• GoSmart Stylus review

    "If you see a stylus, they blew it" SJ

    If you are going to review an iPad stylus, it's almost customary to reference this quote - so now I have done so, we can move on. The kinds of advanced note taking and drawing apps that have appeared for the iPad didn't even exist when Steve Jobs said it. And the unique design of the GoSmart certainly didn't either. It's quite likely that he would have appreciated the smart thinking that has gone into it just I have very quickly come to.

    So normally in a review one goes over the pros and cons of the product and gives a judgement at the end - but with the GoSmart I need to upend that. That's because this small, almost unknown player in the growing stylus market is THE.BEST.DRAWING/WRITING.STYLUS.EVER.

    A big call, but allow me to explain why (and no it's not just because it looks like a retro-tastic rocket ship). I'm coming at this review having previously owned many other styli. I started with a generic Boxwave rubber-tipped one that replaces a finger well. It was cheap and has served me well when I needed a bit more control than just my big finger alone can provide. But like many others, I've been waiting for a stylus that not just replaces my finger, but can perform as a pen or pencil replacement for the iPad environment. This search has been much harder.

    For quite some time, the only options were other rubber-tipped products which varied the grips, or thickness of the tip etc. While some like the Wacom Bamboo stylus are very refined solutions, they still do only a little more than my original Boxwave. So, like many others, I got very excited by the Jot Stylus Kickstarter campaign. Here at last was some different thinking - no rubber tip! Instead the breakthrough idea was a flat plastic disc that is semi-clear and allows the user to better see the point on the screen where they are drawing - no more thick finger or rubber tip in the way.

    I backed this project for two of the Pro versions and was very impressed by their solid build and feel in the hand. Sadly as my review at the time records, the flat disc proved to not be as clear as I'd expected, and it creates a constant tapping sound as it contacts with the screen. I also had trouble keeping the disc in 100% flat contact with the screen, meaning lines would have gaps in them. There is a very large group of happy Jot users however, and they must be commended for its groundbreaking design.

    I also got to beta test the ByZero. Its design promised to leverage ultra-sonic sound and infra-red technology to give a fine-tip stylus similar accuracy to writing on paper. Sadly in practice the pen needed constant calibration and was supported by too few apps.

    So this brings me to the GoSmart. When I first show it to people, it's shape and wire tip have them guessing it's some kind of soldering tool. When I place it on their iPad screen they are concerned about the metal and what do I think I'm doing? The strange looking wire disc is however GoSmart's secret advantage, and it's way of building upon what Jot had begun. First, lets dispel the natural fear of placing metal near your iPad screen - the metal is Teflon-coated so there is no direct contact, and well, your screen is made of super hard Gorilla glass anyway.

    The Teflon coating is one of the three ways the GoSmart differentiates itself because it means that the disc glides smoothly across the screen (even with screen protectors). Another way it stands out from other styli is its spring attachment that attaches the tip to the stylus itself. The flexibility in this attachment gives the tip enough flex so that it can stay flat with the screen even while you move your wrist around. The third way it marks itself out as something new is the design of the disc itself. You can see from this image just how much of a difference the open design of the tip makes for being able to see the point at which one is drawing. I expect it to be one of those innovations that immediately seems so obvious a solution that it becomes commonplace.

    In my own usage over the last three weeks the combination of these three features - the smooth gliding, flexible attachment, and wire-frame disc have been enough to easily see it become my favourite, and earn that best stylus ever tag I declared above. It also has magnets on the stylus body which means it can sit on your iPad without rolling away. There is also a non-rocket shaped version if you prefer that (or just don't feel comfortable with handing kids a super pointed metal object).

    I'm still waiting to try the JaJa pressure sensitive stylus whenever it ships (yeah it was a kickstarter...) - perhaps it will prove to be a better overall solution, but for a price of only US$24.95, the GoSmart is seriously is the best choice for iPad note-takers and graphic artists right now.

    - justgosmart.com/stylus/

    Read more of Jonathanís reviews at Appcessories.info or follow his iPad and education tweets at twitter.com/jnxyz.
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