Off Topic: a Super Note-Taking Stylus for the iPad
March 19, 2012
This is definitely off my normal range of topics but it’s something I’m passionate about and it could be of use to many of you. I’ve finally found a stylus for the iPad that I can take good accurate ink notes with, and I’m really excited about it. I feel taking good notes should be a part of any business skill set, and this stylus (called the Jot Pro) in my mind finally makes doing that on an iPad practical.
Background: Tablet PC’s were good at this
Many of you may know that I wrote a book in 2004 about the Tablet PC, and it became the best-selling book about the Tablet PC at that time. I don’t recommend you buy it now, it’s horribly out of date and mostly out of print, but I’ve been watching the tablet space closely since then. One of the things I liked best about the Tablet PC, and wrote a lot about, was using it to take good ink notes right on the screen. I did that all the time in business meetings and used it when brainstorming.
iPad: not so much
So when the iPad came out, I wasn’t happy that it was fairly impractical for electronic ink notes. Sure, you could write with your finger tip. And later some companies released styluses that sported broad foam tips that imitated a fingertip. But using those, due to the unwieldy size of the tip, I always ended up creating huge lettering—the size of which, in my mind, made normal note taking almost impossible. Some people could do it more precisely, but it never worked for me. After trying 2 or 3 new and improved models that still did not meet my needs, I abandoned that quest.
Jot Pro Stylus
That’s why I’m so excited about the new stylus that came out a few months ago called the Jot Pro. It works completely different from the others foam-tipped styluses. The Jot Pro places a quarter-inch wide clear plastic flat disc on the surface of the iPad, which rotates about at the end of the pen shaft. The point that holds the disc is a sharp stylus point that is embedded in the middle of that clear disc. It’s that point that your eye sees as your write, and the ink is laid down from that center point. As a result, the stylus works like a relatively sharp pen—I really can take excellent ink notes using it. I finally feel like I have the utility of Tablet PC inking right on the iPad. By the way the regular “non-Pro” version is cheaper and works well too. (Also note, I have no relationship with this company and make nothing off any purchases you make—I am just excited about the product).
Android is Ahead
Of course, a few of the Android-based tablets that have come out in the last year do have an active electronic stylus that allows ink notes. For example the Android-based Lenovo ThinkPad. These are designed from the ground up to be pen based, and they work great. But they are not an iPad. And let’s face it; the iPad is the most popular tablet out there.
Taking notes with the Jot Pro is not perfect however. It is not pressure sensitive like many active pens on other devices [though a Jot version out soon will be]. And since it’s just a passive pointer, you still need to watch out for where you place your palm on the screen, to avoid stray marks. So when using the Jot Pro, make sure you use the wrist protection features built into many of the good note taking software apps on the iPad. I’ve tried a few, and the app I use now is called Noteshelf; it has a good wrist protector feature, and I like the way the ink flows onto the page. And that app works well with an iPad 1 (some of the other apps feel slow on an iPad 1). Of course there are lots of other good apps out there, so look around.
Well, there you have it. This is not my usual post topic, but I am so excited about now being able to take notes on the iPad, I couldn’t resist. Happy note taking!