• December 5, 2022

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Apple Stock Slumps Due To Production Delays Of New iPhones In China

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I’m a big fan of the iPad Pro—I think it’s the only Apple product that’s actually significantly better than the competition—but it also has one of the most misleading prices in consumer tech. Apple will usually advertise a price for its iPads that seem very affordable, but that’s for the entry storage level which is usually borderline unusable for most people, and the iPad, particularly the Pro model, is best used with a keyboard and stylus, both of which are additional purchases.

And Apple’s official version of these accessories are costly, too. The Magic Keyboard that attaches to the iPad costs well over $300, and the Apple Pencil costs $129. While there have been no shortage of perfectly functional third-party keyboards that consumers can turn to, there hadn’t been a third-party stylus that could match the Apple Pencil’s features and cost much less—until now.

The NovaPlus A8 Duo is a $49 stylus that can do most of the things the Apple Pencil can, with one notable exception—the A8 Duo lacks pressure sensitivity which means the iPad can only detect its tip as either touching the screen or not. This should immediately make it a dealbreaker for serious artists, because pressure sensitivity allows iPad illustration apps to recreate the effects of force applied when using tools like waterbrushes and even felt tip pens.

If you do not take illustrations seriously, then the A8 Duo won’t feel like it’s missing anything. It can charge wirelessly by connecting to the iPad magnetically—something many cheaper third party styli cannot do. It also has removable tips and tilt-awareness, two more features usually omitted from third-party Apple Pencil alternatives. Tilt awareness, in particular, is a special feature usually omitted in alternative styli. It allows the A8 Duo to simulate the effects of shading with a pencil, or use to drag timelines in video editing apps.

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If you use the NovaPlus A8 Duo for anything other than advanced sketching, it performs as well as the Apple Pencil. I was able to jot notes, or use it as a precision pointer when trimming videos or mobile gaming, as well as the official Apple stylus.

The A8 Duo lasts 12 hours on a single charge, and in addition to wireless charging via the iPad, it can also charge via USB-C. The overall shape and dimensions of the stylus is similar to Apple’s, although the plastic body feels slightly more hollow. The top tip of the A8 Duo has a clickable button that supposedly allows switching modes in sketching apps, but I was unable to get it to work with the Apple’s native Notes app.

The pairing process also sometimes take a second or two, whereas the official Apple Pencil pairs instantaneously. All this means is that sometimes you’ll have to wait two seconds before the iPad begins to register taps and swipes with the A8 Duo.

At its $49 price, it’s hard to nitpick too much. The NovaPlus A8 Duo is an excellent alternative for anyone who wants a stylus for the iPad but finds the Apple Pencil’s three-digit price too high.

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