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Adonit Dash 2 Review

Adonit Dash 2 Review

In the age of the smartphone, the tablet, and the 2-in-1, functionality is merging and crossing over between all kinds of devices.

Touchscreens are great, but one of the key accessories that let you unlock much greater functionality from all your devices is a really responsive, feature-packed stylus.

In fact, the stylus is so much a vital part of modern touchscreen devices, both Apple and Samsung have marketed bespoke products and even full phone ranges on the fact that they deliver stylus functionality and allow you to get more out of their products that way.

The Apple Pencil is a branded acknowledgement of the power of the stylus, and the Samsung Note range of smartphones is usually sold on two elements: the upgrade to the camera, and the new tricks Samsung has taught its stylus to do.

But like most things with those market-leaders, their styluses are manufacturer-specific, and you can never expect that styluses made by the one will work with devices from the other.

There are die hard Apple fans, and die hard Samsung fans, and for both types of device-user, the manufacturer-specific styluses are probably good enough because they come from the manufacturer to whom they are local.

But what if you’re a manufacturer-agnostic? What if you have several different devices from different companies and choose your devices based on individual features, rather than brand-loyalty?

Then it can be tricky to find one stylus that does all the things you want it to, across the board. In fact, if you have devices from both main manufacturers, you might find yourself with stylus overload – and never quite sure which is which.

If that sounds like it might be you, you might want to take a look at the Adonit Dash 2.

The Adonit Dash 2 plays well with others. All the others. If this was high school in the Fifties, it would have a reputation for being fast.

The Dash 2 works with the iPad? Yes, yes it does. So, by extension, it works with the iPhone, too?

Yep. The Adonit Dash 2 works just like an Apple pencil when it’s used with an Apple device, giving you a fine-point, precise-action stylus for your Apple products, without paying the kind of bucks Apple would like to squeeze out of you for its proprietary branded version.

Second phone a Samsung? No problem.

The Dash 2 will work on that like the stylus that comes with the Note series, giving you the features and flexibility for which you pay a good extra sack of cash for a Note model, equalizing that high-end phone with whichever less expensive Samsung you have.

Likewise, if you have a Samsung tablet – there’s no drama there either; the Dash 2 takes to the tablet like a duck taking notes and drawing doodles.

Ok. Score 1 for the Dash 2 in terms of flexibility, writing, drawing, and using apps on devices from both major manufacturers.

What else ya got?

Well, the Dash 2 looks for all the world like a ballpoint pen. That’s a good thing for a stylus?

Actually, yes, it’s a great thing for a stylus that doesn’t come as standard with any other device, because one of the most annoying elements of a free-range stylus is that you can put them down and lose them.

They fall off things and you don’t realize it till either you hear the crunch under your foot, or they roll under your foot and the crunch you hear is some part of you hitting the floor.

The ballpoint pen look includes a clip that means you can attach the Adonit Dash 2 to a pocket, so you can keep it close and have it with you when you need it.

You can also hook it to the cover of your tablet or smartphone, so in a single, simple design move, it solves the problem of the free-range stylus. No more wandering stylus, and no more potential slipping hazard.

Still – it looks like a ballpoint pen? Isn’t part of the pleasure of a stylus that it looks and feels specifically different to pens with ink in?

We see where you’re going with that, but imagine a high-end ballpoint pen. The sort that comes in a box and has some ceremony to it when you get one.

It has a style that feels significantly more expensive than it is, and – precisely so you don’t confuse it with an actual ballpoint, it’s thinner than an iPad Air 2. It’s also thinner than the Apple Pencil, at just 8.5mm.

So there’s no chunkiness in the Dash 2 stylus, which means you can make fast, lean strokes as and when you need to, without a back-to-kindergarten crayon feel.

You’re not about to lodge the Dash 2 accidentally up your nose, because frankly it would be too thin to lodge up there, no matter how hard you tried!

Combined with the fine point, the result is a stylus that’s as good as, if not better than some of the mainstream manufacturers’ styluses.

Is that heresy? A stylus that works better with Apple devices than an Apple Pencil, and better with Samsung devices than a Note stylus?

It probably is heresy, but remember, the Dash 2 already has one thing up on both of those manufacturer-specific styluses – it works across the board of all their devices.

When Adonti launched the first stylus in its Dash range, it was pretty good. But it still had some issues.

Artists and doodlers in particular will probably appreciate some upgrades in the Dash 2 over the original version.

The first Adonit Dash stylus had an irritating habit when drawing diagonal lines – there was a jitter, so while fast diagonals were zippy and clear, they tended to look wild.

Whereas if you needed to draw slow diagonal lines, they were never as crisp as you wanted. With the Dash 2 though, the problem of “slow diagonal jitter” has been practically eliminated, giving the new stylus a much improved feel for art-lovers and cartoonists.

The Dash 2 has a handy power-indicating LED in the center, so you’re never playing “Is it? Isn’t it?” with the stylus – you can simply know and go.

We’ve said that the Dash 2 has a fine tip – we’re talking 1.9mm.

That precision is what ultimately separates the Dash 2 from some of the more average aftermarket styluses out there, and puts it much more in the same camp as the manufacturer-specific styluses – the ones the makers of the smart devices feel are good enough to put their name on and sell specifically to go along with those devices.

Recharging the Dash 2 is simplicity itself – it comes with a USB dongle, but more than that, there’s a magnet at the top end of the stylus, that snaps onto the top of the charging dongle, so even while it’s charging, your chance of losing the Dash 2 is miniscule.

And in a defining touch, you can use the Dash 2 with both Apple and Samsung products without even needing to pair it through Bluetooth. That puts it in the same league as the Samsung Note stylus, and steals a march on the Apple Pencil.

That lack of a need to pair via Bluetooth means you can use it with devices from both Apple and Samsung without thinking about it, or waiting to reconnect. It simply does its job, across all your touchscreen devices, with the minimum of fuss and trouble.

How long does it go between charges? You might be surprised – it will certainly outlast any of the devices on which you can use it.

The battery level LED will let you know when it’s time to charge up your stylus, but you can probably go most of a week of hardcore stylus action between charges, so it’s never going to let you down when you need it.

You can get styluses that work well with one manufacturer or the other, and you can get styluses that will work with both.

But the Dash 2 is pretty much like a stylus that’s gone back to the drawing board.

Working seamlessly across all your devices, Apple and Samsung, thin enough to give you great writing and art potential, responsive enough to play games, to take notes in real time, and to speed up the way you use all your apps, it’s priced at a strategic point to reflect its value but not to price itself out of the mass commercial market.

In fact, it’s priced at around half the cost of an Apple Pencil – and the Apple stylus is rigidly locked into its manufacturer’s products.

Waggle an Apple Pencil at a Samsung phone and all you’ll have is wasted time and a chronic misunderstanding of corporate rivalry.

Spending half the cash for what might be thought of as a “smart stylus” gets you a sleek, easy-charge, carry-anywhere tool that works across both manufacturers’ products without a qualm or a hiccup.

The world is full of aftermarket styluses, as well as those provided by device manufacturers to work with their devices. The Dash 2 is still a work in progress – it does not have pressure sensitivity, which would be an advantage for artists.

And it does not have palm rejection as yet, so you have to make sure your palm doesn’t leave marks on your iPad’s drawing page.

But in a world of rigid focus, the Dash 2 is a work that has made a great deal of progress – both over its predecessor and over much of the competition.

Camden Taylor

Author Camden Taylor

Camden is ARTURTH's Chief Editor, Senior Graphic Designer, and artist from the Pacific Northwest.

More posts by Camden Taylor