From doodles to designs – sketch it out with a stylish stylus
Perfect iPad add-on for the holiday season, or what?
Adonit Jot Touch with Pixelpoint
Adonit invented the first fine-point stylus, which used a transparent disc to present a bigger surface to the touchscreen than to your eye. The Pixelpoint does away with the disc, but note that some apps that worked with the original Jot Touch, such as ArtRage, don’t support it.
It’s clear why Adobe licensed this technology for its own Ink stylus: the Pixelpoint feels precise and gives you good pressure control. Compared with previous iPad styluses, it’s impressive. Mais n’exagérons rien: the hard tip sliding over glass still lacks the tactility of pencil on paper, and dynamics are clumsy compared with graphics tablets.
A USB dongle is supplied incorporating a magnetic disc on which the Jot stands for charging. This is convenient as long as you have a horizontal USB port handy, such as those on a MacBook. It’s awkward to use with a powered hub or wall adaptor that presents its ports vertically, although the magnet is strong enough to hold the stylus sticking out horizontally, like a Korean breakdancer, if you really have to.
At around £65, the Jot Touch with Pixelpoint competes directly with Wacom’s Creative Stylus 2. For serious users, both are supported by Adobe’s apps, but Adonit now offers an incentive with its Forge sketching app, which is free, feels very fresh, and exclusively supports the Jot. Have a play with it (everything except pressure variation works without a stylus) before deciding.
More info Adonit
Adobe Ink and Slide
Adobe is the only company to have figured out that you’ll need to carry your iPad pen around but won’t want a case that adds bulk. Under the grey liner of the bespoke white paper retail box is a glossy white case just a little bigger than the prism-shaped Ink stylus. Thanks to the micro USB port on the case lid, the pen doesn’t need one; you just slip it in to charge. An illuminated ring pulses redly.
The end of the pen also lights up in use, in a colour of your choice, or cycles through the rainbow to warn you it needs charging. The Ink’s twisted-Toblerone cross-section fits the hand comfortably, with the single button under your forefinger.
It’s all beautifully made and conspicuously designed, as befits a collaboration with the firm of Robert Brunner, the former Apple design chief who hired Jonathan Ive. As for the actual stylus functionality, it’s bought in from Adonit, so it works the same as the Jot Touch with Pixelpoint.
Ink comes with Slide, previously codenamed ‘Napoleon’, because it’s a short ruler (tip your waitress, folks). This only works with Adobe’s Draw, Line and Sketch apps. Tap the concentric circle icon at the top right, and a virtual ruler appears which you can move around by a pair of touch handles.
Ink pen attached to charger – it also has a full length cover
Slide simply sits on these handles, letting you drag the on-screen ruler around. Tapping the right-hand button, or a physical button on the Slide, pops up templates including polygons and French curves, which you can then draw around using the Ink; your lines snap to the shape.
This is all good fun, and along with tools like Line’s perspective grids it helps you make the most of whatever level of drawing skill you have. But the Slide feels redundant – it’s easier to use two fingers – and the display lag as you move it induces a rolling-shutter seasickness.
At £180, Ink & Slide is ludicrously expensive. The current Amazon price of £110 would be more attractive if the Slide, cute as it is, had a genuine purpose. ®
More info Adobe