Let’s face it, the new iPad with its enhanced retina display screen is an artist’s dream come true. It’s a portable canvas with an immense powerhouse of tools and apps available to make almost any artistic dream come true. Currently the best iPad stylus for artists is the Nomad Brush, hands down no doubt about it. But even the Nomad Brushes paintbrush bristles and zen like flow is limited since it’s not pressure sensitive. The next generation of iPad styli (styluses… stylusen…?) are going to be pressure sensitive. Here’s a list of the top 5 pressure sensitive iPad styluses that are coming soon!
Adonit is a cool company, they raised a ton of cash on Kikcstarter and released their first stylus the Jot and Jot Pro. Very soon they will be releasing the Jot Touch which will be a pressure sensitive pinpoint accurate iPad stylus. The Jot Touch has a lot of things going for it- it connects via bluetooth to the iPad so there’s no added dongle necessary, it will work cross platform on iOS, Android, and Windows, it’s unique clear swivel nib/disc thingy allows for some of the most precise drawing you will find anywhere, it charges via a handy dandy usb adaptor tray which is very cool looking, and finally it’s got 2 shortcut buttons on the side a la wacom. Already Jot is working with a number of major drawing apps to integrate their SDK so once it’s released it will be ready to go. No word on pricing or availability yet that we could find though, so keep your eyes and ears tuned!
Pros: Bluetooth enabled, precise drawing, shortcut keys, very stylish
Cons: Swivel tip/disc is a little strange for some, only 200 levels of sensitivity
Ten One makes some pretty cool styluses already. Their top secret project was recently declassified on their site and is code named Blue Tiger… which sounds a bit like animal cruelty if you ask us. Their new pressure sensitive stylus will be compatible with Bluetooth 4.0 which means it’s got a tiny battery that will last months between charge and doesn’t need to be paired with devices (we assume it works by magic). The stylus will have palm rejection capability, full pressure sensitivity, lights and shortcut buttons, and will be produced by an already trusted source of high quality styluses. There are currently pre-production models available now for developers to test and integrate into their SDKs, but there’s no word on pricing or availability yet. Check out this video the bad boy in action.
Pros: Bluetooth 4.0, shortcut buttons, long battery life and no pairing needed, palm rejection
Cons: Pre-production versions don’t look very stylish so far…
This successful kickstarter project raised over $65k to make a pressure sensitive stylus for the iPad. This stylus doesn’t use wifi or bluetooth to communicate so it will work while your device is in airplane mode. It uses a high frequency speaker and sounds to communicate the pressure sensitivity to the iPad via the microphone. It reportedly has 1024 levels of pressure sensitivity, has 2 shortcut buttons, uses a similar nib/disc to the Jot Touch, has a nice cap/clip for sticking in a pocket, and has a rechargeable batter inside with the battery life of 80-90 hours! It’s also quite thick, so for those who have a hard time gripping thinner styluses, this one will be a life saver. We’re not too sure how well the high frequency noises will work with the iPad, and we’re not too sure if it will freak out the dog/cat or induce migraine headaches when you are drawing either. The pen will retail between $70-$100, and is expected to ship towards the end of May.
Pros: Works in airplane mode, 90 hour battery life, cool design, shortcut keys, cap with pocket clasp
Cons: Possibly will freak out any small animals in your vicinity… might have issues of there is ambient noise…
Another wildly successful kickstarter project was the iPen. This project was unique in that instead of using a thick tip like most other styluses it featured almost a ballpoint tip that was just like a real pen. The magic is in the little dongle that plugs into the base of the iPad. The pen relays information to this dongle at a rate of 60 samples per second, and that is translated into proximity/pressure/location within the drawing app. This pen features palm rejection capability, has a handy cap with a pocket clasp, and is currently working with a good number of drawing apps. It is currently in the hands of it’s kickstarters who are reporting mixed reviews on the product. Though the developers are working to right the issues as they come. The pen will retail for $89, and will be released to the general public soon.
Pros: Feels like drawing with a pen with the thinnest nib available for an iDevice
Cons: Ugly white color, currently experiencing some issues with functionality, needs an external dongle to work
Charles Mangin from the Open Hardware Project is currently running a kickstarter project to raise $60k for his open source PressurePen. This pen would be an open source design that can be made by makers everywhere, he is even releasing the casing specs so people with 3d printers could print and design their own external cases. This pen is tethered to the iPad via a cord into the headphone jack and sends data that way, though future versions will likely be wireless. Also from the looks of the initial version, the nib is quite large and might not be very practical when it comes to producing actual art. Ultimately this is kind of an ugly looking pen with a less than inspiring feature set compared to the 4 pens we have listed above. Where it stands out though is the fact that it will be open source and very simple/inexpensive to produce. It’s a cool idea from a cool hacker who is active in the maker community and is a proponent of the open source movement. Help him out, ask questions, and support his kickstarter to see this one become a reality in 17 days or less!
Pros: Open source, cheap, able to be made with a 3d printer and a small circuit board
Cons: Chunky and simplistic design, tethered connection, huge nib
So the future seems very bright for iPad artists everywhere with 5 different options coming in the market very soon. Whether or not the market will bear 5 different styluses with 5 different SDKs to implement into the software is still unclear. Ultimately we expect only one or two of these to dominate the field, but it’s too soon to tell which ones it will be! Either way, we can’t wait to enjoy pressure sensitive iPad styluses for our own digital paintings!