Need to buy a gift for somebody who loves technology but you can’t afford the big ticket items?
Adonit Jot Pro capacitive stylus
This highly accurate stylus is ideal for sketching and painting on capacitive touchscreens.
- Highly accurate tip
- Low-friction design, slides cleanly on glass screens
- Silent when moving nib across the screen
- Magnetised body sticks to tablets like the iPad and Surface
- Doesn’t work well at acute angles to the screen
- Takes a bit of practise to get used to
Almost perfect, a highly-recommend stylus for tablet-bound artists, designers and amateurs who like to doodle. Slightly more suitable for smaller (7–8in tablets), but will work with any capacitive-touchscreen device.
Price$ 45.00 (AUD)
A stylus may seem a small, incidental accessory, next to your expensive iPad or Galaxy Tab, but it’s the perfect tool to turn any capacitive-touchscreen device into a basic but workable graphics tablet.
The move a few years back from resistive to capacitive touchscreens saw a change in stylus technology: with a resistive touchscreen, literally any pointy-thing would suffice. Nothing pointy enough to scratch the screen, if you were smart, but you could happily use the tip of a normal pen with the nib retracted.
Capacitive touchscreens, which rely on the conductivity of the human finger, won’t even work through gloves: let alone with a traditional ‘plastic stick’ stylus. Hence, with a modern tablet such as the iPad or Microsoft Surface, you need a specially-designed capacitive stylus.
We tested the Jot Pro with a number of different tablets, across a range of applications.
The Jot Pro is a metal tube, 127mm long and 10mm in diameter. It has a 50mm-long rubber grip at the forend for comfort and control. In other words, it’s a traditional metal-bodied pen.
A screw-cap protects the unique nib design – when removed, the cap can be screwed on to the top of the pen to avoid losing it, and to provide some extra length (this brings the pen up to 140mm long) – that length is useful, for reasons we’ll get to later.
At a glance, the Job Pro’s nib looks just like that of a standard ballpoint pen – a metal point with a small ball on the end. However, the ball acts as a universal joint to a little 7mm-diameter clear plastic disc, which can rotate in any direction up to about 45-degrees from the vertical. Yeah, it’s confusing – check out the picture below.
When using the pen, the disc must sit flat on the screen. The touchscreen only picks up the little inner-disc of metal at the center, giving you a very precise point. The clear outer disc means you can see what you’re doing, without a huge pen-nib obscuring your view. It’s the strangest stylus design I’ve ever seen, and it works brilliantly.
I tested the Jot Pro on a range of touchscreen devices including the Microsoft Surface Pro, HP Slate 7 Android tablet, HP Split x2 Windows tablet/laptop hybrid, and – for the most in-depth testing, Apple’s 7.9-inch iPad Mini.
On the iPad, I tried the Jot Pro with drawing applications Procreate, AutoDesk SketchBook Pro and AutoDesk SketchBook Ink. As a capacitive stylus is detected in the same manner as your finger, it is compatible with any application – however, I wanted to use a range of drawing applications to assess its accuracy and usefulness.
The Jot Pro really is terrifically accurate: it’s worlds ahead of using your finger, and was more accurate than any capacitive stylus I’ve used before. In fact, it proved more accurate than the Microsoft’s Surface Pro 2’s active digitizer, which I never could get calibrated quite right.
The downside of a capacitive stylus, compared to an active digitizer on a tablet like the Surface Pro, or a graphics tablet as sold by Wacom, is the lack of pressure-sensitivity. You can’t push harder to make a darker or thicker line, as you can with a ‘real’ graphics tablet or pressure-sensitive digitizer pen. For a tablet without active digitiser support however, that’s just a fact of life.
The Jot Pro is a step-up from the high friction of rubberised styli, which can make it difficult to draw smooth curves.
The plastic disc of the Jot Pro slides smoothly and silently across all of the glass touchscreens I tested it with. This is a step-up from the high friction of rubberised styli, which can make it difficult to draw smooth curves.
Most of the styli I’ve tried previously haven’t been noisy, per se, but I’ll admit that you can often hear them moving across the screen, like a pen scratching on paper. The Jot Pro makes no such noise, and Adonit advertises that fact. Honestly I’m not sure who would really care, but I can at least verify the claim. Perhaps if you have some sort of quiet-zone zen room, soundproofed and isolated from the world so that your artistic endeavours may never be interrupted, a silent stylus will support your serenity.
The only real problem with the Jot Pro is a matter of its nib design. Yeah, can’t have something that daringly different without introducing a bug or two.
Because of the little ball-joint connecting pen and disc, and because the disc must be flat to the screen for the pen to be registered, you cannot hold the pen barrel at more than 45-degrees to the screen. This takes some getting used to – I always have my Wacom stylus calibrated to work at a much more acute angle.
Another, external factor comes into play here: a capacitive stylus works just like a finger on the screen. It’s not like an active digitiser pen, which is recognised via a completely different process. There is no way for your tablet to distinguish the Jot Pro from your finger. Why does this matter? Because modern tablets support multi-touch, and will track multiple fingers on screen at once. While you’re drawing with the stylus, you have to carefully avoid letting your hand rest on, or even brush briefly against, any other part of the screen. Otherwise, you’ll end up with little ink-marks in the corners of your drawing where your hand brushed past at best, and totally unpredictable graphical disasters at worst. Nothing you can’t solve by reaching for the ‘undo’ button, but it left me reaching for the undo button a lot.
Trying to avoid resting your hand on the screen as your draw is hard, when your tablet screen is large and you can’t incline the pen any more than 45-degrees. You can’t reach in from the edge with your pen almost horizontal to the tablet surface, because it just won’t be detected. You have to hover your hand over the screen, keeping the pen close to vertical.
I suspect if you’re a ‘real’ artist, and have experience drawing or painting on actual paper or canvas, you might be better at this than I. I’ve only ever drawn on a graphics tablet, where I can rest my hand wherever I want. It’s not going to smudge ink, or come away covered in paint. Still, we can’t all be so talented, and I quite like my lazy shortcuts. As such, I found the Jot Pro wasn’t quite as suitable on larger tablets. With my own iPad mini, it was ideal: I could hold the pen at the right angle while keeping my hand well clear of the screen.
Speaking of the iPad mini, the Jot Pro is strongly magnetised so that it will cling to the hinge-edge of tablets such as the iPad, Microsoft Surface, and anything else with a magnetised cover. It stuck well to the iPad with Smart Cover on or off, and to the Surface with or without the Type Cover. It doesn’t adhere strongly enough to transport like that, but it will hold the pen if you’re sketching on your lap and want to switch to finger-controls for a minute or two.
The Adonit Jot Pro has a novel nib design which proves highly accurate, low-friction and pleasantly quiet.
I’d highly recommended it to anyone with a capacitive-touchscreen tablet such as the Apple iPad, Samsung Galaxy Tab or Microsoft Surface RT – though for drawing, it’s particularly suited to smaller tablets, such as the iPad mini or Nexus 7.
Even if you don’t sketch, draw or paint, the Jot Pro is great for getting around websites, productivity software and even tap-and-drag games like Words With Friends. However, a super-cheap alternative will probably suit you just as well for those less accuracy-dependent applications.
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