Review: Cosmonaut wide-grip stylus for touchscreens

The Cosmonaut was the first Kickstarter project I contributed to, and it’s also the first I have something to show for. The project reached its funding goal on April 20 thanks to the contributions of more than six thousand backers. Eight months later, I’m holding the end product in my hand.

So how’d it turn out?

The pitch

I’ve been a frequent user of Wacom tablets for years (at one time using a “Penabled” tablet PC as my primary laptop), so my quality bar for styluses is set pretty high… every capacitive stylus I’ve tried has failed to meet my expectations. Because of this, I ignored most of the initial Cosmonaut murmurings on Twitter.

Luckily, Calvin Ross Carl mentioned the campaign to me again, suggesting I at least watch the introductory video.

Despite my initial skepticism, I was impressed by the concept. Instead of attempting to circumnavigate the touchscreen’s limitations to deliver a compromised fine-tip writing tool, Studio Neat embraced the lack of precision, drawing inspiration from dry-erase markers and emphasizing the weight and feel of the object itself. I appreciated that thoughtfulness and forked over a paltry sum for the opportunity to try it firsthand.

The stylus

Cosmonaut nestled in its packaging.

The Cosmonaut arrived in a stylish-yet-understated cardboard box, the soviet space theme lovingly maintained throughout the presentation. It made me smile.

The stylus itself feels very substantial in the hand. It’s a little heavier than a whiteboard marker, moreso as it comes to a point. I had to look up antonyms for “slippery” to describe its rubberized, outer coating, but “unslippery” is still the best description Thesaurus.com or I could come up with.

The pen tip feels firm and plastic to the touch, but it’s actually squishy and flexible. It’s tough to describe, but a brief tap with the tip of your finger will feel very resistant, whereas a firmer tap and hold will make it flex inward. It’s a surprising combination that makes the stylus feel sturdy and reliable without risking damage to the screen.

In use

Hypothetical sitemap sketch in the Adobe Ideas app.

I tried the Cosmonaut in my two favorite iPad sketching apps, Adobe Ideas for whiteboard-style doodling and Procreate for painting.

When sketching in Ideas, I found I had to press just a little more firmly than I would have with my finger, but once I learned to do this without trepidation, writing and doodling began to feel natural. While it didn’t feel quite like a dry-erase marker on a whiteboard in terms of effortlessness, I definitely felt my dexterity improve with the stylus.

This improvement was even more noticeable when painting. Procreate’s interface is so well-designed to begin with that, combined with the comfort of the Cosmonaut, I quickly forgot about either tool and just enjoyed the act of making a fun little Mickey Mouse sketch. For me, that’s the mark of a great design… the object disappears, allowing you to focus on the task itself.

Mickey Mouse sketch in Procreate

The verdict

I feel a strange sense of pride in writing this review. While Studio Neat clearly deserves 99.9% of the credit for the Cosmonaut’s existence, it feels great to have been an early supporter.

This is easily my favorite capacitive stylus. By abandoning the goals of traditional, resistive touchscreen input devices and instead focusing on comfort and contextual appropriateness, they’ve successfully created a useful and charming tool that’s earned a spot on my desk (in the Gorillaz mug, next to my Wacom pen and my favorite mechanical pencil).

Now I just have to count the days until I get to watch Indie Game: The Movie

Responses

Aman says

Cosmonaut is nothing revolutionary,It’s like the Alupen from Justmobile,I think,Estylo ¬†is the most precise and accurate stylus I have ever seen for sketching(not for note taking or hand writing,use it only for sketching,not for writing.)

The problem with styluses like OStylus,Dagi,etc with discs or disc like structures,presently in the market is that the discs of those styluses while touching the screen gives unnecesary lines or points on the screen near the aim or centre point,most of the time.

I have posted a set on

http://www.flickr.com/photos/59145126@N07/sets/72157628172115599/

regarding accuracy of Estylo. ¬†Please,see all my 5 image photos and video on Estylo’s accuracy feature and my comments on my posts on the above stated flickr website.There,See the image tittled-“Error in styluses with Disc tips (2nd image)” (Ostylus tip touching the screen is shown).You will find unnecessary point or line mark on the screen.This is because Capacitive screens can detect blunt edges of disc tips while they are touching the screen.However,Estylo does not have this problem,it’s very accurate and simple in design.

The jaja stylus on kickstarter seems interesting too,it’s a precision pressure sensitive stylus.Just check out jaja along with Estylo on kickstarter.Jaja is a newest entry on kickstarter till now.Jaja is different from other disc tip styluses.

Responded

Tyler Sticka says

Thanks for the info, Aman. I haven’t personally experienced the unnecessary line/point problem you describe with the Cosmonaut, but I have with other styluses.

I think what I like about the Cosmonaut is that it never claims to be the most accurate, in which case a whiteboard marker would be a seriously questionable comparison point for its design! For polished digital artwork (as polished as my cartoons get), I’ll always prefer my trusty Wacom Intuos4.

The day capacitive touchscreens are capable of efficient, beginning-to-end digital illustration on par with the Cintiq (Example: This wonderful look at Joe Quesada’s process.) is the day I’ll invest in more than a chunky, easy-to-grip stylus for slap-dash doodling.

Responded

Aman says

Yes I will definately like to purchase a sophisticated tablet like Cintiq.I wiil ask my dad to gift me cintiq when i complete my graduation.but in India,every good thing is expensive,heavy import duty,so for starters like me who cannot initially afford to purchase Cintiq,iPad like devices are their choices.I heard about the Asus Tablet with optional Wacom precision stylus,I think they may launch it soon in India too!at the price of iPad,it could be good but I believe will not have the sophistication of a Wacom professional tablet!Thanks!

Responded

Tyler Sticka says

Cintiqs are expensive to begin with, so I completely understand! I haven’t been able to justify the cost of one, since the Intuos4 is a great tablet and much more affordable (the entry-level Bamboo tablets are quite nice, too).

My pal Theodore Taylor has an HTC Flyer that supports use of the Bamboo stylus. He posted some of his sketches using the device with the Autodesk Sketchbook app here and here if you’re interested.

Responded

Aman says

The advantage of Cintiq is the bigger screen which I want and the ability to use more advanced softwares like photoshop and illustrator.In a low budget tablet,one cannot use adobe’s supreme softwares because of lower processing speed than that of a PC.So my tablet will stuck in between and I will lose all my sketchwork,this really happens,I have experienced with Intaglio Skerchpad app.It means the iPad is good only for sketching which u do in the similar way as on paper with the neat ness off parse!considering all these Wacom Cintiq is the best,worth,even though a bit costly!

Responded

Aman says

Yes,I was going to decide between the HTC fyer and iPad.But HTC’s screen seems to be too small for good professional productivity.Also lenevo tablet now is launched with precision stylus,but the tip of the stylus is not as precise and small as that of the optional electronic stylus that comes with few ASUS tablet as a option.There r two problems with Estylo:1)Cannot be used for writing2)can be used for precision sketching but worried about the durability of tip and also it takes a small effort to get use to the holding angles.So I conclude that for time being I should wait for newer better stylus launches,if no new stylus is satisfactory,then I will have to buy th ASUS tab with optional Wacom stylus or the best Thing-The Wacom Tablet.Thanks for suggestion!

Responded

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