need in a single pen. The Lamy has an orange hi-liter filler that is very handy.

    BTW, I like the new Gadgeteer website design.

  • Bob Quinlan December 24, 2008, 11:14 pm

    I have never been entirely happy with the ergonomics of the Rotring pens, although they are tough and reliable. My favorite is the Parker Insignia Multipen. It’s a triple with two ballpoints and a pencil, although mine has a stylus insert in place of one pen cartridge.

  • Jules December 25, 2008, 4:34 am

    My favourite is the Fisher Q-4, love the pencil, stylus, black and red combination. The black/red ink is from the space pen … so writes at any angle.

  • mjc December 25, 2008, 5:38 pm

    I third the Fisher Q-4. Have used it for years (replaced once when lost). Make sure you get the Fisher refills too.

  • KG December 29, 2008, 9:13 pm

    The Fisher Q-4 is my pen of choice when not using the original Fisher Space Pen with the Stylus top (its kind of a multipen since it does 2 jobs)…

  • Forbin October 7, 2009, 12:28 pm

    I realize this is 10 months later, but I really must agree with the votes for the Fisher Q-4. It’s the only quad point I’ve found for under $30 that has a 0.7 mm pencil instead of a 0.5 mm! I’m an engineer and a heavy-handed writer who writes quickly, so the 0.7 mm breaks a LOT less frequently for me. The gunmetal finish is also very understated and professional looking.

    The only improvement they could make to the pen is to make the rubber grip the same diameter as the rest of the pen. It is, however, not much bigger and therefore not a problem, and is very comfortable to use.

    I also highly recommend the multipoint pens at — they are more reasonably priced than the Fisher, and are VERY usable pens.

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