Yesterday my Adonit JOT Script finally arrived. I am a long time tablet user, stuck with Windows. I’ve always said I would switch to Apple if they would properly support the stylus, so I eagerly awaited this delivery. I am a bit disappointed however.

pens-finalThe Adonit JOT Script is a stylus for capacitive touch screens. It is the first one with a small tip (only marginally larger than the tips typically found on the styli for Windows Tablet PCs). See the picture (showing the Adonit on the left, and a Microsoft Surface pen on the right).

The Adonit JOT Script only works with iOS, and includes special hardware for increased precision, communicating with the iPad over Bluetooth. Individual apps need to support the stylus by embedding an SDK from Adonit to actually achieve this increased precision. Penultimate (roughly speaking a special version of Evernote optimised for pen input) is one such app.

I tested the Adonit JOT Script using a first generation iPad mini, and Penultimate.

I love the pen itself. It is large, not too light, not too heavy. It has a good grip and feel. Much better than my Windows stylus.

The pen did not come with any user manual. You are supposed to surf to the support page that explains (using a video from the Evernote team) how to start using the stylus (remove the protective piece of plastic from the battery cover), and pair it with Penultimate. Once you know what you need to do, the setup process is trivial. The status LED on the stylus is confusing though: I expected that it would remain green as long as the stylus is paired with your iPad, but this is not the case. So at first I thought the pen was not paired and hence not working.

Drawing (and especially writing) is not a nice experience however. There is some lag between the pen movement and the ink appearing on the screen. This is especially a concern when trying to write small. Every once in a while, Penultimate skips a stroke or a full letter. All this seems to be caused by the palm rejection algorithm – if I lift my palm from the screen, the system is more responsive and does not skip strokes. Also, there are only three levels of line thickness to choose from (even though the line thickness chooser of Penultimate suggests a continuous selection is possible). For comparison see the following two screenshots. The first was generated using the Adonit JOT Script on an iPad mini with Penultimate. The second was generated using OneNote on a Windows 7 tablet.



As I said, I tested the Adonit JOT Script on a first generation iPad mini. I went to an Apple store close by to see if the latest iPad (either the Air or the mini with retina display) would make a difference because of improved hardware. I couldn’t install the final version of Penultimate (the Apple store only has iPads in demo mode), but one of them ran an older version of Penultimate that I used. This version does not support the JOT Script specifically (special SDK code not included), but the styles does work, and writing felt more smooth, responsive and even more precise (even without the specific support for the JOT Script). Also palm rejection seemed to work better on the latest iPads.

If only I had the latest iPad to install the latest version of Penultimate on, then I could do a proper test…

But until that happens, the verdict (for first gen iPad mini’s at least) is:
happy to see this technology being developed, but the current version is not usable in practice. Looking forward to upgrades that will resolve this, because I do think this stylus has potential.

P.S. The package arrived with a bill for E 11.55 V.A.T. and E 17.50 customs handling charges from PostNL (the Dutch mail company). Ouch! To be paid to the delivery man, in cash! As a twin sister of the Dutch telecom operator KPN (they were once a single, state owned, company), they probably thought they could invent their own “roaming charges” (for shipping atoms instead of bits internationally)….