Working with capacitive touch screen devices has often been a compromise of input accuracy. Having previously trodden down the path of capacitive stylii, I have always been impressed by Adonit’s products, which began with their innovative “plastic disc” style design. Having previously received an Adonit Jot Script and Adonit Jot Touch 4 digital stylus for a gift, and done a review on them, it was interesting to see a new alternative called PixelPoint come to the fore.
Adonit’s innovation continues, with the release of the Adonit Jot Touch with Pixelpoint, released sometime mid-2014. I’ve been lucky enough to have been gifted one, so lets give it a spin.
The Adonit Jot Touch with Pixelpoint is available in two colours – a black (which is sort of charcoal grey), and white. They come packaged in Adonit’s standard clear plastic shell, for full visibility of the product inside.
One of the first main differences is that this Jot Touch brings 2048 level pressure sensitivity to the Pixelpoint tip. The Jot Script doesn’t have analogue pressure sensitivity at all.
Secondly, the Jot Touch has two short-cut buttons available, whereas the Jot Script only has the one power on/off button.
Thirdly, the Jot Touch has a rubberized grip, whereas the Jot Script has a ribbed plastic finish.
Finally, this Jot Touch contains an internal rechargeable battery and charging stand, whereas the Jot Script is happy to run off a AAA battery.
Unfolding the case gives us a clearer view. With the pen on full exhibition, we can clearly see the LED indicator window above the two short cut buttons which indicate status. Unlike former LEDs, this one is now tri-colour, flashing green for pairing success, blue for waiting for pairing, red for charging or powering off and green for fully charged. To turn on/off the stylus, you must press and hold the bottom button, but unlike previous Adonit stylii, you must hold the button for a lot longer (12-15 seconds) to force it to power off (red flashes).
The full inclusions are pictured above – there is a magnetic USB charging base similar to the one provided with the Jot Touch 4, but note they are not directly interchangeable, as the diameter of the Jot Touch with Pixelpoint is larger. As a result, you could charge the Jot Touch 4 with this one, but you must carefully centre the pen on the charger. There is a quick start leaflet, which is inside a black plastic wallet.
Above are more close-ups of the pen, including the removable regulatory label, which I’m sure most users will remove right away.
The pen itself, while described as Pixelpoint, has a different Pixelpoint to the Jot Script. It has a dark, smooth ceramic coating, with a “bevelled” edge shape, rather than a rounded one. The tip itself is somewhat larger as well.
The barrel itself is not as thin as the Jot Touch 4, and is “chunkier” like the Jot Script. The difference in the charging base connector can be seen in the photo below.
As such, it seems the Jot Touch with Pixelpoint is a bit of a “hybrid” between the Jot Script and Jot Touch 4 stylii – a combination we knew was inevitably going to come to market sooner or later.
As usual, Jot Touch pens work best with iOS devices, especially with apps that are “Jot Touch Ready”. In this quick demo, I will be using Procreate, a paid-for sketching app running under iOS 8.1.2 on a 3rd generation iPad.
The pen itself was pretty much fully charged as received, only spending a minute in the charging dock before going green.
Suffice it to say, powering the pen up was all it took for Procreate to immediately connect with and start receiving the pressure data. As a result, it was able to render handwriting with personality, although the pressure “falloff” seemed to be a little slow on the uplift of the pen. This might have something to do with my brush choice as well, but it definitely feels better than the Jot Script for drawing purposes.
The biggest advantage of the Pixelpoint technology is the hard-wearing tip, that does not require a cap to protect it. There is also no disc to scratch, or lose inadvertently, which can be a costly replacement exercise if lost often enough.
In general, the pen glides smoothly across the screen, even if it’s a little dirty, quite like how the Jot Script did. In Procreate, palm rejection is not available/is a bit funny, so careful manipulation of the canvas and stylus is necessary to ensure no stray marks. Other applications, such as Adobe Ideas, may work better when it comes to this.
However, it seems, the Pixelpoint is not without its drawbacks. When held perfectly vertically, the pen performs quite well and the registration is pretty much exact.
But as soon as you start tilting the pen, as is natural when sketching, the registration is offset.
This can make precision sketching and drawing a little more difficult. This comes about likely because the projected capacitance is a function of the tip and the conical metal collar around the tip. When at an angle, the screen perceives the centre of the “projected” shape of the tip and conical collar as the “finger”.
See how this doesn’t happen with the Jot Touch 4, because the screen perceives the disc as the finger, and the centre of the disc as the location. This one taken with the pen held vertically.
And this one held at an extreme angle, limited by the disc itself.
Quality Control Issue?
With the release of the Jot Script, some users have reported issues with quality control with some defective pens reaching some unhappy users. Unfortunately, the same thing seems to have happened this time, and it affects the white pen.
I have powered down the pen and rebooted it (powering down takes 12-15s of pressing on the lower shortcut button). It connects and shines green to indicate connection, but the pressure data doesn’t seem to be sent, and thus nothing is “drawn” on the canvas. The shortcut buttons work. After a short time, a message comes on the screen indicating the pen has disconnected, despite not being commanded to do so. The battery was confirmed as fully charged, so it’s likely this one is defective.
This might indicate a failure to program the internal microcontroller correctly at the factory, or apply the latest firmware to the device.
Unfortunately, it seems this device has to be returned to manufacturer for replacement.
The Adonit Jot Touch with Pixelpoint is very much the product of hybridizing the Adonit Script and Adonit Jot Touch 4. While it has the functionality conveniences of an internal rechargeable battery, pressure sensitivity and two shortcut buttons from the Jot Touch 4, it inherits the no-disc Pixelpoint from the Script (albeit a little larger) and chunkier body.
While in theory, that is a marriage of positive points, the actual experience seems to be a little different. Primarily this seems to be down to a limitation in the way the Pixelpoint technology interacts with capacitive touch-screens – the loss of the disc causes a reduction in accuracy especially when using the pen at a tilt. This slight loss of precision varies as a function of the tilt angle, and is not particularly welcome where a user has an expectation that the pen will draw where the tip is placed.
As a result, it’s a good try, but the conveniences do come with their drawbacks, and users will have to decide whether precision (at the cost of fragile plastic discs which can be lost or scratched) is important, or convenience is the aim (at the cost of precision). Furthermore, they will need to hope that they aren’t unlucky and receive a dud.