The stylus is making a huge come back nowadays. New forms and shapes have proliferated over the last few years, begging the question: what is the best stylus for academics? I personally think that Adonit’s Jot is the best stylus out there for people in Higher Education. In this post I share my personal experience with the Jot, discuss its pros and cons, and compare the different members of the Jot family (Pro vs. Flip vs. Touch) with each other.
Made for students and professors
First, lets quickly think about what you would you use a stylus for. Most academics want to use a stylus to develop ideas. Thus, the capacity to capture handwriting (e.g., when taking notes) and to draw lines (e.g., when making conceptual maps) are the most important aspects to look for in a stylus made for students, professors, and everybody else whose main business is conceptual work. In other words, what we need is a stylus optimized for precision.
I have written more about whether or not (and when) you should get a stylus, and I encourage you to check out that post in full. The short version, and my conclusion in the current article, is: If you are willing to experiment a little with your workflow, then go ahead an get an Adonit Jot Pro. However, if you are expecting a true pen-and-paper experience, you will have to wait until the next generation of Bluetooth styluses are available.
The Jot Family
The Adonit Jot family comprises (among others) the Jot Pro ($30, amazon US link), the Jot Flip ($40, amazon US link), and the Jot Touch ($100, amazon US link). All three have in common that they have a ballpoint and transparent disk instead of the rubber nib most styluses have. It is this unique approach what makes the Jot the most precise stylus on the market (more about this below in “What I like”).
The Pro and the Flip are basically the same stylus, expect that the Flip has an additional fine-tipped pen (for paper) on the other side of the disk. The Touch does not have a pen for paper, but it has a pressure sensitive tip. That means that the Jot Touch reacts to the amount of pressure you apply to deliver more accurate interpretations of your strokes.
I bought the Jot Flip a little more than a month ago. It is my second stylus, and it has fully replaced the rubber-nibbed Griffin stylus I used before. Based on my experience, I can recommend the Jot Pro and the Jot Flip whole-heartedly for academic work. For the Jot Touch, see below.
Writing with the Jot: What I like
What I like most about the Jot (Pro, Flip, and Touch) is the degree of precision it offers when taking and editing notes. I admit that its design might appear strange at first, but in my mind there is no doubt that the ballpoint and clear disk design is much better for handwriting and making conceptual maps than the rubber nib found in most other styluses.
The reason for this is that you can actually see the line you are making right under the tip. The rubber nib of most other styluses hide the line you are making, so that you have to guess half of the time where you are making the dot of the “i” or where the next letter can start. With the Jot, you can see the line and previous letters right under the clear disk, which makes writing a much more natural experience.
Note that while the Jot tends to produce a more detailed handwriting, the real difference lies in how much easier and more naturally it feels to write with the Jot. I played around a little with both my previous rubber-nibbed Griffin stylus and my Adonit Jot Flip stylus in Penultimate. You can see that I achieved more condensed and slightly clearer handwriting with the Jot (my handwriting isn’t really great to start with, not even on paper). The real difference, however, was in how much easier and natural it was to write with the Jot thanks to seeing the line right under the tip.
And it is not only writing, but also editing and drawing that benefit from the Jot’s ballpoint-and-disk system. Many note taking apps (e.g., Penultimate, Notability) have some cut/copy/paste mode which requires you to circle the area you want to copy or cut. With the Jot, you can do this much more precisely (e.g., cutting right between letters). This increased level of precision is also helpful when you are using the rubber, or when you are connecting lines in conceptual maps.
Adonit claim that the Jot is the “most precise stylus”. Obviously I didn’t try out all styluses, but after having worked with both a rubber-nibbed stylus (from Griffin) and the Jot Flip, I can say that the Jot really allows for a much higher precision than traditional styluses. For me, this makes the Jot the best stylus for academics, because handwriting and drawing (and connecting) fine lines in conceptual maps are the most important aspects I am looking for in a stylus.
By the way, The Verge also thinks that the Jot is the best stylus for handwriting.
The second reason why I think that the Jot is the best stylus for academics is its convincing built quality. It simply feels great to hold the Jot.
When you are holding a Jot, you immediately notice that this is not a Bic pen. It has the dimensions (length and especially thickness) of a luxury pen, and its high quality aluminium and steel give the stylus a reassuring weight. The Jot is well balanced for writing on the iPad, and the rubber grip further improves grip on the stylus.
In comparison, my Griffin stylus is much shorter, thinner, and more toy-like.
Beyond precision / accuracy and ergonomics, Adonit also added a protective cap for the precision disk and magnetized the Jot Pro and the Jot Flip. So if you are using an iPad 2 or newer, you can attach the stylus to the long side of the iPad.
Don’t worry about the plastic disk
One thing I am asked about the Jot a lot (look, it rhymes!) is whether it scratches the screen. I stopped worrying about scratching the screen through normal use a long time ago, and I still don’t have any noticable scratches in my first-gen iPad’s screen after using the Jot for over a month without screen protector.
Talking about screen protectors, Adonit writes that the Jot does not work well with some screen protectors that increase friction. Among these are the ZAGG Glossy Invisible Shield, Bodyguardz, and other shenanigans.
One thing that might happen in the long run is that you have to replace the plastic disk. I haven’t had to do this yet, but it is worth to keep this in mind and maybe order some extra replacement disks ($6 for 2 disks) from Adonit if your are getting a Jot.
A few things that I do not like about the Jot
There is really not much I don’t like about the Jot. With my exemplar, the rubber grip overlaps a little with the metal of the upper part, but that wasn’t a big enough deal for me to complain to Adonit. Also, when you are doing the first stroke, you first have to position the plastic disk on the screen, and that takes a little to get used to. Finding a position that works for you is pretty easy though, as the ballpoint pivots well.
My really only problem with the Jot (Pro and Flip) is that the ballpoint tip gives you a little bit of a “hard landing” on the screen. This makes writing with the Jot certainly louder than normal pen and paper or a more traditional rubber-nibbed stylus. Also, this hard landing makes the Jot less ideal for tapping on icons and buttons (i.e., navigating with the stylus).
Once you are on the way with writing, however, this hard landing and the noise is a lesser issue. In addition, the new Jot Touch is equipped with a dampening tip which promises to make the landing softer and to reduce the noise of notetaking and sketching. I hope that this feature will make it into future versions of the Pro and Flip as well.
I have a few more issues about the Jot Flip and the Jot Touch, which I discuss further below when comparing them to the Jot Pro.
The best stylus for notetaking and sketching out ideas
The accuracy of the Jot, together with its built quality and ergonomics, by far outweight the hard landing of the ballpoint tip. Seeing what you write the moment the tip touches the screen makes writing on the iPad a much more pleasant experience, and there is no way I am going back to a crayon-like rubber-nibbed stylus.
I am not saying that there are no uses for rubber-nibbed styluses, and a fine-tipped (6mm) rubber nib stylus (such as the Wacom Bamboo) might be okay if you also want to navigate with it or if you are into drawing. However, if you want to use a stylus primarily for handwriting and drawing conceptual maps, the Jot is the best choice for you in the moment.
The question is, which Jot is the right one for you?
Jot Pro vs. Jot Flip
The Jot Pro and the Jot Flip are identical when it comes to the ballpoint and precision disk side of the stylus, but they differ on the other end. The Jot Flip hides a fine-tipped pen (for paper) on the other side of the disk, which you can reveal by twisting the barrel.
I bought the Jot Flip because I thought this was a neat idea. However, I would rather recommend getting the Jot Pro instead.
The pen is okay, a little hard for my taste, but okay. The problem, however, is that you don’t have the same ergonomics when using it, because the stylus is balanced to use the ballpoint and disk end of it. Furthermore, the rubber grip is only for the digital stylus as well, not for the paper pen.
What I am saying here is that the paper pen is a little awkward to hold. In addition, I sometimes accidentally twist the barrel a little while writing with the stylus, so that the pen emerges. Not a big deal, but altoghether, I rather use a dedicated paper pen next to a Jot Pro.
My recommendation: Go with the Jot Pro. It saves you ten bucks, and you have more colors to choose from.
Jot Pro / Flip vs. Jot Touch
The Jot Touch is a Bluetooth enabled stylus that looked very promising at first. Besides the dampening tip discussed above, it also adds pressure sensitivity to the mix. Together, these two features promise to make notetaking on the iPad an even more natural experience.
However, the Jot Touch does not support palm rejection, which would be required for a really immersive pen-and-paper experience. As I have discussed in another post, the current Jot Touch is based on Bluetooth 2 technology, and we have to wait for the next generation of Bluetooth 4 styluses to get palm rejection.
My recommendation: Unless pressure sensitivity is really important for your (e.g., you are an artist or design student), I would save some money and go with the much cheaper Jot Pro. Wait until the second generation Jot Touch with palm rejection comes out. This will be the right time to drop some serious cash on a stylus, because a dampening tip, pressure sensitivity, and palm rejection will make writing on the iPad almost as natural as writing on your good old moleskin notebook.
Based on my personal experience with the Jot Flip, I can whole-heartedly recommend getting a Jot for capturing your handwriting and creating conceptual maps. In my opinion, the Jot is the currently best stylus for academics out there due to its precision and overall feel.
The Jot Pro offers you the best bang for the buck in the Jot family, and I would hold off buying a Blutooth stylus until they support palm rejection.
If this review was helpful in your decision to get a Jot, and if you want to support academiPad, please be so kind to use the links provided in this review when buying a Jot. These are affiliate links (fair and unbiased – see academiPad’s affiliate link policy). Using these links helps me to write for academiPad, and they won’t cost you anything extra. Thanks!
Disclaimer: Writing sample by academiPad. All other images by Adonit. This review is based on using a Jot Flip for over a month. All product links are affiliate links.