What's the best iPad stylus for my mother?
January 30, 2012 12:37 PM   Subscribe

My 92-year-old mother, who had never before used a computer, bought an iPad a few weeks ago (you go, Mom!). She’s having a bit of trouble tapping small input areas with her fingers, though.

So I thought, “There must be some kind of stylus-type thingy that she can use,” and wouldn’t you know it, there are lots of them. I did some research and most of the reviews I’ve read and previous questions asked on MeFi talk about whether it’s easy to draw and/or write with any particular stylus. I'm pretty sure she won't be drawing or writing, so the qualities that make a stylus good for those activities aren't (necessarily) important; in fact, I suspect that slidiness would be a negative for her. Mom just needs to be able to tap easily and accurately. Is an inexpensive stylus going to work for her, or should I get her a better quality one? Any specific suggestions?
posted by Dolley to Computers & Internet (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If she's searching the Web, you can teach Mom to do a two-finger zoom on the page before clicking on what she wants.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:39 PM on January 30, 2012

Targus makes a decent stylus that's sold in pretty much every big box store with an electronics department. It's kind of a rip-off at $12 or so, but if she can hold a pen then she can use it to tap on the iPad fairly competently. The one I have isn't particularly "slidey".
posted by Burhanistan at 12:42 PM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

I find the 3M Smart Pen is by far the most sensitive for tapping and leads to less hand strain. The Targus/Boxwave/Griffin model ok as well.
posted by bonobothegreat at 12:45 PM on January 30, 2012

i bought a cheap stylus for my ipad 2 from the local we-knockoff-everything electronics store (central computer for those of you in the bay area) for about $4, and got my boyfriend one for his while i was there. we were both pleasantly shocked by how well they worked (i got a larger stylus with a larger tip - it sort of looks like a giant blue short pencil) and he got more of a pen style. so cheap styli do in fact work.

i like things i can have quite a bit of grip around (i get hand cramps with smaller items after a while), so if your mom is the same way, she may like this, which also comes with a stand. i have not tried the product myself, but it looks like it would work fairly well.
posted by koroshiya at 12:45 PM on January 30, 2012

In Korea, they use sausages.
posted by looli at 12:47 PM on January 30, 2012 [3 favorites]

I have only bought an expensive stylus but I quite like it and am looking at a couple more expensive ones.

That said, I loaned my expensive stylus to my partner recently and it was all fritzy for her. But she kills watches by wearing them (JUST wearing them, not banging them around or drowning them, just wearing them. They just stop working) so I don't really trust her with any piece of complex technology, honestly.

So the stylus I have was about $30 and is the Bamboo Stylus. I quite like it. It has a smaller than normal tip diameter with regard to the rest of the squishy conductive rubber tip variety of stylus so it's easier to tap accurately.

There are two other styluses I've been looking at and drooling after:
1) The Nomad Brush. This has conductive wires in the brush itself and is apparently specialized for watercolor apps, but can be used in any context with the iPad screen. I am looking at the Compose brush, Dual, long, which retails at $39, or $47 if you want it engraved.
2) The oStylus. This has a conductive metal/vinyl "tip" that has a hole in it that you can see through, so you end up tapping/painting with a hole. In the stylus tip. That you can see through. I'm torn as to whether the way it pivots would actually help me or piss me off, so I'm torn about buying one. But it's cool looking! I have no idea how good it would be at tapping, though. It seems to be designed for drawing. It's $37.50.
posted by kalessin at 1:19 PM on January 30, 2012

P.S. the Bamboo Stylus is pleasingly heavy but not as long as I wanted it to be. It's about 4 3/4" long.
posted by kalessin at 1:21 PM on January 30, 2012

I use one of these (Griffin GC16040) with Square for letting customers sign CC transactions when I do computer house-calls...works like a charm. This would be good for targeting out apps, but multi-touch not so much. They sell gloves with capacitive fingertips for just this sort of thing...but I'm thinking for ease of use a glove is somewhat cumbersome to find and put on when needed. And something like the Fylus seems like it'd be too small and easily misplaced. Perhaps you could get a glove and cut off the finger tips (too me the full size glove is just too much for everyday use)....maybe thread them with a string so they stay together like a stylus lasso....bonus is they could act as thimbles if she's into knitting.

I did actually find some of these pre-made (where it just covers the fingers) but they seem to only be available in bulk. If you can find them, I think that would be the way to go.
posted by samsara at 1:22 PM on January 30, 2012

My dad had this problem with his Android tablet. He has poor motor skills in his fingers due to the after-effects of polio, so the two-finger zoom is difficult for him to do (it usually ends up as a mistaken double-click). He actually went into Best Buy and asked them for a mouse, poor guy.

He's found that the stylus works well for what he wants (I think he got the Targus one). In addition, my mom looked through the settings on the tablet and found a way to increase the text font size across the desktop and all the applications. The combination of stylus plus increased text size has helped immensely. I don't know if there's a way to increase text size on the iPad (or maybe just in the mobile browser)?
posted by sarahnade at 1:58 PM on January 30, 2012

I've got one of these styli - it's like a very chunky alumin(i)um pencil with a rubber tip about half the diameter of a human finger. Being thick and hexagonal, it's easy to grip, which may be a bonus for someone of your mother's age.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 2:06 PM on January 30, 2012

The Cosmonaut is pretty cool. Here's a review. I like that it's trying to me more like a whiteboard marker than a pen, which is a closer fit to the fidelity of writing on an ipad.

I'd love for Apple to get over themselves and ship an iPad with a proper Wacom sensor so that I could get the same pen input control that I had with my old tablet PC, but I'm not holding my breath.
posted by kaefer at 3:07 PM on January 30, 2012

Thanks for all the geat answers. I think we'll just get her some sausages. : )
posted by Dolley at 4:02 PM on January 30, 2012

In addition, my mom looked through the settings on the tablet and found a way to increase the text font size across the desktop and all the applications. The combination of stylus plus increased text size has helped immensely. I don't know if there's a way to increase text size on the iPad (or maybe just in the mobile browser)?

Go to Settings -> General -> Accesibility on the iPad, to increase the font size, among other options to assist visual and hearing impaired people.
posted by 6550 at 7:05 PM on January 30, 2012

If you're an American Family policyholder, ask your agent if she can order you one of the neat AmFam-branded styluses that she will have access to in her marketing collateral catalog. It's got a pen on the other end. Here's a pic.
posted by chazlarson at 9:31 PM on January 30, 2012

We finally got to Target today and bought a Griffin stylus. It's awesome. Thank you all for your help.
posted by Dolley at 6:33 PM on February 5, 2012

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