Dublin Design Studio’s Scriba smart stylus is far more than a plastic stick
Tech Review: Scriba is light and easy to use but is only iOS compatible
Product name: Scriba stylus
Where to buy: getscriba.com
Nobody wants a stylus, Steve Jobs said at the launch of the first iPhone, in 2007. “You have to get them, put ’em away. You lose them. Yuck.” That was back when a touch-screen device required you to slide a small plastic stick out of its side and then use it to interact with almost everything on the screen. The iPhone brought multitouch, and Jobs reckoned your fingers were a better way of controlling that screen. You have to agree he was right.
Eleven years later the stylus hasn’t quite died off. Jobs’s company even reversed his assertion when it introduced the Apple Pencil, in 2015. But perhaps it’s not quite that simple. Jobs was talking about the styluses of a decade ago, which were fairly dumb. The Pencil, and even Samsung’s S Pen, include a bit of technology that makes them more than just plastic sticks. And, great for tapping and selecting as they are, your fingers are still subpar when it comes to scrawling notes on a screen or getting a little more creative.
That’s where Scriba sits. It’s a local product, too: the stylus was created by Dublin Design Studio, which is headed by the former architect David Craig. Its unique selling point? Weeks of battery life and a unique squeeze motion.
It also looks different from your average stylus. At one end you have the rubbery stylus tip, at the other a cap that houses the micro-USB connection through which it charges. Contoured to fit your hand, with rests where your fingers naturally sit, the Scriba is unexpectedly light. That means there’s very little pressure, so it stays comfortable.
Scriba will work with any touch screen, and in other note-taking apps, but it works best with software that has been optimised for its use and that takes advantage of its squeeze controls.
Scriba has some apps of its own: Brushes for Scriba, a drawing app; Scriba Photo, which turns the stylus into a remote control for your device’s camera; and Scriba Slides, a productivity app that makes the device do double duty as a digital pen and a presentation remote.
I am no artist, so I can’t really speak for Scriba’s effectiveness as an artist’s tool. On Brushes the squeeze motion really does produce different line weights, and it’s very easy to get to grips with. In the hands of a more skilled person this should be a great tool. For note taking and general control, Scriba does well. Notes are legible – a problem more often than you’d think – and the screen reacts quickly.
There’s haptic feedback, too, which is disconcerting at first but quickly becomes part of the overall experience. Compatible apps will use it for alerts or confirmation.
Some third-party apps, including ZoomNotes and the collaborative whiteboard app SyncSpace, also use Scriba’s functions. It covers all the bases, although more would be nice, and it would also be great to see the stylus’s full functionality built into popular products such as Google’s app suite, or Microsoft’s productivity software.
You can use the Scriba for hours without feeling any strain. It is incredibly light and very easy to get going with it. Once charged fully – a process that takes about two hours – Scriba can be left in standby for months without going completely flat, or used for hours without needing a boost. Controls are easy to pick up, too. Although the squeeze motion gesture is new, it becomes natural very quickly.
The not so good
This stylus won’t work with every program out there – or, at least, not as their makers intended. A list on the Scriba website tells you which apps are made for Scriba, but it would be nice to see this expand, or for some of Scriba’s features to make it into the wider world. Its ergonomic shape makes it comfortable to use but also gives it a slightly bulky look. It’s not, but if you’re a fan of the minimalist look the Scriba may not be quite what you’re looking for.
It takes about two hour to charge fully , which isn’t much. It is currently compatible only with iOS devices, although support for Android and Surface is said to be in the works.
If you find yourself in the market for a stylus, buy local.