Alternative to graphics tablet? Adonit JOT Mini review

Recently I’ve been looking for a replacement of a graphics tablet and instead of simply buying a new Wacom or anything like that, I’ve decided to try something else. In the past, in order to do any digital drawings or paintings you had two options – either use your mouse and suffer from hand cramps (it’s a thing, seriously – if you’ve ever were clicking for many hours, you know what I’m talking about) or invest into buying a drawing tablet.
The first solution is quite masochistic, even though I still do it sometimes, the other one requires a little bit of “rewiring” – you need to get used to the fact that you’re drawing on a surface in front of you, but the result shows up on the screen – kind of funny feeling at the beginning ;)
Now there is a third option – any device with a touchscreen and a stylus pen. Most of stylus pens on the market have a thick tip, which is not suitable for pixel-perfect work, but I found one series that is different – Adonit JOT and I decided to give it a shot.
They have few models available – you can check them on their website. I didn’t find a model supporting the pen pressure feature at any store in my city, so I got the simple one – Adonit JOT mini.
Here's my (first ever!) review of this stylus pen (with an assistance of Mr. Tiny Sith).


Design

Adonit JOT mini stylus pen is made of aluminium, which makes it a little heavier than plastic pens I’ve tried in the past, but this allows a better “feel” in your fingers.
It comes in few colors – white, green, blue, red, gold and black. I went with classic black to match the rest of my devices ;)
It’s also designed in such a way, that you can clip it – just like a traditional pen – to your shirts’ pocket or on top of a file case. It’s a nice touch, even though I don’t think I’ll be using it. 

The cap of the Adonit pen can be put on both ends, which is great as it’s small and might be easy to lose otherwise. It's made to protect the tip of the stylus pen.  Speaking of which – the tip has a unique design, which is why I picked this brand. The tip is tiny, looks a lot like a ball pen – and normally I would be concerned to put anything like that on a touchscreen, but Adonit thought of this too and added a small plastic protective disc at the tip to prevent from scratching the devices’ screen.
The disc is movable and you can use this stylus pen at different angles (based on my tests, up to about 45 degrees).
In my case, stylus pen came with a plastic base to be placed on. It’s nicely designed and makes a pen easy to pick up whenever needed.


Technical details

Mr. Tiny Sith has a little problem lifting the pen – the Force might not be as strong with him, as he would like it to be ;)
Adonit JOT mini is compatible with all of the devices with touchscreen – regardless the operating system. I didn’t test it on anything with OS, but I can confirm it’s fully functional with Android 4.4, 5.0, and Windows 8.1 – basically there is no reason to not be compatible with anything at all, as it’s simply a thinner and more precise replacement of your fingertips ;)
  • Length: 11,5 cm with the cap screwed in on the top and 10 cm with no cap on (or with cap covering the tip);
  • Diameter: 0,7 cm – about the same as a regular pencil;
  • Base:  length – 14 cm, width – 5,5 cm;
  • Tip diameter:  2 mm.


Testing

I’ve tested JOT mini on my cellphone and tablet running Android system and on a 2 in 1 Lenovo netbook with Windows 8.1.
First impression – it runs smoothly on both screens and allows for doodling and writing experience similar to classic pen & paper style.
The only detail that could be problematic for some users is the fact that it makes a rather big dots – depending on your writing style it might be an issue or not – for me it’s not such a big deal after all. I don’t use my devices to actually *write* notes or to-do lists as I prefer typing, but I could see myself handwriting some comments on documents this way.

As for drawing – here a lot depends on an app you’ll be using. With a set of regular touchscreen and stylus pen you don’t get the pressure control, so some of the features of drawing software might be unavailable. Other than that, drawing and coloring using JOT Mini is quite pleasant experience. 

At first, I tried JOT Mini with Photoshop, but it had a problem interpreting tapping correctly – it was scrolling/zooming instead of drawing lines – which turns out to be a well-known software issue – come on, Adobe – fix it!
Then I switched to GIMP, which (surprise, surprise!) works perfectly fine on touchscreen devices – and I was able to use all of the tools properly with JOT Mini. I didn’t make any advanced digital drawings with it yet, but as far as I can tell, it’s certainly possible and very smooth. I have to say, it was a lot of fun to draw directly on a screen – it gives a more natural feeling than using a classic graphics tablet.

I also tested JOT Mini stylus pen with a few drawing apps from Windows and Google Play stores – just to see how it behaves with those.
I chose SketchBook app by Autodesk and Sketchable by Silicon Benders LLC. Both of them are very good drawing apps for your devices, but this is a material for a separate post ;)
Personally, I’ve enjoyed sketching with JOT Mini more than I expected – it runs smoothly, doesn’t create breaks in lines and it doesn’t “jump”. 

I’m not sure yet if I’ll be using it for actual digital painting, but it’s perfect for fast concepts and line art. Using it it's for sure easier than making a sketch by hand and then scanning it in order to work on it digitally.
The problems I’ve faced while drawing with JOT Mini are: sometimes it needs few taps to select a tool – I’m not sure how much it's the fault of a stylus pen and how much the sensitivity of a screen, and lack of pen pressure feature – which was expected with such a setup.


Summary

Mr. Tiny Sith is obviously in love with Adonit JOT Mini stylus pen and I think I’ve heard him whispering something about ruling the galaxy – can’t blame little guy for his dreams!
Overall I find using Adonit JOT Mini stylus pen combined with touchscreen device a pleasant alternative to a graphics tablet – it turns out such a combination allows me to do most of the things – writing, drawing, colouring with enough precision to do actual work.

As I’m very used to hand drawing, this kind of setup feels “natural” while I’m working. The design is on a high-end quality when it comes to used materials and at the same time user-friendly, as it looks and makes you feel like you’re holding a regular pencil.
The pen itself could be a little bit longer which doesn’t create any practical problems for me, but if Mini's length doesn't work so well for you, there is a PRO series that is bigger in size.

My rating on a scale 1-5:

  • DESIGN: 4.5 – I’m not sure how stable the protective plastic disc on the tip will be in a long run;
  • TECHNICAL: 4 – could be a little longer, even in Mini version;
  • WRITING: 4 – problem with dots size – could be annoying while writing;
  • DRAWING: 4.5 – a little issue with sensitivity of taps;
  • OVERALL: 17/20

Have you tried stylus pen & touchscreen combination?

What do you think of it as an alternative drawing tool?


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About Katarzyna Wójcik

I'm a passionate blogger and freelance graphic designer. When I'm not working, I'm either reading, researching, learning new stuff, playing games or writing about cool findings. Oh, and I cook too! If you'd like to get in touch - whether it's about a collaboration, your awesome project, feedback, or you just want to exchange views - drop me a line!
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23 comments:

  1. I don't really like using a stylus, or maybe I just haven't found the right one. This looks amazing and it's not easy to lose as well, unlike the tiny ones in the market. I would totally try this.

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  2. I was just looking at something like this the other day. My problem is pen, stylus, etc. I am always misplacing.

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  3. This review was so on point! (pun intended haha) You really know what you're talking about!

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  4. That pen's got modern style! Good to know about its compatibilities with different Android versions, I've got a handful of tablets and phones ready for this.

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  5. How is it with pressure? As far as I understand it, the difference between a lot of products that work with tabelts and the actual digital graphics tablet is the shading and varying pressure. A wacom has been on my wishlist forever, I just don't have the money for it yet.

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  6. I love those pens! I had one similar to this, but my daughters broke it. I loved it while I had it though. They're so neat!

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  7. Never tried or used a tablet, I am an Apple loyal. I love my ipad, so easy to take when travelling and compact enough. However I am always on the hunt to try something new, now after reading your review I may give this a try. Will let you know I get on.

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  8. Though I'm not much of a stylus user, this pen looks really cool - Thinking of gifting it to my hubby! Good review :)

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  9. I do like that there are more options out there now for graphic designing. Something to pass on to my husband to look at in more detail.

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  10. I love the tip, it seems it gives a precise touch! And the versatility that I can use it to any touchscreen device

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  11. I wouldn't mind owning one. Let me shop and compare prices. I like the fact that it's user friendly because I can hold the pen. Thanks for being honest with your review.

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  12. I love Mr. Tiny Sith! =) Your photos are so much fun. This was a great post, and I appreciate the opportunity to learn about the JOT Mini stylus pen. It sounds like something I would love. Cheers!

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  13. Sometimes I just amaze on how techonology nowadays gives us so much advance in life. I've never use stylus pen when use my smartphone or tablet, but my husband's smart came with stylus pen.

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  14. I am very used to my Wacom graphics tablet, so I am not really sure how I'd do with a pen but it's a nice alternative, so thanks for sharing your experience:)

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  15. I haven't tried something like that. But lately I have been thinking to invest in designing my own graphics! We will see I have a long way to go and many things to learn! But this was a great review!

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  16. Interesting post, working as an animator/artist I use a Bamboo tablet, pretty cheap but does the job and you get use to the drawing in one place and appearing on the screen. But the Adonit JOT mini stylus pen looks pretty flash and does a decent job, might give it a go sometime.

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  17. I have never heard of this product. I am not sure if I would use a graphics tablet. Love the photos with the lego guy! So clever!

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  18. That's really cool! I had not idea there was such a thing. I can't draw a straight line with a ruler, but this would be fun to play with. I love your little Lego guy too.

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  19. Wow, looks like a great wand for me, I can use it all the time.

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  20. What a great alternative although like you I would have a problem with it creating big dots especially since I don't really use tablets. Still at least its sensitivity shows it works well!

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  21. I'd love to test this out! I have never tried a graphics tablet but it's something that I want to buy. I'm afraid of investing in something that I may struggle to use though and this looks like the perfect solution to that!

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  22. When I had my galaxy note I was all about using a stylus. Now that I'm team iPhone I haven't really used a stylus. This one looks pretty fab though :)

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  23. I find it weird using a stylus. I think I need more practice using one. Right now, I feel like it just gets away from me.

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