Here’s how Apple Pencil beats other iPad styluses, and your best alternate picks

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As mentioned on an earlier Happy Hour podcast, I have a giant collection of iPad styluses, having tested dozens of them since the first iPad debuted in 2010. Earlier this week, my colleague Zac Hall reviewed the best (and most expensive) iPad stylus, Apple’s brand-new $99 Apple Pencil, which is hard to find in stores, and only works with the 12.9″ iPad Pro.

Since the Apple Pencil is two to six times as expensive as some other options, I wanted to spotlight its key strengths and weaknesses relative to rivals, all of which are more broadly compatible and readily available to purchase. During testing, I discovered that the Apple Pencil actually benefits from a surprising little Apple software cheat to make an ultra-fine first impression…

image

As mentioned on an earlier Happy Hour podcast, I have a giant collection of iPad styluses, having tested dozens of them since the first iPad debuted in 2010. Earlier this week, my colleague Zac Hall reviewed the best (and most expensive) iPad stylus, Apple’s brand-new $99 Apple Pencil, which is hard to find in stores, and only works with the 12.9″ iPad Pro.

Since the Apple Pencil is two to six times as expensive as some other options, I wanted to spotlight its key strengths and weaknesses relative to rivals, all of which are more broadly compatible and readily available to purchase. During testing, I discovered that the Apple Pencil actually benefits from a surprising little Apple software cheat to make an ultra-fine first impression…

ipadstyluses-9

Apple Pencil: Fantastic If You’re Willing to Spend $99, Give Up Buttons, And Recharge Often

Once you’ve used the Apple Pencil, you’ll have no doubt that Apple’s first iPad stylus was worth the (very long) wait. Despite the fact that it’s unapologetically and almost entirely plastic, it’s unusually long and perfectly weighted to feel great in an adult hand, benefitting from excellent palm rejection so you can write or draw naturally as your wrist rests on the iPad’s screen. While including pressure and orientation sensors that help the iPad determine how forcefully and on what angle it’s being used, Apple has completely stripped it of buttons, removing the need to manually power it on. And rather than demanding disposable batteries or a charging cable, it has a hidden Lightning plug that lets it recharge directly from the iPad Pro it’s used with. Even if you (reasonably) question the wisdom of some of Apple’s design decisions, they collectively make the Apple Pencil a dead simple writing and drawing tool to use… assuming it has a battery charge.

The iPad Pro screenshot below shows how writing with the Apple Pencil (in Apple’s Notes app) differs from other styluses. What you can easily see is the tighter, thinner, and more detailed writing Apple Pencil delivers, but less obvious are the added hand comfort delivered by palm rejection, or the impact of pressure sensitivity, which makes some of the Apple Pencil writing look darker or lighter based on the way the stylus was applied to the screen. These features are found in a handful of rival styluses, but rarely supported by third-party apps.

Techdomes2015

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