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Best Stylus for the iPad

More years ago than I care to count I bought a PalmPilot 1000. It rocked. I was so excited just for the fact that PalmPilot 1000I would now no longer have to get a new calendar book every year and copy all of the birthdays and important dates across to the new one. Ahhh, the first spark of fire in the dark ages.

The Palm hooked me on the idea of a stylus instead of my KFC grease coated finger for touching the screen. It’s more precise and the one that I use in my smartphone has a pen in it so I’m never without a writing implement.

When I picked up an iPad I noticed that the guy working at the store used a pogo Sketch so I decided to pick one up. It fit well into the bottom of my Dodo Case (which now comes in green and I want a new one) and all was good for about 3 months. Then the clip broke off and when I looked on Amazon to replace it there were now more options. None of them were that expensive so I decided to order a bunch of them so I could do my own shootout and see what worked best.

The Contenders:

Amazon showed Griffin with one coming out soon so that prompted an email to Dave Delaney, who has hooked Marketing Over Coffee up with stuff in the past. Here’s the required link from them saying they give out stuff for people to try and to blog about. Please also note that the links below are affiliate links so if you could use them I can send my son to college.

I also tested one sold by a company called Acase, which was exactly the same as the Griffin. With the exception of the Griffin logo, it looks like they came from the same factory, the Acase cost me $2.94 more than the price of the Griffin, so I’m only linking to the less expensive one.

The elago is also very similar to the two above, same tip a bit lighter with a different style clip.

The BoxWave is also in this family, again same tip and similar look and clip, but it’s about $10 more and heavier because it has a cap and a real pen that is pretty good.

The iClooly was the unique one of the pack, unlike the others.

I also got some cheapos at $3.95 for a 3-pack that I thought might compare to the pogo sketch.

The Results

iPad Styluses
L to R:Griffin, Acase, BoxWave, elago, pogo, iClooly, & el Cheapos

After a week of use I’ve found that I like the Griffin ($13.04) best. It has a rubber tip that’s sort of like a mushy racquetball. A similar tip is on the BoxWave, Acase and elago.

In second place would be the BoxWave which is almost the same, on the plus side it also has a pen, the cost of that is that it’s more expensive ($24.95 was the price when I bought mine) and a bit heavier. Update : after about 2 months use the tip on the BoxWave did not write a smoothly as the Griffin or the Acase, I tried cleaning it and that made no difference.

The elago is in third ($14.99), very similar to the ones above except for two things – it has their brand and the phrase “Design is Improvement” on it. This is a bit odd to me because the whole Apple thing is not to print anything on an object that’s not required. Ever look at the bottom of a Macbook versus a Dell? Also the clip on mine is slightly loose and rattles a tiny bit. Rattling doesn’t fit well with the Apple design thing either. Otherwise it’s about the same as the previous two.

For Fourth I would replace the pogo ($10.73). The tip is like a tiny peice of shag carpet and it’s thinner and lighter than all of the above. A good choice but for the plastic clip.

The iClooly was less expensive (only $9.99) but very well made. It has a unique tip which is like a very short paintbrush. It’s retractable so you have to click it like a ball point pen. That’s the reason I don’t use this one, it’s two extra steps to take off the cap and click it open. The brush cap is closer to the barrel and pulls straight off, the cap has a second tip in it that you unscrew to access with a plastic point for a resistive touch screen (as opposed to capacitive on the iPhone, iPad family). It’s nice but I found the tips on all the other ones work on both types of touchscreen.

It should be noted that all of the above performed the same. I tested them all on Note Taker HD and they all worked fine. You may have a preference of rubber tip vs. cloth vs. brush for feel, but they all work. I thought the rubber was very similar to cloth, the brush didn’t seem to give as much resistance. If you like the feedback the rubber and cloth work best, if you like it to be frictionless the brush is better.

The only fail in the test was the 3 pack of cheapies ($3.92, but no link because you don’t want them). The rubber tip on the better ones have a matte finish, the cheapos have a glossy rubber tip that sticks to the screen making them unusable. When you want to slide panels on the screen it literally gets stuck to the screen. For uber-geeks out there, I did try using the dremel tool to grind the glossy finish off, it does work better, but still not as well as the ones above. I roughed it up with about a 75 grit sandpaper and could try other stuff but at about $15 for the good ones it’s not worth the time.

That’s the wrap up, enjoy your clean screen!

Update: I’ve been sent a Stylus Socks Pro to review and played with it for a couple of days. Ivo has done something interesting with a different approach – the handle is like a paintbrush with a soft tip and about half of it has a sock made of a capacitive fabric. It’s very smooth and has a unique weighting so it’s a nice alternative. My wife enjoys this one, I stopped using it when I realized I have a habit of holding the stylus as far as possible from the tip. For this model if you are not touching the fabric it will not work. What was more interesting to me in his store were styluses for people with disabilities – there’s a mouthstick for anyone that does not have use of their arms, and the Steady Stylus that has a full hand grip that would be useful for anyone that has difficulty with fine motor control. I’ve never seen these before and was quite impressed.

Update 2: With 6 months of testing under my belt there’s a new champion. Best Stylus for the iPad – Six Months Later

11 replies on “Best Stylus for the iPad”

Thanks John for this post. I tried the pogo and was pretty happy with it but wondered if there was anything better. I was looking at handwriting apps for our elementary kids to integrate with the stylus and found you have to get certain apps that work with a stylus. Did you encounter the same?

John –

Thanks for the review – I bought the BoxWave almost 2 months ago. I haven’t completely abused it, but it’s been hauled around a bit. Held up nicely. I like the form factor – easy to carry and use.

Thanks for the review John. I got one early on for my kids but have been looking for one for myself and this review helped.

Of course I was bummed when I clicked through to buy the Griffin one and it isn’t even shipping yet. DOH! Hope I can remember to go back and buy it later.

Thank you for this! I have been scouring the Internet a month now looking for a good comparison, the only one you didn’t have in your review is the dagi and htc stylus. Those are hard tip and usually transparent. If you added those you’d have my idea of a perfect review!

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