Stylus not working correctly on an Android tablet - typical for low price general purpose equipment?


A while ago i bought an Android tablet, intending to use it as a web browser, ebook reader etc. I kinda liked the idea of being able to doodle on it for fun, so i bought a cheap stylus.

But here's my problem - the stylus "skipps". Its hard to start a start a line with it, and when i finnally do, it doesnt go smoothly, it leaves really big gaps. Its making the stylus totally useless, cause i dont need it for the typical usage of the tablet.

While testing the stylus on normal apps, i concluded that even tho sometimes it doesnt tap/drag the way i want to (enough to be very irritating!) it seems to work better than in SketchBook.

The sketchBook and tablet work absolutely fine when handled with a finger (its very rare for the tablet to not notice a tap, and all lines i draw go smooth) - but drawing whith my hands aint exactly accurate or comfortable.

Now, both the tablet were really cheap, the 4$ kind of stylus and 80$ tablet (Android 4.03, ~1Ghz, 512mb RAM) The tablet is [], the stylus is a noname from a company named 4World.

I searched the net, but didnt find anyone having similar problems with mid 08 tablets (probably thats because its a local-market product and theres hardly anything about it on the web)

In your experience, is this typical for low-price not graphic-design-intended equipment? Are there some typical solutions for such problems?

I checked better equipment and i found this:

Compatibility Compatible with all media tablets using capacitive touch technology

Tested devices:



Samsung Galaxy Tab, 1st generation (limited compatibility, suitable for navigation purpose only)//seeems like this is the case for my tablet too


so maybe this is a tablet issue, and buying a better stylus wont help, so i should just give up on drawing and doodling on my tablet?

Im not asking for technical or hardware advice per se. I would just like to know is there a technical issue that needs to be fixed, or is it normal for low price equipment and the hardware guys cant help me anyhow.

UPDATE Ive got my hands and stylus on a Nexus 7 tablet. Drawing worked perfectly fine with my stylus. Maybe not the cheapest equipment, but perfect for doodling and thumbnail work in Sketchook for Android on the bus. My problems must have had their root cause in the quality of my tablet. Ill probably get myself a better tablet

10/26/2012 3:45:00 PM

Accepted Answer

Interpretting the question, based on the comments, as being:

How can I make a cheap Android tablet work like a mobile, cheap wacom cintiq? I tried an $80 tablet with a capacitive stylus and it doesn't work very well. Is this how it should be or is this a defect?

We're not going to be qualified to tell you if your tablet is defective... but we can tell you that there is always going to be a world of difference between:

  • A stylus used on a touch screen designed for fingers (a 'capacative stylus'). These are literally just sticks of plastic with a tip shaped to have a similar area to the fingertips that capacative touchscreens are designed for. If you pay extra for a premium one (e.g. the 'Wacom bamboo stylus', which is a plastic stick with a Wacom logo on it), you get a better weighted stick of plastic with a tip of a material that has a nice amount of friction. That's it. They're sticks, some of which are a bit nicer to hold than others.

  • A digitizer tablet that works using an electromagnetic resonance field to detect the exact position of a pen, even when it's not in contact with a screen, and communicates the exact amount of pressure applied when it does come into contact with the screen.

"In send mode, the tablet generates a close-coupled electromagnetic field (also known as a B-field) at a frequency of 531 kHz. This close-coupled field stimulates oscillation in the pen's coil/capacitor (LC) circuit when brought into range of the B-field. Any excess resonant electromagnetic energy is reflected back to the tablet. In receive mode, the energy of the resonant circuit’s oscillations in the pen is detected by the tablet's grid. This information is analyzed by the computer to determine the pen's position, by interpolation and Fourier analysis of the signal intensity... up to 200 times per second"

That's in a whole different league to a plastic stick with a finger-shaped tip.

Be aware that many people (including most technology "journalists") are unaware of this distinction between these two types of pen/stylus.

A few notes on digitizer tablets:

  • Latest generation Wacom Cintiq and Intuous tablets also communicate data about the exact rotation and angle the pen is held at.
  • Older technology wacom digitizers, like Bamboo tablets, or wacom Tablet PC digitizers like those in the 'S-pen' of the Samsung Galaxy Note range* and those in a few Windows tablets (and probably a lot of upcoming Windows 8 tablets) work the same basic way, but don't have those advanced features and are very slightly less accurate.
  • Some tablet PCs, android tablets, etc use cheaper digitizer tablets by other companies. Look for side-by-side Youtube videos before buying, some of these are diabolically bad. I saw a video of an n-trig one and it was painful to watch. That said, Wacom's patent has now expired, which might mean that some of their competitors start getting good.

And don't forget that, within the range of capactive ('finger-prodding') screens, there's a whole range of quality. The cheapest will be just about responsive enough to figure out what web link was prodded, the best will be carefully designed and tested to figure out smoothly where the middle of the fingertip is likely to be and to follow gestures and movements smoothly. But the specifics of where some specific $80 tablet lies on that spectrum is a whole different question and one that only Android / mobile device experts would be placed to answer.

*Galaxy Note range currently consists of: 1st gen giant phone, 1st gen tablet, 2nd gen giant phone. The 2nd gen galaxy notes are the only things I'm aware of in Android that (optionally) show the pen's position when it's not in contact with the screen, like Cintiqs and regular graphics tablets do. This is good for accuracy.

10/18/2012 8:54:00 AM