After my rant about Wacom’s announcement of their aluminum Bamboo Stylus for iPads—and all other capacitive screens—Shapedad’s Ivo Beckers got ahold of me and asked me to try out his Eco Stylus. Turns out, it is actually made of bamboo. I waited until I had a good bit of experience with the new stylus before writing my thoughts down. Read my full review after the jump.
What a stylus should deliver
To review the Eco Stylus requires first talking about what a stylus should deliver. I have to ask this if I’m going to use it for the amount of drawing I do. It needs to glide across the glass with just the right friction, feel accurate, and not require too much pressure.
Existing Products On The Market
The options on the market are typically either a conductive foam or rubber tip sticking out of the end of a tube. The problem is that none of them satisfy more than two of my requirements. The Pogo and the Boxwave styli are probably the best known options, but their conductive tips are too squishy to feel accurate. The Boxwave’s rubber is better for this, but squishy nonetheless. The hard rubber styli require enough pressure that you feel like you’re going to break your screen. Reading the Wacom Bamboo Stylus’ reviews on Amazon tells me there is nothing new about the tip on that stylus.
In my rant about the Wacom stylus, I mentioned the Stylus Socks Pro—hereto referred to as SSP—by far my preferred capacitive stylus at the time. When Jeff Bare, of jbare design, suggested I try out the SSP, I was surprised the link sent me to an Etsy page. Surely the larger companies out there could develop a better stylus than some Dutch fellow on a craft website, right? Nope. Hands down the SSP had the best pressure, the best friction, and was the most rigid—important for that feeling of accuracy—of any stylus I had tried.
The Eco Stylus
When the it arrived for testing, the packaging couldn’t have been more simple: It’s a small plastic sleeve with a card and the stylus inside. The advantage of not selling through retail outlets is that it doesn’t require bloated packaging that then needs to be disposed of. While I would prefer even a paper sleeve for it to go with the “eco” factor, there is so little material to the sleeve that I can let that slide. Praise aside, I last referred to the SSP as looking like “a piece of cloth glued to a stick,” and apparently Shapedad had already decided this was an issue and was developing the Eco Stylus.The Eco Stylus still looks like a stick with some cloth on it, but this time around, I can say that in a more positive way. The “stick” to cloth ratio has flipped and the “stick” is actually a very straight piece of smooth, pretty bamboo.
I was under the impression that the SSP’s magic was due to it being covered in conductive cloth that makes contact with your hand and the screen at the same time. Apparently Shapedad has figured out a new formula for the same magic, as the entire area where you contact the Eco Stylus is bamboo. Only the last 3/4″ is conductive material, covering a tip that seems to be the exact same shape as its predecessor’s.
The stylus yields the exact same experience when contacting the glass but brings a couple of extras to the table. It is longer, heavier, and feels more solid than the original SSP. It is in no way heavy, though, weighing in at about the same as the Copic drawing pens that I retired when getting my iPad. Really, it emphasizes how light the plastic and cloth SSP is. Also, unlike the SSP, you don’t need bare skin to use it, so working with gloves on becomes an option, and one that is a lot cleaner than using a piece of frozen sausage. From their other offerings, I’m guessing this uses the same technology as Shapedad’s Mouthstick Stylus for those who can’t use their hands. It’s good.
While the build quality clearly shows that the Eco Stylus was hand made and not in a factory somewhere, that actually boosts it’s “eco” cred. Still, that means there is a not-so-attractive plastic cap at the butt end of the Eco Stylus and the fit-and-finish aren’t factory tight. Still, if you’re looking for a stylus to use with your capacitive screen tablet or phone, you really need look no further. Either the Stylus Socks Pro or the Eco Stylus are going to work better than any other option out there until someone comes up with a pressure sensitive solution. The question comes down to how important it is to have a heftier stylus with the option of using gloves. I’ve found myself using them interchangeably, grabbing whichever one was nearer. At this time, the Stylus Socks Pro retails for $10 and the Eco Stylus, $20. I believe shipping in the USA for both is about $4. (Oh, and they ship quickly, too) You can thank me later.
Title Image: Shapedad’s Etsy Page
Disclosure: Shapedad provided the Eco Stylus for review. The author purchased his own Stylus Socks Pro.