Monday, October 15, 2012

My Review: Hand Stylus

My black HAND Stylus
When I finally had an iPad, I had primary mission to convert all paper based activities into digital. I would love to do variety of note-taking using my iPad and save it into PDF file, for instance. However, iPad did not (yet) provide a stylus to give me a real (traditional?) experience of hand writing. Therefore, I've search and tried, so far, three styluses. I want to review the third one which is called HAND Stylus.

My first stylus is Just Mobile Alupen. The positive impression about this stylus is its weight. For me, it helps writing stroke easily to be made. Hence, It does not require significant pressure when you write. Alupen also made quite well and stylish. It serve with leather case for carrying. On the other side, my main negative impression about it is its size. It is a chunky pencil and indeed bulky. Maybe it is good for drawing, but for me it is not convenient for hand writing. It is also not practical since its size make me not so easy to pull it out to begin note taking.

The second stylus I have tried is Belkin Stylus Pen for iPad. The main reason for choosing this stylus is price and suitable pen-like size as the only positive impression for this stylus. Yet, just like Alupen, I still didn't get precision that I hope to get from using stylus to do handwriting note-taking. Both stylus, still used quite big rubber tip and it is quite difficult if I want to write in detail and fast. After giving up this stylus to my wife (and she seems quite happy with it) and back to my index finger to write, I found about Hand Stylus and expect to find the 'one'. I ordered and now I got it. This is my impression after 5 days using it.

Hand stylus was appear as a Kickstarter Project initiated by Steve King. My interest with this stylus was triggered by several aspects which I could not found completely from two styluses I have used before. It features a retractable 4 mm tip which is claim to be the smallest tip size possible for touch screen and arguably able to increase precision compare to bigger tip. It is pen-like stylus, physically and ergonomically. The weight, size and design were pretty close to a pen and it gives me writing experience just like a pen. I feel an increase in writing precision and gain more control for each characters I wrote compare to other styluses or even my finger (see photos comparison below). It gives me a consistent feeling of writing and a bit faster method of note-taking.

One thing that made those experience appear is the retracting mechanism that spins the tip just slightly each time to preserve its rubber tip quality. Not to mentioned that the price still under $30 - that's my budget for a stylus. If it is more than that, I prefer to go back with traditional pen for sure.
Hand write by Hand Stylus
Hand write by index finger

From its size, weight, design, and all other things, Hand Stylus assure me to give four out of five stars. I really wish to give the fifth one, but I must face the reality that this stylus isn't perfect enough. As mentioned in Hand Stylus metal box (I tried to write down the notification using handwriting both with stylus and finger as pictured above), I need to find a sweet spot to be able to write conveniently. The problem with this sweet spot is I have to put more pressure from pen to surface or hold it at a very acute angle to the screen. The stylus creator, Steve King already acknowledged the problem.

In my experience, it is not that long to find the sweet spot. Several reviews also claim that the majority of users would not be taking it too problematic as you just push into the screen a bit more and you'll nail it. But for people who really need a 'soft touch' or 'precise light and bold stroke', this situation will make them scream on every stroke attempt they made. The sweet spot could be 'come and go' as your stroke will never be consistent enough. I am also share the same feeling, especially if I need to do fast and quick handwriting, since I prefer lighter pen strokes to write shortcuts. Thus, I need to settle down my mind and my hand to switch my writing style before I write on my iPad using Hand Stylus. Yet, if you really keen with stylus, you have to keep in mind that your experiences will almost certainly vary on this since it really depend on how you hold and use a pen or a stylus. Also, writing is one of the hand's strengths provided that you write firmly. Perhaps, after several days my writing will improve but I cannot guarantee that.

To summarize, this stylus is perfect for you who like a firm grip, regularly push against the screen, and wish a precise tool. But, if you prefer to glide your stroke of stylus on their screen, you still need to look for others. For me, this stylus is a better – yet perfect – upgrade from my previous two styluses under the same budget constraints.

UPDATE [28/03/2013]: So, after 6 months I used this stylus intensively, I think I found the weakness of this stylus. Unfortunately, this weakness really troublesome for me. The main problem here is the rubber tip. After used it for 6 months, I managed the sweet spot and getting better and better when I do handwrite on my iPad. But later I found that the rubber tip started to worn out. It might be understandable as it is consider as frequent used part, but I did not expect it will worn out quite soon. Fortunately, the Hand Stylus maker provide the extra tipping points, but in my case it will be quite expensive to order them. So, if you wish to buy Hand Stylus, I recommend to order the extra tipping.
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