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The iPad is so successful in part because the basic unit of interface is the human fingertip. We've seen plenty of other tablets and touchscreen devices where the pen or the stylus is like the raccoon that got inside the crawlspace late last fall and died, and is only now starting to thaw out and decompose. That is, the device didn't come with a stylus but there's a weird stink about the device that nobody can really place. It's the result of a designer who never really understood what multitouch is all about.

Still: a stylus is a useful thing to have in a drawer or in your travel bag. There are many conversations — usually at restaurants — where the easiest way to explain something is to just grab your iPad and draw it.

iPad styluses are simple tubes with a felt-like or rubber pad of material on the end that can cause the same kind of capacitive input as your finger. The other end is usually hard plastic or decorative metal.

Do not get so involved in your artistic process that you instinctively flip the stylus around and scrape the other end all over the glass to erase something.

If I ever did this, I certainly wouldn't admit it. So let's just move on to a couple of recommendations...

Ten One Pogo Sketch

I want an iPad stylus that works. With that out of the way: I want one that's cheap enough that I won't be too broken up if I lose it.

tenonedesign_qrcode.pngEnter the Pogo Sketch from Ten One Design (www.tenonedesign.com). It lists for $15 but you can get it for half that. The only styli that come cheaper are no-name jobbies and you've no idea how well they're designed until it's delivered. With a name-brand stylus, I know that the tip is thick and soft enough that the edge of the pen's metal tube will never dig into the screen.

Hard Candy CandyStylus+

hardcandycases_qrcode.pngWhereas if you're a functioning, responsible grownup who's allowed to have nice things, Hard Candy's $35 CandyStylus+ (www.hardcandycases.com) is a Darth Maul-style double-sided pen with a ballpoint at one end and a rubber stylus at the other.

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