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Can Apple's Pencil breathe new life into the stylus?

James A. Martin | Sept. 11, 2015
Apple's new Pencil is the first stylus from a company whose former CEO, the infamous Steve Jobs, boldly stated that styli were a sign of poor product design. Was Jobs right? Or is the stylus just what professionals need to get the most from today's tablets and smartphones?

Call it a stylus comeback?

During Wednesday's Apple event, Adobe showed off new apps, including Photoshop Fix, that let you use the Apple Pencil to retouch photos with fine detail on the new iPad Pro. Adobe's presentation was impressive — and so was Microsoft's, which showed off stylus input capabilities in Office apps on the iPad Pro. The whole thing almost has me thinking the stylus is destined for a comeback. 

Almost.

I'm skeptical of the stylus. The peak of Palm was the stylus's moment in pop culture, and that moment has long since passed.

However, I don't think styli are useless. If you're a graphics professional, I suspect you'll love Apple's iPad Pro. And you'll likely want the Apple Pencil ($99) to make the most of your expensive new tablet (prices start at $799).

If you want to easily annotate documents and Web content to share with colleagues, you're another candidate for a stylus, with or without an iPad Pro. Have to sign a lot of different documents on the go? You too are a potential stylus fan.

Everyone else would probably only use a stylus once in a while — maybe a lot at first, and then over time, hardly at all. The stylus is also yet another device you need to pack up with all of your tech gear, that you could lose in transit and that (in many cases) requires recharging.

Most people can safely skip the stylus. If you're really curious, though, buy a low-cost option, such as Jot Dash.

 

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