Tablets are great tools for taking notes or sketching, but these activities require a stylus. Many tablets, like the Apple iPad, don’t come with one of these, but fortunately there is a thriving market of third-party styli.
The AluPen Digital from Just Mobile isn’t a run-of-the-mill stylus. Unlike most capacitive models, its slender tip gives the impression of writing with a pen while also giving the user greater control.
Build and Design
Virtually all tablets have capacitive screens, which are designed to sense the touch of a finger but not other items. There are plenty of styli designed to simulate this, and just about all of them have blunt tips about the size of a pinky finger.
Getting this fine tip requires power, so a AAA battery is necessary. This makes the barrel of the stylus somewhat fatter than the usual ballpoint pen – it’s roughly half an inch thick.
Because it is designed to work directly with capacitive screens, the AluPen Digital can be used with a huge range of models. The Apple iPad Air and iPad mini are two examples, but it’s also compatible with almost the entire array of Android and Windows tablets.
The stylus is activated by rotating the top half of the stylus clockwise. A small green LED lights up to indicate that it’s on. This also exposes the polyacetal tip, which is retracted when not in use to prevent any damage.
The accessory is turned off by twisting the top the opposite direction, but this requires a bit of care. Rotating the top of the AluPen Digital counterclockwise is also how one opens this stylus to get access to the battery, so some attempts to deactivate the device result in screwing it apart instead.
The stylus will turn itself off after idling for 3 minutes in order to save battery. When no power is flowing, the accessory can’t manipulate content on a tablet’s screen.
The need to turn the AluPen Digital on and off makes it a poor choice for those who want a stylus for very intermittent use. It’s best suited for those who want to settle into an extended session of note taking or drawing.
A typical blunt-tipped capacitive stylus doesn’t provide the best experience for writing or drawing. The most obvious problem is position control: With a tip about 0.25 inches across, hitting an exact point on a touchscreen is challenging.
The AluPen Digital simply doesn’t have this issue. One can see exactly where the tip is going to contact the screen.
There are no problems with skipping or missed lines. TabletPCReview’s tests found that, as long as the stylus tip is in contact with the display, the contact will be registered. The speed at which the tip moves is irrelevant.
This accessory works just like a fingertip, only more accurately. This means that it also can’t do things that a fingertip touch can’t do. It does not make the iPad screen pressure-sensitive, for example, so pushing harder on the screen accomplishes exactly the same as a light touch.
TabletPCReview has not been testing this product long enough to be able to judge how long it will be able to run before its AAA battery needs to be replaced, but it comes with a second battery for when the first wears out.
The Just Mobile AluPen Digital is well suited for those who want to take handwritten notes or draw on their tablet. Its fine tip makes sketching or even painting easier.
Its only issues are related to its need for a battery. The accessory must be turned on with every use, and is useless when its battery dies. The battery also adds to the bulk of the accessory.
At $49.95 on the Just Mobile website, the AluPen Digital is significantly more expensive than most of its rivals, but it also offers a better experience than they do.