Ah, the pencil. We all grew up using a pencil, as did our parents, our grandparents, etc. According to Wikipedia, the pencil dates back to the 1500s. The eraser on the back of a pencil was added in the mid-1800s, and is even the subject of a Supreme Court opinion, Reckendorfer v. Faber, 92 U.S. 347 (1875) (declaring patent for eraser on the end of a pencil invalid; it was "more convenient" but not a "new result"). The now traditional yellow color and hexagonal shape was created in 1890 by L. & C. Hardtmuth Company of Austria-Hungary. That particular model, the Koh-I-Noor, became so popular that the company renamed itself Koh-I-Noor Hardtmuth, and the same pencil is still sold today and looks like this:
While the Europeans use a scale that ranges from 9H (hard) to 9B (soft), here in the U.S. we use a number grading system. The No. 2 pencil (equivalent to the European HB pencil) is, of course, the most popular and the one that we all grew up using.
Thanks to the popularity of the iPad, it now seems like there is an endless variety of styluses on the market. My current two favorites are the Wacom Bamboo Stylus duo and the second generation of the Adonit Jot Pro. But when iPad accessories manufacturer Griffin sent me a free review sample of their new No. 2 Pencil Stylus for Touchscreens, I couldn't help but smile. It is a stylus that looks like a No. 2 pencil.
At first I thought that this would be just a novelty, but to my surprise, it is actually a pretty nice stylus. The size of the tip is smaller than that of a typical stylus, closer to the size of the Wacom Bamboo stylus, which I find helps to make a stylus more precise. The tip is firmer than the Wacom Bamboo tip so you have to push down a little bit harder to use it — not my preference, but I know that some people like this, which is why Wacom sells firmer tips for those who want one for their Bamboo. But once you get used to pushing down a little harder, the tip works well. Here is the Grifin No. 2 Pencil Stylus next to a Wacom Bamboo Stylus duo:
The best thing going for this stylus is also the most obvious — it looks like a pencil. As I noted above, the now-traditional pencil design has been around for a long time, and for good reason: the hexagonal shape feels good in your hand and stops it from rolling off of a desk. When you hold this stylus, you can tell that it has a plasticky feel unlike the wood of a real pencil, but otherwise it actually feels very much like you are holding a pencil in your hand. It has the same size and weight. I also like the longer length as compared to most othe iPad styluses being sold todaly.
Note that the "eraser" on the end is just colored plastic. It would have been fun if the back had a rubbery feel and could also be used as a stylus, perhaps with a softer tip to contrast to the other end.
Here it is next to a real pencil that happened to be in the cup holder on my desk:
When you use this No. 2 Stylus in public, you are sure to get some stares and likely a few smiles as well. I'm sure that many will buy this stylus simply for the amusement value. But this stylus has more than just form going for it; it is quite functional. The size and shape feels good in your hand and I can honestly recommend this stylus just based on its utility. Griffin did a nice job with this stylus.