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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 […]

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.

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  1. why does apple design a tool which can be used with fingers? it’s because they don’t what that the users have to carry a stylus with them.

  2. Since both the iphone and the mb/mbp’s use a conductive trackpad/touchscreen has anyone tried this on the mb/mbps? I’m curious if you might be able to use the touchpad as a mini-waacom tablet.

  3. No no no!

    “Am I the only one who gets more misses than hits with the on-screen keyboard of the iPhone and iPod touch?” Yes I think so ;)

    I find no problem using two thumbs for typing(and I have stubby little fingers). I write longer texts messages since I got the iPhone, I even write in a different “language” because the full keyboard and the larger screen encourages me to write email/letter style texts instead of the short-hand type of messages you get when having to write with a keypad. So in that respect I take longer time writing texts than usual (but they are better) the T9 keypad style texting is also something that people have been practicing for years, give the on-screen keyboard a little more time. I sometimes use WritingPad for email, that is crazy fast and a little innovation gem.
    I usually write in danish, which has fewer words but with multiple meanings, so I do get 1 or 2 mistakes per text in average because of the dictionary in the phone, with english I hardly get any mistakes.

    I would loose that by using a stylus, It would be a step back.
    The problems with smudge, I haven’t noticed?

    The stylus made my list a long time ago: “wearing a bluetooth headset at the super marked”, “wearing a belt clip for my phone” and “sandals with socks”

  4. give it some time, you will get used to it, I now type faster then ever and I hit wrong keys all the time but my iphone knows what I was suppose to write 95% of the time.

    It’ll get better.

  5. For anyone interested, the Pogo Stylus, which is by far the best stylus for the iPhone or iPod Touch is available in the UK via http://www.themaccafe.biz/index.html

  6. @Banana – Quick thinking! I tried the Touch Pen stylus on the trackpad of my MacBook Pro. It sort of works but the trackpad is so sensitive the mouse cursor skips and jumps when I attempt to drag the stylus around.

    @Ricki – I realized, over time, that I’ve been pecking the keyboard with my fingers. If I hold each key down till it pops up, my typing becomes more accurate.

  7. @Clayton Lai

    Ahh maybe that’s where my stubby little slow fingers comes in handy:)
    I just tried pecking my keyboard, I couldn’t do it fast enough for the character to get presented on the screen before the key expanded. So maybe Your standard write speed is just faster than mine and therefore the miss-rate bigger?

    Too bad small ‘text message addicted kids’ can’t afford iPhones, I bet they could text crazy fast!

  8. I found your site after Googling about my own frustration with keying text accurately on the Touch when I’ve tried it out in stores. My “thumb-typing” is not very accurate at all on the Touch, yet flawless when trying out the Samsung Instinct in stores, so I don’t think it’s necessarily about the size of my hands (medium) or how I’m typing. I’ve avoided getting the Touch for this very reason; perhaps the Pogo Stylus will be my answer! Thanks for the post.

  9. I work with people who cannot use their fingers due to spinal cord injury,and will be interested in trying the pogo stylus with them. does anyone have any other ideas of any conductive material i could use to allow them to use an iphone with another body part?

  10. iType: The Craziest iPhone Accessory Yet? Monday, January 11, 2010

    [...] keyboard requires precision coordination that some people simply don’t have. Devices like the Pogo Stylus help in some situations, but the iType might be a welcome way to make the iPhone accessible to more [...]

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