Styli for iPhone & iPod touch

Am I the only one who gets more misses than hits with the on-screen keyboard of the iPhone and iPod touch? Typing accuracy is OK when my iPod touch is resting on a flat surface, but it is another story altogether when I’m walking or while I’m on a bumpy car ride. So I thought, “Why not try a stylus?”

The screen of the iPhone and iPod touch is capacitive, which means I cannot recycle any of the styli I have in my graveyard of PDAs.
I took a trip down to my local store today, and discovered two styli made for the iPhone and iPod touch.

Ray-Out Touch Pen

The Ray-Out Touch Pen (Ray-Out Japan, approximately US$14) is about the length of the iPod touch. It has a conductive tip made of rubber that is angled (not such a great idea; more on that later). The tip of the Touch Pen is the width of a key on the on-screen keyboard. The other end of the Touch Pen conveniently sports a pen clip.
I’ve been using the Touch Pen for a couple of days. My typing accuracy has improved a lot, since I can now see more of what my fingers would normally block. Using the stylus also meant a smudge-free screen. But this product is not without its shortcomings.

First, more pressure is required to tap the screen with the Touch Pen than when doing the same with a finger. I literally have to tap the screen such that each tapping action is audible, versus the complete silence of touch-typing with fingers.
Second, because the tip of the Touch Pen is chamfered at an angle (approximately 60 degrees), I need to hold it a certain way so that the screen registers every tap. Scrolling becomes more challenging. The traction caused by the rubber material of the tip is palpable, and impedes the smoothness of the gesture. This angled tip takes some time to get used to, especially when manipulating the cursor around in magnified view. I recommend you twist the tip while pressing it to the screen to move the cursor in any direction. I’d much rather the tip be rounded, and that its material was felt instead of rubber.

Pogo Stylus

The Pogo Stylus (Ten One Design, US$19.95) improves on the shortcomings of the Ray-Out Touch Pen. Made of aluminum, The Pogo Stylus features a rounded tip that is made of a felt-like material.

Thanks to this material, gestures made with the Pogo feel much smoother. I didn’t feel the traction that I did with the Ray-Out Touch Pen. Available in four colors, the Pogo Stylus also comes with a clip that snaps onto the back of an iPhone or iPod touch, onto which the Pogo Stylus clips alongside the device. The clip fits only on an uncased iPhone or iPod touch, and those encased in select silicone skins, so I can’t say it is all that useful for most.

If you type a lot with your iPhone or iPod touch, and you simply cannot improve typing accuracy, consider using a stylus. For that, I’d recommend the Pogo Stylus over the Ray-Out Touch Pen.