Goldilocks’ Search for the Perfect iPad Stylus

by Dr. Luanne Fose - The Tweed Geek on March 12, 2013

styli

Over the past year, I have been on a search for the perfect iPad stylus. For my purposes, the “perfect stylus” would work well for taking notes in a variety of iPad note-taking apps and also allow me to draw with different sensitivities in drawing apps such as Bamboo Paper or Sketchbook.

One of the problems in this quest for perfection was finding a store that carried the different styli who would make them available to try out. (The other problem was just the quest for perfection itself, which is an entire ‘nother ball of wax, ha.) Although most stores that carry tablets have a variety of styli to sell, none of them in the entire county would let me open them from the box and try them out before buying. I ended up having to rely on online video demonstrations and reviews as well as stopping everyone I saw on campus who had a different stylus and asking them if I could try theirs out and then quizzing them about their experience with their stylus. Finally, the instructional designers in the CTLT decided to order a few iPad styli from Amazon (the ones I hadn’t tried) and send back the ones we didn’t like. The winner comes down to two:  the Adonit Jot Pro and the Wacom Bamboo styli (which oddly enough is not made out of bamboo at all but refers to Wacom’s Pen and Touch Tablet by the same name). People who had one of these two styli were the most content with their purchase.

Favorite 3 StyliIn the end, I decided that I needed both of them because the Adonit Jot Pro fulfilled my need for note-taking and the ability to write with finer lines, but the Wacom Bamboo fulfilled my need for drawing and pressure sensitivity for shading layers while drawing. If I had to pick one stylus to fulfill both criteria, I would select the Wacom Bamboo stylus since the Adonit Jot makes a lot of noise in meetings when writing notes in block letters (my preferred method of writing) and the Jot also has a special tip that may come off and then has to be replaced. I’ve had my Jot Pro for about a year and the tip hasn’t fallen off yet, but friends who have the Jot Pro say that if the special tip comes off, a replacement never properly stays on due to the adhesive becoming weaker. One more thing, the Adonit Jot Pro doesn’t do well when tapping buttons on the screen — it will usually take multiple attempts for it to take. So you may ask, why do I like it then? The unique clear tip is unlike any other writing stylus for the iPad and provides a comfortable method of writing while seeing exactly what you’re writing through the clear tip, whereas you can’t see what your writing through the rubber tip type of styli. (Note: When choosing among the hundreds of note-taking apps, make sure you find one that allows for wrist protection, such as Noteshelf or Penultimate, so you don’t have to write at a strange angle.

Finally, my third choice among all the ones I have tried out so far would be the Kensington Virtuoso Stylus/Pen. Its tip is a little softer rubber than the Wacom Bamboo, which I don’t like as well, but it does contain an iPad stylus on one end and a traditional ink pen on the other end, making it convenient to carry with you no matter what types of notes you wish to take in a meeting.

Note: The Wacom Bamboo is also available in a Wacom Bamboo Pocket size, which is shorter than the regular Wacom Bamboo, but extends and has a tether to plug into the iPad’s audio jack so you’ll always have it with you wherever you have your iPad. My colleague loves the WB Pocket and claims it has a bit firmer tip, but I don’t really feel the difference. The WB Pocket is lighter in weight due to its smaller size; I prefer the heavier weight of the regular Wacom Bamboo.

Warning: Stay away from the Pogo Sketch (foam nib version). With it’s wimpy foam tip, you might as well be writing with your finger in terms of having any clarity to your writing. I haven’t found anyone that really disagrees with me about how bad this stylus is. UGH!

For an excellent review of styli, which is quite close to my final judgements as well, please visit: http://www.theverge.com/2012/4/10/2925937/best-stylus-ipad-review and review the text as well as the video demonstrations provided there.

Disclaimer: I wasn’t able to try out the Applydea Maglus, which according to  the Verge review above, received the highest score for writing, but user reviews report that the tip doesn’t last longer than around 2 months and good luck being able to buy it from anywhere but Ireland.

If you seek another opinion besides mine and Verge, here is another thorough review from Macworld Magazine, which comes to the same conclusion: Wacom Bamboo Stylus is the #1 choice for a favorite writing/drawing hybrid stylus:

http://www.macworld.com/article/1156560/touchscreen_stylus_roundup.html 

I hope this blog post and the two other styli reviews listed above can help you find a stylus to meet your needs without the Goldilocks experience that I had to go through (“Uh, this one is too wide… this one is too soft… this one is too hard… this one is too squishy…”). I’m not convinced I have found the “just right” stylus yet according to Goldilocks’ standards but for now I’ll write with the Jot Pro and draw with the Wacom Bamboo and wait for the “perfect stylus” to appear someday.

 ~ Dr. Luanne Fose, The Tweed Geek

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