Best iPad stylus for non-artist writer?
April 5, 2012 9:49 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for an iPad stylus that's good for quick notes and rough sketches. I already have an AluPen, which is fine, but a little short, with a tip that's a little too fat and squishy. I've read all the answers to prior questions on the topic, and they were helpful, but the technology changes so quickly, and none sold me on any particular option. Other things you should know: I have basically no artistic artistic ability, I have decent handwriting but find translating it to the iPad difficult, and I'm going to use the stylus mostly for keeping notes on and outlining my various projects using the new Paper app.
posted by maud to Technology (15 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
I have no experience, but I found this review of the 'Cosmonaut' stylus rather convincing.
posted by beniamino at 10:08 AM on April 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

Have you looked at the Cosmonaut? In comparison to pictures of the Alupen on Amazon, the tip looks solid. The creators wanted it to feel like a dry erase marker.
posted by Jeff Morris at 10:10 AM on April 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

It isn't out yet (if they can be believed it'll be very soon), but the Blue Tiger looks promising.
posted by Patbon at 10:16 AM on April 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

There are some newer styli coming out that with finer nibs (like XO, iPen, Blue Tiger) but they require bluetooth or ultrasonic dongles and are expensive. Also, it seem like most have very limited app support.

For writing, I think the Adonit Jot is pretty good but it has sensitivity issues that users have had to hack their way around. I'm not fond of it because the cap is kind of fussy and it clacks against the screen in an annoying way. I mostly draw, so I have decided that the 3M Smart pen is my favourite. It's very responsive but might be a bit too mushy for writing.
posted by bonobothegreat at 10:16 AM on April 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Coming: JaJa.

I have a slew of styli, but none of them work well. It's a limitation of no pressure sensitive surface.

I always go back to the finger.
posted by cjorgensen at 10:24 AM on April 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

I read a MacWorld review (and watched a cool video of the reviewer actually using different stylii) that I thought was a bit earlier than this, but here's a hit I just got off Google searching "Macworld stylus review".

The one that I read (again, earlier than Dec 2011, the date of the review linked above) convinced me to buy the Wacom Bamboo stylus; it seemed the best for my purposes, which are near to yours: more writing & note taking than drawing & painting.

I like the Wacom Bamboo, and for what a stylus can currently do with an iPad, I am 100% satisfied. I use it for quick lists, notes when I go to conferences, and now I use it for Draw Something, too. I also just got the Paper app and only very briefly tried it with the stylus, seemed fine.

Overall, though, I look forward to stylii that can have less drag, smaller nibs, and apps that can handle me resting my hand on the bottom part of the "paper" / "page" like a real pen-and-paper. I'd like to be able to write faster and smaller than I currently can.
posted by rio at 11:10 AM on April 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

There's the Doceri stylus, but I'm not sure whether it works with apps other than their own whiteboard.
posted by univac at 3:05 PM on April 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

My brother is an artist and we got him the Wacom Bamboo Stylus.He loves it and has nt broken since.
posted by ates at 5:20 PM on April 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

I have used a range of stylii. the Wacom Bamboo is absolutely the best. however, this is not due to the nib or mark-making ability, it is due to the weighting, construction, and greater durability of the barrel.

Is it overpriced? Yes.

Has anyone deigned to develop and manufacture a similar-quality stylus for a more reasonable price? Not yet.

Does it compare to the mark-making flexibility of a real-media implement? No.

Does it compare to the mark-making flexibility of a true Wacom tablet+stylus combo? Also, no.

So if you are looking for an iPad stylus that is unlikely to change the mark-making ability oferred by other stylii but which is more likely to stand up to daily use, you are in luck. If you are looking for a stylus that addresses the inherent limitations of the iPad inductive sensing surface, you may not want the Bamboo.
posted by mwhybark at 5:52 PM on April 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

This blog is by an artist searching for a good stylus solution who has compared quite a few of them in real world terms.

I'll just plug the 3M again because I find that it takes the least amount of pressure to start a line and after hours of writing/drawing, it's much easier on the hand.

Also, if I can say something about the Paper app, it's awfully expensive if you plan to download the different modules.

I think a better app is Procreate. It's more responsive (follows handwriting better) and offers far more tools. The update about to be released implements stacks, which serve the same function as the fancy animated moleskins in Paper but you can drag documents around between stacks. Also, when I checked out Paper, it seems like you can't zoom in on your work -which is insane.
posted by bonobothegreat at 7:10 AM on April 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

I agree about Paper. They seem to have set it up with feature limitations to drive revenue, which, whatever, but it makes it impossible for me to evaluate it for my preferred usage. Is there even a way to edit the colors? If so, it was not discoverable for me.
posted by mwhybark at 10:33 AM on April 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

I struggled with a soft-rubber tip stylus (Boxwave) for awhile before coming across the iFaraday. It has a woven fabric nib which makes it super, super smooth. At least for me, the feel is about as natural as you can get, given that you're writing on a sheet of glass. Also, the stylus is long, about the same length as a typical number 2 pencil, and about the same thickness and weight. The nib is about the same dimensions as the nibs you'll find on any other capacitive stylus. The basic version is $15 plus $3 shipping, while the one I got, which has a protruding nib (useful for shallow angles) is $20. Check out their page:
posted by jyc23 at 12:54 PM on April 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for recommendations, everyone! I agree that Paper is limited and probably overpriced, and arguably a little precious in its simplicity. I've tried a number of the other notebook apps, though, and haven't liked them quite as much. I've been using Paper as a supplement to the composition notebook I carry around with me (if you're curious about exactly what I'm doing with it, I wrote about it last week for The Chimerist, an iPad-oriented site a friend and I started a couple months ago that's usually more about the meeting of stories, art, technology, and fun, or some combination of these). I haven't tried Procreate; I'll look into that one.
posted by maud at 11:35 AM on April 8, 2012

Response by poster: Oooh, and I was leaning toward the Bamboo but am tempted by the iFaraday!
posted by maud at 11:52 AM on April 8, 2012

Have you heard of the Jot stylus? It's the only one I've ever seen or used that actually had any sort of precision to it, because of the very unique design, and I've been quite impressed and pleased with it overall.
posted by DoctorFedora at 9:14 PM on April 8, 2012

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