What Stylus Should I Get For My iPad?

I was asked this question recently. Steve Jobs would probably say, “You have ten already”, referring to our fingers. But I would humbly disagree. For me, the stylus has been a great addition to my iPad.

For selecting a stylus, I would first consider what I wanted to use it for. Do I want my students to create content? Am I looking to annotate documents? Or handwrite large amounts of text? The type of investment you make matters on your purpose.

Here are the apps that I have found work best with a stylus on the iPad:

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And here are my three suggestions for styluses (styli?), depending on how they might be used.

Classroom Creations: AmPen Hybrid

Value here is the key. This stylus is very receptive to the iPad screen within Explain Everything or one of the Doodlecast apps. They are very reasonably priced, less than $10 per unit. I outfitted our entire kindergarten wing with these to help the students form letters and numbers during center time.

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The tip is made with conductive fiber + rubber, providing a smooth writing and drawing experience. This model also has a stretchy cord band on it. The end of the cord is inserted into the headphone jack so the stylus stays with the iPad.

Annotating Documents: Bamboo Stylus and Pen

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I used to have this stylus. It has an ink pen on one side and a rubber-tipped stylus on the other. This served me well as a principal when transitioning between digital walkthroughs and signing paperwork. Notability is a great annotation app that integrates well with the Bamboo. Also, the weight of the stylus gave it that real pen feel. I wouldn’t recommend for student use, however, as the tip can wear out and it is twice the price as the AmPen.

Handwriting, Drawing, and Heavy Use: Jot Script

If you use a stylus just about everyday, for taking digital handwritten notes or drawing, then the Jot Script may be worth the $80 price tag. The fine point on the stylus is a first of its kind. It is also battery-powered, providing a signal to connect with your iPad via Bluetooth to eliminate wrist contact. I have read some reviews of the pen not always staying connected, or that Penultimate’s drifting feature when writing is not user-friendly. That has not been my experience, but I will investigate more.

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It was developed in partnership between Adonit and Evernote. Although it is designed to pair with Penultimate, it works well with other handwriting apps such as Notability. What I like best is I no longer have to upload any documents to Dropbox. When I conduct a walkthrough in a classroom, I simply open up the teacher’s notebook in Penultimate, write my observations, and it automatically syncs with Evernote. Sharing with staff afterwards is a snap.

What stylus do you prefer? Please share in the comments.

Author: Matt Renwick

Matt Renwick is an 18-year public educator who began as a 5th and 6th-grade teacher in Rudolph, WI. He now serves as an elementary principal for the Mineral Point Unified School District, also in Wisconsin (http://mineralpointschools.org/). He also teaches online graduate courses in curriculum design and instructional leadership for the University of Wisconsin-Superior. Matt tweets @ReadByExample and writes for ASCD (www.ascd.org) and Lead Literacy (www.leadliteracy.com).

6 thoughts on “What Stylus Should I Get For My iPad?”

  1. I use the jot script by Adonit and I love love love it! At first the drifting feature was difficult to get use to – but I do like it because I can write nicely when I use it! BTW as a former principal, I use to like to do my walk-throughs and observations by uploading a form into PDF Expert, using my stylus to annotate on topic (check off boxes, add notes, etc.) and then email directly to myself and the teacher. Notability would do the same thing. Thanks!

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    1. Thanks for sharing. I also used Notability for walkthroughs. Unfortunately my storage in Dropbox became limited. I was hoping that Penultimate would be a better tool for informal observations, as it syncs automatically with Evernote. I have regressed (?) to now doing my observations on Moleskine Evernote notebooks and scanning them in. I will need to keep toying with these possibilities. Thank you for helping me reflect.

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  2. A great accessory ineded. I went to Best Buy tonight, however they didn’t have any in stock. The closest one available was in Ames Iowa. Luckily, NFM had a few in stock (ask and they will direct you right to them) that are made by Griffin and the cost is $18.99. The stylus is ready to use right out of the box. Use it as a pen or in place of your fingers for navigating or typing. It works well with iBooks for selecting words to highlight or add notes. As a person who typically has to highlight or write as I read, using the stylus allowed for doing that easily. I also tested it with an App that incorporated hand written notes and it worked well. I definitely recommend picking up one or two of these.

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  3. I have really become frustrated with the adroit stylus. I take notes in meetings and find that with Notability it frequently loses connectivity during note taking. It performs much better with Penultimate so would not recommend it with Notability. I went back to a foam tip with is much more consistent and reliable

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  4. I ended up getting the jot, but really haven’t used it much because I didn’t want to use Penultimate. I’ll have to give it more of a chance. I want to be able to write, not type as I conference with my students.

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