I’ve had the opportunity to test many different styluses. Some of these include the Adonit Pixel, the Adonit Pixel Pro, and Wacom’s Bamboo Sketch, which I reviewed here, along with the Apple Pencil.
In the recent past, users could only use the Apple Pencil with the iPad Pro. So in order to use a stylus with a regular iPad, you had to use one of the other brands of stylus.
My goal was to find a stylus that worked great with a regular iPad, and might also cost less.
The results when using all of these styluses with the iPad were very similar. They had trouble syncing with the iPad, had too much delay in the handwriting feature, and the palm rejection technology would frequently malfunction.
This all changed with the release of the new iPad 2018. With this release, Apple made the regular iPad (2018) compatible with the Apple Pencil.
Before this update, it was necessary to compare aftermarket styluses to find the one that was the most compatible with the iPad and carried all of the best features. But with the new iPad 2018 you can use the Apple Pencil, so there is no contest. No need to compare.
The Apple Pencil outperforms the other styluses, so just get one.
The few dollars you might save on another brand of stylus aren’t worth the tradeoff.
Here are some of the reasons I feel that this is non-negotiable:
- Using an Apple Pencil with an iPad means you’ll never have to worry about palm rejection.
- The other styluses I tested the claim that they have palm rejection, but I have experienced that feature not working properly during regular use.
- The second undeniable difference between the Apple Pencil and the other styluses is precision.
- With the Apple Pencil, the writing begins at exactly the spot I place the stylus on the iPad. Even the smallest strokes are captured. I can create dots with the tip of the pencil and every dot shows up on the screen exactly where I touched the Apple Pencil to the iPad.
- With the other styluses, I have often experienced that the writing on the screen is not exactly where I placed the stylus tip. The lines can also be jagged or interrupted, and if I make dots they appear in a slightly different location on the screen
- Another great feature of the Apple Pencil is you can tilt it and it will behave just like a real pencil would; widening the drawn line and giving it the same shading look you get when you shade with a lead pencil.
- The pencil line adjusts in real-time to the different angles you are holding during use. The line seamlessly transitions from large to small with no interruptions or jagged lines. The other styluses I tested don’t have this ability.
The one feature the other brands have that is not on the Apple Pencil is a button on the side of the stylus for undo and redo. To use the undo function with the Apple Pencil you just double tap with two fingers on the screen.
If you don’t want to get an expensive stylus, just get a ten dollar Mixoo passive stylus without the bluetooth connection. The writing function works just as well as the expensive styluses, and you can change the head from a pen-tip to a disk. Since it can’t provide palm rejection, you can’t use your palm on the screen, but the other bluetooth styluses with palm rejection don’t perform that function very well anyway, so what’s the point of getting an expensive one?
My conclusion: Just spend the money on the Apple Pencil.
If you want to use the handwriting function on your iPad 2018 or iPad Pro, it’s essential to get the right screen protector.
Now you might be wondering why protecting your screen will help with the handwriting function.
Let me clarify: I’m not using a screen protector to protect my screen from scratches, I’m using it to make the screen feel more like paper.
I have heard artists confirm that in order to draw realistically and effectively, you have to have the resistance in between your pencil and the drawing surface. This is also important if you are going to be doing serious paperless note-taking.
I reviewed the PaperLike screen protector, in November 2017 for the first time. I liked the feel of it and I gave it a good review. Since then I have had many people ask me if I still use it. Yes, I do!
I am still convinced that this is the best screen protector for your iPad.
Other reviewers have tested the PaperLike screen protector in short videos and given it criticisms. I’ve found that it’s easy to look for things to criticize in a very short-term test. The real testament to this product came after I had used it for a month on my iPad Pro, and then removed it in order to go back to writing on the unprotected screen.
The difference in the feel and comfort was undeniable.
When you slide your hand across the PaperLike protector, it feels like paper. When you write with your Apple Pencil on the PaperLike screen protector it has that familiar friction you are used to feel when you write on paper.
When you slide your hand over an unprotected iPad screen, your hand sticks to the screen. When you write with your Apple Pencil on the unprotected screen it feels like plastic on plastic. In my opinion, that is not a good feeling.
I have tested several other screen protectors; some that have a paper-like texture, and some that are glossy.
Although some of these protectors were cheaper in price (like the Tech Armor), they couldn’t match the performance of the PaperLike screen protector.
When writing on the PaperLike, it actually sounds like you’re writing on paper.
Writing on the other screen protectors sounds like writing on plastic. Also, the surface texture of the other screen protectors feels inconsistent; resulting in the Pencil feeling like it’s speeding up or slowing down as it hits these inconsistent spots on the screen.
If cost is an issue for you, you don’t need to use a screen protector.
If you’re a heavy note-taker, or an artist, the PaperLike screen protector is the product you’ll want.
I think iPads without a cover are quite fragile. If they are used a lot, or accidentally dropped, the screen can shatter, or they can stop working.
When it comes to choosing a cover to protect your iPad, there are a lot of good choices. You don’t need to buy the expensive Apple cover.
For a regular around the house iPad, I find that the basic plastic case with a screen protector provides enough protection for regular use and game-play.
For the iPad Pro, or an iPad that is taken to meetings and classes very often, I prefer a smart cover with a hard back and a magnetic closure on the front.
You can add accessory bands to the covers that will hold your Apple Pencil, or there are covers with a pen-holder built in.
If you want to use a smart keyboard with your iPad Pro and an Apple Pencil case then watch this video to learn why I am not as convinced that there is anything useful out there. If you have any suggestions please let us know in the comments section of this post. I will be more than happy to test out new solutions!
The hardware I covered in the sections above are my basic essentials. These nice-to-have accessories are just that: nice to have.
- Easel-style iPad stand. These aluminum stands are great for holding your iPad upright on a table. They can be adjusted at different angles to reduce glare or make seeing the screen easier.
- Overhead iPad holder. This iPad holder mounts to the ceiling. You can use it in your kitchen for reading recipes or watching cooking shows. It can also be removed from the ceiling and used as a table stand.
- Apple Pencil Cap Replacement. These end-caps can go on the charging end of your Apple Pencil and be used as a rubber end for writing, or you can change your settings on the pencil and use the rubber end as an eraser.
- Portable power bank. I never leave home without my portable power bank. It can charge my phone or my iPad if I get stuck in a situation where my battery is low and I have no way to charge it.
There are so many options when it comes to hardware and accessories.
I hope you have found this list of the hardware I personally use to be helpful. Because I have spent the money and time to test the available gadgets on the market, you don’t have to.
If you have any questions about hardware or comments on the list above, please engage in our Facebook Community, or leave a comment below, so we can carry on the conversation.