Stylin’ and profilin’: Selecting a stylus

If you want to complete forms on the iPad, mark up PDF files, or work toward going paperless, a quality stylus really helps. If you just do occasional tapping, pretty much any old stylus will do (see Ephemera, below). The ones mentioned here are for people who really want to handwrite or do fine drawing.

In stylus reviews, three consistently rated at the top are: Kuel ($13), Wacom Bamboo ($24-30) and Jot Pro (about $30). The nature of the iPad screen requires that the nib of a stylus be fairly large. Most styluses have an 8mm nib, but the Wacom Bamboo and the Kuel both have 6mm nibs, which offers better control.

Jot Pro by Adonit, reviewed here further, seems to come out on top for extended handwriting. It looks like a ball point pen, with a small clear disk attached to the writing end. The small clear disk provides the amount of contact area required by tablet screens, but the fact that it is clear, lets users contact the screen precisely where they want. As with anything, there are both lovers and haters. Negative commenters at Amazon say that the clear disk (Adonit’s substitution for a nib) comes off too often, and that the stylus makes fine scratches on the screen. (I haven’t had this problem.) For general stylus use, the lower-priced Kuel does the trick.

Sleight of hand: A significant problem with using any stylus today, is that when you rest your palm on the iPad surface your palm makes stray marks. A number of note-taking apps incorporate a “palm rest area.” While the “palm rest area” is helpful, it’s not exactly an elegant solution.

Writing with a stylus on an iPad is just not the same as writing with pen on paper.  However, for note-taking, form completion, and annotating PDF’s, living with the shortcomings of the current styluses can be worth it. And things will get better: Bluetooth 4 and real palm rejection are on their way.

Stylus info on Youtube: From the Verge, here’s a good 8+ minute stylus review that covers a number of styluses. (Spolier alert: It recommends the Wacom Bamboo.) From the Verge, take two: “What is the best iPad stylus? (Part 2)” covers even more styluses, and from this group recommends a European stylus called the Maglus (about $26). Lastly, an Adonit Jot Pro stylus for iPad review from iMoreVideo. Please share any related experience, and if you would like more information send Chris an email.


Suck UK Pencil stylusSpotted in Malaprop’s Bookstore  on a recent trip to Asheville: A great option for casual tappers who like to be amused by their possessions. The defiantly named Suck UK company puts the fun in function with styluses that look like old-school pencils or Bic ballpoint pens (around $10 each).

Geek speak:

Some say styluses. Others (such as in the Verge videos) say styli [stahy-lahy]. Dictionaries generally list styli as the first acceptable plural, but I’m throwing down for styluses. Unless you’re discussing headier topics, “styluses” seems the way to go. (Our culture does not seem to like plurals that lack esses). So, let’s give it the octopus treatment: first plural of octopus is octopuses.

Continuing Ed:

If you can get over the irony of attending a Web-based paper preservation course, check out the Northeast Document Conservation Center’s Perservation 101: Preservation Basics for Paper and Media Collections.  There’s a free self-guided course  and also an instructor-led live Webinar course ($650) which can go toward 15 Archival Recertification Credits (ARCs). The next instructor-led session begins September 12, 2013. The free course can be taken at any time.

Quote of the week:

“A truly great library contains something in it to offend everyone.”
– Jo Godwin

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