Taking Notes

So I was in London for a few days a couple of weeks ago, and sitting in all these meetings, and I noticed that one of my co-workers was using a pen to take notes on his iPad. I asked him about it and he told me the stylus he was using was the Adonit Jot Script and the software was an iOS app called Noteshelf.

I thought about it after I got home and decided that there could be quite a few advantages to this, not the least of which is that now my notes are spread across 27 different notebooks and pads. My iPad is obviously a lot lighter than my laptop, using a stylus for input might be more intuitive and faster, and using a note-taking program that syncs with Evernote, such as NoteShelf or Penultimate, would mean that wherever I go, no matter what I’m carrying, all of my notes would be with me.

I did a bit of research, as I am prone to do, and saw that everyone pretty much agrees that there are 2 stylii at the top of the heap when it comes to writing text on the iPad – the Adonit model my co-worker was using and and Pencil from FiftyThree.com. Pencil looked a bit thick to me while the Adonit more closely resembles a pen. These both use bluetooth and feature “palm rejection technology,” meaning you could rest your hand on the iPad while writing and it should mostly be ignored.

So Adonit Jot Script it was.


Their web site shows the price as US$75. That should equate to HK$600. So you can imagine my surprise (and dismay) when I went over to the Wanchai Computer Centre and found that the few shops that had it in stock were asking HK$1198 for it – double the price.

Because that’s how things work in Hong Kong. When something is seen as (a) desirable and (b) in short supply, retailers will try to gouge you.

Next I looked on price.com.hk and saw that the HK price should indeed be $599. They listed several shops in Mong Kok’s Sim City mall has having it at that price, so I went there on a Saturday afternoon when I had nothing else to do. (Note that despite the recent heat wave, Mong Kok was completely jammed with people and the view was a heatwave of a different kind.) None of these shops had it in stock.

So now I could wait until it came back into stock – which would mean walking back over to the Computer Centre every few days or once a week until I spotted it at the normal price (it’s just a 5 minute walk from my office) or I could order it online, where it seemed to be in plentiful supply.

Amazon has it at $75, no discount. If I wanted fast shipping on it, that was going to be an additional HK$250 (roughly US$32.50, almost half the price of the stylus, no thanks).

Then on a whim I went back to Adonit’s web page and tried to order it from them. They do direct sales. So plenty of stock. $75.  How much for shipping?  US$8. And just 2 day delivery? What? Because it turns out that this is not just made in China, as you’d expect, but they would be shipping it to me from China.

So instead of paying $1198 at the computer center or $850 to order it from Amazon, I’m getting it for HK$665 – and it’s certainly worth HK$65 to me to save myself from making 27 more trips trying to find it in local shops.

I also decided that while I was at it I’d add a keyboard to the iPad, for banging out long emails, which I am forced to do too frequently. Logitech’s are the best reviewed. A number of shops tried to push Belkin’s at me, but it was clear after comparing the two side by side that Logitech’s keyboard was the better one. There are three different models and I went for the cheapest, the one that flips over the screen rather than ones that combined a full front and back cover.



If I think of it, I’ll post some sort of review on both of these items after I’ve taken a couple of trips with them (Manila visit coming up in a week and I’ll just take my iPad and leave my laptop at home).

I’m not always this lucky when it comes to buying stuff like this. I’m a huge fan of Think Tank Photo’s bags.  I probably have six of them, from a small shoulder bag that holds a small camera plus several odds and ends, all the way up to their rolling bag that can hold my D800 and all of my lenses, accessories and laptop.

Now they’ve got a line of briefcases and shoulder bags designed around iPads and MacBooks that are probably incredibly well built and durable and feature what appear to be thousands of pockets. They call this line My 2nd Brain. Okay, not the greatest name in the world. But the My 2nd Brain Briefcase 13 looks to be perfect for me.



It will easily hold what I normally carry with me during a normal work day. Reading glasses, sunglasses, over-the-hear headphones, keys, mints, pens, business cards, iPad (and sometimes MacBook), a camera, a battery-powered fan (for those 20+ minutes I’m standing on the street waiting for the goddamn 307 bus) and a book or two – all without taking up too much space on my lap while sitting on tiny, crowded bus and mini-bus seats.

But it’s nowhere to be found in Hong Kong. I checked at DCWave at Sim City and they don’t seem to be carrying the line at all. I called a friend – who is one of Think Tank’s HK distributors – and he told me he probably wasn’t going to carry it since the minimum order is 24 pieces and the line wasn’t selling that well for him.

So the price is US$130, should be HK$1,000. Pretty reasonable, I think. I could order it from B&H Photo or Adorama, but they want an additional US$80 or more for shipping, and that’s just insane. I wrote to TTP and they suggested that I check with their Singapore distributor. I wrote to them – and they never wrote back they wrote back after 3 days saying they don’t have it in stock and in any case they won’t ship to Hong Kong.

Next thought, since I’m going to Manila soon, I wrote to the Manila distributor, who told me that this hasn’t reached the Philippines yet and they didn’t know when to expect it.

So there is always one more option – “do without it.” And I guess that’s what it’s going to have to be.

(Reading all of the above, yeah, I know, it probably gives the impression that I have way too much free time. All I can say to that is that on weekdays I get home from work about 2 hours before my wife does. Plus she works on weekends and I don’t. So this kind of crap is another way to fill up some of the time.)


7 thoughts on “Taking Notes”

  1. I’ve tried a couple styli over the various iterations of iPads. I seldom use them for writing though, more for sketching and drawing. In most cases, despite reviews, I’ve been disappointed. I recently picked up the Wacom Intuos Creative Stylus ( https://store.wacom.com.hk/stylus ) and have been playing with that one for a couple months. It is supposed to allow for pressure sensitivity for a more haptic experience. Even with software that is specifically attuned to the device (such as the Sketchbook Pro app), it still lacks a true feel of the sensitivity you get with a pencil or brush. Even with the current gen iPad Air, there is occasional lag or moments of a misread that pull me out of the experience. I keep hoping that Apple will turn to focusing on a more haptic interface with the iPad. Perhaps that will come in a future version. With writing I would guess the need for such sensitivity is not a great. I will be interested to read your review to see how you rate the device and your experience.

    1. I don’t expect to do any drawing so I doubt that the lack of pressure sensitivity in the Script will be a drawback for me, as you say. I’ll let you know how it works out.

  2. Hi Spike, I bought the logitech keyboard back in March but I hardly use it. I still go back to my trusty laptop or to be exact a mobile workstation if I type anything serious. I have had 3 newer laptops since then but the mobile workstation which is 5 years old is still my favorite. I use it just like a desktop.
    What did you use in terms of telephone communications when you were in London? I am going there for 3 weeks (not for work) and I dont want to run up a high phone bill. What do you suggest I bring with me? Ipad (no phone card), iphone 5, iphone 4?
    On London, several of my friends (banking types) who moved there from HK complain non-stop about the high costs of living and long commute time. So the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. Museums are free but everything else seems very expensive, they claim. I guess English food is safe, the air clean and the government more effective.
    My last stop was Singapore and HK provides a refreshing change.

    1. Sophia, I insanely carry around 2 mobile phones with me, one my own and one paid for by my employer. So I forwarded my personal number to my business phone. Then I got a prepaid SIM card from Three in London, 16 pounds, unlimited data and something like 500 or 1,000 minutes for local calls (but no international calls, which I didn’t need anyway as I had the other phone, or could rely on Skype). For my iPad, I either used the phone as a hotspot or relied on WiFi. For me the data was a necessity as I was walking a minimum of 5 miles per day and would have gotten lost at least 20 times if I didn’t have Google maps.

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