Monday, June 18, 2012

Stylus - or the search for the right iPad pen - part 1

Today I'd like to talk about using a stylus for drawing on the iPad. Maybe you remember Steve Jobs when he presented the iPad for the first time to the public.
He was proud that the iPad didn't come with a stylus and that it didn't need a stylus. In 2010 he said: "If you see a stylus, the blew it".

Well, he was surely right in regards of the everyday use of the iPad, but drawing and painting is another thing. When it comes to drawing on the iPad you'll quickly dicover that your finger isn't the ideal tool to get fine lines precisely on the iPad screen.

So imho you need a kind of stylus if you want to do draw on the iPad without getting completely frustrated.

By now even Apple itself got two quite new patents for two different kinds of stylus. So maybe we will see an Apple stylus one day, who knows.

If you think a little bit about it and have a look around for the kind of technology that is available today, you will be aware that with the right technology, the iPad could really go through the roof as a drawing tool.

Maybe you know the grafic tablets from Wacom, especially those from the Cintiq-series. These are flat screens where you can draw directly on with pressure sensitive pens and a high precission. I own the smallest Cintiq tablet (the so called Cintiq 12WX) and it is really great. The downside (if any) is the fact that it's "only" a grafic tablet. So beside the Cintiq you need a pc, mac or laptop to use it and there are lots of cables that have to be connected between them and the Cintiq. This makes the Cintiq at least not ideal to carry it around with you even my Cintiq is declared as the "portable" one from the Cintiq-series. I guess that means you can lift it :-). Anyway the Cintiq is a really great product.

So my dream is to have a pen for my iPad that works the same way as the one from the Cintiq. It would be so cool if I could draw as precise on the iPad as on the Cintiq with pressure sensitivity and all the other bells and whistles.

If there would be such a pen for the iPad, I think, the combination of this pen and the iPad woud give Wacom a hard time because it would directly compete at least with the smallest Cintiq-tablett. Unfortunately I think, it wouldn't be easy for a third party company to produce such a pen because to get it to work like a Cintiq pen the iPad has surely to be modified. So if not Apple itself will do such an iPad/pen combination, I think, it's more likely that Wacom will come out with a kind of iPad rival with a pen than a third party company producing such a pen for the iPad. But I'm still hoping :-).

Lately there are pens of a new kind on the rise that work not as capacitativ stylus but with a special kind of ultrasonic technology. I'll write about them later in this post.

So untill the day my pen-dreams will come true, I have to use what's available to get the drawings on my iPad done.

That's why I bought one stylus after the other to find the ideal drawing tool. Because this blog isn't only about presenting some drawings but also about apps and other stuff, I thought it might be a good idea to talk a bit about the these drawing tools for the iPad. In the following I will share some thoughts about a few of them:


1) The stylus, I'm doing most of my iPad drawings at the moment is the Bamboo stylus from Wacom. It's a bit pricey as it costs about 30 €. But it has a good heavy feeling in your hand and a good quality. It has a rubber tip (about 6mm diameter) that is smaller than those tips found on most other stylus's (often about 8mm diameter) and the tip has a good hardness, not too soft and not too hard. you can also buy replacement tips for this stylus. This makes it my prefered stylus at the moment. By now there's also a combination of the Wacom Bamboo stylus with a ball point pen available that is called "Bamboo Stylus Duo".

2) The one you see below the bamboo ist the first stylus I bought. It's the pogo sketch stylus from Tenonedesign. It is quite ok and its tip is of a similar size as the bamboo which is an advantage for drawing precisely. Personally I didn't like the material the tip is made of. It's a kind of plastic foam and it looses its shape too fast, I think. I saw on the Tenonedesign website that they are selling now an improved version of this stylus called "Pogo Sketch +". This one seems to have a rubber tip now, so it might be better than the first version, but I haven't tried it by now.

3) The next one with number three is a stylus I didn't know exactly by which company it was produced. I guess it was branded as from Networx, but I googled a bit and found out that exactly this stylus is available from several different companies. So I guess, they just rebranded it. This stylus is also not bad, but it's rubber tip is larger than the one on the bamboo, which makes it less usefull for drawing, at least for me.

4) The fourth one on the picture is from Just Mobile. It has a quite wealthy finish as it is made from one piece of aluminum. This is a nice pen if you want it for using your iPad without leaving fingerprints on the screen. But for drawing it is not ideal because its shape is too bulky to make it a good drawing tool and its rubber tip is also bigger than the one from the bamboo.

5) The stylus, you see on this picture is also a really nice one. It's the Pogo Sketch Pro from Tenonedesign. It's tip is about the same size as the bamboo pen and it comes with two different kind of tips, a rubber one and one that is made of the same foam like plastic as the normal Pogo Sketch (see above No 2). The whole stylus comes in a nice bag to store it and you can buy replacement tips separately. Its shape is very good for drawing, even better than the one of the bamboo. The reason why this pen is not my favourite one is that the tip is not as responsive as the bamboo one. Sometimes when I'm drawing, it seems that the Pogo Sketch Pro didn't get the "information" evenly. It's a little bit hard to explain, but the tip feels a bit "dry" on the iPad screen. Maybe this is just a personal thing so if you have the chance to test this stylus on your own, I highly recommend to do it, as beside my personal complains it's really a nicely made drawing tool.

Part two of this stylus thoughts/reviews will follow soon

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