Review: The Best Cheap Stylus, Ever by David L. Tran

Since the start of the iMedEd Initiative we have reviewed many styluses, experimenting with what seemed like endless variations of the same thing. We even helped you make your own in order to find a more cost effective solution. The price range for a decent stylus really varies, anywhere from a few dollars in bulk to more than $50 for a high end model – and each time we’ve broken or lost them. The tips have worn out and they’ve been dropped in the hospital, lost in our white coats, sterilized, rebuilt like Frankenstein, and either replaced or lost completely.

For those who live near a Daiso, I have found the most sturdy and cost effective stylus to date. The Daiso Stylus, which purchased at $1.50, is an incredible value for the money, and somehow has remained unbroken and functioning after nearly a year of usage.

The design is subtle and discreet. The stylus looks like a normal pen with a metal body and a simple black rubber tip on the end. It is lightweight, but sturdy and appropriately weighted so it doesn’t actually feel like a dollar store pen. When you uncap it, it reveals a standard ballpoint pen with black ink, though the cartridge is about half the length of a typical pen to accommodate for the stylus tip. With the cap on, writing with the stylus feels better than most styluses bought online because of the extra length and weight balance. Combined with programs like Penultimate for the iPad I was able to take many, many pages of notes.

The rubber tip is as expected, provides little resistance and slides along my screen nicely and has yet to snag. In a pinch the ballpoint pen is also of reasonable quality, for when I am writing patient notes or rounding in the early morning and I lose my pen, it serves as a good backup. The only downside is the cap doesn’t like to stay put when placed over the stylus end, perhaps owing to its thin metal body. The clip functions surprisingly well, and even after accidentally bending it, it held up nicely where I have previously broken many plastic clips.

Lastly, after a years of use the stylus looks surprisingly good – even after being repeatedly cleaned with Klor wipes and alcohol swabs. The conductive paint on the stylus has yet to disintegrate or chip given how many times I’ve dropped it, and at $1.50 I didn’t have many qualms about using chemicals to sterilize it after a day at the hospital. If you’re lucky, the stylus can be found at any Daiso for $1.50 and comes in black or red.

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The mini stylus, also found at Daiso for $1.50. It comes with an attachment that inserts into a standard sized headphone port. It is so comically small that I immediately lost it. And found it. And lost it again. I found it weeks later in the bottom of my Timbuk2 bag after a conference. And again, later, under my car seat.

It makes my hands cramp when I write with it. I could foresee this being very useful if you live in cold weather and are frequently wearing gloves. If you live in warm weather, seriously, just use your fingers.


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