This holiday season, a lot of doodlers and webcomickers are going to get their hands on the latest iPad or other touchscreen device
and begin the hunt for a third party capacitive stylus
capable of delivering something resembling the lines they manage on the pages of Field Notes/Moleskines/homework/legal pads. A quick search online will reveal a mountain of cheap options, but for those with a heavy hand, a lot of these pens will amount to an afternoon of mild success followed shortly by ripped-rubber obsolescence. As a dude who digs casual digital drawing quite a bit, I've shredded my share of capacitive pens across the price spectrum, so when I saw More/Real
tout "firm tips" for its new $25 Sharpie-fitted stylus caps
online, I hit them up to see if the tech would deliver and maybe save some digital doodlers from the tip replacementpocalypse at an affordable price point.
The More/Real stylus cap is the result of a very successful Kickstarter
circa 2011 which promised a natural capacitive pen experience by simply popping a metal cap with a rubber tip onto writing utensils users were already accustomed to. It's kind of one of those "Why didn't I think of that?" ideas.
The caps themselves are "machined from a solid bar of 6061 Aluminum and receive a protective anodized finish," while the screw-on "Firm Tips" are designed to deliver a more solid and precise line than more squishy toppers. I was also pleasantly surprised to see that each stylus cap came packaged with a fresh fine point Sharpie, because I can really never have too many.
I'd seen a tech blog or two point out how scary it would be to uncap the pen by mistake and accidentally draw all over an iPad or Kindle with permanent marker. I scoffed at the notion, but still cautiously favored the silver cap to the more familiar black one... just to be on the safe side.
At first use I began to worry that the firm tip had ended up being too firm, leaving me with a less accurate line in my drawing app of choice (Sketchbook Pro on the iPad) that required more pressure and general effort to finish drawings. After a few warmup sketches, however, I'd effectively broken it in and started appreciating how sturdy it felt. With replacement tips costing $6
(plus shipping) per two-pack -- a little more than a pack of regular Sharpies -- I didn't worry about applying as much pressure as I needed. The tip felt like it was going to work out, and has fortunately kept it up.
One thing that might give certain users pause is the fact that, like all capacitive pens, your fingers have to be in direct contact with the metal to work. I found myself paying a distracting amount of attention to whether or not I was making contact with the pen cap initially, but the weird way I hold a pen accommodated the size of the cap just fine. After awhile, I completely forgot about it and it wasn't an issue. If you have a particularly unique way of holding your pen that won't allow for easy access to the cap, its 2.3" length may be a dealbreaker, though. One creative solution may be to attach the cap to a stainless steel Sharpie? I wasn't able to test that scenario out, but I'm curious to try it the next time I swing by an office supply store.
Here's a shot of the cap next to a Lego Santa... for scale:
After more than a week of pretty strenuous use, I'm impressed with the More/Real stylus cap. I only really went into my review looking for a quality tip that wouldn't poop out on me after scads of hardcore doodling sessions, but came to appreciate the ergonomic advantages of using a pen the size/weight of a marker I was already comfortable drawing with, and the ability to switch to drawing on physical media with a felt tip on the fly. The cap's portability and apparent recyclable/upcyclable materials could appeal to shoppers in the market for their first stylus as well, but the bottom line is that the More/Real stylus cap is a sturdy, comfortable and easy-to-use capacitive pen option that won't break the bank or leave you forking over cash for replacement tips on a far-too-regular basis.