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ComfortStylus Review - Hardware

Innovation: 9 stars 9
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I really don't like Metroid Prime Hunters. It's less Metroid-y than Metroid Prime Pinball. Part of this frustration stemmed from its cramp-inducing control setup. Clenching a large fist around the tiny stylus actually hurt. Naturally, this seemed like the perfect game to test the ComfortStylus on. Please note that when I compare the DS's stylus, I'm talking about the Phat version. The Lite's is just a little thinner and longer.

The 'comfort' of the ComfortStylus is in the (patented) way that it bends around your finger. It's made of flexible metal - perhaps some sort of aluminium alloy - and literally wraps around your index finger. It's easy to do - you just hold it like a pencil, and then with your other hand you can wrap it around securely. Once on, a bit of squeezing will keep it in place.

The folks at ComfortStylus were generous enough to provide us with one of their products several months ago, but then they updated their design and sent out a new batch (most of which went into this competition). The old stylus was roughly 11cm long, and was covered in a smooth rubber, with a plastic nib and end. The problem with this design was that there was a gap between where the rubber ended and the plastic bits start - little more than a millimetre wide, but a definite fracture point if too much pressure was put on the end at a weird angle. So, what do they do? Release a new version. The plastic bits seamlessly overlap the rubber now, and it's now longer too - 12cm end to end.

That little bit of extra length really helps, and there's less of a feeling that you might snap off the end accidentally during a frantic fragfest. It's sleek, now comes in a few different colours, and is sure to grab attention. Did we mention that it works on anything with a touchscreen - phones and PDAs included? There are only two downsides worth mentioning. The first is that it doesn't fit in either the DS Phat or Lite stylus slot, but since you can bend it down to a couple of centimetres, it's easy enough to fit it in a DS case. The other issue is that because your finger is the new stylus, your hand blocks a sizeable portion of the lower screen, which in most cases is irrelevant, but is worth mentioning nonetheless.

The obvious advantage of this is that it's a more natural hand position. Rather than holding something that itself touches the screen, you skip the middle-man and use your finger directly. A thumb can be useful in, say, New Super Mario Bros. for grabbing an item, but it covers a huge area and is in no way useful if you need to precisely hit a moving target. With the ComfortStylus, you get the best of both worlds - no hand cramps, and pinpoint accuracy. I found it took very little time to get used to. Experimentation ... (continued next page)