Monday, August 8, 2011

Targus Stylus Tops The Fine Arts List

When the iPhone and iPad were first released, plenty of people questioned their lack of a stylus. I think Apple was smart to launch without one because the capacitive touch screen (electrons current in our fingers) could do so much more than a pressure sensitive touch screen.

However, as iPhone and iPad apps have evolved to become increasingly intuitive, especially for artists, a stylus makes sense. It may even be a necessity — one that is increasingly apparent with apps like Brushes and ArtRage.

Fingers are great for finger painting, but drawing, painting, and note taking call for a tool to make everything feel more natural. The answer has come from third-party innovators, especially Pogo and Targus. I expect new names ahead too.

A quick comparison between two stylus brands.

Pogo was one of the first to garner attention last year, and is still a contender by most measures. The work produced with a stylus has been pretty amazing. The general concept started when Pogo developed a material that tricks the iPad into believing that the soft felt-like foam tip is really a finger.

Even so, that doesn't make it the best stylus on the market. While some people have said it's not responsive, my take on it is a bit different. It's not the pen-to-pad resistance that throws people off. It's the resistance between the tool and our tactile sense.

That doesn't mean Pogo is the best or worst stylus on the market. But it does open the doors for others. So to create more resistance between the tool and our hand, another manufacturer created a firmer foam that almost feels like a soft rubber. That makes it easier to create thiner lines with a softer touch, and helps reduce drawing or writing fatigue.

The Targus seems to be the preferred stylus brand today. But you might be interested to know it came out shortly after the Griffin. I've found that the two —Targus and Griffin — are virtually the same. Originally, Targus came out for about $5 less. But I've noticed that Griffin has since reduced its price.

Not everything about the Targus is perfect. It simply performs better than any other I've tried over the last six months. As an instrument, the simple metal body and matte black finish (no branding) feels more like the writing and drawing instruments we're all used to. The only criticism is that the length feels short. It would be nicer to have a longer instrument.

According to some other stylus reviews I've read, iFaraday has come out with a longer stylus that artists who appreciate a lighter hand seem to appreciate. I haven't tried the iFaraday yet, so I can't say. The real interesting innovation here is that they have created more tip and barrel variations. Good idea.

A brief bit about dual-use stylus tools and expectations.

Since the stylus has moved closer to being a perfected tool, several manufacturers have added pens or pointer lights to the back end. While there is nothing wrong with that, none of these add ons make the stylus feel more comfortable. The pointer versions are especially disappointing because they add considerable weight to the tool. My advice is to stay away.

Targus ArtDon't expect any stylus to be a permanent purchase. Some people say the tip starts to show wear after about six months. While some shops are marketing replacement tips for various stylus brands, I'm not sure it makes sense. For less than $20, it might be better to buy a new pen.

In addition to the manufactured pens, several people have come up with other solutions too. I really appreciated one video in particular that shows people how to make their own, which could mean much more diversity in tool length and tip size. Even more creative are people who have tried a carrot. It works (so do grapes), but expect to clean your iPad more often.

The Targus Stylus Tops Fine Arts At 6.9 On Liquid Hip Richter Scale.

Fingers are still best when it comes to functionality, but the right stylus wins out for fine arts on an iPad. It creates the bridge between graphic arts and fine arts that many artists have been craving since art made the move to a digital format. It feels much more natural than a digital pen, but I anticipate that all of these tools are due for another evolution this year.

You can find the Targus stylus almost anywhere. We found the Targus stylus is listed for about $11. If you want to try the Pogo Stylus instead, Ten One Design has dropped its price to around $6 on Amazon. And I have to give some extra credit to Ten One Design. Their annual art contest has brought out the best in what can be done, including that famed Brushes illustration from 2009 by Goro.
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