I have written before that I suffer from a problem where I’m rarely able to make it through a meeting where I don’t have to describe an idea by drawing some part of it. This historically meant that I carried a velum tablet and Sharpie everywhere I went and the desks of my designers were littered with the resulting sketches. Enter the iPad and I wanted to evolve this process into the digital age but I’ve really had a hard time finding a stylus I actually like and can use on a regular basis.
Through course of my travels and speaking at various conferences I’ve been given a lot of different stylus to try out and none have made it very long before I give them away because I didn’t like them. I’ve tried the Griffin Technology stylus which always seemed to get good reviews but when I got my hands on it I was really surprised to find it was really tiny (think the stubby little pencil you used to keep score at miniature golf courses when you were a kid) and really light. I liked The Bamboo Stylus from Wacom for a while but ultimately it’s small size and light weight grew increasingly irritating until I stopped using it too. The only good thing that came out of that phase of my search was the Bamboo Paper iPad application which remains one of my most beloved applications that I use all the time.
So when I found a shiny new iPad 3 sitting on the desk in the office a few weeks ago I thought it was time to once again renew my endless quest for the prefect stylus. I started by going through some bookmarks I had been collecting for various stylus that had caught my eye for one reason or another and found a Kickstarter project that had intrigued me called Jot: Capacitive Touch Stylus by Adonit!. I remember thinking their idea had a lot of promise but the stylus looked kind of weird look because the tip of the stylus has a flying saucer like clear plastic pad on the end of it. So after surveying my options I decided to take a gamble and give the Jot Pro a try because it was the only stylus that seemed to be doing anything different. At this point I have been so frustrated that I will take a gamble on something different over the same problem with a new brand name on it.
I have spent the past week putting it though it’s paces and while it’s still early on – I really love it. Some of the key differences I like are:
Feels like a real pen
The first big difference is when you hold the Jot Pro stylus it actually has a nice weight to it. Since it is metal it’s a little heavier than your run of mill ball point pen and feels about the same weight as a nice fountain pen. I love this because smaller and lighter stylus never felt right in my hand because I would always be so aware that it didn’t feel normal. Over time that active sense of using something out of ordinary became more and more annoying which is a big reason why I stopped using previous stylus.
The other thing I love is that it is almost the length of a real pen. This may sound silly but I am 6’4″ and have big hands so with the smaller stylus I would have to hold them only with my fingers. This is obviously different from the way I would hold a pen, pencil or even the stylus on my Wacom tablet I use to design with. That change in drawing position with my hand-made a difference and once again annoyed me that I was stuck with this stylus that looked like it should be used on the score card at a miniature golf course. The length of the Jot Pro fixes that problem so you can hold it like a real pen.
Responsive and really accurate
Because of the large tip on previous stylus it was always more like drawing with a big crayon instead of a pen. This is where that weird-looking little flying saucer clear plastic pad on the end of Jot Pro really makes a difference. When I draw with the Jot Pro in Bamboo Paper you see right away that it’s really accurate and really responsive. With other stylus I had a problem when I would start to draw it would take half a second for the stylus to register with the iPad and I never liked that delay. I wanted the stylus to act like a real pen and not constantly remind me I was using a digital device. The Jot Pro solves that problem and is so accurate that I can take hand written notes on my iPad with the same accuracy that I would have with a regular pen and paper. The only thing that may bother some people is that the plastic disc on the tip of the stylus makes a tiny tapping sound then it hits the screen since it isn’t a soft material like other stylus use. For me it is a trade-off I am more than willing to make for the accuracy, responsiveness and feel when I use it.
Details, details, details…
I have found that the objects in my life that I really use and love over a long period of time have been designed by people who really use, understand and love the products they create. Those products demonstrate a real understanding and insight into the consumer who is going to use it and every aspect of the product just makes sense. Apple would be an easy example of this philosophy but for me a recent example is Dyson. I could never understand why people would pay $500 for what I thought was nothing more than an over designed, brightly colored plastic vacuum. But when my last vacuum died I broke down and bought one based on their popularity and that their design style intrigued me. Since then based on their functional design and performance I have become a low-level Dyson addict who now owns an upstairs and a downstairs Dyson vacuum.
I see that same type of attention to detail and insight in the Jot Pro with a few little touches like the rubber grip on the middle of the pen that keeps your hand from sliding or the magnet in the pen that lets it easy attach it to the sides of your iPad. They are small things but them demonstrate the type of insights that few people are probably consciously aware of but I really love.
I realize that it may seem a little crazy and probably sounds too much like a paid product placement to dedicate a post that is longer than most things I write about full-blown Web site re-designs or advertising campaigns to a stylus. In case you were wondering I did pay full-price for my Jot Pro and I’ve never talked to anyone at the company – this is a real review. I am so overly effusive because for me drawing and creativity are so deeply linked and such a vital part of my process that when I finally found a stylus I love it’s worth a bit of a celebration. So if you are like me and are tired of drawing with child sized pens do yourself a favor and pay the $30 to pick up a Jot Pro.