Thursday, October 25, 2012

iPad Stylus Review

Since iPad screencasting apps such as Explain Everything, Screenchomp, DoodleCast Pro, and Show Me are becoming popular, I've been exploring iPad styluses to help faculty make better screencasts and feel more comfortable doing so, since writing with one's finger can be a little awkward. I've also heard it can be nice to use a stylus during general iPad use if you have big fingers, to increase precision.

I found this amazing article from The Verge which helped me make decisions about what to try myself and with my group of stylus testers.  Below are my recommendations in order, with both performance and cost taken into account. Here are a few caveats: 1) I am definitely not as discerning as the reviewers in the article! 2) I also am not interested in whether the stylus has a pen in it, so I didn't take that into consideration. 3) This clearly is not a comprehensive review of the stylus market; I just picked a few that seemed most promising from The Verge's article.

1. Adonit Jot Pro

This unique stylus is my personal favorite for precision and general coolness - expect people to ask you about it when they see it. It glides across the screen nicely, unless you are using a screen protector, in which case it totally doesn't work (I say ditch the screen protector). A lot of people who have tried it liked how it wrote, but the problem is that its noisy tapping on the screen is picked up by the mic on the iPad when creating tutorials. This caused one person to return it to me.

The other main issue, which I find pretty significant, is that two of the six Jot Pros I have loaned out ended up with missing discs. The stylus does not work without the disc. I had a feeling they might be problematic, so thankfully I had the foresight to get two extra discs. You might want to pick up an extra disc or two when you get it so you don't have to pay for shipping on them later.

We ordered more Jots because everyone wants one, but decided to go with the Jot Classic for $19.99 vs the Jot Pro for $29.99, since the rubber grip and "magnetic cling" didn't seem worth $10 (we'll see!). I actually found the magnetic aspect annoying because it would stick to weird things like my sunglasses case and all of my tester styluses stick to each other in a big clump. I believe the purpose is for it to stick to your iPad and avoid rolling off the table since there isn't a clip on the Jot.

2. Kensington Virtuoso & Targus Stylus (aka, a normal iPad stylus)

All of my testers seem to have found homes, so I got the above picture from here

I wanted the Wacom stylus ($29.99) but it wasn't sold by our vendor, so I settled for a Kensington Virtuoso ($11) and a Targus (~$7-10). They are basically the same thing, to me and a few others who tried them anyway. I'm actually happy with the styluses I got, because I've used others' Wacoms and I cannot tell a difference between it and the Kensington or Targus. My guess is that the Wacom costs so much more because it's a Wacom and people (like me!) would buy it just because they trust Wacom. I recommend seeing if you can try them out before shelling out the extra for the Wacom.

3. Applydea Maglus 

If this stylus wasn't $32 (with $10 shipping), I'd recommend it to people who are ok with a heavier stylus that has a carpenter pencil grip style. On a side note, I'm not sure why it had to be magnetic since it is not round and won't roll away. It has a normal rubber tip, but it is firmer than the style in #2, which is definitely its advantage. I would prefer to have the rubber grip further down, where I actually hold it; I can see the sides of my fingers getting sore with extended use. So overall, the tip of the stylus is a clear winner, but the carpenter style, heaviness, high rubber grip, and cost might be deal breakers for some people like me. It did come with an extra tip, so I'm going to see if I can put it on a different "body" like one of the styluses in #2 (probably not, but worth a try). The Verge article indicated this would be my next stylus, but they were wrong.

4. Lynktec Truglide

This stylus has an odd tip made out of microfiber instead of rubber. I found it to be incredibly mushy - way mushier than the styluses in #2. No one who tried it particularly liked it. It makes a slight noise when it's being used that reminds me of steel wool which kind of rubs me the wrong way. It was interesting that The Verge said it was so conducive because I did not find that to be true - it wouldn't always register when I just needed to touch something, like a color change in an app and it didn't work well at an angle. It is the smallest stylus I tried; one of my testers said that with his big hands, he'd have to put a rubber grip on it (good idea, right?). I ordered it from the Lynktec site for $19.90, free shipping. Overall, I think The Verge was way off base in giving this one an 8.5/10. I'd go with the cheaper ones with rubber tips. (I couldn't get a good picture of the tip of the Lynktec so I got the bottom image from The Verge article.)

General Conclusions

My opinion, at this point, is that if you don't like the Jot you might as well go for one of the usual cheapie styluses unless you're fine the weird shape and price of the Maglus. 

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