In this modern age that is filled with touchscreen devices that allow you impressive navigation with just the touch of your finger, one might think that the time of the stylus is at an end. In the early days of the stylus, before the age of the touchscreen, these little pieces of plastic would allow you to navigate the screen and even enter text using basic recognition technology. Unfortunately, the ideas behind these tools were much greater than the implementation, mainly due to technological limitations of the time.
Fast forward to today and you have entire lines and whole new markets of tablets and smartphones that are designed to use with just the tip of your finger. Thus many believed the age of the stylus had long past. However, today there is more to the stylus than that basic piece of plastic you used to use on your old Palm Pilot or the styluses found on the best drawing tablets. Today, they come with a wide range of tips to interface with your tablet and smartphone and the technology that enables them to function has become far more advanced.
There are actually many reasons why using a stylus with your tablet is a good idea. But before we look at why you should use a stylus, it is important that you understand a few things about styluses and some of their limitations.
A stylus is essentially a writing instrument that that works by pressure or touch, and often a combination of both, instead of ink. In most cases, a stylus looks a whole lot like a pen, but not all of them look the same and they aren’t all created equal.
Not Every Stylus Works with Every Screen
There are different types of touch technology, and not every stylus will work with each type of technology. Early touchscreens relied on pressure between two layers to complete the circuit resulting in your tap or touch changing what is happening on your screen. In this scenario, the stylus can be little more than a piece of plastic that is designed to help you put the necessary pressure on the screen.
Modern tablets, however, use capacitive touchscreens that rely on human skin to complete the circuit resulting in the screen movement that you see when you touch and swipe. In order for a stylus to work with this type of tablet, it must be conductive so it can complete the circuit.
Different Types of Styluses
There are many different types of styluses out there that have been designed to work with both main types of touchscreens. When shopping for a stylus, you need to make sure you get the type that is designed for the type of screen on your tablet, but that isn’t the only thing you need to consider when purchasing a stylus.
Some styluses are designed just to make it easy to navigate your iPad or whatever type of Android tablet you may have. Others are designed specifically for writing making them perfect for taking notes. Others have been designed to make it easier for artists to draw and perform image edits using some of the many different applications that are designed specifically for editing images on the go.
If that isn’t enough to choose from, you also have to choose the style you want. While most that you find will look just like a pen, heck I have even seem some that doubled as a pen, there are other design styles as well. There are some that are embedded in a laser pointer which are good for presentations, and still others that are extendable that are good for travel. You can even find some that are designed in more novelty shapes that are more fun than really functional. When choosing a stylus, remember to pick the style that you think will fit your usage best.
Now that you know a little more about the stylus, how it works, where it came from, and some of the types, you still may be wondering why you should even bother. Let’s take a look at 7 reasons why you should use a stylus on your tablet.
Perfect for taking notes.
This one will especially be handy for all you college and high school students out there. Instead of hauling around a bunch of paper that was made by countless numbers of trees losing their lives, why not try taking notes on your tablet using a stylus. While you can do this with a finger, writing with your forefinger is clunky and cumbersome at best and downright impossible at worst. However, a stylus allows you to use it much like you would a typical ink pen making it easy to type on a variety of applications that allow you to write and draw in freehand using just your tablet and a stylus.
Styluses are much cleaner.
Did you know our hands are some of the dirtiest parts of our body? It makes sense when you think about it. After all, our hands are constantly touching different surfaces as we go about our day. Even if you wash your hands regularly it is impossible to keep them completely clean, unless you always wear gloves or never touch anything ever again. This means that when you use your hands to touch your tablet’s screen, you are transferring some of that dirt, grime and even bacteria to your tablet’s screen. This problem can be compounded if you let someone else use your tablet as well, potentially leaving colonies of dirt and germs just waiting to be picked up and passed along to someone else. Of course, if you use a stylus, you don’t have to worry about your hands transferring a big mess onto your tablet’s screen, as they will do the touching for you.
Styluses are more precise.
While your fingers are pretty accurate and do a good job on normal tasks such as app selection, web browsing, and much more, they are nowhere near as accurate as a typical stylus. This will never be more clear than when you try to select individual letters of text using just your finger or if you are performing image edits or even drawing. A stylus allows you to be way more precise with your editing making it the perfect tool for anyone doing any type of work on their tablets, be it word processing, note taking, or even image editing.
Protect your tablet’s screen.
Some people prefer to wear their fingernails long instead of short. This opens your tablet’s screen up to potential scratches as you try to use the end of your finger instead of your finger nail. If you hit the screen just right, you could scratch the screen. This not only looks bad, but can negatively impact your viewing experience on your tablet. However, the ends of a stylus are most often soft and are designed to mimic the end of your finger. This soft, often rubbery feeling end to a stylus will never scratch your screen so you don’t have to worry about damaging your favorite mobile device simply by using it.
Using a stylus is easy.
There is no great learning curve to using a stylus. Even someone who has never touched one before can figure it out in about 2 seconds flat. Of course that doesn’t mean there is nothing to learn, especially if you plan to use it to write or draw. Often these tasks require that you practice at least a little if you hope to really get control of using it to its fullest potential. Artists and note takers should take a moment to try out their stylus before they need to use it in a more professional or educational setting.
Great for digital drawing.
If there is one area that for a long time was simply unavailable was drawing on a tablet. However today the software for tracking your stylus or finger has increased greatly making it possible to easily create digital creations that rival some of the best hand drawn works of art that you will find today. Depending on the stylus you choose, you could find it to be much easier to draw using a pen-like stylus compared to the end of your finger. So much like the note takers out there, digital artists will find the stylus a useful addition to their technology tools.
Perfect for all types of weather.
Depending on where you live, you could face some cold temperatures when the winter hits. If you have to use your smartphone or tablet outside, the cold can really do a number on your poor fingers. If you need to wear gloves, you will have to get gloves that work on touchscreens, but these often don’t provide the proper protection from the cold. But if you have a stylus, you can wear whatever protection from the cold you want or need and still use your tablet.
As you can see, the stylus is far from dead. While its reputation may have taken a pounding over the years as a result of early technology that just wasn’t quite up to par, it has begun to make a comeback. Today, you can easily find a stylus that is perfect for almost any task you dream of on your tablet. The technology has advanced far enough that now even writing and drawing is easily attainable by using a stylus on your tablet.
With so many benefits you receive by using a stylus, it’s a wonder it isn’t used by more people. However, as technology continues to advance and we shift more and more of our lives into the digital world, it’s hard to imagine that the need for even better and more advanced styluses won’t be there, allowing us to edit documents, take notes, draw beautiful pictures and much more. Soon, it won’t be the stylus that everybody believes has come to an end, but paper instead. If that does happen, you can bet that styluses as well as the software that drives them and makes them work so well, will improve immensely making the thought of actually writing on a piece of paper a thing of the past, and something that we can just tell our grandchildren about while they are growing up.