A pen isn't the first thing you'd think of buying when thinking of iPad or iPhone accessories.
Steve Jobs never wanted you to use a stylus with your iPad. He dumped Apple’s old stylus-driven touchscreen device, the Newton MessagePad, almost as soon as he returned to the company in 1997.
In Steve’s mind it’s not an elegant solution. It’s not human. Real artists don’t use tools, he might say – they use their hands.
Look at smartphones and PDAs that still require a stylus. They look clumsy and old fashioned. Apple doesn’t want that look associated with its more human, personal devices.
But there’s no doubt that graphic artists and draughtsmen often work better with a pen or pencil than a finger. Children too can better express their artistic selves using something akin to what they’re used to working with on paper.
An increasing number of drawing and painting apps would benefit from using an accurate stylus.
And, of course, using a stylus stops you getting your greasy fingerprints all over your smart touchscreen.
When it comes to handwriting input a finger takes some getting used to, but works pretty well with a good drawing or note app, such as Art Studio or Penultimate.
You can use a stylus to tap out your words on the iPad or iPhone’s keyboard. In use we didn’t find this to be any quicker or more accurate than standard finger typing, but others might prefer this option.
While Apple isn’t likely to produce its own iPad or iPhone stylus this hasn’t stopped third parties stepping in with their own pen tools for these devices.
Griffin’s £20 Stylus is much slimmer and slightly shorter than the AluPen stylus from Just Mobile, and more closely resembles a smart black business pen than the AluPen’s stubby grey pencil.
But both nibs are the same size and aren’t too thick for use on smaller devices such as the iPhone or iPod touch. Indeed they are smaller than the average index fingertip, so should be more accurate.
In practice both the AluPen and the Griffin Stylus worked very similarly. The only real difference is the thickness of the stem. Artists and children might prefer the chunkier pencil feel of the AluPen.
The Griffin Stylus boasts an integrated pocket clip and a lanyard hole on the top so you shouldn’t lose it on your travels. (Being more like a pencil the AluPen doesn’t have such a clip.)
Using a stylus for touchscreen input is a must for a growing number of iPad/iPhone apps, especially drawing and painting programs. With its pen styling and clip the Griffin Stylus looks smart and carries easier than other iPad styluses.