Review: Adonit Jot Script Stylus for Digital Inking on the iPad

Digital Inking is how I got into Tablets in the first place, back in the day. Digital Inking is a sum of moving parts. It involves the screen, the stylus and your hands. Everything has to feel right for you to feel right about doing something you learned to do as a child with pencil and paper but holding electronics in your hand. In my view, in order to have a successful Digital Inking experience the way your hand works with the stylus and the screen has to feel not just natural, but transparently so. If you have to think about the tools as you’re using them, you lose the point.

Microsoft’s Tablet PCs nailed the Digital Inking experience before they fell out of favor. That was helped along by Microsoft itself as it moved more towards a world of mutli-touch. Capacitive screens took on some interesting combinations to support both the pen and the finger. The first moving part is the screen, or at least the part known as the digitizer. Active digitizers are the best for Inking. Passive digitizers are not. Wacom still owns the market for capacitive screens that work well with a stylus. In fact the Digital Inking experience on a Galaxy Note 3, which features a Wacom active digitizer, is one of the best current implementations of Digital Inking I’ve seen in a while. You can read through the GBM Archives on Digital Inking here.

The Adonit Jot Script Stylus

The Adonit Jot Script Stylus

When the iPad came along, Tableteers and Digital Inkers wanted to know how capable a device it would be to use with a stylus. Given that Mr. Jobs wasn’t very fond of a stylus, the iPad wasn’t built with that in mind. But that didn’t stop some innovative App developers for coming up with solutions over the years, that, while not on par with an active digitizer equipped screen, come pretty close, depending on your Digital Inking needs. These Apps have incorporated Palm Rejection (also called Wrist Projection) that allows you to write with a stylus while your hand rests on the screen, creating stray marks and stopping the input from the stylus.

Stylus makers have also been working hard to create devices that work with the iPad screen. We’ve seen Bluetooth solutions, clip on solutions, pens with buttons, and a variety of different stylus tips and styles to try and make the Digital Inking experience on an iPad work. Again, depending on your needs, some of these solutions work just fine.

Read: Inking on the iPad

Advertisement

One of the early Apps to incorporate Palm Rejection was Penultimate. It became my Ink note taking app of choice, and by and large still is. Penultimate was bought by Evernote, itself a pioneer in Digital Inking back in the day, and incorporated into its ecosystem. Now Evernote has teamed up with Adonit to create the Adonit Jot Script Pen to be used with Penultimate for Digital Inking. Other Digital Inking Apps can also take advantage of the Adonit SDK to work with the Jot Script. Note: The Penultimate App was just updated yesterday, November 6, to work better with the stylus.

Unlike many of the styli we’ve seen since the launch of original iPad, the Adonit Jot Script has a small metal tip (1.9m).

The tip of the Adonit Jot Script Stylus

The tip of the Adonit Jot Script Stylus

The overall dimensions are the size of a regular pen. The design of the stylus actually feels quite good in my hands. It works via Bluetooth 4.0 LE on the iPad and is powered by one AAA battery. With the tiny metal tip the aim is to create more precision in your Digital Inking, as opposed to the rubberized and mesh tips and plastic circle guides we’ve seen from other makers.

The Adonit Jot Script has one button that powers it on and powers it off. Adonit calls the technology behind what the pen does when it hits the screen, Pixelpoint. Combining Bluetooth, the accelerometer, and the Adonit SDK the idea is to give you Digital Ink under the point of the stylus for more pinpoint accuracy.  The Adonit Jot Script costs $74.95 and can be purchased via Adonit or via the Evernote Market. You can also purchase the stylus through the Penultimate App itself which takes you to the Evernote Market.

The Penultimate App has undergone some changes as well. There’s now a feature called Zoom and Drift, where you can zoom into a page to write with more detail and the page will then drift along with your writing from side to side. Note that to use this feature and the Jot Script you need to turn off Mulit-task settings on your iPad. But I found that is something you should do with most Digital Inking Apps.

Turn off iPad Multitask Gestures Before Using

Turn off iPad Multitask Gestures Before Using

So, that’s the setup. How well does the Adonit Jot Script work? Not as well as I would like.

First for some context on how I take notes digitally with a stylus. I do most of my Inking in theatre rehearsals and meetings where I am furiously laying down Digital Ink on the screen. I’m a sloppy Inker. So that’s a context you need to consider when you read my thoughts here. The smaller tip does allow for more accuracy than some of the Jot Script’s competitors, I don’t think Adonit and the Evernote/Penultimate developers have quite figured out the mechanics yet. There are times where I can lay down Ink in a seamless manner and times where things skip and jump. That happens far too frequently, and I find that to be successful I have to write slower than I would like to.

The Zoom and Drift feature is not one that I would use because of my note taking style, but in working with it, I can see it being of use to some who need to make annotations. The metal tip of the stylus also makes an annoying clicking on the screen as I write. There were quite a few third generation Tablet PCs that had that same annoying click, and I find it distracting. At times the Inking will just skip and stutter and I’ve found the pen turning off randomly as well. I don’t think I’m hitting the power button to cause that because to turn off the pen you need to hold down the button for a few seconds to turn off the power. Maybe I got a lemon.

Advertisement

If my experience is any indication, I don’t think this is a ready for prime time product just yet. As you can see from the video I had very little luck creating a smooth or consistent Digital Inking experience. While no iPad Digital Inking experience well ever equal that of a Tablet PC, I find that using Penultimate with less expensive and less complicated styli works better for me in my digital note taking. Circling back to the beginning of the review the experience just doesn’t feel natural working with these moving parts.

Comments

  1. Nick Smith (@66sweep) says

    I received my Jot Script yesterday and I can say my experience with it lines up exactly with yours. The palm rejection in Penultimate seems to get confused and causes it to skip entire letters while I’m taking notes. I also had the pen turn off twice while note taking and I’m fairly certain I didn’t hit the button. In fact, I have to spin the stylus around 3 or 4 times searching for the button it’s so hard to find. I’m actually considering put a drop of white-out on the button so I can find it easier. I hope some of this can be fixed with updates to Penultimate but I’m seriously considering returning it, at this point.

  2. JoeC says

    Warner – It’s great to see your thoughts on this. I’ve been hoping you would take a look at this. I totally agree with your take on it. I see no difference from this $75 gizmo vs. a $6.00 cloth based stylus except for the noise. The clacking noise makes me miss my old favorite tablet (the Toshiba M200).

  3. GFL says

    I echo the thanks for saving me $75. I’m using a Pogo Connect, which I’m not totally excited about. I’ve even been considering Livescribe’s new “3″ pen…that just seems a little kludgy having to write on paper, and still have your iPad on, and active in the app. Had high hopes for this pen. Much appreciate the review Warner!!

  4. nenad says

    If you are all about inking new galaxy note 10.1 has wacom technology integrated and software s note integrated with evernote. If you still prefer ipad try jot pro with noteshelf or wacom intuos with wacom bamboo app. Again, ipad is not for writing on it. Its designed for media consumption you need to choose how much digital inking is important to you.

    • Lex Thomas says

      I recently considered the Note 10.1 myself because digital inking is very important. Unfortunately, the software that was included works better in Landscape mode than in Portrait. In fact, the whole tablet looks to be designed that way which is a real shame. I think I’m going to wait until the Note 8 is refreshed and grab that one.

  5. Don Kim says

    I see this article has no mention of the ‘pairing’ part you should do in Penultimate app. The pen works with or without Bluetooth, yet the specific Palm Rejection only works when paired.

      • Don Kim says

        Yes. The stylus doesn’t make use of a typical “finger” size like most other stylus which iPad screen would recognize, instead it sends extra electricity to ‘fake’ a finger, which is why it doesn’t work if it’s turned off, as I understand http://adonit.net/pixelpoint/. While its Penultimate’s built-in Palm Rejection would be easily confused by that, so using the SDK and Bluetooth 4.0 LE with the data being transmitted from the pen, the App gives much better result.

  6. Brad Chin says

    Hey Warner! Glad I saw this. I’ve been quite happy with Intuos Creative Stylus, however, it isn’t supported by many note taking apps yet. Noteshelf and Bamboo Paper — but not Penultimate, Adonit SDK is more supported. The small tip and lack of disc is very intriguing to me, and I don’t need palm rejection or “wrist protection.” If I want to rest my hand on the glass, I just set a microfiber cloth underneath. Is the script pressure sensitive at all? Thanks! Take care,

Leave a Reply