At this point in the life of the touch screen, accessory makers should be capitalizing on different ways to make a variety of stylus pens that can be used to accommodate different tastes. So far, we’ve seen software developers like FiftyThree and Adobe launch pens that only work with compatible apps. We have also seen the development of excellent quality 8mm tip pens like Pogo that feel more like a marker than a writing pen. However, the “fine-tip” stylus is still a rare thing in the touch screen world.
The Dart, now available for pre-order, is a 2mm tip touch screen stylus that works seamlessly across all iPad apps, allowing you to have a realistic fine-tip experience while you draw, sketch, take notes, or even browse the web. We were lucky enough to go hands-on with the Dart and have a review of the fine-tip stylus for you here.
The Dart comes with one AAAA (quadruple-A battery) inside the pen, separated by a small disc that keeps the connections separate during shipping and storage, plus one extra AAAA battery stored in the packaging. It also comes with one 2mm fine tip on the pen, plus two additional replacement tips stored in the package.
Out of the box, the Dart is weighty without being heavy. It feels like a fancy executive pen, but a bit thicker. The body is made from a black, matte aluminum finish and has a weighted top cap that properly balances the pen for a more ergonomic fit. It fits comfortably in my hand and feels the way a good quality pen should.
The pen’s touch screen tip is made from hard silicone. “How can a hard silicon tip be touch screen compatible?” you ask. It’s not. The trick is in the printed circuit board that is housed inside the tiny tip. It simulates the touch of your fingertip so you don’t need any kind of fleshy conductivity to make it work.
To activate the circuitry, you must turn on the Dart by twisting the top cap until the blue indicator light turns on. This isn’t a Bluetooth pen. You don’t have to pair it with anything. Once activated, the tip simply simulates the touch of a finger.
Unlike most stylus pens, the Dart’s tip is hard, more like a real pen. You won’t find yourself accidentally squishing the tip into the screen, or even scratching the screen as the tip wears down. Even if you do manage to smash the Dart’s sturdy tip, there are still two replacements that you can switch to in order to keep the pen fresh and thin.
I used the Dart with a number of different apps in order to test the performance. It works flawlessly with the iOS operating system. That is, you can unlock your iPad, type emails, open apps and select songs with it and it registers the circuitry every time.
I tested it with a few different note-taking apps, and even compared it against a traditional stylus and my fingertip. I noticed that my natural finger tends to react the best with note taking apps. However, using my finger to handwrite notes is both awkward and uncomfortable. The Dart worked great for tiny handwriting, too, something that is impossible with my fingertip or an 8mm stylus tip.
I tested it with a couple of artist apps and it performed perfectly, especially for times when I was sketching with a digital pencil or pen tool. It felt like I was working with real pen and paper. Other than the need to keep my palm off of the page while drawing, which I should be doing anyway, it felt totally natural. However, when it came to precision details, it lost some of its smoothness as the pen had a harder time registering my actions. Sometimes, I’d draw a line and nothing would appear. I’d have to go back over the same spot and try again.
I tested it with a couple of tap-centric arcade games and found that, while still usable, it didn’t register every single tap and would sometimes have an adverse affect on my final score. The tip didn’t quite keep up with the fast-paced tapping required of some arcade games.
I also tested the Dart on the iPhone. It didn’t work at all. I’m not sure what technology is used to make the tip simulate a fingertip, but I can say for sure that it only works on the iPad.
What I Like: The Dart feels like a traditional pen in your hand. It is weighted properly and fits comfortably. I love how thin and hard the tip is. This is the best pen-like experience I’ve ever had with a stylus.
What I Didn’t Like: You have to remember to twist the top cap to turn off the Dart or the battery will run out. I left it on by accident multiple times. I wish the pen had an automatic shut off if it doesn’t register use after five minutes.
Verdict: This is the first 2mm fine-tip stylus pen that I know to have hit the market. Because of its unique design and realistic feel, it is definitely a great buy. The technology is still new and the pen’s performance was not perfect, although it passed the writing and sketching test with flying colors. If you are looking for a handwriting tool for taking notes in class or during meetings, you will be very happy with this fine-tip experience.
- Accessory Name: Dart by Precision Touch
- Category: Stylus Pens
- Company: Precision Touch
- Price: $59.99