One of the easiest ways to extend the functionality of your mobile device is through the addition of a stylus. A stylus brings the physical nuance of a pen to your digital device. There are a huge range of apps for drawing, sketching and creating but using them seems a little weird – for most of us the last time we finger painted was in kindergarten!
What to look for?
Styli come in a range of shapes and sizes in a variety of materials. When it comes down to it though the tip is the most crucial element – it’s where stylus meets glass! Choosing and recommending a single stylus is really difficult because it comes down to individual taste and feel. So instead here’s some of the crucial areas to test:
- Size – The strength of a stylus comes down to how it feels to hold the in your hand. Is it too long, too short, too fat or too thin? Like Goldilocks you’re looking for something that feel just right to hold. It has to fit into your natural writing or drawing position.
- Friction – There are a variety of tip materials available – from foam to rubber to plastic. What you want to find is the tip that gives you the right amount of friction or drag. Too little and it feels like your not doing anything as there is no physical feedback. Too much and the stylus will stutter and stick interrupting your flow.
- Angle – Mobile devices were designed for finger tips which most often come into contact with a screen at about 90˚ (and their squishyness makes up for any disparity). However when we write and draw we tend to hold the stylus at an angle. Some sips are able to cope with a range but it really depends on the acuteness of your standard position how effective the tip will work.
What’s out there?
There are literally hundreds of styli on the market so doing a full comparison is really only an option for those well resourced to do so. The online magazine The Verge have a great round-up of styli – including scores, videos and images. It’s a great resource that has had a number of revisions and a great feature to compare different styluses.
You might also want to check out:
The following styli have been tested as part of the mLearn project and they represent a range of styles and applications.
- Adonit Jot Pro – Pick of the bunch for those looking to match the functionality of pen and require precision.
- Wacom Bamboo Stylus – The middle of the road stylus. Wider and shorter than a Bic it is a balance of portability but heavy enough to feel substantial. Good all-rounder with a nice feel to the tip.
- Pogo Sketch Pro – while the Verge didn’t rate it so highly its longer tapered body feels much better in the hand than most of the stubby styli available. The tip lent itself more to looser actions – so great for those wishing to paint and sketch.