Around this time last year, I was trying out a Nomad Brush FLeX stylus for my iPad. I’m not much of a digital artist (if the sample photo doesn’t make that clear), but I do enjoy noodling around with a tablet and a digital painting app like ArtRage. The Brush FLeX really ups the experience thanks to its synthetic capacitive brush, and the machined aluminum body felt extremely solid. I’d still recommend looking at it if you’re into this kind of thing. My one complaint about the Brush FLeX was the reliance on a plastic case to keep the bristles from being damaged in transit. A new year and I’ve switched to an iPad Mini. And in keeping with the miniaturization theme Nomad sent me a new Nomad Mini 2 paintbrush stylus. I think I like this one even better…
Where the Brush FLeX leaves those delicate brush bristles exposed, the Nomad Mini 2’s brush tip is retractable. Twist the barrel when you’re done and the bristles are completely hidden – problem solved! The Mini 2 also adds a capacitive rubber tip at the other end, so it can pull double duty as a traditional stylus. It’s also more compact than the Brush FLeX, at 5-inches in length. The barrel also bulges at the stylus end, offering a better grip.
Performance-wise, the Mini 2’s brush did just as well as the Brush FLeX — which is to say it realistically duplicates much of the experience of painting with a physical paintbrush (minus the cleanup mess and the cost of supplies). Getting the most out of the digital painting experience depends on the software you use too, but having a stylus that physically resembles and has the characteristics of an actual paintbrush really improves over using a regular stylus or a finger.
I was a little less fond of the stylus tip. It was accurate, but not as responsive as it could be. I found I had to use a little more pressure than I’m accustomed to for a tap to register and scrolling took a few attempts until I put sufficient pressure into the drag movement. It’s not like I had to really push it, but when you’re used to the light touch needed for a finger to register on the iPad, this stylus required an adjustment. The rubber stylus tip can be replaced if you wear it out, however the brush tip is not — one advantage the Brush FLeX holds over the Mini 2.
The Nomad Mini 2 Portable Paintbrush Stylus sells for $35 and is available in black or chrome.
Disclosure: Nomad provided a Mini 2 for this review.