Another look at Styli

Susan Murtaugh
We’re all pretty good when it comes to using our fingers to get around on our digital devices but some of us prefer the comfort of a capacitive stylus for drawing and painting. I am one of those. Like many I started out with the pogo by Ten One Design and I was happy to have it securely clamped to my iPod touch when I traveled. The little sponge tip is pretty reliable though it is the slowest, because of the sponge drag on the screen. Some find they need to apply pressure to the tip as well in order to get it to connect with the screen. I’ve not had that problem. They come in 2 styles the shortest of the bunch, clips to the side of your iPhone or the slightly longer pocket clip version. They both retail for $14.95.

The next most popular versions are the BoxwaveGriffin, and Targus.
They’re all the same form factor and have a slick, fast, durable rubber tip that makes contact with the glass. I have used the Boxwave for quite some time and love it. Though I have had not one, but two go bad on me. Not sure what happened but one right out of the box, which was cheerfully refunded and one I had used for about 6 weeks suddenly just started to catch and drag. The miracle coating wore off I guess. Retail from $11.50 − 18.95. There are couple of others in this category, the latest being the pengo touchpen which is longer, has a more solid feel and what seems to be a smaller tip, but with more air inside giving it a kind of mashy feel. Though I like this one because of the length I’m not fond of that mashy feel, $14.99. Also not to be missed for the larger hand is Just Mobile Alupen, a chunky pencil shaped 6 sided, aluminum, non-roll beauty. It’s around $17.00 I like it but it’s too heavy for prolonged drawing in my hand. I hear it is a favorite of iamda’s Benjamin Rabe!

About 6 months ago I was intrigued by oStylus, a jewelry makers handcrafted, beautifully designed “art” piece. Being one of the first to buy I paid ninety dollars, and was excited when it came in it’s beautiful packaging. There is a cheaper, production version now for $37.50. Still beautiful. I love the feel of it in my hand. It’s a terrific length but it has one fatal flaw. It clicks and clacks on the screen. Ack, no stealth painting with this. And it seems too delicate to throw in the purse and lug around. Also one must be careful the shielded side is on screen, with the metal sided “o” facing up, the potential to scratch is scary. I applaud Andrew Goss for his ingenuity but will keep his noisy stylus sitting on top of my iMac as a thing of beauty to look at.

The other day I got the long awaited Nomad Brush It’s an actual brush, not unlike one you would use for traditional watercolor. It features a walnut and carbon handle with a soft grip. Another real beauty, craftsmanship wise. It’s $24 and to tell you the truth, I was not expecting much as I had tried something similar 6 month’s ago that was a total FAIL. This brush does NOT disappoint. It works as advertised. And it’s a weird feeling using a brush on my glass slab of joy. (Thanks Mull for the expression) Now understand I have not used this for an extended length of time so I can’t tell you if the hair will stand up in the long haul. I think it will. That being said, if you like the idea of using a brush go for it. I feel it’s a bit slow and too weird for my taste. If each bristle made it’s own mark it would be a winner, but it reacts just like any of the others tips mentioned here but with long bristles. It’s more of a traditional meets digital tool for those that feel comfort in the old tools.
I have found a new tool that tops them all and has become my dream brush. And it’s ugly compared to all above. (Or cute depending on your sense of humor).

A couple of weeks ago I got a note from fellow Flickr member ShapeDad, Ivo Beckers, telling me about some new styluses he’s making. He has a couple of versions of his conductive socks, plugs and adaptive sticks. I bought the small black pro socked handles. They got here in 2 days. I was really surprised at how light and easy to use they were. They need no pressure at all and the metal infused material glides across any screen, faster than the boxwaves. I now have one of them clipped to my Touch. They are cheap in comparison too 7 − 10 dollars for the handled socks. Most of my art friends know that I like working with my iPad straight up and down, easel fashion. And I like really long handled tools. I’ve been using a small Boxwave shoved into a Sunho Charcoal holder to get the flexible reach I like. Well that’s the boxwave that failed. So I sent it to Ivo in the Netherlands and asked him to make me a couple of socks to go over the non working styluses. Which he did. But he offered an even better solution in his Conductive Sticks, which he sells for $12. One of those sticks placed in the charcoal holder has become my most used tool. I can vary the length and get the same quick response. I wish he could make a slightly smaller plug on the end, but that would be for esthetic purposes only. It’s ugly and I love every little beautiful stroke my stylus makes. Thanks Ivo.

Ivo Pix


14 Responses to “Another look at Styli”

  • Matthew Watkins Says:

    Wow Susan, What a comprehensive list! Thank you so much for sharing 🙂

  • Deborah McMillion Says:

    I sure appreciate your being the one to keep up on this! The chubby alu pen had hand appeal because I like the shorter ones. But it is worrisome they get heavy. I’m tempted by the last ones. I have the box wave but even that has drag. Thanks!

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  • Julia Kay Says:

    Great review – thanks for checking them all out and letting us know!

  • Rebelpapa Says:

    Thanks Susan. I’ve been trying every stylus I can get my hands on. Just ordered the conductive sock.

    Also, I really like my Nomad brush. Very interesting for laying in color, but not great for drawing lines. I really wish instead of the wood on the end, they put a capacitive tip. One side as a brush and the other a tip to draw. That would have been amazing!

  • Susan Murtaugh Says:

    Rebel, I agree with you on the tip at the end. I find it very hard to use the color pickers in most apps with the brush. And do let me know what you think of the socks. I really like them. Paint on all.

  • Fabric Lenny Says:

    Love the Alu pen, but I got 3 ‘socks’ through the post yesterday and these things almost paint themselves! Smooth, friction-free painting, ultra responsive, wonderful! Thanks for the introduction Susan! Amazing bit of kit!

  • Comer Duncan Says:

    Sorry I am late seeing this thread, but I just bought the DAGI ($19.95 from ISUESTYLI purchased from Petesgear LLC) and like it. It allows one to more or less see better the marks made as they are made. I am still learning how to use if effectively, but it seems worth a look.

  • Susan Murtaugh Says:

    Comer, you’re right I should have included the Dagi, it’s been around for a long time. It has an interesting plastic circle tip for precise drawing since I work vertical, I kind of dismissed it. For those who work with their devices flat this is a slick, fast stylus. See it here http://www.dagi.com.tw/front/bin/ptdetail.phtml?Part=p201&Rcg=2

  • Bonobo the Great Says:

    Just wanted to update this excellent list with the 3M Smart Pen. It’s a similar to the box wave design but a wee bit smaller and about half the weight. The main difference is that it is much more sensitive. I feel none of the fatigue I experienced with the Boxwave ot the AluPen.

  • Susan Murtaugh Says:

    Thank you Bonobo I will check the 3M out and friends Wacom has introduced their “Bamboo” for iPad. I have it, it’s a wonderfully engineered pen, nice heft, like a fine writing instrument with the rubber tip like others. Pricy at 30 dollars but nice to show off too. BTW I am still liking my socks the best.

  • Albert Root Says:

    Thanks for the research . Can’t wait to hear how you like the Wacom. : )

  • Lokard Desmock Says:

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  • Susan Murtaugh Says:

    Lokard, Albert. Thank You for your kind comments and if anyone reads this far down I have another CLOTH styli to recommend. ANDY of them on iFarady.com. I have all of them and they are spectacular performers, Glide effortlessly and come in a variety of styles, colors and hardness. My favorite is the SALT. I prefer them to the Bamboo which broke down quickly.

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