I have been using an iPad with my finger for years now. Recently I thought "What about a stylus?" I had a $50 gift certificate to Best Buy, so I thought I would try a few of them. Best Buy had about 8 to choose from, so I selected 3:
- Targus Stylus for iPad AMM01US, regularly $27.99 but on sale for $14.99
- Targus Slim Stylus for iPad AMM1214US, $14.99
- Rocketfish Stylus 13A048 RF-BSTLY, $22.99
By using the gift card, this little experiment only cost me $2.22 out of pocket. I had to charge it because the Best Buy register would not accept cash. Perhaps currency is a thing of the past? Surely we should get rid of the penny which costs more than one cent to make. But I digress...
On Saturday, I started with the Targus AMM01US — the largest one. You know what they say "Go big or go home." I cleaned my iPad glass screen (which has no protective covering by the way). My goal was to use just the stylus as in I could then leave the iPad at a crime scene, and my fingerprints would not be on it.
I downloaded and installed Sketchbook Pro on my iPad and was able to recreate that quite easily.
I could have made the sketch artsier, but the goal for those images was to make them resemble Jessica Hagy's Indexed blog, so I resisted the temptation, In addition, this was my first time using Sketchbook Pro, so I don't yet know enough to get too fancy.
I tried playing a basketball game where I normally use my finger. Using the stylus, I did not get the same tactile feedback. Normally I am decent at this game. With the stylus I was awful. I only made one shot.
As I used the pen to navigate my browser, read emails, and make posts in the Autodesk discussion forums, my speed seemed to be about the same, but for some reason, I felt disconnected from the experience. The rubber tip of the stylus is spongy enough to slide across the screen and firm enough to allow depressing the circular iPad button that lets you close an app. When entering text, unlike my children that use two thumbs, I use one finger, so using the stylus was about the same. The "just use the stylus" strategy essentially worked for everything until I needed a two-finger gesture — like zooming in on an image. I guess this helps keep me free from a life of crime.
Targus Slim Stylus AMM1214US
On Sunday, I tried out the Targus Slim Stylus AMM1214US. As the smallest stylus, I envisioned that it would give me the best precision. I used it sketch.
I found that the smaller rubber tip had little effect on the precision. The brush settings on Sketchbook Pro make more of an impact than the size of the stylus. It was easier to see what was being drawn since my fat finger was not obscuring the cursor location. The entire sketching process is a bit interesting in that you can't rest your hand on the iPad while sketching.
On Monday, I tried the Rocketfish RF-BSTLY. It is essentially the same as the Targus but 3/4" shorter. Although shorter, for all practical purposes it is the same as the Targus AMM01US. I guess I was fortunate to get the Targus on sale.
I tried taking notes.
Taking notes is worse than manual paper and pen. My handwriting is not as neat.
After 3 days usage with styluses, I don't notice an unusual wear such as micro scratches on my iPad screen. When I told others I was going to try a stylus, I did get some recommendations.
Tom Wujec has tried every pen and stylus to make Sketchbook on the Mac really work. He doesn't really like any of them since there's no palm rejection that works which means you have to draw from a distance. Tom suggested the Jot. There's one with a rubberized grip that feels pretty good. His very favorite is the JaJa which has pressure sensitivity. According to Tom it works well, but he also pointed out to make sure that you order it with several extra nibs since they are dicey.
Donnie Gladfelter's personal favorite is the Wacom Bamboo Stylus.
Ursula Sadiq suggested I check out Instructables for DIY Solutions. There were many examples, but some of the straight-forward ones included:
Beau Turner found that the weight of the stylus really makes a difference. He likes one he found on Kickstarter — the funding site for new start-up companies — called More/Real Stylus Cap.
Perhaps at another time? It is likely that I will learn more after I use them for more than 1 day each.
The net result of this experience is that a stylus, any stylus, provides benefit for a novice Sketchbook user, but for most other applications, it's about the same. For games, it's actually worse. If I had to choose, I guess I'd say, "Give me the finger."
Picking my finger is alive in the lab.