Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Hand - Stylus for iPad

For some time, I've been looking for the perfect stylus for note-taking on my iPad.  Every stylus I've seen or read about involved a compromise in some aspect.

I thought that I had finally found the perfect choice in the new Hand stylus, but unfortunately, it also has issues that make it virtually unusable (for me).

The Hand arrives in really nifty packaging:  the stylus is nestled in a foam insert in a metal case, which is in turn contained in an elegant cardboard box reminiscent of the packaging on Apple products.  Although the packaging creates a good initial impression, it's also wasteful...  I certainly don't need another little box lying around.  I think it would be a better choice for the company to ditch the metal box and knock a little off the price (a relatively hefty $29.95).

The Good

The Hand (lower left) has a much finer stylus than competitors.
On the plus side, the Hand is solid.  The heavy weight and knurled area near the tip make the pen easy to grip and give it a high-quality feel.

The tip is retractable, like a ball-point pen.

The weak point of many competitors is the tip, which wears out quickly, making the stylus into a throw-away item.  The Hand has a replaceable tip; an optional tin of six tips sells for $9.95.

A major selling point of the Hand is the fine tip.  At just 4 millimeters, it's less than half the size of competitors (see photo).  In theory, this should allow more precise control when drawing or writing.

The Bad

Unfortunately, the  fine tip is also the weakness of the Hand.  The capacitive detection technology on the iPad screen requires a certain area of contact.  In order to make the iPad recognize the Hand, you need to press really hard, to "mash" the tip against the screen. 

The result is a very awkward, uncomfortable and tiring writing experience.  My other stylus glides lightly over the iPad screen, making writing feel completely natural.  The Hand requires a constant effort to maintain pressure...  so much so, that I unconsciously worry about damaging my iPad.  (Note:  I am not saying that the Hand will damage the iPad screen - it just feels that way to me while writing.)

I really wanted the Hand  to be the perfect stylus.  But the heavy pressure required to use it makes it the wrong choice.

Sadly, I cannot recommend this stylus.