Griffin Stylus Product Review

The iPad redefined the way people interact with computers.  Prior to its commercial arrival, tablet PC's had attempted to recreate the pen and notepad metaphor with mixed results.  It took an innovative company like Apple to scrap that approach and go for the gold.

However, some iPad users (artists and designers especially) have an itch that only a stylus can scratch.  Griffin Technology, a company well established in the art of taking Apple hardware to new vertical heights, sees enough of a market need from those styli-seeking customers.  As such, the Griffin Stylus attempts to answer this call.

The stylus itself is roughly four inches long with a weighty metal shaft, a rubber tip and a pocket clip.  Though the length a bit on the short side for my long fingers, my far more artistic daughter found the size just right.  Both of us were satisfied with the weight and balance we felt while using the stylus on the iPad screen.


Griffin Stylus

Unfortunately, one of the biggest problems with the stylus has nothing to do with the stylus itself.  Rather, the screen limitations of the iPad prevent the stylus from achieving its intended goal.  The reason for this is two-fold: screen drawing lag and lack of pressure sensitivity.  Artists and designers who have become accustomed to Wacom and other digitizer tablets will need to recalibrate their expectations when using the stylus.  Apple's A4 chip that powers the iPad is a remarkable CPU, but Apple designed the iPad for finger interaction, not stylus interaction.  Consequently, rapid sweeping movements of the stylus lag at least a half second or longer.  This unbalanced feedback is reminiscent of the first tablet PC's that lacked the horsepower necessary to sample and redraw the screen as quickly as possible.  And the pressure sensitivity issue is obvious - the iPad's current generation simply does not support it.  As such, using the Griffin Stylus in a graphic arts mode is more constraining than liberating.  Another problem that has nothing to do with the stylus hardware itself is the fact that the iPad does not any type of clip or container to accommodate the stylus when not in use.  This means that stylus users must remember to store the stylus in purses, etc..  At least the stylus is small enough to fit adequately in pants and shirt pockets.

Overall, the Griffin Stylus is a noble attempt to satiate the needs of graphic designers and people more comfortable with writing out notes versus using the iPad's onscreen keyboard.  However, at no fault of Griffin's, the iPad simply isn't as stylus-friendly as other tablet PC's might be and that translates to a less-than-optimal user experience.

Product: Griffin Stylus

Manufacturer: Griffin Technology

Cost: $19.99

Rating: 3/5 stars

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Mike Riley is a frequent contributor to several technical publications and specializes in emerging technologies and new development trends. Mike was previously employed by RR Donnelley as the company’s Chief Scientist, responsible for determining innovative technical approaches to improve the company’s internal and external content services. Mike also co-hosted Computer Connection, a technology enthusiast show broadcast on Tribune Media's CLTV.