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Stilo Pen & Precision Film: A digital toolkit that feels just as  pen on paper?

It is not long ago that I stumbled upon a product package that I found really innovative: a digital solution that seeks to give you a pen on paper-experience, yet containing all the advantages of digital note taking. Sounds good to me! This is exactly what the Stilo Pen in combination with Precision Film are aiming for.

On the product website it says:

Stilo’s durable, ultra-fine tip provides just the right amount of traction and control on your device’s screen, giving you the true experience of writing or drawing with a high-quality pen.

Use it with Precision Film for a complete pen-on-paper experience.

So let’s see about all that.

Precision Film

First thing we start with is the Precision Film. The film costs about 20$ and is available for several iPad-, Galaxy Tab-, and Nexus-types.

The Precision Film is the part of the package that actually is aiming for giving one “a true pen-on-paper experience” because of the traction it is supposed to give the stylus on a screen-surface, hence simulating “the experience of writing on paper”. It will, of course, not only work with the Stilo Pen but with any other stylus.

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When you flip the Precision Film packaging around, you will be presented with the installation guidelines of how to apply the film on a tablet or smartphone.

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Inside the Precision Film package is the film itself, a cleaning cloth and a squeegee card to remove air bubbles that might accumulate under the film while applying it.

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After some few minutes of work, I had the film applied to my iPad mini and was ready to remove the film’s protective layer.

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Looks pretty good, I guess. I managed to apply the film with (almost) no air bubbles locked in between the iPad surface and the Precision Film.

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Here is a graphic illustrating the technical difference between with and without Precision Film (image taken from the Stilo-website). Next up: the Stilo Pen itself.

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Stilo Pen

The Stilo Pen costs about 70$. It is an active fine tip-stylus (i.e. it has a battery and a fineliner-like nib) and comes in a neat black packaging.

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I got it in black, but it is also available in white (image taken from the Stilo-website).

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On the sides of the box, Stilo’s slogan reads “The freedom of pen and paper”…

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… “The power of digital communication” .

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The box-backside contains some information on how the pen works.

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When opening the box, one will be presented with a quick start guide, which really comes in handy.

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The single most important information, which is printed on the backside of the quick start guide, is probably the adjustment of the stylus’ sensitivity: you can screw the tip in- and outwards – the longer the tip, the greater the sensitivity of the stylus when using it (i.e. how good it reacts when touching the screen with the tip).

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When removing the quick start guide-card – there lays the Stilo Pen itself.

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Set-Up & Usage Experience

In order to get it to work, one first inserts the AAA-battery that comes with the pen. Just unscrew the backside of the pen, but the battery in, and screw the cap back on.

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The pen has a power on/off-button at the center of its barrel – press it and a LED will indicate that the stylus is switched on and ready to use.

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Since I use the Stilo Pen in combination with Precision Film, I screwed the 1.9 mm fine tip all the way out for greatest signal strength (i.e. sensitivity). The adjustable tip will allow for fine-tuning the pen to find the right sensitivity, depending on a particular device and screen protector.

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The tip’s protection-cap can easily be clicked on the backside of the pen, so it has a place and does not get lost.

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The Stilo Pen is a universal stylus, which means that one can use it with any device. It does not require special software, a Bluetooth connection or any special apps. It’ just “turn it on and go”. I tried the Stilo with Adobe Draw on my iPad mini.

The first drawing experiences were already very satisfying. The stylus responds very fast – however the Precision Film seems to slow down the reaction time a wee bit. I also tried it on my iPhone 6 (in the standard Notes-app’s new drawing feature) where I do not have any screen protector applied. The reaction time was a bit faster there. But maybe this is also due to the iPhone 6 having a faster processor than the iPad – I don’t really know about that. In any case, I did not feel like removing the Precision Film again to test that on the iPad itself, since the lag-time was so minimal that I could easily live with that for my purposes.

As one can see on the photos below, like so many active styluses, the Stilo Pen also has a slight off-set, depending on the angle in which you are holding the pen. A very steep angle normally means a slightly larger off-set…

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…while the off-set minimizes when holding the pen more vertical towards the screen. But, as can be seen on all the photos, even though there is an offset, I had absolutely no problem in drawing pretty precise along the squared ruling grid within Adobe Draw. The same applies for the writing experience, which is also very satisfying.

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Conclusion

The surface of a tablet or smart phone is smooth and slippery – unlike paper, which creates friction under the tip of a pen. Precision Film aims for providing  just the right amount of texture to keep the Stilo Pen (or other stylus) from sliding, giving one a natural, controlled writing and drawing experience.

To me, as a hopeless pen and paper-nerd, I honestly have to say that it really does not exactly feel like pen on paper. There is still a big difference. But anyway, I also do have to credit Stilo by saying that, measured against my pretty high standards, the Precision Film is a really good attempt in getting there and – at least from the products that I have tried so far – it is probably the product currently available that gets one closest to a “pen on paper-experience” while using a fully digital tool. As I tried the Stilo Pen against my iPhone 6, which has no screen protector at all, the feeling of writing on Precision Film is significantly better. The Stilo Pen itself, that of course can be used with or without the Precision Film, is a really good active fine tip-stylus, though. It feels good in the hand and the fine-tip is very accurate.

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