Would You Use a Stylus on a Tablet Computer?

Would You Use a Stylus on a Tablet Computer?The new Galaxy Note 10.1 from Samsung has been unveiled and it seems the entire tech world is buzzing about what Samsung has done different with its latest Android device.

It would appear, on the surface (no pun intended), that Samsung is doing everything in its power to make its products look and feel as apart from Apple’s iPad as possible. Apple has gone after previous Galaxy tablets, seeking injunctions because the device looked or operated in a similar way to an Apple product. Whether you agree with one company or another over the issue, this new tablet raises an important question for consumers. Would you use a stylus on a tablet computer?

This isn’t the first tablet to launch with a stylus included, but in a day where capacitive touchscreens and multi-touch gestures are dominating the market, Samsung is holding onto the idea that people still have a need to put a stylus to use, at least some of the time.

The Galaxy Note 10.1 is made with professionals and artists in mind. The stylus promises to enable users to draw, jot down notes, and make the most of a tablet that is intended to do what the iPad simply can’t. Yes, you can get a stylus for the iPad, and some of them work quite well, but having a stylus natively supported means improved accuracy and plenty of potential for apps that make the most of the device.

Not every stylus is created equal, either. Bulky nubs make styluses built for capacitive touchscreens clumsy and difficult to use. There are a few designs out there that mimic the end of a ball-point pen, but these are often expensive and impractical.

Regardless of native support or stylus build quality, would you actually use one? Here’s a look at some of the pros and cons associated with using a stylus with a tablet.


  • Sketching and drawing is easier with a stylus than your finger.
  • Note taking is more natural and efficient.
  • Signing documents and filling out manual forms can be done in your handwriting.
  • Less of your hand blocks the screen, making it easier to read as you interact.
  • To some, a stylus looks more professional than using your fingers.
  • Less fingerprints to worry about on the screen.


  • It’s another device to lose.
  • A stylus gets in the way of quick navigation in many cases.
  • Not every tablet properly filters out palm resting while using a stylus.
  • Apps are often optimized for fingertips and multi-touch.

What Do You Think?

Using a stylus to interact with a tablet may appear on the surface to be the old way of getting things done, but there are plenty of folks out there that swear by them. I use a Bamboo stylus when doodling or drawing out site design ideas for clients. You may have an entirely different set of needs.

So, would you (or do you) use a stylus with a tablet computer? If so, which stylus do you use? If not, is there a reason you don’t want to? What might change your mind?

Photo: Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)

13 comments On Would You Use a Stylus on a Tablet Computer?

  • If I was an graphics designer ….. Yes , every day use …….. no way ( Steve jobs quote )

  • If I was an graphics designer ….. Yes , every day use …….. no way ( Steve jobs quote )

  • The world would embrace the OPTION of a stylus. However the woeful performance of styli in general has left tablet users without the ability to use them on a major scale
    The main three issues are lag, accuracy and the stylus itself
    1)Lag – The Microsoft surface presentation showed lag when the stylus was brought out. Just how much lag will determine how successful Surfaces’ stylus will be. Lag must be not evident at all, as it affects user experience, and leads the user to slow down his natural handwriting speed
    2)Accuracy – Writing documents requires accuracy, and an error free experience. Similar to onscreen keyboards and voice recognition, unless a stylus enabled application has >90% accuracy, a stylus enabled app is not more than a toy.
    The Ipad doesnt have a native application that recognises and accurately records stylus handwriting for commonly used functions such as writing documents. If it did, then I bet we would see a lot more people accepting the stylus.
    3)The stylus itself needs to feel supremely natural to the hand, reasonable price as they WILL be misplaced (not a money gouge), and able to be used for long periods without requiring heavy pressing on the screen and fatiguing the hand
    So again, to answer your question, I personally would like the option of the stylus, only if it has absolutely minimal lag, >90% accuracy of recognition, reasonable replacement cost, feels natural (thus doesnt fatigue my hand). In short, all the qualities you would expect if you were holding a pen ! Too much to ask ?

  • I would if I were using it to write notes on an app that supports it but not to click on an icon or link.

  • My patience for systems that require a stylus is lower than ever.

    Honestly, the last computer I used that required a stylus was the Pocket PC. It’s about as dead as dead should be.

    The only exception for this “rule” might be for artists…

    • Yes! that is why I would use a stylus (to draw). I don’t think it should be a requirement to use one for the tablet but its a nice option to draw or write.

  • I’ve tried using capacitive stylii before, and there are really three big problems: precision, lag, and palm rejection. The precision problem is pretty much solved with the Note 10.1 because the stylus isn’t capacitive, it uses Wacom technology. The lag problem could be solved with different apps (although Jelly Bean should fix some of the lag with Project Butter). The apps really just have to make rendering the virtual ink the first priority. Palm rejection is theoretically fixed with the Note 10.1 as well, although I’ve heard it doesn’t work very well. With capacitive stylii, you can’t really do any kind of palm rejection because it can’t differentiate between your hand and the stylus. With the Note 10.1, the stylus uses a different technology than your hand does, so theoretically you could enable pen-only input, but I don’t think that’s an option at this time.
    As for the uses of a stylus, it would be really nice for taking digital notes in a class where typing isn’t practical. For example, in math or science classes that involve many diagrams, a stylus could be very nice to draw diagrams in your notes (it could even be used in conjunction with typed notes), or it could be useful for digital drawing.

  • I want a sensu brush for my new iPad but can’t get one in the UK 🙁

  • People have this strange idea, the author included, that it’s either a UI optimized for a stylus or it’s optimized for touch. Ridiculous.

    Aside from the obvious, there are huge advantages to having a styus as an option. Taking notes is one use case that keeps me from using a tablet in any “real” way. When working with text, selecting, positioning the cursor, etc. a stylus is a godsend.

    Even when browsing the web, a stylus allows you to hit small targets easily, no need to stop, zoom in to some ridiculous level, and attempt to hit a fat target. On sites that make heavy use of rollover navigation or sites like YouTube that offer different options depending on where a mouse pointer is positioned, a stylus allows you to use the site as the authors intended. (Anyone with a smartphone with an optical trackpad knows all-too-well the advantages of having a real pointer when using the web — a stylus is the tablet equivalent.)

    Count me among those that want a real stylus, not one of those near-useless fake-fat-finger things we’re forced to use today.

    The stylus is the perfect match for a tablet. There are so many obvious use-cases for a tablet computer that demand a real stylus. Apple was 100% wrong to discount this old, but very practical device.

    It’s a shame that the Galaxy Note 10.1 is such a disappointing product. It could have been a real game-changer. Here’s hoping that other manufacturers step in and offer a far more solid option.

  • I think with the Galaxy Note, having a place to put the stylus is a good idea. In some aspects a stylus is a good idea. You ever play Draw something? I love to play that game, but sometimes it is hard to draw with my finger, and a stylus would be good for drawing. As long as when I put my palm on the tablet it doesn’t start drawing that. When they are made well with no lag, or any other problems, there can still be a use for a stylus.

    But if you loose them, then that will suck.

  • I could not imagine using a stylus on my iPad it’s so much easier using fingers and with the gestures it’s so much better using fingers minus the finger prints and smudges lol

  • For handwriting and drawing, it makes perfect sense.

  • My set of needs definitely involves a stylus of some kind. I’m still living in the dark ages at the moment without a device that uses any kind of touch screen technology (including my cell phone – yikes!)

    I would be more than willing to get something that properly filters out the resting palm, and has an app or something where you can switch easily between stylus and finger modes. These would be very important options for me for when/if I went looking for one.

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