Despite Steve Jobs' dislike of styluses as pointing and writing devices for smartphones and tablets, a lot of people find the pointy sticks to be a necessity for accuracy. But there are still some issues with styluses -- they're usually more expensive than they need to be, and it's hard to find one that will make everyone happy in terms of how it feels in the hand. The Felix StretchWrite bands (US$9.99 for two) adds stylus functionality to any pen or pencil, meaning you can transform your favorite writing tool into a stylus.
To get an idea of how the StretchWrite works, think of taking a big rubber band and stretching it over the point and eraser on a pencil. Now, give that rubber band a capacitive nub on one end and a hole on the other (for the pencil or pen tip), add some grippy bumps to the surface, and you have a StretchWrite. They come in packs of two -- either red and gray or pink and blue -- so you can have two styluses for about half the price of a single inexpensive stylus from other vendors.
Testing the StretchWrites, I grabbed a pile of pens and a sharpened pencil, and tried a StretchWrite on each of 'em. Cheap throwaway pen I picked up at a Macworld booth? Worked fine. A Sharpie? Worked well with the cap still on, although the "tip" end was a bit squishy. Same with a large, comfy pen that I got from a vendor. What I found is that StretchWrite works best on the really cheap stick-type pens -- think BIC pens -- and on pencils.
At $10 for two, you won't have to worry about losing one (or both) of these. You'll also have immediate access to either a pen or pencil by flipping your "stylus", which is pretty handy as well. Toss 'em into a backpack pocket along with pens and pencils, and you have the perfect spur-of-the-moment lightweight stylus.
While StretchWrite doesn't provide the same feel or accuracy as a "professional" stylus, it's perfect for students and ought to be a back-to-school necessity for iPad-toting students.
Rating: 3 stars out of 4 stars possible