Wednesday, November 1, 2000

A matter of stylus


By Dan Wolfson

Remember this scene? You just got your first Palm PDA. You turned it on, pulled out the stylus, started tapping away, and thought to yourself, "I'm going to use this scrawny, weightless plastic stick? I'll have writer's cramp in ten minutes!" At this point, many Palm device users conclude there must be something better and start looking for a superior writing tool.

The good news is that the qualities you enjoy in your favorite pen or pencil are readily available in a stylus. Thick or thin, heavy or light, plain or fancy, they're all out there. More styli than you can shake a scrawny plastic stick at, so to speak, with non-scratch tips, better grips, even microchips. Let's look at three groups of styli: replacements, combinations, and oddballs.


Replacement styli fit in the silo or slot of your Palm device or Visor, and most have reset pins. They also have improvements or extra features, like a colored tip for better visibility, more mass, or a ballpoint pen, to justify their added cost.

The Chameleon T11V

A good example is the Pilot Pentopia Chameleon series at The Chameleon T11V is shown in Figure A.


Pentopia's Chameleon T11V functions as a stylus, ball point pen, and reset pin. (click for larger image)

The same size as the factory stylus, it has a unique spring-loaded tip that makes writing more comfortable. Chameleon, in this case, means it changes from a stylus on one end to a refillable ballpoint on the other end. For such a simple tool, this one is a mechanical marvel. What looks like a pocket clip is actually a tiny lug wrench to adjust the stylus tip tension and to unbolt the pen barrel/reset pin. It's truly a Tim Taylor tool. The Palm V version sports a bright orange tip, and a bright green tip comes on the Palm III version.

ttools SLIMpoint Stylus/Pen

Another clever replacement is the ttools SLIMpoint Stylus/Pen at <a href="$/Tango3/newttools/order.taf?_function=list&category=slimline&_start=1">$/Tango3/newttools/order.taf?_function=list&category=slimline&_start=1</a>. It's shown in Figure B.


ttools SLIMpoint Stylus/Pen docks with most Palm devices. (click for larger image)

Push the plunger button on the top, and a ballpoint pen extrudes from under the stylus tip. An onboard ballpoint is perfect for Palm computing minimalists like me who like to travel light. I stick some Post-It notes on the back of my PalmVx so I can copy information from the screen and actually hand it to those beaming-challenged unfortunates still using paper organizers.

Custom PDA Stylus

Some of you may prefer the &quot;nail&quot; design of the Custom PDA Stylus from PDA Panache. The Palm V models can be found at and are shown in Figure C.