A. T. Cross Company was established in 1846 in Providence,
Rhode Island, making it the oldest manufacturer of writing
instruments in the United States. With that kind of history
and a host of patents to its name, the company has forged
ahead through all the different eras of writing instruments:
from the earliest fountain pens to mechanical pencils,
from ballpoints to rollerballs to multifunction designs.
Cross makes a wide range of products, from the remarkable
Ion and Morph models to the gold and platinum Townsend.
The company competes head to head with such luminary writing
instrument manufacturers as Waterman and Mont Blanc. One
of the segments in which Cross shines these days is the
multifunction line. The Matrix is designed to accommodate
four different writing tips at once. Two additional writing
tips are available as screw-in accessories.
supplied for this review, the Matrix was set up with
dual twist out ballpoints (red & black, using Cross
fine point mini refills—3 other colors available),
a black gel ink rollerball (using a Cross stubby refill)
and an integrated, fixed heavy stylus tip. The pocket
clip is rigid, with a fine leaf hinge at the top and
can be used on most outside shirt pockets and most inside
jacket pockets. The twist pens are located at the top
of the pen above the pocket clip. The stylus tip is located
at the opposite end in a separate, shorter barrel that
snaps in and out of the main barrel. The other end of
the short barrel contains the accessory tip which unscrews
quickly whenever you want to switch between rollerball,
highlighter or fountain pen. The main/mid barrel is brushed
aluminum with a polished steel pocket clip. The upper
part of the main barrel which includes the twist tips
in made of grippy synthetic with a hard inner liner.
The short barrel is made of the same synthetic and the
stylus tip is a tough polycarbonate which is also gentle
on PDA screens. Although it's exposed, the stylus tip
is carried tip down in the pocket which happily also
eliminates any possibility of ink stains from a leaky
refill (not that we've ever heard of a leaky Cross refill
mind you). The Matrix is very light in weight due to
the combination of synthetic and aluminum materials.
the Matrix exclusively for about two and half weeks,
about 60% of time as a writing pen, the rest of the time
as a PDA stylus. It was a delight to use and drew a lot
of comments for its unique but professional appearance.
The fine tip ballpoints work well, providing smooth strokes
and skip-free writing. As usual from Cross, ink quality
is excellent, dries quickly and is smudge resistant.
The rollerball is good, but not great and feels a bit
rough on some office stock. Even so, it's a definite
cut above standard rollerballs and supports good penmanship.
The rollerball ink is of excellent quality, with good
finish, no pooling and no streaking. The stylus tip is
the highlight of the Matrix as far as I'm concerned.
It's large, conical shape is deceptively accurate in
use probably because the Matrix itself is easy to position
in the hand and grip without fatigue. Even after a rather
long session with Handmark's Yahtzee on my Clie TH55,
I had no trouble accurately tapping an onscreen counter/tally
area design that demands careful acuity when tapping
selections (they're too narrow). Text entry on the silkscreen
was a breeze and my Graffiti speed and accuracy improved
dramatically compared to input with the emaciated, collapsible
stylus supplied by Sony.
could wish for a retractable stylus tip (but see below).
The pocket clip needs a bit more hinge extension to accommodate
thicker pocket material. It proves to be accurate in
use, but the conical stylus tip can be disconcerting
at first. The mini ballpoint refills have a short duty
cycle, so when the Matrix becomes your favorite you'll
be wise to stock up (3-pack for $5 from Cross; less from
office supply retailers like Staples).
when we deliberately subjected the polymeric stylus tip
to drops, nervous tapping on meeting tables and a variety
of other abuses, it's always-exposed tip did not suffer
any ill effects and continues to provide excellent contact
and Graffiti control on our PDA screen. The stylus tip
is at the end opposite the pocket clip so the tip-down
carry usually protects the tip nicely. Extremely smooth
stylus tip makes Graffiti a breeze. Remarkably good control
from an oversize pen - rivals the control offered by
good quality fountain pens from Cross and others. Wide
variety of writing tips available. It's the only multi-pen
with a fountain pen option on the market right now. Easy
on the fingers and grip during frequent daily use. The
Matrix is designed to be used day in and day out and
has writing tips that do consistently well in a variety
of environments. Good stuff. Highly recommended.