Jot Script review: Adonit's first pen-nib stylus is an impressive entry
At a Glance
When Adonit announced the Jot Script at the 2013 Evernote Conference, the form-factor of the stylus caused a bit of a stir among those of us who take our iOS accessories seriously. Admittedly, that’s probably a sign that we need to get out more, but Adonit’s new stylus entry is impressive: It’s the first stylus to market that has an actual pen tip rather than a rubber-nibbed bubble.
We’d been told previously this kind of small-nibbed stylus was a fantasy—that the iPad’s multi-touch grid would only render finger-sized taps, hence the necessity for rubber and plastic disks. But Adonit has used technical wizardry to bypass this restriction, mapping pen to iOS device via a low-energy Bluetooth connection.
This isn’t the first time Adonit has used Bluetooth to enable extra functionality in its styluses—its first attempt, the Jot Touch, successfully simulates 2048 levels of pressure sensitivity and offers palm-rejection for supported apps. Likewise, the Script prefers supported apps to truly unleash its Pixelpoint technology and offer precise writing and sketching, but I tested it successfully with several other writing and drawing programs as well without too much degradation.
Part of that success comes from the way that the Script uses its Bluetooth connection. I don’t know much about Adonit’s new tech, which the company seems to be keeping fairly close to the chest for now, but the Pixelpoint overview describes its functions like so: “Each of the iOS devices has a slightly different capacitance signature coming from their touch screen. When Pixelpoint detects the unique signature of a particular screen, it inverts the signature and sends it back.”
Unlike the Jot Touch, the Script is neither pressure-sensitive nor useful when powered off. Even without a Bluetooth connection, the Touch could be used to do basic taps and swipes on your device; in contrast, the Script needs an active Bluetooth signal and a power source (a AAA battery) to function. When the stylus is powered on, however, its tiny pen nib can do anything you’d normally use your finger for on your iOS device.
Weight and feel
Adonit’s build quality has long been stellar when it comes to its styluses, and the Script is no exception. The silver aluminum pen is sized and weighted to feel like a high-end ballpoint, and it feels great in the hand (though I wish it offered some sort of rubber grip, a la the Jot Flip). A tiny Evernote elephant logo on the end of the pen and a green ring around its battery casing are the sole subtle nods to Adonit’s partnership with Evernote; the colors evoke the partnership beautifully without any need for overdone branding.
The power button on the Script is almost invisible—the grey rectangular button is hidden along the midpoint of the pen barrel, barely visible but for two small vertical seams. It definitely adds a visually pleasing flair to the pen, though I’ll admit to having to dig through the manual to figure out what, exactly, I needed to push for power.
The pen tip is extraordinary in terms of how much it feels like writing with a ballpoint. Like every stylus in existence, it can sometimes be little too slippery against the glass of an iOS device, but short of adding rubber to the nib, there’s little to be done about that problem. You fly across the screen while writing—sometimes a little too fast, thanks to the slide—but it’s by far the fastest way to write on the iPad.
But how well does it work?
You can make the prettiest stylus in the world, but it’s not worth dirt if you can’t accurately and comfortably sketch and write with it. I’m happy to report that the Script is an excellent tool for doing both. When the stylus fails, it’s easy to get annoyed with it, because it’s otherwise almost too good.
All apps more or less work with Script out of the box, though those that haven’t been calibrated may see some amount of offset between the pen nib and the result on-screen. I had mixed results here: There was absolutely no offset while using Paper, but the app’s brush strokes are quite a bit slower to render than other writing and sketch apps, making quick note-taking difficult; other apps rendered a 5-to-10 pixel offset to the left or right, depending on which hand I held it in.
App makers can incorporate Adonit’s SDK to improve the nib’s precision on the screen as well as include palm recognition; at launch, Evernote’s Penultimate app includes SDK support, with more third-party programs to come. Turning on SDK support is blissfully simple in Penultimate: Turn on your Script, tap the Settings icon, then tap Jot Script Evernote Stylus Setup. The app will hook into the stylus’s Bluetooth support, and you’re off.
From my tests, the Script is clearly a dynamo writing tool and quite possibly the best iPad stylus on the market right now for precise notes. There’s something really freeing about not having to compensate for letter spacing because you can’t see what you’re writing (thanks, rubber nibs!), and though the Script nib is somewhat slippery, you can charge through a quick set of notes in either print or cursive with little difficulty.
I did run into a few problems during my experiments. For one, Penultimate’s ink engine occasionally removes what it thinks are mistakes or palm taps but (in my experience) were actually quickly-written letters, often leaving you with “mstaks” and “gofs” in your notes. I believe there’s a setting to disable this, but it also means you won’t get the benefit of Penultimate’s palm rejection.
My big niggle with the pen is that it sometimes feels too natural. I know, I know—what kind of complaint is that? But I start to feel so comfortable with writing quickly across a page that when I goof up on a letter—draw it too fast or overlap a previous word—I get unreasonably mad at the stylus. With rubber nibs, I’ve learned to instinctively give each letter and word extra space, so as not to mess up notes; with the Script, I write like I would in a notebook, which can get me into a spot of trouble when I or the pen malfunction.
If you take any sort of notes or need a stylus for detail-work, the Jot Script is, hands down, the pen for you. Its $75 price tag may make some hesitate, but the Script’s technology (and the time you’ll save over writing with a rubber nib) is more than worth the cost. It’s not perfect—the stylus goofs occasionally, and there aren’t a huge number of apps that support the precision SDK yet, but it still works admirably with unsupported apps. It doesn’t have pressure-sensitivity, though—for that, you’ll still need a Jot Touch or another pressure-sensitive third-party stylus.
The Script is available from Adonit’s store for $75; to use it with your iOS device, you’ll need one that supports Bluetooth 4. That includes the following: third-generation iPad or later, first-generation iPad mini or later, and the iPhone 5 or later.