until I bought my iPad, I had little use for a stylus. for emergencies, I bought a cheap, rubber tipped, compact stylus for us with my iPhone a few years ago for use in the cold before finally obtaining a pair of E-Tip gloves from The North Face last season. once I bought the iPad and began to encounter note-taking and drawing apps for it, I have been in the hunt for a great stylus. as you may know, there are a number of apps that claim to function like the Livescribe digital pen and paper sets, but were essentially useless without a proper stylus.
the stylus I used had a nice, compact aluminum body and featured a fine, 6mm rubber tip. however, the tip obviously didn’t glide smoothly against the screen. it also required a decent amount of pressure to register, further exacerbating the glide issue and was literally like trying to write with a pencil eraser. it was fine only for very occasional use. after installing the Paper Desk app, I followed their recommendation and quickly ordered a Pogo Sketch. Ten-One Designs’ Pogo series of styluses use a foam tip, which would solve my issue with glide.
unfortunately, the Pogo Sketch’s foam tip has issues with sensitivity. while it would glide well across the screen, you had to completely compress the tip to get it to register in most cases. for wiring this wasn’t too much an issue but it was nearly impossible for the way I illustrate. plus, the aluminum body would come dangerously close to scratching the screen during normal use.
since I was still in the hunt for a stylus, I figured a screen protector would be wise since all capacitive styluses require a metal body for conduction. I settled on the ever reliable PowerSupport and their crystal protection film for iPad. protection was solved, but it also exacerbated the previous issues with sensitivity and glide, if only slightly, but is infinitely better than products like Zagg’s InvisibleShield and similar products due to their high friction compound.
through a friend of mine who makes a living in graphic design, illustration, and photography, I was able to get my hands on an early sample of the now shipping Wacom Bamboo capacitive stylus. with their experience in the field, I wrongly assumed their product would be superior despite the use of a rubber tip. granted, their stylus has a great feel to it, but all of the caveats of a rubber tip were unavoidable and thus no better in performance over my original $1 special.
I then thought back to my E-Tip gloves and their use of silver cloth and began to search for solutions using a similar conduction technique. that’s how I discovered the iFaraday stylus at http://ifaraday.com. unlike every single other capacitive stylus currently sold, the iFaraday stylus uses conductive cloth wrapped around open-cell foam. available in 3 different tip shapes and 2 levels of hardness, I sprung for a hard, domed tip from their Artist’s Collection in black.
about their website: it looks like a one-man operation with a small explanation of who Faraday is and why the name was chosen for the product, product descriptions, and a link to their store. about the product store: you have a choice of domed, bullet, or pool cue shaped tips. the basic stylus sells for $10 and comes only with the soft, pool cue tip. the Artist’s Series styluses sell for $15 and offer a choice of tips, and an Artist’s Pack gives you all three tips in your choice of hardness for $40. a limited selection of anodized colors is also available. payments are processed exclusively through PayPal.
the stylus arrived quickly after ordering; about 4 days for me via USPS first class in a full sized manila envelope folded over and sealed with the shipping label. inside, the stylus was well protected in an acrylic cigar tube. a nice touch that shows just how much he cares about the product and further evidence of it’s handmade design from a small scale operation. I quickly grabbed my iPad, opened up the Wacom Bamboo app (currently free on the AppStore), and began my handwriting tests.
simply put, the experience was amazing. the stylus glides smoothly across the screen with friction very similar to a cheap, ballpoint pen, maybe a bit less. the stylus itself is very light, being an anodized aluminum tube with a clip, housing a tip made of a conductive silver cloth and a plastic end cap. the domed tip worked from all angles, including in my normal hand position; which is admittedly at a very acute angle to the writing plane. it does require a bit of pressure to be at it’s most accurate but never significantly affects the glide; again, very much like your standard Bic ballpoint pen on a legal pad. the diameter of the tip is equal to that of the body and is about 8mm; just about the standard in capacitive tip diameter.
for actions not requiring much accuracy like home screen gestures or webpage navigation, it’s nearly flawless with the absolute minimum pressure required to scroll pages or select apps. it simply feels very natural, almost like using your fingers, and completely unlike the Pogo Sketch, which requires full compression of the foam tip just to register home screen gestures.
at the risk of releasing the magic sealed within the aluminum body, I pulled the cloth tip out to see what truly made it tick. there I found a bundle of silver cloth, wrapped around a wad of open-cell foam and bound by a rubber o-ring. the o-ring also served to hold the tip in place inside the body with it’s friction fit. one could possibly modify the tip to their liking by using a denser, closed-cell foam earplug or maybe even a pencil eraser. i will probably try this myself at some point to further adjust the already great tip to better suit my tastes.
weirdly enough, after further research I have not been able to find any other styluses using a silver cloth tip like the iFaraday stylus. I find this quite surprising, considering how well the iFaraday design works and feels. this design simply and ingeniously solves all of the previous complaints that normally accompany the standard foam or rubber tipped designs currently in use. it is also a steal at both the entry level price of $10 and their Artist Series for $15, especially when compared to the fact that the average selling price for a name brand stylus is around $20.
bottom line: if you have been unsatisfied with capacitive styluses in the past, give the iFaraday a shot. it is by far the most pen-like in accuracy and smoothness compared to the rest of the market with a reasonable price to boot. once they’re finally discovered, it’s silver cloth tip will very likely displace both rubber and foam as the preferred conductive material for styluses.
- extremely sensitive, accurate tip that rivals the input sensitivity of your own digits.
- low friction for smooth, effortless screen interaction even when tip is fully compressed.
- very durable compared to the conductive foams or thin rubber tip compounds used in all other stylus designs.
- low, low price compared to the competition.
- the tip is 8mm, which can cause accuracy issues for some.
- limited selection of colors.
- not weighted: this can annoy some artists used to working with heavier instruments, like inkers.