Capacitive styli have always been sort of a sore subject with me. Between the poor construction, odd sizes and styling, and high prices of most that you would commonly find on store shelves, I have always found myself very disappointed. Even some of the higher quality and more popular styli, such as the Pogo Sketch, have left me flat thanks to sub-par performance if you use a screen protector.
So what does it matter? Why should I care if I can find a decent stylus or not? To answer that, just consider how long the pen and paper have been with us. Even in our current digital world, there’s still a place for the old standby. Unfortunately, as good a job as the iPad does of replacing so many things, it does not naturally stand in very well for a trusty notebook and a ball point pen. This is especially true when it comes to taking handwritten notes, or annotating documents or PDFs. There are a plethora of great iPad apps for taking notes, drawing, and sketching ideas, but your finger will only get you so far with them. The iPad is begging for a great writing implement that truly complements it.
As recently as the launch of the new iPad, I held out some small hope that maybe Apple would release a beautifully designed custom stylus of their own. You know, something that just knocks everybody’s socks off. However, with the recent release and growing popularity of the Samsung Galaxy Note, I think any chance of that happening is now gone. So, it is what it is. It’s left to third party accessory makers, and Kickstarter projects to give us a writing and drawing implement worthy of the design of the most popular tablet in the world. Don’t get me wrong, though, as great new and creative ideas often come from places we might not expect, or have even heard of.
With all this in mind, I’ve recently renewed my search for a decent capacitive stylus. I started off by purchasing the Wacom Bamboo stylus, which had several very positive reviews. I really liked the weight and construction, as it fits in the hand very nicely. Also, I found that the smaller capacitive rubber tip made writing and drawing a little more comfortable then the “kindergarten crayon” feel that most styli provide. However, just as with the Pogo, I was still left a little flat thanks to my screen protector. I had to apply more pressure than I am used to while writing, so I ended up with a lot of skips and stutters. This wasn’t necessarily a dealbreaker, but it definitely threw a little cold water on the experience.
Then, last week, I was offered the opportunity to review the new TruGlide Styli from Chicago, IL based Lynktec. The headline of the press release I received claimed that it was “the first product of its kind,” which immediately made me curious, but a little skeptical at the same time. As a reviewer, I’ve heard that line a time or two. However, in this case, the product absolutely lives up to its billing. Let’s take a closer look, shall we.
Look and Feel
While I wouldn’t call the design of the standard size TruGlide stylus revolutionary, it definitely gets the job done, and looks good doing it.
It is 4.7″ long, which is similar to many other familiar models, including the Wacom Bamboo, as you can see in the picture below. There is also a 3.2″ model available that we’ll get to in a bit.
While the length is the same as the Wacom, the TruGlide has a smaller diameter, and is also a little bit lighter. I won’t say this is a negative, per se, as size and weight are going to be subject to the size of the user’s hands and their own personal preferences.
For instance, Lynktec co-founder Joan Ghiglieri touts the light weight of the TruGlide as a feature in their press release. For me personally, I actually would prefer a little bit more in the size and weight department, but again, that may not be the case for others. I have larger than average hands, so that may have a lot to do with my preference here.
In the looks department, I would say that Lynktec did a very nice job with the TruGlide styli. I got samples of the 4.7″ model in Executive Black and Brushed Silver, as well as the 3.2″ in Sapphire Blue, and all of them look sleek and very professional. I especially like the black model, with its gold accents, which has already found its way into my mobile gear rotation.
Also, if black, blue and silver aren’t your cup of tea, both sizes of the TruGlide are also available in Pearl White. Considering that most companies don’t tend to release more than one color or design of stylus in a given model, I found the variety of choices both impressive and appealing.
While the 4.7″ version was definitely the star of the show for me, the 3.2″ TruGlide is definitely a unique little addition, with little being the operative word.
While it isn’t for me, I can definitely see the appeal to certain users. My five year old daughter really enjoyed playing around with it, as it was a perfect fit for her small hands.
I could also see this stylus being ideal for someone who is looking for a navigation aid for any iOS device. I have a family member who has issues with severe arthritis, and has lost some of the use and dexterity of her fingers, so something like the 3.2″ TruGlide would probably be very useful for her to use for tasks that are more difficult to accomplish.
The most unique feature of the 3.2″ TruGlide is the small tether that is attached to the back of the stylus, which allows you to attach it to your iOS device’s headphone jack.
For a mobile geek like myself, this isn’t really necessary, as I carry all my iPad gear around in a Targus case with enough room for a Bluetooth keyboard and all of my adapters, chargers, and of course, my new favorite stylus. However, for those who prefer to pack a little lighter and don’t want to lose their stylus, I could see this being a real selling point. For instance, a woman who carries her iPhone or iPad in a purse, and doesn’t want to have to dig around to find their stylus all the time would probably find this very useful.
So what else is a 3.2″ stylus that you can always keep up with and have with you good for? I have two words- Draw Something. I don’t believe this requires any additional explanation.
The Tip of the Spear
Who cares what a stylus looks like or feels like in the hand if it doesn’t get the job done when it glides across the glass? This is where the TruGlide styli really deliver the goods. They are capacitive, like most other styli available for the iPad. What sets these apart, and fulfills Lynktec’s promise of something that is the first of its kind, is the construction of the tip. While most other manufacturers use rubber or foam, Lynktec developed a patented woven microfiber that is constructed to be 10 times stronger than rubber.
As you can see, the look of this tip is very unique. While it is pliable like rubber and foam, it certainly does feel more rigid and durable than the rest of the competition. Even though I have only used it for a week, the TruGlide definitely passes the eye test with flying colors, and seems like it will be up to the task of whatever I throw at it for a long time to come.
Looks and construction aside, where this new material really shines is when you put it into action. Unfortunately, there are plenty of styli that look good, but don’t deliver the goods when and where you really need it. After a week, however, I can say is that these styli are at their best when you are putting them to work. Without a doubt, the TruGlide is the best capacitive stylus that I have used, and the race isn’t even close.
I don’t have an artistic bone in my body, so I don’t really draw. Ever. However, the TruGlide seems to work quite well for that sort of thing. The tip is just big enough to get a sizable stroke if you need, but small enough for detail. The tip material feel also helps in this regard, as you can put pressure on it, without it giving way or tearing. It also doesn’t snag or stutter, so if you apply more pressure to get a thicker line, you still end up with the same smooth operation. You can see a bit of a demonstration from this small sample of music notation from the iPad app Noteshelf, which is about as close as I get to art.
Here you can also see a conduit layout I drew up on grid paper, again using Noteshelf. It’s a little rough around the edges, but shows that you can achieve some measure of accuracy in drawing with the TruGlide.
Despite the fact that I have atrocious handwriting (which should in no way reflect badly on this product. I’m actually worse with a pen), I typically use a stylus to take handwritten meeting notes and do markups with my iPad The TruGlide is just as at home here, as it is in a more artistic setting. It is a perfect fit for apps like Notes Plus that excel at delivering a simple, but powerful note taking experience.
What really sets TruGlide apart, true to its name, is how easily it glides across the screen and how consistent the strokes are. Its superb performance makes it a pleasure to use. Even with my Best Skins Ever screen protector installed, it never missed a beat. My hand could stay relaxed while writing, and I never felt that I had to apply more than a normal amount of pressure to get all of my strokes to register. If you recall, I had some issues with the Wacom Bamboo on this score.
In the end, it was the performance of the TruGlide’s tip that really won me over. Even if the length or weight of the stylus weren’t absolutely perfect for my hands or personal preferences, the patented tip just works better than any other capacitive material that I have seen or tried. If the TruGlide is as successful a product as I hope it will be, I would love to see additional models with a larger, heavier body made available. Take a large Parker Pen-style body and put this tip on it and you’re done. That would be the stylus to end all styli in my humble opinion.
The TruGlide styli are also a great value at $21.95, which is cheaper than all of the other high-end capacitive styli out there. In either size or any color, if you need a stylus for your iOS device, you should definitely consider Lynktec’s TruGlide. After one week, the 4.7″ black model became my go-to stylus, and I would be shocked if anything else replaces it any time soon. It’s hard to give more of a recommendation than that.
After becoming a bit resigned to mediocrity while trying to find a stylus that works, this has been a refreshing change. In a market where everyone else is using the same designs and materials, here is a company that came up with a creative solution, executed a solid design, and ended up building a better mousetrap. After this review, I am definitely looking forward to seeing new products Lynktec creates with this tip material in the future.
The TruGlide Styli are available in 4.7″ and 3.2″ models in Black, Silver, White, and Blue for a regular price of $21.95. You can see Lynktec’s entire selection at their website. Some models are also available from Amazon.
(Update!- For an amazing deal, and also to enter a drawing for a great TruGlide giveaway, both courtesy of Lynktec, please see our contest post here to get a promo code, and to enter our prize drawing! The contest is for a TruGlide 2.3″ stylus with tether in Sapphire Blue. The winner will be drawn after 8PM EST on Monday, April 16, 2012. The promotion is for a 4.7″ TruGlide stylus in Executive Black for only $8 from Amazon! This is an AMAZING deal, so go get yours now! The promotion ends at Midnight on Monday, April 16, 2012.)
The TruGlide Styli were provided by Lynktec for review on iSource. For further information regarding our site’s review policies, please see the “About” page.