I am a recent convert to the iPad Pro. My non-GeekDad job was kind enough to provide one, and I find it to be better for most of my basic tasks than carrying a full laptop. As a Mac user, I like that it interfaces perfectly with my existing systems. As a former webOS user, I love the gesture interface.
But this is not an iPad Pro review. No, this is a review of not one but two superior alternatives to Apple’s Pencil stylus. It’s not that the Pencil is bad per se. But for $129, I don’t want good—I want great.
Adonit has been making styluses (styli?) a lot longer than Apple. I’ve used them in the past on Android devices. But the Note line is specifically made for Apple’s pencil-compatible tablets. The two specific models I reviewed are both lower priced than Apple’s offering and offer more features.
The star of my review is the Note UVC. In any other year, the idea of adding UVC light to a stylus would seem like a gimmick. Now though? #yesplease
If, like me, you work in an environment where more than one person might be handling your tablet, then this UVC germicidal wand is a must-have. Heck, at $69, it might be worth getting even without the iPad.
Charge up your Note via Micro USB—a full charge gives 12 hours writing use or 30 minutes worth of UVC light—and get ready to rock. It sets up easily in the iPad’s settings, without messing with Bluetooth. The feel in your hand is as good as a normal pen. The sensation of writing and sketching feels correct. If you have to hand off your tablet to someone, just hold down the button and the purple UVC light can clean off any unwanted wee beasties. No need to worry about the UVC shining in your eyes—there’s a sensor that sees when it flips over and auto-turns off.
If you don’t like to share your toys and see no reason for a UVC light, there’s still an option. Meet the Note-M. At just $79, one wonders why Apple feels the need to charge so much more for a stylus that does so much less. What do I mean? The Note-M isn’t just a stylus, it’s also a mouse.
No, I’m not kidding. Full mouse functions are baked into the Note-M. We’re talking left and right buttons, pointer, and a touch panel that works as a scroll wheel. This is fantastic for precision work. You can use the mouse functions from as far as 5mm away from the screen.
Like the overpriced Pencil, the Note-M will attach directly to the iPad. It also has a USB-C charger, just like my iPad Pro. I’ve gotten used to taking the Note-M everywhere. I couldn’t even tell you where my Apple Pencil is anymore. Gathering dust, I suppose.
Both stylus models will work with the 3rd-gen iPad Air and up, 5th-gen iPad Mini, 6th-gen iPad and up, and 3rd-gen 11” & 12.2” iPad Pros, as long as they are running at least iOS 13.3.
For me, the killer feature of iPadOS 14 is Scribble, the handwriting recognition solution. As a former PalmOS user, I have always been quick with pencil input. Now, I don’t have to hunt and peck or swipe. I don’t have to put my Note-M or Note-UVC down and start typing. Nope, I can just write.
Both devices feel perfect in my hand when I write. There’s nothing gimmicky about the design. They’re not trying to ape the feel of another device; they’re trying to be the solution you need, not remind you of something else. I am a terrible artist, but I do draw better with these than a fingertip.
(I had images, but I am too ashamed to post them.)
With the holidays coming up, I strongly advise the Note-M or Note-UVC for the creative iPad user in your life. Why settle for an Apple Pencil when you can get so much more function at a fraction of the price?
Note: Adonit provided me with review samples of both the Note-M and the Note UVC. I keep one at work and one in my bag at all times.
Note II: This review contains affiliate links.