Our favorite pressure-sensitive pens
Of course our favorite stylus is the awesome Apple Pencil. If you have an iPad Pro, that’s really what you want. But if you have an older iPad, you have options aplenty.
Intuos Creative Stylus 2
After the Apple Pencil, this is our favorite pen. Wacom’s original Creative Stylus was nice but like all of the first-generation pens, it suffered from a big bulbous rubber tip that made it hard to see what you were drawing. CS2 addresses that. We like the extra protection of the cap on Wacom’s Bamboo Fineline, but its plastic clip feels fragile.
We like Wacom. They’ve led the pressure-sensitive stylus business since the days of the RS-422 serial port, which tickles our nerd nostalgia nerves, and besides, they are located in Vancouver Washington, just across the river from Avatron Software.
Jot Touch with Pixelpoint
Like the Wacom Intuos CS2, Adonit’s Jot Touch with Pixelpoint has a very fine tip. It feels great to draw with, and glides pleasingly on the tablet surface. Our biggest gripe with this stylus is that it is nearly perfectly round, and will not think twice about rolling off your table and onto the floor. Or down the airplane aisle or into a puddle of chai latte at the coffee shop. Great pen, but they should have had this covered.
This is by far the prettiest pen of the lot. If you want to be a pen collector, this deserves a spot on your shelf. Unfortunately, at US$199, it should also be the most reliable, but it’s the only pen we’ve seen die. After just a few uses, the battery stopped taking a charge. A little googling reveals that this is a common problem with the Adobe Ink pen. To its credit, Adonit, which makes this pen and licenses it to Adobe, replaced it promptly and cheerfully.
The Pencil has a unique, attractive design. It feels good in the hand and doesn’t roll off the table. And it has an eraser, which is unique among the pens we’ve tested. Strangely though, although it does use Bluetooth LE to communicate with iOS, Pencil is not pressure-sensitive. It does offer palm rejection and can distinguish between eraser and stylus tip, but we didn’t add support for those features to Air Display 3.
On iOS 8, you can simulate pressure with the Pencil by changing the angle of the pen. But you can also get the same effect with your finger. So we’d recommend that over Pencil. If you are feeling adventurous, you can even sharpen the tip of a breakfast sausage and use that. But you may not like the greasy streaks on the iPad screen.