There are lots of accessories for the various generations of iPad, but catching my eye recently were the range of styluses available. What is a stylus? Basically, it is a pen for your iPad or iPhone (or finger-alternative perhaps?) There are many models available and a quick internet search will show you more than you thought. I simply went down to electronics and entertainment section of my local Big W store and found a nice range there. There was a blingy stylus for the yummy mummy or glamour iPad user, one that had a real pen inside, some attached to iPad stands, and styluses in various colours. They all work exactly the same, so I picked two of the more basic varieties, each just under $20. Shop around and you will find similar styluses at similar or cheaper prices. Any of these styluses will work on any touch screen device, including other Tablets and Smart Phones.
Why Use a Stylus?
Accuracy – The main advantage of a stylus over just using a finger is accuracy. This might not matter much with most of the apps I’ve reviewed here, but it is certainly a bonus when it comes to drawing. For most drawing and for large writing (e.g. in painting Apps) I find that the finger works just as well, but if you want to do small details, the stylus can be very useful. I can’t speak from experience for iPhone or iPod touch users, but I imagine it would be a lot easier to use the keyboard with a stylus than with a finger. Perhaps someone could offer a comment below.
Clarity – When using my finger, I sometimes find that my hand obscures much of the screen and even the point I’m tapping. Using the stylus has meant that I have been able to see what I’m tapping more accurately. I took a couple of photos below to compare my hand and the stylus. (I was taking the photos with my left hand in a rather awkward position, so do excuse the lack of professional quality.)
Cleanliness – Although I make my children wash their hands before they use the iPad, and despite having a screen guard permanently on my iPad, it quickly becomes covered with finger prints and general muck. Using the stylus has made a noticeable difference to the cleanliness of my iPad screen, and I am not having to wipe it as often.
Which Style of Stylus?
As mentioned above there are many styluses available, and all the ones I have seen feature the same type of soft, rounded rubber tip that mimics your finger tip. I went for two basic models, but feel free to go for the ones covered with bling, shaped like rocket ships or crayons, or any other quirky one you might find in a store or in cyberspace.
The first of my styluses is the Belkin Stylus Pen for iPad/Tablet. It feels like I’m holding a normal pen and it has a clip that means it could be clipped to folders, notebooks etc. As it is shorter than the average pen, I find it easy to slip into my wallet, and it looks classy.
The Gecko Stylus GLOW Pink is my second stylus. (This is also available in green, orange and blue.) This stylus is fluorescent in colour and glow-in-the-dark, so is easy to find both in the day and the night as it stands out (unless your children have scattered bright crayons around with gay abandon). The Gecko Stylus GLOW has been designed for children to use and features an ergonomic, triangular grip and a rubber exterior. You won’t have to worry about it scratching your iPad screen. It is the same length as my first stylus and a similar weight, but I have to confess that I find it more comfortable to use. Not that the other one isn’t comfortable, but the triangular grip and the non-slip rubber just feels nicer in my hand. More importantly, I can now get my children to practice their pencil grip while they are practicing their hand writing using rED Writing and another handwriting App that will be reviewed shortly. It is a little chunkier than the Belkin stylus so I won’t be trying to slip it into the wallet.
Now that I’ve tried them, I think I’d miss the stylus if it wasn’t around. I can do everything I want to on the iPad without one, but it makes life easier (and more accurate) with one, so you could say that it adds a little extra functionality. I like the way that I can see more of the screen while I use it. I know there are a few Mums who read this blog who might like to know that the one with all the bling is under $30 if you want to drop hints for Mothers’ Day.
- Stylus Shmylus – Do You Need One? (ipadnotebook.wordpress.com)
- The iPad Isn’t Ready for Working by Hand (readwriteweb.com)
- Tips for using iPads and similar devices with Kids (onsarahsipad.wordpress.com)