A few months ago I reviewed the Adonit Writer, a superb keyboard case for the iPad. The Writer was the debut product from Adonit, and it’s since released an updated version for the iPad 2. Apparently Adonit was just getting started, because it’s nearly ready to launch a new product, the Jot.
The Jot is a capacitive touch stylus built for the iPad (and any other capacitive touch screen) that comes in two flavors, the Jot and the Jot Pro. Like the Writer it’s being crowdfunded through Kickstarter.
There are a lot of good styluses out there, many of them quite superb, but the Jot is a whole new take on these familiar accessories. What makes the Jot special is that it isn’t using a foam tip like most other styluses; instead, it has a clear, flat, pivoting ‘Precision Disk’ attached on a small metal tip.
I got an opportunity to give both versions of the Jot a try, and it lives up to its promise beautifully.
The precision disk is just that, precise. It takes one of the biggest weaknesses of touch screens and drastically minimizes it. You can clearly see the center point of your strokes, and you get more feedback as you draw. I was surprised just how significant that little difference is. Unlike foam, the Jot requires almost no pressure to use and feels a lot like a really nice ballpoint pen gliding across a textureless paper.
While it handles strokes wonderfully, I did find that I occasionally had trouble tapping buttons with the disk; usually it connected fine, but I found that it sometimes took a very slight movement to make sure the iPad registered the tap. After using it for a while I adapted my taps a little, and I haven’t had any trouble with it since.
Being so fast and precise does actually have a slight downside. I suddenly found that most of the notebook and art apps I use feel sluggish and had trouble keeping up with the Jot. Worse, some of them offset the point a little because they expect you to use your finger or something else of similar size. Despite this, I still love using the Jot everywhere I typically use a stylus; it just takes some adjustments.
The good news is that Adonit is working on an app fine-tuned for the Jot. From the video it’s posted, JotStudio looks really good. Besides being built for the Jot it looks like a flexible drawing program with an internal browser, support for images, web clips and PDFs, not to mention a well designed interface. JotStudio will cost US$2.99 when released, but all Kickstarter backers will get it free.
With Adonit’s Writer, one of the things I was really impressed with was the craftsmanship. It’s every bit as evident in the Jot & Jot Pro. They are carefully designed, the materials are solid, they feel great in your hand and the weight is balanced with enough weight to keep a steady hand but light enough to be comfortable.
One of the first things I tested was pulling the precision disk off like they showed in one of the demo videos. Despite the small size it takes a lot of pressure to separate the disk from the main body — way more than you’d ever encounter using it under normal circumstances — and the protective cap keeps it safe in your pocket or bag. If it does get separated, it snaps right back on, no damage done.
What’s the difference between the Jot and the Jot Pro? The key components are the same. You get the same precision disk either way; the materials and size are nearly the same as well. The most prominent difference is that the Jot Pro includes a rubber grip that I find nicer to hold. The Jot Pro also has a magnet in it that can attach onto an iPad 2 when you need to put it down.
Did I mention it’s gorgeous? The colors available are different between the two versions. The Jot comes in green, red and purple while the Jot Pro comes in turquoise, gun metal and silver. Personally I find the Pro colors to be more appealing. The black rubber contrasts beautifully with the gun metal of the stylus I’m reviewing.
Adonit’s Kickstarter campaign for the Jot and Jot Pro will be over on Saturday. If you want in on the first batch, a $15 pledge will net you a Jot, while for $25 you can get either two Jots or a Jot Pro.
Regardless of whether you’ve got a Writer and you’re backing the Jot, Adonit is quickly developing a reputation for releasing well-designed, lovingly crafted and unique products. I can’t wait to see what it has in store for us next.
Posted by Chris White – TUAW.com 8/12/2011