Fountain pens can vary a lot in price, which can leave you wondering why and if they're worth it. So we wanted to compare three similar pens that we get asked about all the time, the TWSBI GO, ECO, and 580!
TWSBI is a company based in Taiwan with limited distribution worldwide, with a focus on pens of value and performance beyond what you typically see in their price ranges. They've found a niche for themselves, particularly in piston-filling demonstrator pens, and they use all high-quality nibs. So let's see how each of these pen models breakdown:
The TWSBI GO is relatively new, coming out in late 2018, and is the most affordable of the bunch. Not only is it one of the most affordable TWSBI pens, but it's one of the most affordable piston-filling fountain pens on the market altogether! It's actually a spring-loaded piston which is really unique but offers easy filling and cleaning.
The GO features a triangular grip which helps with finger placement for any pen newbie. It doesn't have a clip, but does feature a roll stop that you could attach a lanyard to, though not included. The snap cap makes it ideal for on-the-go writing and a great quick draw fountain pen option!
It comes in clear, blue, or smoke, and while it has yet to be shown in other colors, TWSBI does a great job at producing special edition colors for most of their pen models, so we wouldn't be surprised to see that with the GO as well. It uses a #4 size stainless steel nib in EF, F, M, B, and 1.1mm stub. Overall, the GO has become pretty popular because of its price, unique filling mechanism, and ease of use.
The TWSBI ECO was released in mid-2015 and actually features the exact same nibs as the GO, so the writing experience should be similar. It uses a different type of resin that is less cloudy, so it becomes more of a true clear demonstrator. The ECO has special edition colors coming out on a fairly regular basis, and even a new variation in the ECO-T which features a more pronounced triangular grip like the GO.
While the screw cap on the ECO lends itself less to the quick draw nature of the GO, it is more secure and does a great job of sealing the nib. The cap on the ECO is hexagonal, but the body of the pen is round. It utilizes a twist piston mechanism that's easily disassembled and even includes a wrench with instructions on how to do it. But you do not need to disassemble it for many months, or years with good cleaning and maintenance!
The overall value for what you get with the TWSBI ECO makes it one of the best value pens around and has been the go-to TWSBI for Brian Goulet for the last few years!
Last, but not least, we have the TWSBI Diamond 580 (or 580 for short). This came out in early 2013 and is more of the original TWSBI pen. This has been the natural evolution from the now discontinued 530 and 540. It features a larger #5 stainless steel nib with interchangeable grip sections that are available separately!
The 580 is made of a tougher resin that's treated for scratch resistance. It has a diamond faceted barrel that gives it a more defined look. The cap itself seals the pen really well and has a universally appealing clip as well as a more premium finial than other models. Like the ECO, it can be completely disassembled with the wrench that's provided in the pen box.
All the pens in the 580/580AL/580ALR universe are a little bit more expensive than the ECO but are still a great value. The aesthetics, removable nib units, and scratch-resistance body all factor into the price. It's important to keep in mind that when the 580 was released, it wasn't intended to be the 'premium' model in their lineup and only became so when the ECO and GO came out. They still remain a very popular model and a disruptor to the fountain pen market as a whole.
No matter which you consider, each can be justified depending on what you're wanting and all are great options. Really, comparing them across the fountain pen market, you'll find that feature-for-feature, they all represent really great value.