What's the Best iPad Stylus for Touch Screen Tablets?

01
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Choosing an iPad Stylus for Touch Screen Tablets

Searching iPad Digital Tablet
Jed Share/Photodisc/Getty Images

If you enjoy using the many art apps available for the iPad, you may have considered getting a pen or stylus to make your iPad sketching, drawing, and painting more precise and comfortable. Or perhaps you want to scribble notes and ideas, or you don't like getting finger smudges on your touch screen glass.

Over the past few months, I've been working with several touch screen pen styli to compare them. The three styli I've been using are: the original Pogo stylus, several models from Stylus-R-Us, and the Brvsh stylus. I have been putting them through the paces on an iPod touch and more recently, an iPad 2. These stylus pens are not only for the iPad; they will work with any kind of touch screen device, so if you prefer Android or another platform, the styli discussed here will work for that, too.

Though this article focuses mainly on using a stylus pen for art applications, any stylus that performs well with art apps will certainly perform just as well for general use, note-taking, and even gaming.

Surprisingly, I found myself reaching for a stylus more often when using my iPad than when using my iPod touch. This is counter to what you would think; since the screen is so much smaller on the iPod touch, it seems like you would want more precision there. I think it is because you don't have to move your hand as much with the smaller screen, so using your fingers on a small screen is more comfortable and precise. Drawing on the larger screen of the iPad requires more movement of the whole arm versus holding a stylus which only requires you to move your fingers and wrist. Well, that is my take on it anyway.

Typing on a smaller screen is another story. For that, a stylus can be more precise, but for me, it is just not convenient to reach for one on the rare instances when I'm going to be typing on my iPod touch. If you're an expert thumb-typer like my husband, then it would probably feel like a step backwards.

Another thing I learned about styli is that none of them are going to be as dependable as your finger on a touch screen. I put this to the test on a game where speed matters--Bejeweled. Although precision was improved by using a stylus, whatever gains came from that were lost to unreliability. There are times when stylus taps and drags just don't register as reliably as those made with the digit attached to your hand! In fact, there is one particular spot in my home where all the styli I tested failed miserably. Also, a stylus can't perform multi-touch gestures such as pinch, spread, and multi-finger swipes, so if you're thinking you'll never need to touch your screen again--think again.

Here are a few "pointers" regarding factors you'll want to consider when choosing a stylus for your iPad or other touch screen device:

  • Sensitivity - How hard or light do you need to touch the screen to register the stylus taps and drags? The lighter you need to touch the screen, the better.
  • Drag - This is similar to sensitivity but it relates more to the friction of a dragging motion, which is important for art applications. The tip material of the stylus will be what determines drag. Less drag or friction is better. You want the stylus tip to glide across the screen effortlessly.
  • Length - Judging by the design of most styli on the market, length is not something a lot of people consider--but it is important. You want a stylus with a length that corresponds to the size of the device you'll be using it with. With a short stylus on a larger device like the iPad, you are going to have your arm and hand blocking a good portion of the screen most of the time. With a stylus that corresponds to the size of your device, you will be able to see all of the screen.

Of course, there are other considerations--appearance, durability, convenience (does it have a clip?)--but these are secondary to the factors discussed above. Also, it's important to note that no stylus--whether it is a "pen" style or a "brush" style--has any effect on the style of your strokes. Since pressure- and tilt-sensitive tablets have not come to market yet, all stroke qualities are regulated by the software you are using. All the stylus options discussed here are alternatives to using your finger. They can improve the experience of painting or drawing, but they can't influence the stroke attributes outside of what the software is capable of.

So, how did each stylus I tested stack up? I'll start with the one I have had the longest--the Pogo.

Note: Since the original publication of this article, I have tested additional pen stylus designs which I have reviewed following the original three. I will continue to update this series with other stylus reviews as I encounter them, although I will be limiting my reviews only to styli with unique features for working with art applications.

Stylus Pen Reviews:

  1. Pogo Stylus and Pogo Sketch
  2. Brvsh Stylus
  3. Stylus-R-Us (Several Models)
  4. Stylus Socks Pro
  5. Nomad Brush (Original mil series)
  6. DAGi P501 and P503
  7. oStylus
  8. Wacom Bamboo Stylus solo
  9. XStylus Touch Transforming Stylus
  10. GoSmart Stylus Series 200 and 300
  11. Wacom Bamboo Stylus pocket
  12. TruGlide from LYNKtec
  13. Nomad FLeX Paintbrush Stylus
  14. Su-Pen Stylus from MetaMoJi
  15. Sensu Brush & Stylus in One
  16. TruGlide Pro Precision & Artist Paintbrush Tip
  17. Nomad Mini 2 Dual-Tip Brush/Nib Stylus

Electronic Stylus Pens

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02
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Pogo Stylus and Pogo Sketch Review

Pogo Stylus and Pogo Sketch
Pogo Stylus (top) and Pogo Sketch (bottom). © Ten One Design

Pogo

I have the original Pogo stylus, which I have

written about before

. The newer model is called the Pogo Sketch and the only difference is that it is slightly longer and has an attached clip.

The Pogo is one of the less expensive touch screen stylus pens you can buy, and frankly, it looks it. Basically, it is a metallic tube with foam on one end and a clip on the other--or an end cap on the original model. One thing it has going for it is that it is incredibly lightweight. The tip of the Pogo stylus is a rubbery-type foam, and out of all the stylus pens I tested, it had the most drag on the screen, meaning it was more grippy than the others. This makes it very unpleasant to use in drawing applications. It also requires more of a stabbing motion for taps compared to the other stylus pens I tested.

The Pogo Sketch comes in four metallic color choices.

I would not recommend the Pogo stylus pen if your primary purpose for using a stylus is with art apps--especially on the iPad or another tablet-sized device. Even the slightly longer Pogo Sketch stylus is too short to work comfortably on the larger screen of the iPad.

Pogo Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • Lightweight
  • Attached clip (Pogo sketch model, not reviewed)

Pogo Cons

  • Very short - not ideal for larger devices like the iPad
  • Looks cheap
  • Heavy drag; Grips the screen too much

Overall rating: 3/10

tenonedesign.com [Check Prices on Pogo Sketch Stylus]

03
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Brvsh Stylus Review

Brvsh Stylus
The elegant Brvsh bristle-tip stylus. © Beta Ro Omega, LLC

Brvsh

As its name implies, Brvsh is the most unique stylus of those I originally tested. With the modern design and off-beat spelling of the name (which I assume is pronounced "brush"), the designers are clearly going for the art crowd. And it does have some nice things going for it. It looks uber-cool, and it comes in either polished chrome or gunmetal finish.

Brvsh has a few things I've never seen in any other touch screen stylus pen to date--a bristle brush tip instead of a rounded nub like most touch screen stylus pens, a retractable tip, and a triangular body shape that is easy to grip. It also has an attached clip.

The weight of the Brvsh stylus was a little heavier than I'd like, and because of the retractable tip, it makes a clicking noise every time it touches the screen due to the internal moving parts. However, it does glide across the screen like butter and the brush tip makes it feel more like an artist's tool when drawing and painting. Conversely, it feels strange using it for non-artistic activities which require more tapping motions.

Unfortunately, it didn't take long before the blunt brush tip was looking ragged and frayed, probably from a combination of tapping on the screen, and moving in and out of the pen body when being retracted.

While the Brvsh stylus was not my favorite of those I tested, it is nice to use in art apps, and it is very attractive.

Brvsh Pros

  • Retractable
  • Nice, smooth drag
  • Triangle-shaped barrel is comfortable to grip
  • Stylish design

Brvsh Cons

  • Heavy
  • Noisy
  • Bristles begin to look worn fairly quickly
  • Too short for larger devices like the iPad

Overall rating: 7/10

brvsh.com

Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

04
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Stylus-R-Us Stylus Review

Stylus-R-Us Stylus Designs
Stylus-R-Us offers a large variety of touch screen stylus pen designs. Models shown, top to bottom: Camry, Corvette, Roger iWand 9", The Terminator, The New Jersey. (Click for larger view). © Sue Chastain

Update: Due to new developments in stylus technology since this stylus was originally reviewed, I have lowered my rating. My original review appears below.

Stylus-R-Us

Stylus-R-Us offers a mind-boggling array of body styles for its patent-pending touch screen stylus tip design. This is great because you can choose the pen design that best suits your needs and personal tastes, but it is a bit overwhelming when trying to choose.

Stylus-R-Us provided several pen stylus designs for me to test--Camry, Corvette, 9" brass Roger iWand, Terminator, and New Jersey--the last two being telescoping designs. All the stylus pens have the same soft, rounded tip which somewhat resembles the loop side of a Velcro fastener, but softer and finer. The packaging came with detailed instructions on the care and handling of the stylus. It's obvious the company is very concerned with the customer's satisfaction, but it's a bit jarring to be bombarded with so much instruction for a simple pointing device.

In summary, it instructed using the lightest of touch when putting the stylus to your screen, avoiding a stabbing motion, and gave useful tips on how to rejuvenate the tip if it ever becomes less responsive from the fibers flattening out--you can fluff the fibers by tapping the tip on the hook side of any Velcro fastener a few times. Now what took me a short paragraph to say, took them several pages of multi-color, bold, and all-caps instruction. But they really just want to help new users have the best experience, so I can't fault them for that.

Once you get past the instructions and warnings, though, the stylus pen does perform very well. They are not joking about using a very light touch--you barely need to touch the screen for this stylus to register your taps, flicks, and drags. Apparently, many folks, including myself, have a hard time adjusting to such a light touch, and end up flattening the fibers causing the stylus to become less responsive. Fortunately, the Velcro trick does work to revive it, and if you don't have any Velcro handy, you can gently tug the fibers of the tip with your fingernails to loosen them back up.

Before getting an iPad, I might have called it a toss-up between the Brvsh and Stylus-R-Us models, but after using several stylus pens with the iPad, there is just no comparison to using a longer stylus. Stylus-R-Us is the only company I know of that offers stylus pens in a variety of lengths--including telescoping designs for ultimate flexibility.

And the longer length is not just great for working in art applications. With a long stylus, I'm able to place my iPad at a comfortable reading distance and simply flick the screen with my stylus pen to turn pages without reaching out. Now that's comfort!

If you are buying a stylus pen solely for use with a larger tablet like the iPad, I would recommend one of the longer iWand designs from Stylus-R-Us. If you have a tablet and a smaller handheld touch-screen device, or if you'd like to carry your stylus in a pocket, go for one of the telescoping models.

Out of all the Stylus-R-Us models I tested, the telescoping "New Jersey" became my instant favorite. It's thin and light, extends up to 13.5 inches and can retract down to 5.5 inches. I can carry it in a pocket and use it interchangeably between my iPad and iPod touch. However, all the Stylus-R-Us models I tested were well-made, attractive, and had the same feather-light sensitivity.

I wish I could say the company's website was as stylish as its stylus designs, but it is quite awful. Brace yourself before clicking the link, but don’t let the site appearance scare you away from an excellent stylus.

Stylus-R-Us Pros

  • Minimum pressure required; smooth drag
  • Many styles, colors and designs to choose from, including longer wands, telescoping designs, and pen-stylus combos
  • Small, customer-oriented company

Stylus-R-Us Cons

  • Tip may need occasional reviving
  • Some models have an unattractive black plastic "collar" near the tip
  • Can be expensive, depending on model

Overall Rating: 7/10

beststylus.com

Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

05
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Stylus Socks Pro Review

Stylus Socks Pro
The Stylus Socks Gold pack shown here is a two-pack with one Stylus Socks Pro (bottom) and a special edition Stylus Sock with a marbled pen holder (top). © ShapeDad

Stylus Socks Pro

I discovered Stylus Socks shortly after publishing the first round of stylus reviews in this series, and I was intrigued by the clever design. The Stylus Socks Pro is a sheath of conductive fabric, wrapped over a plastic pen holder with a bit of a cushion at the tip. The overall length of the Stylus Socks Pro pen is about 5.5 inches, but the conductive fabric sock only covers the lower 3 inches of the holder, and your fingers must be touching the conductive fabric to make the stylus work.

I had high hopes for the Stylus Socks Pro, but was quite let down by its performance. The Stylus Socks Pro requires a rather heavy hand to register taps and drags, although when it does register, it glides on the screen with little friction.

Another problem with this stylus is the requirement that your fingers be touching the conductive fabric sheath to make it active. Repeatedly, I found myself grabbing the pen by the plastic end when trying to use it, and of course, getting no response. It also seems to require more of a perpendicular angle to the screen, which isn't the most natural position for painting and sketching. I could probably get used to working around the quirks of the Stylus Socks Pro for some tasks, but for creative work, it was just too frustrating.

That said, the creator of Stylus Socks offers several alternate stylus designs for individuals with limited mobility. For those without use of their hands, a Stylus Socks Mouthstick is available and can be custom-built to order. Because the entire body of the Mouthstick is conductive, I imagine it would be more reliable than the pen body used in the Stylus Socks Pro. Another version of stylus was created for those with other mobility issues--the Steady Stylus. Steady Stylus is the Stylus Socks material attached to a T-shaped stick which can be gripped in the fist rather than held with the fingers.

Although Stylus Socks Pro is a step up from ubiquitous foam-rubber-tipped stylus pens like the Pogo, I don't feel this is the best stylus for working with creative applications on the iPad and other larger touch screens. Nonetheless, I commend the creator of Stylus Socks for his ingenuity and for offering touch-screen solutions to meet the needs of disabled individuals. If you require a specialty stylus solution, the manufacturer can be contacted for custom designs.

Stylus Socks are only available through the Shapedad Etsy shop. Although the seller is based in the Netherlands, there is a US fulfillment center, so you will not have a long shipping delay if you order from North America.

Stylus Socks Pro Pros

  • Light drag (when it registers)
  • Clever designs including stylus solutions for individuals with mobility restrictions
  • Inexpensive
  • Very lightweight
  • Sock portion can be wrapped around any pen holder

Stylus Socks Pro Cons

  • Poor sensitivity; taps don't always register and it requires quite forceful jabs
  • Hands much be touching the fabric sleeve of the sock, which reduces reliability
  • Basic design is not aesthetically appealing

Overall Rating: 5/10

shapedad.com

Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

06
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Nomad Brush Stylus Review

Several models of Nomad Brush Stylus
Nomad Brush is modeled after a real paintbrush and creates an unrivaled experience working with art apps on the iPad. Top Left: Nomad mil (short and long brush tip); Top Right: Nomad Compose (dual-tip); Bottom Left: Nomad Mini; Bottom Right: Nomad Play. © NomadBrush LLC

Nomad Brush

Like the

Brvsh stylus

, the Nomad Brush stylus is a touch screen stylus with a real bristle brush tip--but that's where the similarity ends. Unlike Brvsh, the Nomad has an organic, less industrial, design--it looks like a regular paintbrush--yet it is very attractive in its simplicity.

How does it perform? From the moment I grazed my iPad screen with the Nomad Brush, I was in love! This brush--you really shouldn't call it a stylus--is a dream to paint with.

Each Nomad Brush is handcrafted, and was designed by architect and artist Don Lee. The Nomad Brush is about seven inches long with approximately 5/8-inch-long natural and synthetic fibers for the tip. The handle is made of black carbon, and a bit of natural walnut caps the end of the handle, giving it a touch of distinction. Although it is relatively inexpensive, nothing about the Nomad Brush looks cheap. It comes packaged nicely in a box along with a card containing brief care instructions.

The brush tip is soft and flexible, and rounded at the end. A rubber collar attaches the bristles to the handle and gives the handle a bit of grip, while also deterring the brush from rolling off a flat surface. The unbelievable sensitivity of this tip means there is never an inclination to jab at the screen so I'm not too worried about it becoming frayed (as the Brvsh did). However, I do wish there was a way to protect the bristle tip for travel and storage. After about a week it shows no signs of wear and I feel confident it will hold up to long term use, if treated with care.

I used the Nomad Brush in art apps, as well as for general use navigating the iPad, playing games and so on. It functioned well in all scenarios, requiring a very light touch, but it truly shined in art apps. It glides across the screen with no friction whatsoever, and is long enough that you can work without your hand getting in the way too much.

Honestly, there is little more I can say about it. If you are looking for the best experience working with creative apps on an iPad or other touch screen device, stop searching and order the Nomad Brush. I can't believe this amazing tool costs the same as so many of the rubber-tipped stylus pens on the market. If I had the artistic talent to justify it, I'd stock every room of my house with a Nomad Brush.

Update December 2011: Since my review of the original Nomad Brush stylus (mil), several new models of stylus brushes have been introduced.

  • Nomad Mini offers a shorter handle and a smaller, stiffer brush tip and is intended for smaller touch screens.
  • Nomad mil: Short Tip is the same as the original Nomad Brush described above but with the shorter stiffer tip of the Nomad Mini.
  • Nomad Compose is a dual-tip brush stylus with an aluminum handle and interchangeable tips. It is available in a long brush or short brush version and both versions also include a glide bevel tip with very short beveled bristles. The tips screw on to both ends of the handle, and an aluminum end cap is provided if you prefer to attach only one brush tip.
  • Nomad Play is a paintbrush stylus designed for kids. The maple handle is shorter and thicker than other Nomad stylus brushes and is available in four colors with a fun design for each color. Personalized engraving is also offered.
  • Introduced in late 2012, the Nomad FLeX (reviewed separately), is a 7-inch paintbrush stylus with case, which improves on the original design.
  • Introduced in late 2013, the Nomad Mini 2 (reviewed separately), is a 5-inch, dual-tip paintbrush/nib portable stylus.

Nomad Brush Pros

  • Very light touch required--zero drag and highly sensitive
  • Well-made with an attractive, organic design and artistic look and feel
  • Good length for iPad work
  • Reasonably priced
  • Lightweight (0.2 oz.)
  • Elegantly packaged; feels like something special when you open it

Nomad Brush Cons

  • Lacks protection for the bristle tip

Overall Rating: 10/10

nomadbrush.com [Check Prices on Nomad Brush]

Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

07
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Dagi Stylus Pens P501 and P503

Dagi Stylus Pens P501 and P503
The stylus pens from DAGi have a transparent, slightly flexible, plastic tip which allows you to see through the tip to the screen while you are drawing on a touch screen. Pictured here are the DAGi P501 (left) and P503 (right). © DAGi Corporation

Dagi Stylus Pens P501 and P503

DAGi Corporation makes several stylus designs for iPad and iPhone. They sent me two different models to test--the P501 and P503. The unique quality of the stylus pens from DAGi is that they have a transparent, slightly flexible, plastic tip which allows you to see through the tip to the screen while you are drawing.

The DAGi P501 is 5 inches long. It has an aluminum pen body with a plastic clip on top, and a hole to allow you to attach it to a keychain or lanyard, or tether it to your device (although no tethering accessory comes with it). It comes with a plastic cover that snaps onto the pen body to protect the stylus tip when it is not in use.

The stylus tip is a small round clear plastic disc that has some flexibility to it as it touches the screen. It comes off of the pen body in a cantilevered sort of "C" shape which allows it to flex. The center of the clear plastic tip has a red dot for precise aiming. The P501 comes in several color choices - black, red, blue, white, and silver.

The DAGi P503 is about a quarter inch shorter than the P501, but other than that, the body is about the same. It has the same plastic clip and loop hole on the top end, but it comes with a proper cap to cover the tip. Instead of the cantilevered design, this model's pen tip is attached to the body by flexible plastic which tapers toward the clear plastic disc that makes contact with the screen.

The tip of the P503 looks a bit more fragile than that of the P501, which I assume is why it comes with a proper cap. Unfortunately, there is no way to attach the cap while you use the stylus, so the chances of losing it are high. The DAGi P503 only comes in black.

DAGi offers several other stylus designs, all with the clear plastic tip, including one stylus and ball-point pen combo (P601), and a tiny telescoping model (P202).

Both DAGi stylus pens functioned well for me, and were especially nice for handwriting and detail drawing work. Accuracy suffered a bit when painting long brush strokes, because many painting apps tend to have some lag which causes your brush stroke to trail behind the pen tip.

The DAGi stylus tips glide across the screen without friction, although I did notice some fine scratches on my (admittedly cheap) anti-glare screen protector after having used the Dagi stylus pens. After seeing this, I felt along the edges of the plastic disc which functions as the stylus tip, and I could feel some sharp burrs, probably a side effect of the molding process. I don't think there is any risk of the plastic scratching the glass of an unprotected screen, but if you use the DAGi stylus pen with a screen protector of any kind, I would suggest using a very fine grit sandpaper or nail file to smooth out the burrs on the edges of the plastic tip.

At times I had issues with my hand blocking the canvas or touching the screen, due to the shorter length of the DAGi stylus pens, but I did like this stylus for close detail work, handwriting, and general navigation. Although the two models I tried performed equally well, I had a slight preference for the P503 due to the smaller tip size.

DAGi Stylus Pros:

  • Good sensitivity and low drag.
  • Provides accuracy for detail work and handwriting.
  • Very lightweight.
  • Attached clip and protective cap on some models.

DAGi Stylus Cons:

  • Plastic parts could break.
  • May scratch some screen protector films.
  • A bit short for larger devices like the iPad.

Overall Rating: 7/10

dagi.com.tw [Check Prices on DAGi Stylus]

Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

08
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oStylus

oStylus
The oStylus is a cleverly-designed and well-built touch screen stylus which allows you to see through the center of an O-shaped contact surface to the precise drawing point on the screen. © Andrew Goss, oStylus Design Studio

oStylus

The oStylus is certainly the most peculiar-looking of all the stylus designs I have looked at. With an all-metal industrial (yet attractive) design, it almost resembles a surgical instrument, although it was designed by a jeweler.

The handle is sandblasted anodized aluminum--5-1/2 inches long and 1/4 inch diameter. A pair of titanium prongs extend from the handle a little more than an inch and act as a hinge to a small stainless steel "O-ring" washer which functions as the pen tip. The O-ring contact surface is 7/16" wide and has a vinyl film on the contact side to enhance the operation of the stylus and to protect the screen from scratches.

The oStylus comes packaged nicely in a box, along with a brief information sheet. A couple of extra adhesive vinyl Os are included, should you need to replace the attached one.

The idea, as you may have inferred, is that you can see through the center of the O-ring contact surface to the precise drawing point on the screen. Although I like the concept of being able to see the drawing point while working with a stylus, the execution of this design falls short of the Dagi stylus, which operates on a similar concept but provides a transparent contact point.

The drag, length, and weight of the oStylus is good, but in practice, the whole point of the O design gets lost because the drawing point is usually outside of the visible center of the O. In fact, the drawing point is very often hidden beneath the ring portion of the O-ring contact point. This is due in part to the way touch screens work in general, but software also plays a part. Many painting and drawing apps have some lag due to the lower processing power of the portable devices.

In addition, the center portion of the O-ring hole is so small that it's not really useful when working with a larger brush size. And on small-screen devices like the iPhone or iPad touch, the contact O-ring was too big, bumping into the sides of my case and preventing access to the outer edges of the screen. I often had trouble selecting icons and tools with the oStylus.

The oStylus is quite a clever concept, and a well-designed and built stylus, but in use it just falls short. I cannot recommend this stylus for handwriting or creative applications. If you want a touch screen stylus that will let you see the drawing point as you work, the Dagi stylus pens work better and cost less than the oStylus.

oStylus Pros:

  • Lightweight.
  • Hinged design allows for many angles of operation.
  • Glides across the screen with little friction.
  • Well-made and durable design.

oStylus Cons:

  • Drawing point isn't always centered in the O due to software lag and imperfections in touchscreen technology.
  • Not ideal for general navigation.
  • Expensive.

Overall Rating: 5/10

ostylus.com

Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

09
of 18

Wacom Bamboo Stylus solo

Wacom Bamboo Stylus solo
I found the Bamboo Stylus solo very comfortable to hold, and it worked fine for general navigation as well as working in art apps. The Bamboo Stylus is available in six colors to match the iPad 2 Smart Cover. © Wacom

Wacom Bamboo Stylus solo

Wacom has entered the stylus market with its Bamboo Stylus for iPad. Its satin-finished black and silver design doesn't seem to fit with the "Bamboo" name, but the stylus is attractive, looks to be well-built, and feels nice in the hand. It comes with a clip, which can be removed if you don't want it for some reason. The tip of the Bamboo Stylus is a soft flexible rubber, and at 6mm wide, it is a bit smaller than other foam- and rubber-tipped stylus pens.

Originally offered only in black, in October 2011, Wacom began offering the Bamboo Stylus with colored barrels to match the iPad Smart Covers--white, orange, pink, lime green, and light blue.

The overall length of the Bamboo Stylus is 4-3/4 inches (120mm), and the barrel is approximately 3/8 inches wide (9mm). The pen weight is 20g, which is heavier than the other stylus pens I've reviewed to date, except Brvsh.

I found the Bamboo Stylus very comfortable to hold, and it worked fine for general navigation as well as working in art apps. There is some friction drag from the rubber tip on the screen, but not a lot. At times, I felt like I needed to press harder than I did with other stylus pens I have used. When you do press harder, the hollow rubber tip flexes, pushing against the metal tip guard, and this leads me to believe it could wear out over time.

Using it with the iPad, I found the Bamboo Stylus a bit too short to work comfortably. Often my hand would block the image I was working on, or the heel of my hand would brush the edges of the screen causing interference. I much preferred using the Bamboo Stylus on the smaller screen of my iPod touch, even though Wacom is marketing it to iPad users.

While the Bamboo Stylus looks and feels great and works well enough, I prefer a stylus that is longer and does not drag on the screen as much. And I have to say that I expected more innovation from Wacom. Considering the price, the Wacom Bamboo Stylus is just okay--it doesn't offer anything special for working with larger screens and art applications, but it is acceptable for general use.

Wacom later introduced the Bamboo Stylus duo which is similar to the solo reviewed here except that it comes with an integrated ball point pen ink tip in addition to the stylus tip for touch screens. In late 2012, they added the Bamboo Stylus pocket (reviewed separately) to the line-up.

Bamboo Stylus Pros:

  • Attractive and well-designed.
  • Balanced weight.
  • Smaller tip compared to most capacitive stylus pens.

Bamboo Stylus Cons:

  • Expensive.
  • Too short for iPad and other tablets.
  • Tip could wear out over time.

Overall Rating: 7/10

wacom.com [Check prices on Bamboo Stylus]

Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

10
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XStylus Touch Transforming Stylus

XStylus Touch Transforming Stylus
XStylus Touch is a stylish transforming stylus with some heft. By rotating the inner metal core, you get a wider grip, extra length, and optimal weight distribution. © GreenBulb Trading Limited

XStylus Touch Transforming Stylus

XStylus Touch is a heavy, wide-grip, transforming stylus with a rubber tip which was brought to market through

crowd-sourced funding

. While most stylus manufacturers advertise a lightweight design as a selling point, XStylus Touch's promoters take the opposite approach. Being the heaviest stylus on the market is touted as an advantage, contributing to its ergonomic design and optimal weight distribution.

The XStylus Touch is made of a polycarbonate plastic outer body and a heavy inner core of hand-polished stainless steel. The silicone tip is attached to the plastic outer body, and the metal inner core is hinged so that it can be pivoted in the pen body, causing the plastic body to expand for a better grip and improved balance.

The XStylus Touch is available in glossy black or white for the pen body, to match your iPad frame. It also comes with a small clip that attaches to the charging port of the iPad to hold the Stylus pen with a magnet.

The size of the stylus is about 4 1/2 inches (119mm) in length folded, and expands out to 5 1/4 inches (136mm) when the metal core is rotated. The grip area expands from 8.5mm to 14mm wide when the inner core is rotated. The silicone pen tip is 6mm wide, one of the smallest diameters for a rubber-nub tip stylus. It weighs in at 35 grams.

I found the tip performance of the XStylus Touch about the same as other rubber-tipped stylus pens like the Wacom Bamboo, but the pivoting design of the stylus caused some problems for me. The weighted end of the shiny metal core is supposed to lodge into a ridge inside the plastic outer body; however, in my use, it did not stay firmly in place. The fat, weighted part of the metal core was constantly popping out of place, which was quite distracting and annoying in use. Because of that, I preferred to use the stylus in the un-extended position, but in this configuration, the weight does not feel properly balanced, making it awkward to hold.

Without the wider grip and proper balance, this stylus does not offer any benefits over other rubber-tipped styli, but it is much more costly due to the wax-molded, polished stainless core. I also found the pen tip had more drag than I like, and as is typical with round-tip stylus pens, the tip blocks a large portion of the screen. I loaned the XStylus Touch to my niece who wanted a stylus for taking notes in her college classes and she reported back to me that this stylus would often leave black streaks on her screen protector. She said after wiping the stylus tip on a piece of paper, it happened less often, but still left marks occasionally. I did not personally experience this issue, but felt I should mention it.

I also had problems with the magnetic clip for the XStylus Touch. Initially, my husband and I both had difficulty inserting the clip into the charging port. We tested two different clips on two different iPads and it was a problem with both. It turned out to be a small amount of extra plastic that needed to be carved away. Once we corrected that, we had no problems getting the clip in place. Later, I noticed the clip is designed to be squeezed on the sides for easier insertion, but I don’t think this was our original problem.

Once inserted, the clip attachment held well on the iPad, and the stylus seemed to hold firmly to the magnet in the clip. But because magnets are the only thing holding the heavy stylus in the clip, in day-to-day use the stylus would often slide right off the clip and go flying across the floor. Moving the iPad suddenly or bumping the stylus on something would knock it out of the clip several times a day. Out in public or in a classroom, there is no way I would trust the expensive stylus to this clip. It was more reliable to stick the stylus to the magnetic surface of my Smart Cover and forget about using the clip. The clip also has the disadvantage of being in the way when it's time to charge the iPad.

The US$39 XStylus Touch is the most expensive stylus I have reviewed to date. When you factor the cost in with the problematic design issues I had with this stylus, it makes it hard to recommend.

XStylus Touch Pros:

  • Looks beautiful and appears to be well-made.
  • Comfortable wider grip and ergonomically balanced weight when extended.

XStylus Touch Cons:

  • Weighted pen core doesn't stay locked in to its extended position, causing annoying distractions during use.
  • Clip does not hold the stylus securely in day-to-day use.
  • Expensive.

Overall Rating: 4/10

greenbulb.com/xstylustouch [Check Prices on XStylus Touch]

Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

11
of 18

GoSmart Stylus Series 200 and 300

GoSmart Stylus Series 200 and 300
The GoSmart Stylus offers a unique cross-hair tip which provides an unblocked view of the drawing point on your screen, for more precision. The stainless steel tip is coated with Teflon so it won't scratch your tablet's screen. Photo credit: © Thomas PR

GoSmart Stylus

The GoSmart Stylus is one of the best see-though stylus designs I have seen yet. The GoSmart stylus comes in two different styles--a pen style (Series 200) and a rocket shape (Series 300). Both styles feature a small stainless steel cross-hair tip attached with a stiff spring which allows the tip to flex to any angle.

The surface of the metal tip is coated with Teflon so it glides easily on both bare screens and screen protectors. I used the GoSmart stylus on a matte screen protector and it did not scratch the screen, although when painting long strokes it made a squeaky, scraping noise which I found a bit annoying. This was only an issue while painting and drawing, and may not be an issue with other kinds of screen protector films. There was minimal noise when taking notes and performing other movements with the stylus.

The GoSmart stylus has four very small but strong rare-earth magnets embedded in the pen body (two per side) which allows it to stick to the magnets in the iPad and the Smart Cover. I thought the protective caps that come with each stylus would prevent the magnets from attaching securely to the iPad, but they don't interfere at all. The rocket-shaped Series 300 stylus seems to hold on a little better than the pen-shaped Series 200 design, perhaps because the rocket cap is a soft silicone and the pen cap is a hard plastic.

Both GoSmart designs are about 5 1/2 inches in length, and are made of solid aluminum with a matte outer texture that feels nice in the hand. Before I held the two designs, I thought I would prefer the simpler pen-shaped design, but I found the rocket shape felt better in use. Both caps prevent the stylus from rolling, but the cap for the Series 300 (rocket) allows you to stand it on end. The caps for both styles can be put on the back of the pen handle when it's in use, so the caps won't get lost. The body of the stylus is a metallic gray, and the caps are available in four color options--red, blue, black, and white.

The price of the GoSmart stylus is reasonable at $24.95, and you can buy replacement tips for $6, which is good because the tip looks like it could get mangled pretty easily if you're not careful with it.

Despite the unpleasant noise I experienced when painting with this stylus, I really enjoyed using it. It provides more screen visibility than any other stylus I have used, making it very precise. For note-taking I was able write very small--clearly and with confidence. It's not the first stylus I'd grab for artistic work, but it's the best I've used for fine detail work. It performs very well for note-taking and general use.

If you're looking for a stylus primarily for artistic endeavors, you might want the GoSmart for detail work alongside something else like the Nomad Brush, but for all-around performance and excellent precision, this stylus is a winner.

Update 12/12/12: Both versions of the GoSmart stylus are now available without magnets for those without a smart cover, or with older iPads without magnets. The no-magnet version of the stylus is called the GoSmart Freedom Stylus.

GoSmart Stylus Pros:

  • Stylus tip is replaceable.
  • Includes a cap to protect the tip. Series 200 cap includes a clip.
  • Magnets hold the stylus securely to the iPad or smart cover.
  • Lightweight and feels good in the hand.
  • Priced reasonably.

GoSmart Stylus Cons:

  • Tip looks a bit fragile.
  • Makes noise with long strokes on some screen protectors.

Overall rating: 10/10

justgosmart.com [Check Prices on GoSmart Stylus]

Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

12
of 18

Wacom Bamboo Stylus pocket

Wacom Bamboo Stylus pocket
Wacom Bamboo Stylus pocket. © Wacom

Wacom Bamboo Stylus pocket

Wacom Bamboo Stylus pocket is another version of the Wacom Bamboo line of touch screen stylus pens. Pocket joins the

Wacom Bamboo solo

and Wacom Bamboo duo touch screen stylus pens which all feature an aluminum body, solid construction, and small (6mm) diameter rubber nibs.

What's different about the Bamboo pocket?

  1. Telescoping design expands from 3.7 inches to 4.6 inches fully extended.
  2. Provides a wide, rubberized comfort grip.
  3. Includes a tether that plugs into the headphone jack of your device so your stylus will always be at hand.
  4. Includes two exchangeable rubber nibs for a soft or firm touch.
  5. Includes 3 colors rings to personalize your stylus with red, blue, or silver color accents.

What good is having a stylus if it's never close by when you need it? For me, the headphone jack tether is one of the best features of the Bamboo pocket. It ensures your stylus is always with your device (as long as you're not someone who constantly uses headphones). The rubber plug of the tether strap holds firmly in the headphone jack and the cap end easily snaps over the nub end of the pocket stylus. I have no concerns about the tether keeping the stylus attached. It is a bit annoying having it flopping around, and it does get in the way of the iPad Smart Cover at times, but this slight annoyance is a reasonable trade-off for keeping the stylus handy and safe.

I'm a bit less enamored with the wide grip and telescoping design of this stylus. The rubber grip is comfortable, but it blocks even more of the screen than a normal nub tipped-stylus. Although, if you like this type of stylus, perhaps seeing more of the screen is not a concern for you.

The telescoping feature adds so little length to the overall size that it hardly seems worth it. I found myself wishing it had three sections instead of two so that it could extend a bit longer for working from a distance on a tablet screen. But for a smaller screen device, such as smartphone, the length is just right.

The color rings are a nice touch that let you add a bit of personalization, and I immediately switched to the red color rings to match my other accessories. The stylus also comes with two nib options. The firm nib is what comes on it, and an extra softer nib is included in the package. Changing the color rings and nibs was simple and obvious so I did not need to refer to the enclosed instructions to change them.

I personally found the softer nib was more accurate for my use of the stylus on a matte screen protector. Other than that, the nib performance is basically the same as on the original Wacom Bamboo solo which I reviewed previously.

I like the Wacom Bamboo pocket overall. The tether and the small, pocket-able size make it great for students or people on the go, but it is really more of a general use and note-taking stylus than something you would want to use for painting, sketching and drawing on a larger touch screen.

Bamboo Stylus pocket Pros:

  • Tethers to your device's headphone jack.
  • Soft and firm nib options provided.
  • Small and portable.

Bamboo Stylus pocket Cons:

  • Expensive.
  • Standard rubber-nub tip design not ideal for art applications.
  • Too short for working with iPad and other tablets.

Overall Rating: 8/10

wacom.com [Check prices on Bamboo Stylus]

Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

13
of 18

LYNKTec TruGlide Stylus

LYNKTec TruGlide Stylus
LYNKtec's TruGlide stylus comes in three styles--a small version with headphone jack tether, the 4.5-inch pocket clip version, and the Duo Pen stylus/ball-point pen combo. © LYNKTec

LYNKTec TruGlide Stylus

The LYNKTec TruGlide Stylus is a very lightweight stylus with a hollow brass barrel and a smooth-gliding micro-fiber-covered conductive tip. At the time of this review, the TruGlide stylus is available in three styles. The standard TruGlide stylus is a bit more than 4.5 inches long and has a pocket clip. You can also get a shorter (3 inch length) version with a headphone jack tether (in place of the pocket clip) for the same price. The third style, the TruGlide Stylus Pen Duo, is slightly more expensive and comes with a ball point pen on one end, and the microfiber stylus tip on the other.

The model I was given to test was the standard TruGlide with pocket clip. This version, as well as the stylus with tether, features perforations near the tip to give the pen barrel a bit of style and "grip." The stylus comes in four color options - brushed silver, black and gold, white, and sapphire blue. The TruGlide Duo Pen Stylus comes in two color choices - platinum or carbon.

The unique feature of this stylus is its conductive microfiber tip, which I found to be an improvement over both the standard rubber or silicone tips, and the fuzzy Stylus-R-Us fiber tip which requires frequent "reviving" and special care to keep it working well. TruGlide claims the tip is ten times more durable than rubber stylus tips, and this makes sense given the reduction in friction. The stylus tip is 6mm in diameter, which is a comfortable size, and it glides smoothly across the screen with little effort or resistance. The tip is soft to the touch, not stiff or abrasive, so you don't need to worry about scratching your screen with it.

Overall, the TruGlide performs very well and is priced quite reasonably. Although I like its light weight, this does make it feel rather flimsy when you hold it. I also wish the pocket clip was a bit more substantial and not so tight. And I would love to see TruGlide offered with a longer or telescoping barrel for tablet use.

If you want a reliable, no-frills stylus for creating art, taking notes, sketching ideas, or just to help reduce finger smudges on your touch screen, the TruGlide Stylus is a solid choice.

TruGlide Stylus Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Microfiber-covered rubber tip glides smoothly and won't tear or wear out
  • Options for ball point pen, pocket clip, or headphone jack tether

TruGlide Stylus Cons:

  • Feels flimsy
  • Pocket clip is too tight and looks cheap
  • No options for a telescoping or longer barrel
  • Flexible tip does not provide pin-point accuracy for detail work

Overall Rating: 9/10

lynktec.com

Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

14
of 18

Nomad FLeX Paintbrush Stylus

Nomad FLeX Paintbrush Stylus
The Nomad FLeX Paintbrush Stylus in cobalt blue, charcoal, pink, silver, and red. © Nomad Brush

Nomad FLeX Paintbrush Stylus

Nomad FLeX is the latest touchscreen paintbrush to come from the creators of

Nomad Brush

. The FLeX is a more refined design--improving on the original Nomad Brush--and it features an aluminum handle, interchangeable tips, and a hard shell storage case.

The long-tip version I was given to test has a much nicer brush tip compared to the original Nomad Brush. This new tip is more tapered and does not flare out as much as the original tip did. This allows the user to be more precise when painting and drawing with the Nomad FLeX.

Like the Nomad Compose, the FLeX handle is made from precision milled aluminum, and it comes in five attractive anodized colors - charcoal, silver, cobalt blue, red and pink. The entire length of the Nomad FLeX, including the brush tip, is just under 7 inches. Both ends of the handle are threaded for interchangeable tips, and the tips are compatible with those of the Nomad Compose Dual Tip brush stylus. The FLeX brush handle flares out slightly just above the brush tip for a comfortable grip that won't slide out of your hand.

Now there is finally a way to store your Nomad Brush stylus safely, as the FLeX brush comes with a clamshell-design hard storage case in clear frosted plastic. The case is a nice touch and can hold any two Nomad brushes, including the original, mini and Compose models. Or you can store one brush and up to three additional brush tips. The Nomad Brush case can be purchased separately, and it's also included with Nomad Compose.

The new design of the FLeX brush is more elegant and sleek compared to the organic styling of the original mil series, and I find it to be an improvement--especially the new more slender, tapered brush tip. My first impression of the storage case was that it looked somewhat cheap and didn't match the sleek design of the FLeX, but it grew on me. I just wish it were easier (and more intuitive) to open.

Just like the Original Nomad Brush, this stylus is a joy to use, and the designers managed to make a near-perfect brush stylus even better. The FLeX Paintbrush stylus retails for US$29.99, and is available nationwide in Best Buy stores, or online from nomadbrush.com.

Nomad FLeX Pros:

  • New design is more refined and looks more elegant
  • Tapered tip is more precise and highly sensitive
  • Perfect length for tablets
  • Lightweight

Nomad FLeX Cons:

  • Case can be hard to open
  • Protruding hinges on the storage case detract from the overall design

Overall Rating: 10/10

nomadbrush.com [Check Prices on Nomad FLeX]

Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

15
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Su-Pen Stylus from MetaMoJi

Su-Pen Stylus from MetaMoJi
The Su-Pen Stylus from MetaMoJi. © MetaMoJi

Su-Pen Stylus from MetaMoJi

The Su-Pen from MetaMoJi is another fiber-tipped stylus, similar to the

TruGlide from LYNKtec

. However, the Su-Pen has a fatter nib and a fatter barrel, and the fabric tip is made of a different material.

The Su-Pen stylus is approximately five inches long, with a removable cap that protects the fabric-covered nib and doubles as a barrel extension. The barrel is approximately 1cm wide and the nib is 8mm, which is a wider nib than I found on most of the other stylus pens reviewed here. The Su-Pen comes in three colors - white, black, and blue.

The Su-Pen's nib assembly can be unscrewed from the barrel and used with other pen or pencil barrels, although the company does not indicate any specs or requirements for replacement barrels, nor does it suggest where they can be purchased. Replacement nibs are sold separately in a two-pack.

The Su-Pen's conductive fiber fabric nib glides smoothly across the touch-screen glass, and will not wear down like the nibs on rubber and silicone-tipped styli. However, I experienced a bit of delayed reaction with dragging motions while using this stylus. This may have been a result of having an anti-glare screen protector on my iPad screen, because I did not experience this delay with my iPhone screen in a Lifeproof case. The stylus tip is fatter than many other styli reviewed here, which makes it more difficult to make very precise, accurate strokes.

The Su-Pen weighs 0.6 ounces and most of this weight is in the tip of the pen, making it feel out of balance, and at one point the stylus flew out of my hand while working with it.

If I hadn't already tested the TruGlide stylus, I might have been more impressed with the Su-Pen. The Su-Pen does look to be more solidly built, but I feel the smaller nib size of the TruGlide provides a better experience for painting, drawing, and note-taking. The Su-Pen stylus sells for US$39.99, and the 2-pack replacement nibs cost $24.99. Taking price into account, I just can't recommend the Su-Pen over the similar TruGlide stylus.

Su-Pen Stylus Pros:

  • Feels solid
  • Glides smoothly on the screen and won't wear down
  • Cap protects nib when not in use
  • Nibs can be used with other pen barrels

Su-Pen Stylus Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Fatter nib reduces precision
  • Delayed responsiveness (possibly due to protective film)
  • Imbalanced weight distribution
  • No storage options (tether, clip, etc.)

Overall Rating: 7/10

product.metamoji.com/en/su-pen/ [Check Prices on Su-Pen]

Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

16
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Sensu Brush & Stylus in One

Sensu Brush & Stylus in One
Sensu is a convertible brush & stylus in one. It comes in either chrome or black matte finish. © Artist Hardware

Sensu Brush & Stylus in One

The Sensu Brush is an artist's brush and stylus combined in a sleek, attractive package. The Sensu Brush consists of a rubber-tipped stylus on one end, and an authentic hair artist brush on the other end. A separate cap serves to protect the bristle end of the stylus, and lengthens the stylus when the brush is used. A comfort grip is integrated into the brush end of the stylus. The Sensu Brush is available in either chrome or matte black finish.

I've raved about Nomad Brushes in the past, and the bristle end of the Sensu is even better than the Nomad FLeX model, with the added bonus of having an ordinary stylus tip integrated into the design. The way Sensu incorporates the cap makes it a much more compact and portable brush stylus than the Nomad FLeX.

Sensu's brush tip size, taper, and flexibility feels just right. It's a bit stiffer than the Nomad Brush bristles, and doesn't seem like it will flare out after extended use. The length of the brush handle with the cap extension is perfect, and the weight and balance feels good. Painting and sketching with the Sensu brush is simply superb.

It's worth noting that you do need to exercise some care when placing the cap over the bristle end of the stylus. If you're not careful, you can bend the bristles. If you do bend a bristle, Sensu recommends removing the damaged bristle with tweezers.

The rubber tip stylus end of the Sensu is about what you would expect from a rubber nib. It's a bit fatter than the Wacom Bamboo Stylus nib, but not too fat. Like most rubber-nib styli, there is some friction on the screen, and some pressure is required to get it to respond. I should note that I use an anti-glare screen protector on my tablets, and this may contribute to the need for extra pressure. The smooth screen of my iPhone didn't require as much pressure.

With the combination of a standard stylus nib, a real-bristle artist brush, and protective cap, the designers of Sensu Brush have hit on a real winner here. Of all the brush-style styli I've tried to date, it's the best. If I could change anything about Sensu, it would only be to replace the rubber stylus nib with a microfiber nib like that of the TruGlide Stylus, but even its current form, I have no hesitation recommending the Sensu Brush.

As of October 2013, Sensu Solo is also available for those who only want a paint brush stylus without the rubber nib tip. Sensu Solo comes in five metallic colors--red, blue, purple, green, and black--and includes a protective cap. Unfortunately, when the cap is removed, there is no way to store it on the brush handle, so I can see it easily getting lost. Other than the cap deficiency, it looks beautiful and is as much a joy to use as the brush tip on the original Sensu combo stylus. And, it's a bit less expensive.

Sensu Brush Stylus Pros:

  • Sleek, attractive design
  • Feels solid and well-made
  • Cap extends the length of the brush and protects brush tip when not in use
  • Brush tip is very responsive
  • 90-day satisfaction guarantee

Sensu Brush Stylus Cons:

  • Nibs are not replaceable
  • No integrated way of attaching the stylus to your tablet

Overall Rating: 10/10

sensubrush.com [Check prices on Sensu Brush]

Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

17
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TruGlide Pro Precision & Artist Paintbrush Tip

TruGlide Pro Stylus & Artist Paintbrush Tip Bundle
The TruGlide Pro Stylus & Artist Paintbrush Tip Bundle includes the Pro Precision stylus in you choice of color, an artist paintbrush tip, and a metal carrying case. © LYNKTec

TruGlide Pro Precision Stylus & Optional Artist Paintbrush Tip

Earlier, I wrote about the

LYNKTec TruGlide Stylus

. Although I loved the responsiveness of the smooth gliding micro-fiber tip, the stylus had an overall cheap flimsy feel to it. I was very pleased to learn of the TruGlide Pro Precision stylus, an improvement over the original which uses the same micro-fiber tip, but has a more substantial pen body--which is threaded for interchangeable nibs. Late in 2013, LYNKTec introduced an Artist Paintbrush Tip for the TruGlide Pro Precision stylus.

The TruGlide Pro Precision stylus comes in two color options--Matte Black or Slate Silver for the body with the tip in the opposite color. I received both, and this stylus looks attractive and feels much more solid and sturdy than the original TruGlide, yet does not feel too heavy to use comfortably. However, of my two review samples, the paint has begun to chip off the black clip on the silver stylus.

On the original TruGlide, the cheap pocket clip was a real shortcoming. While the clip on the TruGlide Pro Precision stylus is much better, it's still almost too tight. I had to stretch it out a bit before I could slide it onto my iPad's Smart Cover. I had my husband test it on a shirt pocket and he felt it was too tight, but commented that he'd rather have it be too tight than too loose because it can always be stretched.

From top to tip, the TruGlide Pro Precision stylus is 4-3/4 inches in length. The replaceable tip unscrews from the body about 1-1/2 inches above the tip. Additional microfiber tips can be purchased separately, as can a capacitive artist paintbrush tip. The paintbrush tip is 3 inches long, making the total length of the stylus 5.8 inches when the paintbrush tip is attached.

I've covered the microfiber tip in my previous review of the TruGlide, so I won't rehash that here. This model offers the same wonderful responsiveness in a nicer body. The optional paintbrush tip is the exciting addition I'll discuss below.

The tapered paintbrush tip is made of a combination of highly conductive organic and synthetic fibers. When using the microfiber tip, a slight pressure is required for screen response. In contrast, the brush tip requires such a light touch that it feels as if you are not even touching the screen.

The responsiveness is equal to, or slightly better than, both the Nomad Brush and the Sensu brush tip. The Sensu brush is slightly stiffer than both the Nomad and TruGlide brushes, and requires a bit more pressure. The TruGlide brush tip is not quite as tapered as the Nomad or Sensu brush tips, but this did not affect its performance in my experience. Having switched between all three in turn, I preferred the responsiveness of the TruGlide brush most of all.

LYNKTec has hit on a winning combination here with the microfiber tip and a paintbrush option. Since TruGlide is available in a stylus/pen combination, it would be great to see a stylus/brush all-in-one combo which did not require unscrewing one tip for the other. But if you are looking for a high performance stylus for general use, writing, drawing, and painting, this is the best combo I have come across.

Currently, you can purchase the TruGlide Pro Precision Stylus in a bundle with the Artist Paintbrush Tip and a metal carrying case. The carrying case is a silver clamshell tin with a foam insert for securing one stylus, an extra nib, and a paintbrush tip. If you already own the Pro Precision Stylus, you can purchase just the paintbrush tip, which includes the carrying case. (These bundle options are subject to change.)

TruGlide Pro Precision Pros

  • Good weight; feels solid and well-made
  • Microfiber-covered rubber tip glides smoothly and won't tear or wear out
  • Artist paintbrush tip and carrying case are available as optional add-ons
  • Exceptional performance and responsiveness with both the micro-fiber tip and paintbrush tip
  • Includes a pocket clip

TruGlide Pro Precision Cons

  • Flexible stylus tip does not provide pin-point accuracy for detail work
  • Pocket clip is tight
  • No dual stylus & brush option; nibs must be interchanged to switch from stylus to brush tip

Overall Rating: 10/10

lynktec.com

Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

18
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Nomad Mini 2 Paintbrush + Stylus

Nomad Mini 2 Paintbrush + Stylus
Nomad Mini 2 is a compact rubber-tipped 2-in-1 stylus with a retractable paintbrush tip on one end and a rubber nib on the other. © Nomad Brush, used with permission

Nomad Mini 2 Paintbrush + Stylus

Nomad brush, the innovators of the paintbrush-tip style of touch screen stylus is back with a new highly portable 2-in-1 stylus, the Nomad Mini 2. The Mini 2 stylus features a small rubber tip on one end and a retractable brush tip on the other end. The stylus measures 5 inches in length, weighs 0.6 oz., and has one of the smallest rubber stylus tips in a non-electronic stylus. The tip is 5.5 mm wide and replaceable. The Nomad Mini 2 body is made of "precision-milled metals" and comes in black and chrome color options.

If you've read my previous stylus reviews, you know I'm a big fan of the microfiber stylus tips (such as the TruGlide) and don't particularly care for a rubber stylus tip. However, the convenience of having a standard stylus tip and a brush tip in one stylus--where the brush is protected and does not require any changing out of parts--very much makes up for the slight deficiency of having a rubber tip.

I tested the Nomad Mini 2 with an iPad Air and really enjoyed the feel of it in my hand. The weight and shape of this stylus makes it very comfortable to use no matter which tip you are working with. The brush tip is highly responsive on the screen, requiring very little pressure to engage. The bulbous end of the stylus provides a comfortable grip as well protecting the brush when it is retracted. Unlike some other brush-style stylus tips, the Nomad Mini 2 fibers are nicely tapered and do not seem like they will flare out after extended use. I have no doubt the retracting mechanism of this stylus will protect the brush from day-to-day wear and tear. However, it is not completely sealed off, so if you drop your Mini 2 stylus in a mud puddle, it's probably not going to fare well!

I'm not quite as enamored with the rubber tip of the Mini 2. It often requires me to repeat gestures with more pressure than I feel is necessary. However, I have found that many stylus tips require additional pressure on the iPad Air screen compared to when I used them with earlier iPad models. So this might be a result of changes in the touchscreen technology used in the iPad Air. Another small issue I have with the rubber tip on the Mini 2, is that I often pick up the stylus to find the rubber tip is loose where it threads onto the stylus body. I've now made it a habit to check the tip and make sure it is screwed on tight before using the stylus. A small price to pay for the utility of having a replaceable tip.

At US$35, the Mini 2 is fairly priced for a 2-in-1 stylus, and I would place it at a tie with my previous top pick, the TruGlide Precision Pro stylus with paintbrush attachment. Which one you choose will be a matter of whether you prefer the Mini 2 convenience of not having to change out parts, over the smooth-gliding microfiber tip of the TruGlide. I'd say if you expect to use the brush tip more often than the standard nib tip, go for the Nomad Mini 2.

Nomad Mini 2 Pros

  • Dual-tip design does not require swapping out parts to switch between brush and nib tips
  • Comfortable weight and shape
  • Paintbrush tip glides smoothly and is nicely tapered
  • Paintbrush tip has built in protection in the form of a retractable handle
  • Looks great and feels good in the hand
  • Rubber tips are replaceable

Nomad Mini 2 Cons

  • Rubber tip is not as smooth and responsive as other tip materials
  • Paintbrush tip is not fully encased when retracted
  • Threaded rubber tip often becomes loose

Overall Rating: 10/10

nomadbrush.com

Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.