Surviving the Apple Pencil: Questioning Reality and Being
*The opinions in this article are my own, and I receive no compensation for reviews. Not even a high-five.
Before I dive into this, let me qualify myself first. I am not a schooled tech influencer, I am a tech aficionado.
What the hell is the difference, you say? I like what I like, and I don’t want to discuss the rumors of future gadget generations or emerging tech. I am no trade show groupie. Instead, I appreciate gadgets holistically. Like a sunset. Or Rick and Morty (Pickle RICK!).
I appreciate the Apple Pencil.
The co-owner of this site, Nick Orange, gave me the pencil as a job-well-done-but-you-better-use-this gift. I have owned tablets consistently since they came to market, starting with the first iPad in 2010, a gadget so heavy it gave me a bloody nose when it slipped through my fingers as I read.
You get the picture. In all virtually all tasks, my tablet is my go-to gadget, my own version of a portal gun. But not always. Pen-and-paper has always excelled at one task: note taking.
College taught me both the necessity and nuance of note-taking. Whether making lists, brainstorming or even sketching a shelf design, I find the physical act calming, like Adderall made from wood pulp. As a habit, in school, at work and even when discussing this website, I carry my tablet, a yellow legal pad and my favorite Cross pen.
Until the Apple Pencil came along.
Folks, I am not here to discuss battery life, Lightning connectors or a side-by-side comparison to the Bamboo-brand stylus. I don’t care about any of that. What I care about is the disorienting, almost surreal experience of using the Apple Pencil for the first time. And fifth time. And hundredth time.
It goes like this: You open the box. You charge it. You download one of the dozens of Apple Pencil apps (for me, Procreate and Notability). Then uncap it, put stylus to screen and…the only equivalent I can think of is the first seconds of the first drop on a roller coaster, when you straddle that invisible fence between matter and mass. Your mind argues with itself.
You’re writing on your tablet!
Chill. It’s just a responsive stylus.
That Zagg screen protector is ruined! Twenty bucks, dummy!
Relax. It’s a signal, pixels, a chemical battery…
False! We must appease the gods for this witchery! Sacrifice!
Hyperbole, yes. But when excellent, intuitive tech comes out and eclipses a familiar physical action like note taking, I think the source of the disorientation is subliminal and primitive, like a PG-version of Altered States. It is nothing if not memorable (the feeling AND the movie).
The Apple Pencil costs $100. That’s a lot for a gadget you may use a dozen times and toss in a drawer. But if, like me, you enjoy the tactile side of putting pen to paper, then the Apple Pencil may be well worth it.
Pragmatic tablet users can buy a $5 stylus at Walmart and jot notes. It does the same job and there’s no rational to buying it. Suggesting it’s an investment, as I have seen several others reviews do, is almost criminal. It’s an overpriced indulgence.
But that’s why we sometimes set out to buy a used Toyota Camry and come home with a cherry-red Mustang straight off the showroom floor.