Jaja Stylus – Testing on the iPad
1024 levels of pressure
Two customizable trigger buttons
Uses high frequency sound to communicate with the tablet
Requires AAA battery (not included)
Note – There are probably many people who are happy with their stylus, so it could be that I received a faulty unit (still no word from tech support). This review was based on the performance of the unit out of the box. Some people also reported hearing sounds and clicks emitting from the stylus since it uses sound to communicate.
Update – The other day I finally got my new Jaja nibs in the mail. It only took a couple of months, several e-mails, and several forum posts to finally get them.
I tested them out and so far they only work part of the time. The other half of the time absolutely no paint comes out at all. It is basically a crapshoot as to whether or not any paint is going to come out when you start painting.
Instead of the original plastic nibs, these are metal coated with teflon. If you are going to use them, be extremely careful because they can scratch your screen. I have several scratches on my screen already. Luckily I am using a screen protector, otherwise I would be pissed. Granted it is probably much easier to scratch a screen protector as opposed to the actual screen, but I’m not going to take the chance of scratching the actual screen.
I’m not sure why they didn’t fix this problem before their initial release, especially since they had enough money from their Kickstarter. They raised $65k on their Kickstarter while their goal was only $25k. Hmm, for receiving almost 3 times the amount they needed, I would have hoped they would have created a product that worked. This wasn’t just an isolated problem either, it was a widespread issue.
Based on my interaction with their techs and the head of Hex3, I am a little disappointed with them. They made it very clear on several occasions (when they actually responded to people) that we should consider ourselves lucky and that we should be “grateful” to them for making these new nibs.
Wait, we should be grateful that they are trying to fix a $90 product that didn’t even work in the first place? No I’m sorry, their job is to create a working product. They also mentioned how they are doing us a favor by giving us 2 free nibs. So again, we should be grateful that they didn’t charge us for 2 new nibs when the original product didn’t work properly.
I actually just went to go check the thread I was a part of on their forum, but they have deleted their entire forum. All they have now is a blog, which you aren’t allowed to comment on. Sure enough, in the first sentence on their blog they mention again how they gave people 2 new nibs, free of charge.
These new nibs were created to only work for roughly 3 months, based on information I was given by an employee on their official forum. Maybe the information I was given is wrong, but I don’t know. I’m sure if you use your stylus a lot, that time will be greatly reduced. I was given 2 new nibs, it costs $20 for 4 more. So they created nibs that don’t really work and you have to continue to pay more money if you want to use your stylus.
The Intuos 4 had a problem with nibs wearing down fast, so it isn’t too much of a surprise. Back when I used an Intuos 3, one nib could last years. I know when I worked at BioWare Mythic I only changed my nib maybe 1 time over a 3 year period.
In the end, these new nibs don’t work. They only work sometimes, they can scratch your screen protector, and they only last a couple of months before they need replacing.
My impression of the Jaja still hasn’t changed from when I first tried it. It is still a $90 product that doesn’t really work.
Update 2 - I thought “hey, maybe the battery is dying and that is causing problems.” I changed the battery, and now I have a whole slew of new problems.
First, the apps would no longer recognize any pressure sensitivity. I recalibrated the stylus. The pressure sensitivity kind of worked again, but sometimes it wouldn’t go opaque.
For example, if you were painting with black it would max out at maybe 30-40%, regardless of how many brushstrokes you put down or how hard you pressed.
Other times the whole range of values would work. Then sometimes nothing would come out, like last time. Woo!
Update 3 - Hex3 is now working with me to try and fix the issues with my new nibs. Thanks Hex3!
Update 4 – Hex3 is sending me a new stylus. Hopefully the third time is a charm.
Update 5 – Ok, let me preface this by saying this review covers MY experiences with the product. I am a single person, therefore everything I say must be taken with a grain of salt. Just because my stylus or nibs don’t work, doesn’t mean they won’t work for everyone.
Everyone should realize that any review written by a single person does not account for the entirety of the value of a product. You need to read as many reviews as you can and decide for yourself whether or not you want to purchase the product.
That being said, look at the reviews from other sites. Most sites give the Jaja anywhere from a 2 to a 3.5 out of 5. The issue with the original nibs was so pervasive that they had to redesign the entire nib. Obviously my claims were not unfounded and are shared by many.
I also want to say that everything I have said in this review is based on actual experiences I have had and from information I was given by employees at Hex3. This is why I take pictures and videos. I do not appreciate the validity of my experiences coming under question or that I am making up information simply to misinform the public due to some nefarious reason.
Ok, back to business. It took about 2 weeks for my replacement stylus to come in the mail. I was hoping it would actually work this time, and upon first testing it, it performed as advertised.
I was a little dubious though because when I received the previous shipment of replacement teflon nibs, they too worked fine the first day but failed to work after that. I wanted to make sure this stylus continued to perform before making any announcements, and it was a good thing I waited.
Day two came around (today) and I noticed that sometimes no pressure sensitivity would be recognized. I quickly took out my phone so I could make a video showing that there wasn’t any pressure sensitivity.
At the very beginning of the video no paint comes out, which is exactly what happened with the other replacement teflon nibs. Sorry about the small video, all I had available was my phone because I was sitting in a doctor’s office.
If you have keen eyes you will see in the video that, once again, these teflon nibs scratched my screen protector. You can actually see the scratches appearing as I am painting. Now let me make this clear one more time, I am using a screen protector. Yes it is probably much easier to scratch the screen protector as opposed to the actual screen, but I am not willing to take the risk.
After my review of the new teflon nibs, I received an e-mail from none other than Jon Atherton. Well, I believe it was Jon Atherton based on some of the things he said in the e-mail, plus he was the one who responded to me on their support forum, which has now been completely deleted. He also left a comment on this blog post.
Anyway, in the e-mail he assured me that “the metal part of the tip is very highly polished, so that under a microscope you can see that it is incredibly smooth, and all edges are rounded. They are then coated in Teflon, much like a none stick frying pan – this gives just the right amount of glide. There is simply nothing here that will cause a scratch.”
My claim that the previous teflon nibs scratched my screen protector came into question, which was why I took pictures of the scratches in the last update. The fact that these new nibs also scratched my screen made me examine them more carefully. What I found was pretty ridiculous, and somehow humorous at the same time.
These tips are not smooth like I was assured. If you run your finger over them, you can actually feel gouges, chips, or burrs. I tried to carefully brush them off to make sure they weren’t just pieces of dirt stuck to the bottom, but they wouldn’t come off.
Ok, maybe this new nib is just defective. I tried the second nib, it was even worse. You don’t need a microscope to see the imperfections, these photos were taken with my wife’s phone. In fact, you can see them with your naked eye and feel them with your finger. No these aren’t tricks of the light or weird JPG artifacts, you can actually feel them.
Upon further examination, with the help of a pick glass, I found that they are actually gouges or places where the teflon has chipped off. Some of the nibs actually look like weathered metal from an ancient relic, not an “incredibly smooth” surface like I was lead to believe. I would actually love to see what these look like under a microscope.
I also want to point out that I checked both new nibs and both nibs I got in the previous shipment and all of them are like this. These nibs were like this straight out of the box. None of them were dropped and they were only used a couple of times, some for only a few minutes. It could be that the nibs aren’t supposed to look like this, but if that is the case, then there is a major quality control issue that needs to be addressed.
Just for fun I also took a pic of the old plastic nib, and it too is completely covered in scratches.
This is why my screen (protector) keeps getting scratched. There is absolutely no way I am going to take the chance of testing these on a screen without a screen protector, would you?
I refused. They then asked me again to test it on a bare screen and added a couple of question marks at the end for good measure.
I asked if they would reimburse me for the screen protector, since you can’t take it off and put it back on, and reimburse me for the screen if it became damaged in the test, but they did not reply to my question.
I was then asked to test it on a Macbook Pro trackpad to see if my screen protector was causing the issue or if it was the stylus. I tested it on a trackpad and sometimes the cursor would move but sometimes it wouldn’t. It was then determined that the issue was with the stylus itself and not because of my screen protector.
I was also told that my issue of no paint coming out of the stylus regardless of pressure was not known to them and that the new nibs fix every known issue. It took me about 3 minutes to find someone else who had the same exact problem I did with the new teflon nibs. In fact, the person posted their problem on the official Jaja Facebook page 10 days prior to my post.
Now that all of the bad news is out of the way, here comes the good news. I took a video showing the Jaja actually working. When it actually works, it is a very nice stylus.
If they could eliminate the scratching problem and the problem of it not always working, it would be a fantastic product. I really wanted this product to be amazing. I am a professional illustrator and concept artist, why wouldn’t I want a product to succeed that would benefit my profession?
Maybe I got another stylus that is defective, I don’t know. Maybe I emit some crazy electrical field that always causes my equipment to fail, I don’t know. Will I continue to use it? Yeah probably, but only sparingly. I don’t want to completely destroy my screen protector.
I would like to say thank you to Hex3 for sending me a replacement Jaja.
My rating of the original Jaja with the plastic nibs – 1 out of 5
My rating of the original Jaja with the teflon nibs – 1 out of 5
My rating of the replacement Jaja with the teflon nibs – 3 out of 5
My new rating as of 10.16.13 – 2 out of 5
Update 10.16.13 – Well, I tried using the Jaja while I was on the plane and I couldn’t get it to work, at all. It wouldn’t recognize pressure sensitivity and sometimes it just wouldn’t recognize the stylus at all. I tried it after I landed while I was in a quiet room and it worked again. I find it really funny that part of their whole marketing scheme is that you can use this stylus while on a plane because it doesn’t use Bluetooth, yet it doesn’t even work on a plane.
Since you can’t even use it on a plane and it doesn’t always work, even in a quiet room, I have to drop the rating again down to a 2 out of 5.