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Pogo Sketch Plus helps blur iPad's user-interface boundaries

Stylus products such as Ten One's latest for iOS devices aren't for everybody, but they can expand an iPad's repertoire.

The Pogo Sketch Plus has a better tip than its predecessor, Ten One Design says.
The Pogo Sketch Plus has a better tip than its predecessor, Ten One Design says. Ten One Design

The digital world has plenty of accessories that aren't strictly necessary, but Ten One Design's Pogo Sketch Plus caught my eye today.

It's a stylus for iOS devices that replaces your finger with something a bit more precise. I've been interested in the user-interface convergence between tablets, laptops, and drawing tablets. Such devices today are quite separate, but I foresee a future where they get closer together--and devices like the Pogo Sketch line could help.

The $15 stylus updates the two-year-old Pogo Sketch with a tip with "more consistent and smoother operation," the company said. It's more precise than a finger, but precision isn't a big problem for me with most well-designed iPad apps. More interesting is the art factor.

The iPad can't match the pressure sensitivity and other refinements of full-on tablets such as those from Wacom, but I still see it as a nice option. The iPad remains an obvious, natural drawing surface for many who outgrew fingerpainting shortly after kindergarten, and many more people will buy iPad tablets than digitizing tablets.

And with external-monitor apps, an iPad can function as a touch-screen input device for a personal computer. Here, perhaps, a stylus-tablet combination could find new uses besides just art. The Pogo Sketch line also works on MacBook trackpads, though in that case you won't be able to see on the screen where your cursor is about to drop down like you can with a Wacom tablet.

Of course, for such devices to be really compelling, they have to be responsive. Nobody likes a slow user interface. My colleague Scott Stein has found shortcomings here with iPad styli, including Wacom's Bamboo Stylus for iPads. I found the lag between pen strokes and screen "ink" to be an issue when trying out Samsung's Galaxy Note line of Android tablets, too.

But performance can be improved. I suspect that the barrier between tablets and PCs will lower considerably as iOS grows up and Windows 8 arrives later this year. And though pointing with a finger is more natural in many ways, I still think there's a niche for the stylus.