Against all odds, it looks like the humble stylus is making its way back to the into the mobile computing world with devices like the Samsung Galaxy Note and Note 10.1 offering device specific S-Pens. But if you thought is was just Androids getting in on the pen prodding action, it isn’t. Capacitive Styli are hitting it big and Wacom have even released an iPad app, Bamboo Paper taking full advantage of their squidgy topped capacitive styli. In this roundup, we’ll be looking at the Incipio Inscribe PRO, Maroo Te Kao, Mediadevil Magic Wand, Proporta Quillit, Stabilo SMARTball and Wacom Bamboo Stylus Duo. Long gone are the scratchy scrapes of resistive hard nibbed scratchers, this is all about the rubber, so let the battle commence.
Incipio Inscribe PRO Stylus
The Incipio Inscribe PRO is very similar to the Maroo Te Kao in terms of how it feels with a semi-premium tactility and a more affordable price than the Wacom Styli. As with the Bamboo Stylus Duo below, the Incipio Incribe PRO offers both a capatictive stylus and a ballpoint pen, one on either end. It feels more hollow and more tinny than the Duo, which makes sense given its £20 price tag.
So it’s cheaper, but is it worse than the Wacom Pro Duo? The simple answer is yes, unfortunately it is. Not only does it feel less premium, the capacitive nib is larger and less precise, especially when writing and drawing. What’s more, the pen cap doesn’t sit on the reverse when you’re writing, likely making for a lost pen cap in no time flat.
Having said that, if you need a pen and stylus in one, can’t quite stump up for the Proporta Quillit or Wacom Bamboo Duo, and want something more premium than the Stabilo SMARTball, the Incipio Inscribe PRO looks like the way to go.
Maroo Te Kao
Most comparable to the original Wacom Bamboo stylus in terms of form factor, Maroo’s Te Kao is a single function conductive tipped sleek black stylus. Glossy finish but not slippery, it looks elegant and sits comfortably in the hand. It’s somewhere in between the Stabilo and Wacom styli in terms of firmness of the tip, offering a comfortable experience without too heavy handed a press being needed to register a touch.
The Maroo Te Kao is also the lightest stylus on test making for very little impression in a pocket or a bag, though it still manages to feel solid and is comfortably weighted when using it.
Costing $14.99 in the States, this is certainly a reasonably priced, elegant stylus, and is probably our choice if you want a single function stylus that sits somewhere between premium and plastic.
Mediadevil Magic Wand
A little less responsive than the Maroo Te Kao and offering a semi-matte finish and a choice of colours, the Mediadevil Magic Wand would be the stylus to go for if you wanted a choice of fun block colours or an iPad-centric stylus that wasn’t quite as costly as Wacom’s Bamboo.
As mentioned, it’s slightly less responsive than the Incipio, Maro and Wacom Stylus, the Mediadevil still trumped the Proporta Quillit and Stabilo SmartBALL when it comes to stylus use. What’s really cool about it however is the lanyard, which plugs your stylus into the 3.5mm headphone jack on your tab. This stows the stylus when not being used which is a really nice touch. We might be concerned about putting it in a bag attached to our tab in fear of scratching or damaging, however still like the option it gives users.
So if you’re into fun colours, are concerned about losing your stylus and don’t tend to use your 3.5mm headphone jack, for a similar price to Maroo’s offering, the Mediadevil, while slightly less elegant does have its own appeal.
With its metallic sheen and 3-in-1 functionality, Proporta’s Quillit stylus is both a capacitive and resistive stylus as well as a pen. It looks perfectly respectable for an office environment so could be the perfect pointer when demonstrating presentations on your iPad, avoiding finger prints and working well in the process.
The capacitive stylus section is in fact a brush at the rear and replaces a finger well for tasks which don’t require huge amounts of precision. That said, accuracy is lacking making handwriting and drawing a challenge. Being a brush, it can also skew to one direction, we found ourselves retracting and extending it to straighten it out every now and then.
Twist the Proporta’s front end one way to make the pen emerge from its tip and the other for the resistive stylus. The pen is a standard ball-point. Not the greatest we’ve used and neither is it the worst, it definitely gets better once broken in. As for the resistive stylus, it worked very well indeed.
At £24.99, the Proporta Quillit stylus is certainly not the cheapest on test, with its most immediate competitor, the Stabilo SMARTball coming in at £7.99. Still, if you work across resistive and capacitive devices, this is a worthwhile buy, definitely bettering Stabilo’s offering in terms of stylus quality, functionality and design.
Multi-function on a budget, the Stabilo SMARTball is a simple plastic number that bears both a biro and stylus, one on either end. It’s light and perfect for a day to day pen and at £7.99 is affordable too.
As with a most things you do get what you pay for. The Stabilo is definitely the weakest stylus in our roundup. It would on occasion not register touches and requirs the firmest press. Generally though, after a few minutes of use, we became accustomed to pressing a little harder, despite this not feeling totally natural on a capacitive screen, especially one as responsive as the iPad or the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime.
The Stabilo SMARTball is therefore the multi-function for the now-and-then stylus user rather than those who sees themselves using their stylus as a primary means of interacting with their mobile device.
Wacom Bamboo Stylus Duo
We have high hopes for the Wacom stylus given Wacom’s mastery of pen input technology across their graphics tablet range. Unlike their tablets though, the Wacom Bamboo stylus you won’t give you 1000+ degrees of pressure sensitivity. Instead is a totally traditional capacitive stylus with a rubber tip sporting a rich matted body and an elegant metallic top end, underneath which sits a ballpoint pen.
The pen is the most comfortable to use in our tests working smoothly, though something else also separates this stylus from the crowd, the iPad app, Bamboo Paper. It works noticeably better with the Bamboo stylus’ softer tip for some very comfortable pinch, zoom, jot, write, zoom out note taking. It is one of the best stylus apps we’ve used and maks digital notepad creation a doddle.
If you’re an Android user, don’t discount the Bamboo Stylus Duo as an iPad exclusive just yet though. In fact, it was our favourite of the bunch with its softer, more sensitive tip and matte finish. At £29.99 for the ballpoint version and £24.99 for just the Stylus, it is the priciest of the so that might put some off but the Wacom Bamboo styli definitely come with a recommendation from us.
So that wraps up our multi-function and single-function stylus roundup. Users should definitely consider the Wacom Bamboo stylus / Bamboo Paper app combination above the rest if money is no object. Coming in at a minimum of £25 RRP, they aren’t cheap, but the tips feel the most precise, the build is richest and both the single and multi – function variants look great with matte bodies and classical styling. The Maroo Te Kao, MediaDevil Magic Wand and Incipio Inscribe Pro are great alternatives as far as the capacitive nib goes despite some design niggles with the latter. Finally, if precision isn’t the main objective and you want a more full-sized pen, the Proporta Quillit or the more affordable Stabilo Smart Ball offer full pen bodies despite sacrificing on stylus accuracy.