These are a few of my favorite styluses for capacitive touch screens (for me, that's the New iPad with Retina Display). From left to right: Wacom Bamboo, Adonit Jot Pro, oStylus DOT, Studio Neat Cosmonaut.
Of these, my two favorites are the oStylus DOT and the Cosmonaut, but for different reasons.
The oStylus DOT is a highly precise, reliable tool for writing and design. It never misses. Although it's base has a vinyl pad, people have mentioned scratch anxiety due to the metal tip. Believe me, gorilla glass is fairly tough. Unless you have glass shards or sand all over your screen, you should be fine. I've been using the oStylus DOT every day for months (on the iPad 2 and my New iPad) and my screen is perfect. [Also: The Adonit Jot Pro has a hard plastic tip that some people have complained can leave a residue on the screen if you swipe too quickly.]
The oStylus DOT is a phenomenal artist's tool.
The design of the oStylus DOT offers great control at any angle. Because the tip can rotate between the wires, you can maintain perfect contact with the screen irregardless of how sharp an angle you hold it. By comparison, the Adonit Jot Pro stops at 45 degrees. As an artist, I want precision and reliability; a stylus should accurately capture every line, stroke and dot, 100% of the time. The oStylus DOT delivers, making it essential to my artwork, designs and handwriting.
The wires won't easily break, but they can bend, so some care is required. I recommend getting a good protective case for it, as the sleeve the oStylus comes in isn't great protection. If I were able to change anything about it, I'd add a magnet and make the shaft wider for an easier grip: I'd like to be able to use the oStylus to sleep/wake the iPad like the Jot Pro, and after about an hour, my hand cramps — a thicker grip would help. Also, the DOT and Jot aren't as good for tapping and typing because they make a hard impact with the screen; it's uncomfortable and makes a clack similar to that of a fingernail.
Despite any minor issues or inconveniences, I love the oStylus DOT. The DOT, $38, is hand assembled by Andrew Goss, a jeweler in Canada, and the quality is phenomenal. If you draw on the iPad, you need a DOT.
The Cosmonaut is the do everything stylus.
The Cosmonaut, unlike many touch screen stylus designs, isn't shaped like a pen. It looks like a large, black crayon. Studio Neat (with Kickstarter) created the Cosmonaut to feel like a dry-erase marker, and it does. Their logic is simple and sound; the screen surface is slick, and because you can't easily rest your hand on the screen (*I have a super simple method to remedy this, check back soon for a full explanation), the iPad is less like paper and more akin to a dry erase whiteboard.
The wide grip is excellent, although I'd prefer it slightly longer because I have large hands. Due to the wide body of the Cosmonaut, it's easy to control large movements and broad strokes — this stylus is great for anyone, and perfectly suited for children and anyone with hand control problems. If I could have my dream stylus, it would be a pressure-sensitive combo with a slightly longer Cosmonaut shaft and the oStylus DOT tip.
The tip itself is hard to understand from photos — it's similar to the nine-bazillion other styli out there, although slightly more rigid. It glides easily enough, although I have to press down harder than I'm used to for it to accurately register. It has a softer impact on the screen than the oStylus DOT and Jot Pro, but is slightly harder than the Bamboo; it's a nice balance that offers good control and feel for drawing, and more comfort for tapping and typing than the hard tipped styli.
The Cosmonaut is a great everyday, anytime stylus; it's durable, accurate enough, comfortable and stylish. It costs $25 USD but doesn't look or feel cheap. It's not quite as accurate as the DOT, but it is more comfortable, and great for tap typing and games. I like using it with card games such as Assassin's Creed Recollection, Ascension and Magic 2013, as well as RTS games like Eufloria, Autumn Dynasty and Anomaly.
Here are a few apps you must try with an accurate stylus.
Some apps are custom designed to work with high-precision capacitive touch styluses.
Here's a list of apps designed to work with the Adonit Jot styluses. They work great with any stylus, and some have pressure sensitivity features for styli such as Jot Touch, Jaja and By Zero Studio Pen. This list includes many of my favorite art apps, such as Autodesk SketchBook Pro, ArtRage and Procreate.
Remarks is my new favorite note taking app. It's wonderful; it has most of the features I'd ever want, it's stable, and when I got it, it was on sale for $0.99 — but it isn't the most simple note taking app. Write, draw, type, add photos, record audio, it does it all, and can automatically backup to Dropbox. Super.
Noteshelf is a simpler notes app, but equally amazing. It is beautiful on iPad 2, and the clarity is stunning on the Retina display.
Infinite SketchPad is a remarkable vector drawing tool that offers an incredible canvas — zoom in or out, for incredibly large or complex notes. You have to see it to believe it. Best of all, you can export your notes/art or publish it online in its full glory. This app is perfect for mind-mapping, diagrams ideas, thought webs and all kinds of brainstorming. I use Infinite SketchPad almost daily, and the developer is really cool and friendly.
Sketch Rolls is a super simple, utilitarian sketching app that acts as the successor to the now defunct Drafts by 37signals and drawthings apps. It isn't for everyone, however and it costs $4.99 — there are cheaper apps out there that do more, but some people will like the style of this app. Presently, I like it more than Penultimate.
I hope that this list helps you to get more out of your iPad; the iPad is the single greatest thing in my life due mainly to great apps and a great stylus, and I want everyone to experience it.
I'm putting together an entry on palm rejection (wrist protection) on the iPad, and how to use the iPad more like a notepad without pesky software solutions, as well as a review of the new Adonit Jot Touch Bluetooth Pressure Sensitive Stylus for iPad (what a name!). So if you like my blog, please help me out and tell a friend! (Or Facebook friends, or Twitter followers.) Thanks!