2022/09/01 ｜By G.Editor
With the rapid progression of tech products, many electronics are equipped with touch screens. Although all-purpose fingers can operate on them, for writing, drawing, easily, the fingers still cannot replace the exquisite handwriting brought by the touch stylus. For digital nomad, the stylus with touch screen is still a favorite for electronic signatures, drawings, handwritten notes and more.
How to choose among numerous touch styluses? To find the most suitable one for you, take a look at the following principle of use and the most complete reviews of the touch pens. Let’s dive in!
*Wacom drawing tablets or other professional drawing tablets are beyond the scope of this article.
● Resistive Stylus
Resistive touch screens are commonly found in outdoor machines (e.g., parking payment machines), car navigation, industrial machines, and traditional POS machines. The resistive touch panel replies on pressure sensing. When you stroke the screen surface, it does not respond. You need to poke the screen with a little force to make the screen sense where you touch. Therefore, any material can be used for a resistive stylus. Plastic is a common material to be made as the pen tip. Compared with the finger, the stylus has a smaller contact point and can more accurately touch your right position.
● Capacitive Stylus
Mainstream electronics such as smartphone, touchscreen monitor all adopt capacitive touch technology, and the capacitive touch stylus used is also the focus of this article. Beneath the cover glass, there are two layers of ITO conductive material, which forms an electromagnetic field on the X axis and Y axis. When a charged conductor, such as a finger or a capacitive stylus, touches the touch screen, the contact point absorbs a small current. The screen determines the touch point by sensing the change of the capacitance value of the X and Y axes, and responds at the position.
1. Passive Stylus
The passive stylus pen replaces the finger as a conductor and simulates the effect of finger touch.It does not require power itself, and the pen tip is usually larger to achieve sufficient capacitive sensing. This type of stylus is relatively unlimited in compatibility and can be used with any capacitive touch screen.
2. Active Stylus
The active stylus contains a battery and a control chip. When the power is turned on, it will actively emit electromagnetic signals on a specific frequency. The contact area between the stylus and the touch glass is usually relatively small.
Depending on the sensitivity of the touch screen itself, the amount of electromagnetic induction of the stylus, and the operation system of the device, the suitable stylus models are different. Not all active styluses can work with all capacitive touch screens. Most active styluses are designed for specific touch devices, for example, Apple Pencil can only be paired with the iPad, and Samsung's S Pen only works with part of Galaxy tablets/laptops/phones (Samsung phones without S Pen are usually not supported), Surface Pen or ADONIT Ink with Microsoft Surface series. These dedicated active styluses can show precise handwriting, reduce errors, and even provide palm rejection and pressure sensing functions through pairing or Bluetooth connection. The details of the pen writing are presented, which is closer to the effect of writing on paper.
|Resistive Stylus||Capacitive Stylus|
|Touch Principle||Controlled by pressure sensing and sense the resistance change of the touch position.||A Conductor for simulating a finger. The screen senses the capacitance change and recognizes the position.||When touching on the screen, the built-in circuit of the pen emits a signal to the touch screen to make the screen senses the touch position.|
|Pen Tip||Plastic (electrical conductors is not required.)||Soft rubber, conductive cloth, disc plastic sheet||Polyoxymethylene (POM), copper, aluminium alloy, etc.|
|Compatibility||For resistive touch screens only||For most of capacitive touch screens||Only for dedicated device models.|
On smartphones, tablets and other devices, using the active stylus specified by the original brand is undoubtedly the first choice! However, taking the price of the active stylus into account, for simple touch operation and writing, the passive stylus can still replace your fingers on Apple iPad, Surface pro and other devices with capacitive touch screens!
Passive or other non-dedicated active styluses can also be used on external capacitive touch monitors. Taking the GeChic projected capacitive touch monitor as an example, when it is connected to Windows laptops or desktops, the touch stylus can be used for signing, writing, taping, swiping, etc.
Tips for choosing a stylus pen：
1. Passive stylus─ use soft rubber tip, plastic disc (diameter>=6mm)
2. Active stylus─ with enough electromagnetic induction
3. Lightweight and comfortable to hold
4. Durable and smooth tip material
6. Response speed
The results of 8 capacitive styluses are sorted out as below.
For this test, we used GeChic T1 series capacitive touch screen together with Windows 10 Paint 3D as the test environment. Due to the differences among drawing software, the result of using the same stylus on different software may be different!
1. Rubber-Tip Stylus Pen：Rubber-tip stylus pens is a common pattern. Because it simulates the contact area and soft texture of a finger, this stylus pen brings unexpectedly smooth experience. However, due to the thin rubber, the durability of this pen might be prone to wear and tear.
Average Score : 5.25
2. Conductive Fiber Cloth Passive Stylus Pen：Conductive cloth is also a common and cheap pen tip material. The contact area is relatively large, and the material is more durable than rubber, but the fiber cloth is more likely to be adhered by dirty or dusty.
Average Score : 4.8
3. Magnetic Disc Touch Pen：Adopts a plastic disc as its pen tip. With the disc appressed to the touch screen, you can write smoothly by this pen even with a slight tilt. It is the highest rated among these passive touch pens.
Average Score : 7.55
4. PenPower Active Stylus Pen (PEN01A)：This pen has a thicker barrel and perfect combination of firm and soft tip. People with big hands will like its holding experience. The accuracy is relatively a bit poor. As long as it is slightly tilted, the sensing is not quite good. The friction between the tip and the touch glass is high so the smoothness is poor.
Average Score : 4.75
5. ADONIT Active Stylus Pen(DASH3)：The barrel is thinner than other pens. The tip is thin and hard, and it will make a relatively loud sound when using on the touch screen. It comes with a USB-A magnetic charger.
Average Score : 7.15
6. ADONIT NEO DUO Active Touch Pen：This one is very similar to the DASH3, with a longer barrel and a USB-C charging cable.
Average Score : 7.5
7. Copper Tip Active Stylus Pen：A white-label active stylus on the market. The tip of this touch pen is made of copper. The sound of using on a touch screen is the loudest among the 8 models, but it still gets pretty good comment.
Average Score : 7.15
8. Dual Modes Active Stylus Pen：A white-label dual modes capacitive pen on the market. It is known as a universal model compatible with Apple, Android, and Microsoft. It comes with a replacement tip, and the pen tip can be written accurately even when it is tilted. It has outstanding performance and won the highest score overall.
Average Score : 7.9
The following situation of using a stylus, compared to finger operation, is super practical!
1. Electronic whiteboard handwriting
The trend in education is moving towards online teaching and distance learning. Teachers changing their teaching places from classroom to online platform still need to write on the blackboard. With Google Meet and other conference software, they can write on the whiteboard from a distance!
2. Communication and Presentation
When you make a presentation on the podium or conference table, you are no longer just use the laser pointer to point at the projection. Pick up the stylus pen and click "Pen and Highlighter Tool" when showing the slides in PowerPoint. Draw the points of the slide or write supplementary information as you explain.
3. Electronic signature
We often need signatures when applying for services, confirming documents, contracting, etc. With paperless getting more and more popular, transferring paper to digital display (via touchscreen monitor) not only make it easier to read, but also can be more quickly sent online. Handwriting signatures with stylus are more recognizable than finger signatures!
4. Ordering on the POS Machine
Retail industry and catering industry need to touch many products, pack or change during checkout. Use the stylus to click on the screen, which can be more accurate and faster, and avoid waterdrop and oil stains smudge the screen to keep the touch glass clean to maintain effective and responsive HMI operation.
5. Taking Notes
To Digitize notes allows you to highlight the important sections and scribble on the touch screen. There is no page limit. You can also choose pens of various thicknesses and colors. Edit, save and open your notes quickly. Such a convenient function can be used on PDF and note-taking software.
The following are some habits of using the stylus correctly, which can maintain the durability of the touchscreen and stylus!
1. Avoid damaging the pen tip：Plastic or metal tips that are chipped can easily scratch the touch screen and must be replaced immediately. In the business premise/workplace, you can set up a pen holder or use a spring extension cord to prevent the stylus pen from falling or missing.
2. Do not make the touch glass damaged or cracked：Cracks on the surface of the touch glass will make the touch operation inaccurate or unusable!
3. Tap and Touch Gently：The capacitive touch monitor has outstanding sensitivity and can be operated without poking hard. When the touchscreen is not that sensitive, you can clean the screen or adjust the touch sensitivity. Please be aware that do not cover thick glass or protective film on the screen.
4. Clean the touch glass and stylus regularly：Spray some 75% alcohol on a soft cleaning cloth, and gently wipe the touch glass and stylus tip to keep them clean.
1. When I connect a GeChic touch monitor to the Surface Pro or Surface Laptop, can I use the Surface Pen on the external monitor for touching and writing?
No, the Surface Pen is only compatible with Surface series laptop. When an external touch monitor is used with Surface laptop, an additional stylus pen compatible with the external monitor is required.
2. When using a USB Type-C cable to connect a Samsung phone (supporting USB Type-C DP Alt Mode) and a GeChic T1/ On-Lap M505 series touch screen, can I use the S Pen on the GeChic screen?
No, the S Pen is specially developed for some Samsung Galaxy devices, and its touch function is only applicable to the screen of the phone itself.