If you want to take freehand notes on your iPad, or if you want to use your iPad to create sketches, you need a stylus. In the past I have reviewed four styluses: the BoxWave Capacitive iPad Stylus and the Ten One Design Pogo Sketch Stylus (both reviewed on 12/12/10) and the Kensington Virtuoso Touch Screen Stylus with Pen and the BoxWave Capacitive Styra (both reviewed on 3/30/11). The BoxWave and Kensington styluses all have a silicone tip, which I greatly prefer over the foam tip of the Ten One Design Pogo Sketch Stylus. I can imagine that some artists might prefer the texture of the Pogo, but the silicone tip seems to work much better for taking notes. Of the three that I have used with the silicone tip, I had preferred the two that I reviewed on 3/30/11, in part because they had the added feature of including a real pen, but also because they were longer. Using a short stylus doesn't feel as comfortable in my hand. I don't like taking notes with something that feels like a golf pencil.
Over time, I have realized that although it seems like a nice idea to have stylus that is also a pen, in practice I use that feature very rarely. If I need a real pen, I usually just use a real pen as there always seems to be one on my desk, in my briefcase, etc. And the disadvantage of including a real pen is that the top of the stylus must be removable, and over time as you remove and replace the top many times, the top of the stylus becomes just a little loose — not much, but just enough to feel less sturdy in the hand. So for a while now, I have found myself wishing for a stylus with the length and matte finish of the Kensington Stylus with Pen, but without a pen.
That is exactly what Kensigton is now selling. Unlike the version that includes a pen and retails for $25 ($17.54 on Amazon), the Kensington Virtuoso Stylus for Tablet retails for only $15 ($12.34 on Amazon). Kensington sent me a free review unit, and it looks exactly like the Virtuoso model with a pen except that it doesn't have a silver band just below a removable top.
Here is a picture comparing the sizes of the four styluses with silicone tips that I have reviewed. From left to right, these are the (1) BoxWave Capacitive iPad Stylus, (2) BoxWave Capacitive Styra, (3) Kensington Virtuoso Touch Screen Stylus with Pen and (3) Kensington Virtuoso Stylus for Tablet. The fifth one is just a regular pen (a Sanford Uni-Ball) included for size comparison to a "normal" pen.
As you can see, the Kensington models are longer than the Boxwave models, but are the same size as each other (about 5.1"). As I thought would be the case, without the pen and cap, the whole stylus is even more sturdy. I think that this is one of those situations in which less is more.
I prefer for my pen and stylus to be a simple black, but if you want to make more of a statement with your stylus, the Kensington Virtuoso Stylus for Tablet comes in ten colors —black, cream, navy, orange, pink, green, red, blue, gray and white:
The Kensington Virtuoso Stylus for Tablet is an excellent stylus that you can use with any of the apps that allow you to take notes on an iPad's screen. If you just want a stylus, and don't also need a pen, this may be the best stylus for you.