It’s funny, when you look at the film The 5th Element it’s hard to not laugh at the overboard, ridiculous costumes the characters wore.
At the time, The 5th Element was cool and new for the most part. The design of the film was supposed to be outrageous and cooky and that’s exactly what it was. But no one would have believed that this was in any way any type of realistic prediction.
This quick post is influenced by a comment on a previous post on iPad styluses. This is a stylus solution we came up with a while back which uses only two parts.
The first part is a small clump of conductive foam which can be purchased at most descent electronic stores. We found it in sheets about 12″ x 12″ and then cut out smaller pieces for the tip of the stylus.
The second part is a neat little metal pencil holder, picked up from kinokuniya. They come in packs of two and are available in a chrome (pictured below), reddish-pink and blue. Other colors may be available but I cannot say for sure.
Putting the stylus itself together is simple. Take some foam, cut out a square inch or so of it and fold the corners in so that they meet. The other end will be rounded. Cram the folded corners side into the pencil holder where the pencil would normally go, then screw on and tighten the gripper. Poof- a DYI iPad stylus!
It’s been a while and quite a bit has developed since we wrote a post covering styluses for the iPad and iPhone.
At the time, the Pogo Sketch and the Dagi Stylus were both still very new to the scene. They were the best options available.
Now though, I’ll tell you sternly- don’t waste your money on these two. Apple still sells the Pogo, their employees can be found with them clipped to their uniforms. Sometimes when signing for your purchase, they will hand you one to use. All of this may feel quite official, almost an endorsement of the Pogo. I’m here to give you a few options which you can pull out and use with better results next time you’re at an Apple Store or just want to take a note or doodle a sketch.
As these things come out they generally improve. As these new and improved styluses come out, we buy and use them.
Here is an updated offering of our opinions on some of today’s more popular and best styluses. We will focus on three styluses in particular.
The JustMobile Alupen.
When we first got our hands on the Alupen from JustMobile it was love at first site. This thing has a substantial but user friendly weight to it. It is the perfect length and width and feels great in your hand. It is extremely well designed and done so to match and compliment the iPad itself. Aside from the minimalist (and appreciated) branding stamped on it, the Alupen would be the easiest stylus to pass of as an official Apple iPen.
Out of the box it works beautifully. The soft rubber tip glides of the screen and requires little pressure to interact with the device.
The problem with the Alupen is the lifespan of the tip. They seem to have the lifespan of your common goldfish when it comes to quality functionality. Our first one developed a small slit in the side of the tip which made it difficult to use. After emailing JustMobile about five times and giving ample time for them to reply, we went ahead and called Taiwan (I think it was) directly and after a language challenged phone call, a replacement was on the way.
The replacement was the same out of the box- worked great. After about a week of use tho the tip again went bad. This time it was the smoothness of it which just seemed to wear off. When new, the tips have this velvety finish to them. With a little use though, this appears to wear off and the rubber tip ends up being sticky when sliding over the screen. This makes distraction free drawing, painting and writing on the iPad more difficult than it’s worth and you’ll quickly revert back to your finger.
A third Alupen was tried and again, the tip went bad. With a good tip, this would be the best stylus available. Until then, its just not worth the money.
Currently there are a few different versions of the iFaraday Stylus available on www.iFaraday.com. There is a basic stylus that comes in a few different colors.
There are also three different versions which are called the Artist Pack. The tip material used is the most capacitive material we’ve experienced yet. These are the most responsive and user friendly styluses we’ve found yet and only expect the innovation and materials to improve over time.
The bodies of the styluses are not mass-produced in a factory in China or some such place as are most others. They appear to be hand crafted, one at a time- likely out of a garage somewhere. Considering this though, they are very well made and easily worth the money.
If we could recommend one stylus for your iPad- this would be the one.
There are several different brands all selling very similar styluses right now. By all appearances, these are all manufactured by the same people- our guess, either in Taiwan or China. Then, these different American companies buy them in bulk and brand them as their own.
This stylus (regardless of what name you call it by) is actually a quite descent one. Probably our second favorite. A bubble-like, black, rubber tip that is very responsive and lasting. The tip is much like those found on the Alupen from JustMobile, with one main difference- they last longer than a week. In fact, we haven’t had one fail yet.
We prefer the Targus out of the different brands, simply because the Targus stylus is left plain. They decided against having their brand and logo printed on the body of the pen, probably to save money. If branding doesn’t bother you at all you can get whichever is cheapest or most convenient.
The Targus has a simple metal body with a matte black finish. They have a chrome, end cap with a hoop on the back end which enables the use of a small clip or lanyard. Some brands ship the pen with such an extra. We don’t care much for them though so it’s not a make or break deal whether or not they do or not.
They also come with a chrome clip for securing to a shirt pocket, pants pocket or whatever you like. We however DO NOT LIKE the clip and feel that it would be best without it. Or, having the clip be removable would be a great feature.
This stylus is a little bit on the short side. It’s just long enough to hold normally, but holding it further back to get any distance from the screen becomes more difficult. Who knows, maybe the guy who designed it was a munchkin.
They retail for about $15.00 and can be found at these sites:
The Targus can also be picked up in-store at Best Buy stores.
There is a “second generation” version of this general type of stylus, which brands are starting to sell as well. Ours just came in today and we’ve played with them a little bit.
The thickness of the stylus is the same, but the tip is significantly smaller and helps with accuracy. The smaller tip though seems to require a little bit more pressure.
This new and updated model also has a significantly longer barrel. It also has a clip, but a different (and honestly cheaper looking) type. The end cap is slightly different the same as the previous and more common versions- but seriously, who cares. This stylus looks and feels more ideal. Unfortunately though, it is slightly less responsive than its earlier incarnation.
You can find this newer version of these styluses at these sites:
Here is a very workable little setup which is what we are currently doing. We are using both the iFaraday and the Targus styluses. But we are also using a chalk holder as well. Let us explain.
The iFaraday stylus comes with a clip which can be removed quite easily.
The Targus/Boxwave stylus’ clip however is not so easy to get off. We use a Dremel!
Once your styluses are free of their stupid clips, you’ll want to have picked up a Caran d’Ache Fixpencil crayon holder for a decent art supply store or just get one online somewhere. They aren’t cheap but are very nice.
They are meant to hold crayons made by the same company, but we aren’t talking about crayons here. They also happen to hold the above two mentioned styluses perfectly.
Because you’re using an extender, you can determine how long you want your stylus to be! Have it shorter and hold it more like a pencil, or extend it out and use it more like a paintbrush.
You’ll also be holding the extender so you’ll have a thicker, hexagonal shaped form to hold in your hand. This is a plus for many people. This makes these styluses more comparable with the Alupen in size and design.
When not using it, simply slide the stylus out, turn it around and reinsert it tip-end first. The crayon holder becomes the perfect bodyguard for your stylus- holding the tip deep inside, safe from potential harm.
Comments and Recommendations.
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If you’ve found any cool styluses or stylus solutions for the iPad or digital sketching in general- tell us about it!