Another day, another stylus. The premium capacitive stylus market has become quite popular this year, going from having only one real option back with the AluPen to having enough options to make anyone crazy trying to pick the best one. Like its competition, the Architect Stylus by Arctic Accessories is yet another similar, yet slightly different approach to the premium rubber nib stylus. Read on for the review.
I have a tendency to refer to the other styli in the segment a lot when I review a stylus, and I’ll do the same here. The Architect Stylus is pretty much identical to the Wacom Bamboo stylus in size, both with regards to length and thickness. In fact it surprised me how thin it is when I first got it, as it looks bigger in the pictures. That’s not a bad thing, as I’ve tended to lean towards that approach to styli lately, although it’s a matter of personal preference.
The Architect Stylus is basically a long aluminium tube with threads in both ends and a rubber nib stylus tip in one end. As far as the design goes, it’s very minimalistic. There’s no differently colored sections like on the Wacom Bamboo, and it doesn’t narrow down towards the rubber nib end. As a result it looks a bit weird with the nib coming out of the threads like that, but it doesn’t really affect the usability of it either way.
The threads on either side are for the stylus cap, which screws off the rubber nib end and onto the other end when the stylus is in use. The cap is rounded off on the end with a large, rubberized slot/hole in it for a lanyard. The cap adds a certain elegance to the design when it’s on either end as it both extends the stylus to a more appropriate length (which the stylus doesn’t qualify as without the cap) and caps off the threads on at least one end of it. You really don’t want to lose this cap as it will drastically affect both the usability and the look of the stylus.
All in all the Architect Stylus is perhaps the most “Apple-looking” stylus to date. Its unibody aluminum design goes very well with the iPad, and the simplistic rounded look with nothing sticking out simply makes it look very Apple. That’s not to say that this isn’t a good stylus for other devices, of course, as it will work with any capacitive screen.
The Architect Stylus is quite comfortable to hold, albeit perhaps too thin for those who prefer thicker styli. Using it is very much like using the Wacom Bamboo stylus, which isn’t a bad thing. The rubber nib is very accurate, just as you would expect from a premium stylus like this. As I’ve mentioned in previous stylus reviews, there really isn’t much difference between styli accuracy when you get to this price class, and the smaller size of the nib itself compared to the AluPen and Maglus doesn’t really do anything for accuracy either – but it is a more logical choice for this size stylus body than the common OEM stylus design.
As far as the whole cap system goes, it has advantages and disadvantages. I like having a cap for my stylus and have gone as far as making one for my Wacom Bamboo, so I quite like having the protection that the Architect Stylus comes with out of the box. Those rubber nibs aren’t invulnerable, so protecting them is a good idea. I don’t think anyone is so lazy that they can’t be bothered to spend 3 seconds moving that cap whenever they need to use the stylus, so I won’t even count that as a disadvantage. The lack of a pen clip combined with the rounded design does however make this a very roll-happy stylus, so it might find its way to the floor more often than other styli.
The great thing about the Architect Stylus is not that it’s a good stylus (which it is), but that it has the potential to become a modular system if Arctic Accessories plays its card right. Replacement caps is an obvious accessory to this accessory, but those can also be customized by e.g. having a cap that replaces the lanyard hole with for a laser pointer (great for teachers) or a pen clip. I also can’t help to wonder if it would be possible to make a small extension tube that added a Nomad-like brush to the stylus by simply screwing on a small extender.
The Architect Stylus can also be purchased with a small case included for another $2, and this case is rather fancy in itself. It’s essentially a small sleeve for the stylus, and unlike some sleeves that come with other styli this one holds its shape. My first thought when I saw it was that it would be quite possible to glue it to a tablet case and by doing so have a place to put the stylus when not in use. A potential accessory would be one of these sleeves with magnets embedded in order to make the entire sleeve stick to the iPad 2 Smart Cover, as the stylus itself doesn’t have the magnets of the Maglus. While it’s of course possible to have sleeves for other styli as well, I do feel more comfortable putting a capped stylus in one. Maybe I’m just paranoid as I’ve actually had a rubber nib be torn.
The Architect Stylus is not a revolutionary product in any sense of the world, and not even evolutionary. It’s simply a different approach to the premium rubber nib stylus, and one that has both advantages and disadvantages compared to other styli on the market. I like the design and the size, it’s plenty accurate, and the cap is its main selling point over the others. The sleeve is definitely worth the extra $2 it costs and I hope it becomes available again soon (sold out at the moment), both in a bundle like it is now and separately. Picking a stylus is very much about finding a design you like, and the Architect Stylus is a great addition to the segment. If the potential for accessories for the Architect Stylus is taken advantage of then there will be even more reasons to pick this one. All in all a great stylus and definitely one to look at when picking out a stylus.
The Architect Stylus can be bought directly from Arctic Accessories for $22.95/24.95 without/with the sleeve. That’s right in there with pricing for other styli in this segment, and the sleeve adds a lot more value than the $2 it costs. The box it comes in is rather stylish (though not as practical and brilliantly simplistic as that of the Maglus) and would make a good Christmas gift.