By Todd Bernhard on Wed, 06/01/2011
Crayola and Griffin have teamed up on a novel gadget and I was excited to see the final product, ever since I saw an early version at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. Together, they offer a free iPad app entitled Crayola ColorStudio HD and a $30 stylus (sold at BestBuy currently, with more outlets on the way). The app can work in finger mode, but it's designed to work with their oversized battery-powered stylus. When using the stylus, finger touches do not result in accidental drawing. The built-in coloring pages are both smart and animated. They can keep you drawing within the lines, automatically, and the elements even move on their own! It's a lot of fun and when I let a few kids, ages 7 through 12 play with it, they had a blast.
However, there are some issues with this 1.0 solution. You have to press hard with the stylus, so it can be frustrating until you get the hang of it. The stylus is plastic and it already has scratches after just a few hours of use. There's a cap that doesn't really add value and doesn't attach to the back, so I've already lost (and found) it once, but I don't expect it to last. As Henry Ford said, you can have it in any color you want, as long as it's black... which is surprising for a company like Crayola! To access the battery compartment, you need a screwdriver. And the included no-name battery means I'll probably need to replace it soon. You don't want to be on a car trip and have to find a screwdriver to change the battery. Overall, it lacked the heft and build quality I expect from Griffin, whose traditional metal stylus is my iPad's constant companion. I had hoped this stylus could do double duty for traditional apps, but no dice.
I recommend you try the app, since it's free and it does have a finger mode. If you want to be on the bleeding edge then you might want to splurge on the stylus, but perhaps the 2.0 version will be more solid.