At 14.3 cm long and 37 grammes, the iMarker does look a lot like one of those markers you used as a kid. Which should scare a parent or two—you wouldn't want your son or daughter grabbing the wrong one by accident and colouring all over your precious iPad.
It may not be the right size for all children, but it's still handy for all-around use. The touchscreen contact tip is hard—really hard, compared to most capacitive styluses. With a AA battery the stylus lights up around the transparent Crayola logo in a multitude of colours. There's one drawback to the battery, however, which is that in order to change it you have to use a screwdriver to open the stylus up. To light up the iMarker you simply press lightly on the top of the device.
Before we get any further, you should know that this is not a very apt stylus for navigating through an OS. It works well with the app it was made for, that's about it.
The free ColorStudio HD app includes a 2.0 colouring book with tons of pages of theme-based pictures (beaches, jungles, farms, sports, etc.), plus a free drawing template. One cool feature even prevents you from colouring outside the lines. Your kids might like that. With this mode on all they have to do is with the stylus touch the section of the picture they want to colour in (the water, a boat, the mermaid's hair...) and then keep colouring without lifting it off the screen. That could be a good way to teach your child how to draw. Each picture has a seemingly endless palette of virtual markers, crayons and pens.
The app includes a profile feature that allows your kids to share their drawings with friends on Facebook—which, by the way, happens to be slightly restricted to children under 13. So I guess it's up to the parents to decide if they want to subject their friends to their tots' artwork or not. This same feature allows you to print drawings as well. So if you thought buying an iPad app would save you from having to tape drawings all over your cubicle, you were gravely mistaken...
When it comes to touchscreen responsiveness within the app, the iMarker is more than satisfactory. Navigating through ColorStudio HD goes smoothly with no hiccups. However, once in a while when you select the type of marker or colour you want a big line appears across the picture, but you can erase it easily in a second.
- The idea of a kids' stylus for using the iPad as a colouring book can't be beat
- Fun games and pictures to colour
- The "stay within the lines" feature is perfect for toddlers
- That quiet, yet infernal screeching when you turn the iMarker on...
- Finishing is a bit cheap
- Could be more precise
- Terrible for use outside of the app
- Screwdriver required to change batteries
- A bit too heavy
There's no questioning the idea behind this product. While it may look big, the stylus is actually the perfect size for a kid's hands and the apps and colouring games were well conceived. Griffin could have used better finishings, which give it a very "plasticy" feel, but it's a great concept and an ideal way to teach kids basic art skills on a tablet.