Taking the step to completely take digital notes using a tablet of your choice can be quite a scary thought. Maybe you tried some note taking apps using one of the many low budget styluses out there, or even maybe even just your finger. I went down the budget-bulky-tip-stylus route a couple of years ago and quickly went back to a regular pen and paper. Well, now I am back at it and I can happily say that I succeeded with the transition this time around.
Attending meetings and events taking notes using a pen and a paper can be quite unproductive in many ways. One of my biggest issues with it is transferring the notes from paper into some kind of digital form when returning to the office. Or even worse; trying to find the notes realizing that they are in a completely different bag.
I started researching the stylus market and upon trying some of the round, soft tipped styluses available I was ready to abandon my digital note taking once again just like I did a couple of years ago. The ones with the big tip makes it hard to see what you are writing, you don’t really see the point of contact with the tablet which I find a bit frustrating when taking notes or sketching in fine detail. It’s almost as if the tip is blocking my line of sight, something that might be acceptable for rough sketching and drawing.
After some research I stumbled upon the Jot Flip stylus from Adonit. Available in many different models the Jot Flip has the the extra feature that it has a stylus in one end and a regular pen in the other end. I thought that might be a good backup if the digital part didn’t work out at all times, in retrospect I can say that I rarely use the ink pen now.
The build quality of the actual stylus is great! It is sturdy, somewhat heavy which makes it feel all the more real. At the reverse end of the stylus tip is a regular ink pen (replacement cartridges are 8USD at Adonits site) which feels a bit flimsy to be honest, but luckily I don’t use it that much any more due to the excellent quality of the rest of the stylus.
Tip of the stylus
As you might know Steve Jobs was not a fan of styluses, something about them reducing the user friendliness of a device. So the iPad that I use is not really optimized for thin pen-like tips which results in all these soft and somewhat bulky tipped styluses on the market.
The Adonit Jot-series bypasses this by adding a disc that is partly transparent at the tip of the pen. Making it much easier to actually see where contact with the screen is being made, resulting in a much more precise note taking and sketching experience, something I really appreciate.
Wear and tear – Replacement discs
While a am really happy with the digital writing experience overall I have had to replace the tip of the pen three times during the past five months which makes me a bit skeptical about the disc quality. Luckily I have had to order more styluses from Adonit to supply friends and family with and managed to order a few extra tips with those, but it is still a bit of a hassle. I have read and tried different recommendations on the web including one which involves tin foil between the disc and the pen. It actually worked ok for a while but should not be considered a permanent solution.
Before ordering this pen I read quite some reports on it being noisy. The first few months I didn’t really notice or get annoyed with it but as I got better and better at using it, writing faster and more efficient the noise level, quite logically, gets higher. It is not a huge issue for me but it can be noticeable when for example attending meetings or seminars where the surrounding noise level is low. How much this is just me noticing it or the person next to me I will leave to speculation for now.
It should be noted that the model I am using is the one without the dampening tip, the dampening tip was released after mine and it is supposed to enhance the experience and also reduce noise. I have tried it briefly and there did seem to be less noise coming from it.
The Adonit Jot Flip is priced at about 35USD and it will cost you more than the average budget bulky soft tip pen but I definitely think it is worth it. I have taken pages upon pages of notes with the Jot Flip and have very few complaints. I looked into replacing mine with the dampening tip version but to be honest I am still quite happy with the one I have. The replacement tips come in a bundle of 3 pieces at 6USD and I would say that this is my biggest complaint since I have had to go through a couple of these. Hopefully an updated version will have tips that are made to last a bit longer.
All in all I think it has great value for money, considering you can spend more on a regular high quality pen. If I ordered a stylus today I would probably go for the Adonit Jot Pro without the regular pen, since I don’t use it anyway, which is priced at 5USD less. In the higher end they have the Jot Touch, which I am really curious about. HELLO ADONIT! 😉
Final words and verdict – Buy it!!
Unlike my first attempt to take digital notes this attempt was hugely successful. I bring my iPad, Adonit Jot Flip and suitable program (mostly Notes Plus but more on this later) almost everywhere for some quick scribbling or serious note taking. I date stamp the notes and since all the notes are automatically synced to Dropbox they are easily accessible for future reference.
- Exact and precise tip, you can easily take detailed notes and do some sketching
- Excellent build quality
- Regular pen in the other end of the stylus, a small bonus but I rarely use it
- Protective cap to keep the styluses replaceable disc secure (I discovered this way to late tbh, thought it was for the regular pen only. ;))
- Tips seem to need replacing quite often for those of us who use it actively
- The noise level can get a bit high at quiet seminars and when you start to learn to write fast
- The ink pen can feel a bit flimsy
Coming up in the next part of this series I will go into more detail on the software I use.