Review: Style-iT 2-in-1 Stylus and Pen
“If you see a Stylus, they blew it”. So said Steve Jobs when talking about competing companies’ tablet and touch-phone offerings – and for the most part he’s right. A stylus is a fairly clumsy and old school notion for data entry, especially compared with the speed and relative dexterity of the human finger. However there ARE select times when a stylus can be useful, most notably for the more artistic iPhone/iPad users when using a drawing app like Autodesk’s Sketchbook Mobile ($1.99 App Store). However, now that Draw Something has become one of the biggest-selling iPhone games of all time, odds are there’s quite a few of you out there with almost NO drawing talent wondering if making the move to a stylus is something that might take your game up a notch.
I recently tested out the $24.95 The Style-iT 2-in-1 Stylus and Pen by Bracketron, and I can say with some certainty that the answer is a resounding “maybe”.
Design-wise the Style-iT is a nice size and feels comfortable in your hand, both as a stylus, AND as a regular old ball point pen (thus the “2-in-1″ part of it’s name). It’s available in a wide range of colors that are designed to match the iPad’s smart covers.
I’ve used stlyuses on the iPhone and iPad before, and my major complaint has always been that it appears the “touch” end of the stylus, for technical reasons I assume, pretty much has to be the same size as your finger tip. So unfortunately you do not gain any real accuracy increase in drawing, meaning if you choose to draw with an ultra thin line, that line will originated SOMEWHERE in the middle of a pinky-finger-sized area. The Style-iT is unfortunately no different in this respect. However, what you DO gain from a stylus is a more natural drawing MOTION, and certainly a more comfortable drawing experience, assuming you are investing more time drawing than you would in a 10-second Draw Something doodle.
Now, let me preface this, or post-face this, with saying that I am a fairly artistic person, and I know how to draw. I made my parents shell out big bucks for a pretentious art school and everything. However despite being decent with pencil on paper, I never was really able to make the transition to the Wacom tablet world. Somehow I just can’t seem to get my brain to make the connection between looking up at a screen while my hand was drawing down below. I haven’t tried the Cintiq-stlye of tablets where you draw on the screen itself, but I would imagine it is a similar experience to drawing on an iPad. However what I DID like about those other drawing tablet’s stylus is that they had a fine tip which felt more like drawing to me. The Style-iT feels more like you are “painting”, which is fine if using a painting program, but for a drawing or sketching app it just feels a bit too gushy.
This is not to say the Style-iT is a BAD stylus, it’s just pretty much the same as ANY iOS stylus I have tried. In fact, I went to a secret Adobe meeting the other day and they gave us a stylus as a door prize. The host said “Oh, you’re in for a treat. This stylus has a really fine tip, unlike those others you may have used, so you can actually see where you’re drawing”. Well, that stylus had the exact same size tip as the Bracketron Style-iT, so this appears to be the norm for the time being.
Anyway, here’s two drawings I did using the Style-iT on my iPhone with Autodesk’s Sketchbook Mobile ($1.99 App Store), one of the Pokemon Paturisu, and one of the Flash (yes, I got Flash on the iPhone, ba dum bum bum).
So as you can see, neither drawing will win me an award, but for someone that hasn’t drawn all that much on a 3-inch touchscreen, I think the results came out decent, and I’m sure if I were motivated to keep practicing, I could eventually get competent at it. Now, could I have done these WITHOUT the Style-iT and gotten the same results? Yes, probably. Although the Flash drawing took me close to an hour, and my finger would have been KILLING me. So I definitely recommend using a stylus for any “serious” drawings where you will be doing long-form drawing projects.
Now, as for day-to-day iPhone navigation, you can absolutely use the Style-iT to scroll through webpages, launch apps, and even do some “pecking” style typing, all with pretty much the same accuracy as you would with your finger. I WILL say, however, that you do have to apply a bit more pressure than you do with your finger in order to get the stylus to register, so it’s a little more of a “thumping” motion. I found myself trying to use the stylus to play games, and it actually worked quite well for certain types of games, such as the “Draw Anything, “Hanging with Friends” type of games, as well as games like Dragonvale and Tiny Village, where you are often just tapping on the screen about 300 times to collect coins and such. I actually play so many games on my iPhone that my right index finger has gotten quite sensitive from all the tapping on the screen I do (I know, it’s not exactly “losing a leg in a war” as far as sympathy goes), and using the stylus I was able to give my poor finger a break, which was nice.
So ultimately the point is that using a stylus will not make you a great artist, but it CAN bring back a more comfortable and familar drawing motion to your drawings, and that may help your results. For the casual iPhone user who is NOT suffering my “touch finger”, making the switch to a stylus is not going to increase productivity. However, if you’re one of the 40 million “Draw Something” addicts out there, AND if you’re going to be carrying a pen around with you ANYWAY, I see no reason not to have the other end be a stylus. (My “Draw Something” username is DrMacenstein, btw. But don’t expect this level of effort out of me).
Pros: More comfortable than finger drawing, can ease the strain of “touch finger” injuries, makes extended drawing more enjoyable – included pen is a nice feature
Cons: Tip still too big and gushy for my tastes to make precision drawing on iOs devices possible, but still easier than using a finger.