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IT & Systems Management

The Slap stylus doubles as a middle-school fashion accessory

When I was in middle school, there were really only two pieces of jewelry anyone cared about: chinese bead bracelets and snap bands. The latter were quickly outlawed on school grounds when some enterprising young mischief-makers figured out that you could lightly wound your friends by smacking them with the bands, but they remain etched in my memory as one of those crazy childhood obsessions I never really expected to see in person again. And yet, somehow one is on my wrist right now. Also: It's a stylus.

That's right. Mobile accessory-maker Chil has not only brought back the slap band, the company's made it a navigation tool for your phone or tablet, too. And weirdly, it's not half-bad at either of those.

As a piece of jewelry, the $15 Slap stylus looks rather like your average wrist-based fitness tracker: silicone, about half an inch thick, with a belted arrow pattern. (They also offer a slightly longer band in a wavy crisscross for the same price.) As long as you like rubber bracelets, it's less gauche than you might think--the varied colors and texture make it look more like a quirky Forever 21 accessory than a stodgy tech toy. I did find a little itchy on the wrist after prolonged wear, but that's my reaction to most wrist-based jewelry (including watches), so your mileage may vary.

Unfurl it, and the bracelet becomes a stiff-necked board with a 6mm capacitative nib on one end. The stylus tip itself is nothing to write home about--it's your average rubber capacitative nib, not terribly precise or smooth--but it's useable for tapping on buttons and writing the occasional note. Holding the band as a pen is strangely comfortable, as long as you remember to palm it with the pattern facing you; otherwise, you may get an unexpected snap bracelet on your thumb from misplaced pressure.

I'll admit, when I first saw the stylus, I was pretty skeptical of its real-world use beyond niche novelty and nostalgia value. But having carried a stylus on my keychain for the better part of this winter, the bracelet is a lot easier to use and stow than an awkward four-inch pen. It's certainly not the stylus you want if you plan to do any sort of longform drawing or writing, but if you live in a chilly climate (or need to avoid directly touching your device) it's actually pretty useful.

My main concern with this stylus is its longevity, but Chil seems to have prepared for that: The stylus put up with a full night of snap/unsnap abuse (note: no one should let me play with slap bracelets while watching television) without its internals failing. Should it break, however, the company offers free replacements.

All in all, it's a surprisingly handy bit of tech for a decent price. Just don't let your tweens take it to school.

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