stylus November 24

AAPL: 118.88

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Aside from its larger 12.9-inch display and faster A9X processor, the iPad Pro stands out from all other iPads to date thanks primarily to a new accessory: the Apple Pencil. For now, the Apple Pencil can only be used with the iPad Pro, and offers quantifiable differences in both good and bad ways compared with third-party styluses that have previously been sold for iPads.

While Pencil is not required to use the iPad Pro, it’s especially interesting because it’s Apple’s first official solution for handwriting, drawing, and precision input on iPads beyond finger touches and gestures. By contrast, Apple’s Smart Keyboard for iPad Pro is the company’s second or third typing solution for iPads; the company offered an official solution for physical keyboard input on iPads way back when the original iPad launched in 2010 with the short-lived Keyboard Dock, and has sold Wireless/Magic Keyboards as well. What does Apple’s first digital stylus bring to the iPad? Read on…

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stylus November 11

AAPL: 116.11

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Will iPad Pro replace your MacBook? With the iPad Pro officially going on sale today, there is lots of discussion about what this means for the iPad category. Can it be a true Microsoft Surface competitor? Does the addition of official keyboard and stylus companion accessories from Apple mean the company has finally changed its stance on so-called hybrid laptop/tablet devices?

While the majority of reviews praised the bigger form factor, pen input with the new Apple Pencil, and benchmarks on par with some MacBook models, many reviewers pointed out iOS as the limiting factor in making the iPad Pro a PC replacement or hybrid competitor. But does it need to be?

Apple’s marketing message for the new iPad Pro is unmistakably clear. The company is romancing pro users (like Disney and Pixar animators) for the launch of the new device with most of its ads and marketing material focusing on content creation possibilities with the larger display and new Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard. And companies like Adobe are taking full advantage by making sure there is a lot of pro software available at launch. 

But how will YOU be using the new iPad Pro? Will you attempt to replace your MacBook or other device in one way or another? Or will the larger iPad Pro simply complement your current lineup of devices and add new possibilities to your workflow? That’s the question we’re asking in today’s poll, and we’ll be continuing the discussion in the comments below.  expand full story

stylus November 10

AAPL: 116.77

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With iPad Pro officially going on sale tomorrow (possibly at midnight tonight Cupertino time if Apple follows past launches), it’s time to move our attention to accessories for the device.

Will you go the Apple route and stock up on the official but pricey Apple keyboard, case & cover, and Apple Pencil? Or perhaps you’re looking for accessories with features that aren’t offered by Apple’s. Whatever the case, below we’ve started rounding up the best of the best accessories for iPad Pro. Most are available to order now while a couple are coming soon. We’ll be adding more as they pop up in the weeks following the iPad Pro’s launch. expand full story


stylus September 2

AAPL: 112.34

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Apple’s September 9th event is set to be one of the company’s largest events in history, as is reflected by the expansive size of its San Francisco venue. Besides a pair of new iPhones, the substantially revamped Apple TV set top box, and new bands for the Apple Watch, Apple is currently planning to debut a pair of new iPads at next week’s event: the long-rumored iPad Pro, and a refreshed version of the iPad mini, according to trusted sources…

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stylus September 1

AAPL: 107.72

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I keep a box with around 20 iPad styluses next to my desk, so every time a new stylus arrives, I can easily compare it against its predecessors and rivals. There hasn’t been much functional innovation in the category for a couple of years, but stylus form factors, batteries, and buttons have changed, generally getting simpler and smaller after each generation. Even so, Adonit’s new Jot Dash ($50) surprised me. It comes less than 6 months after the release of Jot Script 2 (reviewed here), but looks and feels a lot different from its predecessor. Jot Script 2 costs $25 more, feels fairly thick, and uses Bluetooth 4 for (somewhat iffy) palm rejection. Jot Dash cuts both its price and size by dropping the Bluetooth hardware, while keeping the 1.9mm fine writing tip that made Script special.

Why would Adonit simplify its prior electronic styluses by removing Bluetooth? Perhaps because relatively few developers have been willing to add Bluetooth stylus support to their apps. Today, a stylus would be considered to have “good” software support if 30 of the 1.5 million iOS apps included hooks for its special features; Jot Script 2 lists just under 20 fully supported apps. So, like the $60 Lynktec Rechargeable Apex I recently reviewed, Jot Dash doesn’t require special software support — it has a simpler feature set that works with all apps and all iPads, including the iPad Air 2. It similarly includes a rechargeable battery, which gets topped off with any available USB port. The differences are the $10 lower price, and the fact that it feels a lot more like a standard-sized pen…

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stylus August 20

AAPL: 112.65

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Everyone knew the iPad Air 2’s marquee features — a thinner, lighter body, Touch ID, a gold color option and much faster A8X processor — but fewer people realized that Apple also made subtle changes to the new tablet’s screen, not only improving its visibility outdoors but also changing the way it registered touch input. All of the tweaks added up to a noticeably better user experience, but one category of accessories unexpectedly wound up broken: digital styluses. As it turns out, fine-tipped styluses use tiny electrical pulses to trick touchscreens into thinking they’re fingers, and the pulses needed to be recalibrated to work reliably with the iPad Air 2’s new screen. Adonit was the first to release an iPad Air 2-compatible digital stylus, the $75 Jot Script 2 (reviewed here), and now there’s a second, more affordable option.

Lynktec is one of several stylus makers that have sought a middle ground between expensive $80-$100 Bluetooth styluses and entry-level $20-$30 styluses that lack electronic hardware. The second-generation Rechargeable Apex Stylus ($60) is, like its predecessor, a mostly silver pen with a battery inside and a shirt clip on its edge. It loses the plasticky black top and bottom in favor of a more thoroughly metallic appearance, retaining five rubber finger grips near its tip for comfort. And while it keeps the 2mm polymer writing tip of the original Rechargeable Apex, it’s now backed by electronic circuitry that works properly with the iPad Air 2, as well as all earlier iPads and iPhones…

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