Last Minute Tech Gadget Gifts

By Cameron Sturdevant  |  Posted 2011-12-21


Last year I got myself a pair of Isotoner SmartTouch gloves at Macy's. I love these gloves and would get them again in a second. This year I got pitched on a couple of related touchscreen gifts from Newer Technologies: NuTouch Gloves and the NuScribe 2-in-1 touch screen stylus and pen.

Before I relate my experience with these 2011 gift ideas, let me say a word about my Isotoner gloves. Best. Gift. Ever. The only thing I lose faster than an umbrella is gloves. But not these SmartTouch lovlies. The conductive fibers in the forefingers and thumbs are stitched in such a way that they form a pretty accurate finger press area. That means typing on my HTC EVO 4G smartphone is fairly accurate, even on a jouncing BART train.

The gloves are warm enough for train commuting in Chicago, flexible enough to comfortably grip a phone and stylish enough to pass for a night at the San Francisco Symphony. I also like that the palm and inside finger surfaces are crisscrossed with a slip-resistant pattern so I always feel confident that I have a firm grasp on my phone. I bought my gloves for $30 and that's about how much they are this year.

Okay. So how did the $11.99 NuTouch Gloves hold up? Meh. On the plus side the conductive fiber is woven into the tips of all ten fingers. And that's about it. During tests with several Ziff Davis (the company that owns eWEEK) staffers the most common complaint was that the broad finger press area led to inaccurate typing on a smartphone. On a tablet, (we used an Apple iPad2 and a 7" Samsung Galaxy Tab) the larger key area improved typing accuracy. On the downside the woven, single-layer gloves weren't that warm (even in San Francisco's mild "winter"), the material lacked gripping traction and the styling, is, well, not present.

Bottomline: Conductive fiber gloves are a great last minute gift idea but the NuTouch Gloves won't win you any lasting goodwill from the recipient.

So, what about the NuScribe stylus/pen? The touchscreen stylus is where the eraser would be on a pencil. It's a rubber bulb covering a stylus nub. The press action on the stylus is good. So, if you have to accurately poke at screen targets it's pretty good. The press-and-drag action was smooth, the right mix of grip and glide. This is good for drawing on the screen and flipping the pages of an e-reader. The downside, as one fellow Labbie pointed out is that it's a stylus. I will lose a stylus faster than an umbrella, which, you know from what I've written above is pretty dang fast. And while it's true that the NuScribe cuts down on greasy screen smears, it was also true that I had to switch from two-thumbed typing to hunt-and-peck poking when using the NuScribe, which is significantly slower for me.

Finally, I'm sure more than one person who gets this $10 stylus/pen will first damage the device by trying to remove the rubber covering over the stylus. I also predict that a fair number will try "clicking" the top with the expectation that a touchscreen-friendly stylus will emerge from business end of the pen. It didn't take me that long to figure out the correct use of the gadget, but that's because I didn't succeed in pulling off the rubber nub.

Bottomline: The stylus seems like a great idea, but it's not. Better to gift a box of chocolates than this seemingly good idea.

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