My search for the best stylus for taking handwritten notes on an iPad has caused me to try out lots of different stylues. Some styluses have special features that make them best for certain tasks, but my overall favorite has been the Wacom Bamboo Stylus duo because of its comfortable small tip and the weight and feel of the stylus. But no stylus has a smaller tip than the unique Jot Pro stylus by Adonit. Adonit sent me a free review sample and I've been testing it extensively over the last week.
[NOTE: This is a review of the first generation Jot Pro. On November 1, 2012, Adonit released a second generation Jot Pro with an improved tip. Click here for my review of the current version of the Jot Pro.]
The unique feature of this stylus is the tip. It has a very fine point on it, about the same size as a pen. That would be far too small for the iPad to sense — the iPad is made to sense something the size of a fingertip — so the Jot Pro tip is connected with a ball to a disc that touches the screen. The disc is clear so you can see exactly where it is touching the screen.
To prevent damage to the disc when you are not using the stylus, the Jot Pro comes with a cap that twists on the top. When you are using the stylus, you can twist it to attach it to the back.
The stylus feel great in your hand. This is clearly a high-quality product. It has a good weight. It has a rubber grip that makes the stylus comfortable to use and gives you a bit more control over the stylus. (Adonit also sells the regular "Jot" stylus without the rubber grip, but I think most would prefer spending a few more bucks for the grip.)
The Jot Pro will attach to the magnet in the iPad 2 and the third generation iPad. This is not just because the Jot Pro is made of metal, but also because there is a magnet inside of the Jot Pro. (That's the other difference between the Jot Pro and the Jot.)
The Jot Pro has a great length, just over 5.5 inches. Here it is compared to the Wacom Bamboo Stylus duo (in the middle) and the original Bamboo Stylus (bottom):
My only complaint about the body of the Jot Pro is that I wish it had a clip to make it easier to attach it to a pocket.
You can get the Jot Pro in four colors: Gun Metal (shown above), Silver, Turquoise and Red.
But the real question is whether the unique tip makes this a better stylus, so I have been going back and forth between the Jot Pro and the Bamboo to consider the pros and cons of each. Let's start with the good news. The Jot Pro really does create the illusion that you are writing with a pen instead of a stylus. The see-through disc allows you to be very precise on where you place the tip.
But there are some negatives. First, this is a very noisy stylus. Every time you pick up the stylus and put it down again on the screen (which I do all the time because I print when I take notes instead of using cursive) you hear a tap when the plastic disc hits the screen. I like to take notes in meetings, in court, or other environments where there are other people around. The Jot Pro is too noisy for me to feel comfortable using in any environment when there are other people near me.
[UPDATE: Two people have now written comments to this post stating that they don't find the noise to be a problem. This caused me to wonder if I was the only one to notice this, so I did some research to follow up. On the one hand, several other reviewers have noted the noise:
- iMore: "It's also noisy when tapping or swiping, which can be distracting in a quiet setting."
- Android Central: "As quiet as the Bamboo is, the Jot Pro is loud – making a clicking sound as the stylus touches the screen."
- The Verge: "In fact, the Jot Pro makes an audible tap on the screen whenever you press it down to the screen to write. It sounds almost like if you were to tap your fingernail on the iPad's screen."
- Judith Leist: "Second, it’s noisy. While soft tips cushion the sound, the Adonit Jot Pro’s hard tip does not. So if you’re doing a lot of small actions, you’re literally tapping out a drum beat."
- GadgetMac: "The second drawback I found is that the plastic tip makes a sound when it comes in contact with the iPad's glass screen. Maybe I'm just used to the silent rubbery stylus tip, but I think Adonit should at least add a thin layer of dampening coating to minimize that "tick" sound each time you tap a certain spot on your touch screen."
- MyGreatPhone: "It does give the feel of metal against glass though, makes an audible tapping sound and can feel a bit scratchy."
On the other hand, while I did not find any reviews that claimed that the Jot Pro was quiet, several sites have posted very favorable reviews of the Jot Pro without saying anything about the noise at all, which I presume means that it was not a problem for them. For example: GDGT, The Gadgeteer, PC Advisor, TechRadar, TUAW. And even some of the reviews that noted the noise concluded by giving the Jot Pro a high recommendation. For example, the review at The Verge concludes: "If you're serious about writing on your iPad, the Adonit Jot Pro is the clear choice..." This range of opinions is something for you to keep in mind when deciding whether to purchase the Jot Pro.]
Second, the Jot Pro is somewhat less responsive than other styluses when you need to tap once, such as to tap a button on the screen to select a feature in an app. I often found myself having to tap twice or more to get a response. This is less of a problem when you are writing, especially if you write in cursive. But if you are looking for a stylus to use to tap icons, this is the wrong stylus.
Third, there is more friction on the screen than with a traditional stylus. I suppose some might see this as a plus, but I found it far more enjoyable to use the soft tip of the Bamboo Stylus which easily glides across the screen than to use the Jot Pro.
Finally, because the disc is made of a plastic, it is harder than the tip on a traditional stylus. This made me wonder if the disc could scratch the iPad screen. I certainly never saw any evidence of this in my tests, but if there were dust on your iPad screen and you placed the disc on top of the dust, might that scratch the screen? There is a long page in the forum on the Adonit website discussing the risk of scratching with a few people complaining of damage but others seeing no issue. Adonit recommends using a screen protector, which I don't use on my iPad because I don't like the way that they feel on my screen.
I'm very impressed by the Jot Pro. This is a high-quality product with a distinguishing feature that makes it stand out from the crowd. For some tasks, I can see the Jot Pro being the best choice. The Adonit website shows many artists sitting by themselves in a studio (where noise is not an issue) using the Jot Pro. I'm sure that many will find that the precise tip makes it an excellent choice for that task. I can also see an engineer or an architect preferring a tip like this for certain drafting activities on an iPad. But for taking notes in a meeting using an app such as GoodNotes (which remains my favorite note taking app), I prefer the Bamboo Stylus.
The MSRP for the Jot Pro is $29.99, which is $10 more than the MSRP for the original Jot (which lacks the grip and magnet). Adonit also sells a shorter Jot Mini with an MSRP of $21.99. But you can get the Jot Pro for much cheaper on Amazon using the link below.