EVGA Tegra Note 7 Review: Nvidia's Tegra 4 For $200


If you're at all familiar with Samsung's portfolio, you know that the Galaxy Note line (whether phone or tablet) earns its namesake with the inclusion of a stylus. So too does Nvidia's Tegra Note 7. The tablet comes bundled with a stylus, and EVGA sells a $20 replacement kit.

Nvidia markets this feature as its DirectStylus technology, allowing chisel-tip styluses to draw lines of different widths according to pressure applied on the screen. DirectStylus is superior to passive styluses that essentially behave like fingers.

DirectStylus sets itself apart by serving as a low-cost value-add (it's shipping with a $200 tablet, after all), comparing favorably to active stylus technology that requires a separate and expensive digitizer.

As a long-time Galaxy Note II user, I'm no stranger to Android-based devices with styluses tucked inside. But I also fall into the majority of Samsung phablet owners who almost never use the stylus. Occasionally, I pull it out to jot notes down by hand. But, like most people, the real selling feature of my Galaxy Note II is its large display. Samsung introduced new stylus features in its Galaxy Note III to help sell the feature more effectively.

The Tegra Note 7 stylus does work with other phones and tablets, sort of. I tried it on my Galaxy Note II and third-generation iPad, and interestingly, the thin and narrow tip that's so easily detected by the Tegra Note 7 is largely ineffective on the other devices. Only when using the widest edge or opposite end of the Tegra Note 7 stylus was I able to register consistent touches. Clearly, there's more to DirectStylus than just the pen device. And obviously, using the Galaxy Note II's active stylus does nothing on the Tegra Note 7's passive system.

Nvidia only bundles a couple of drawing apps. The tablet's stock software setup does little to emphasize DirectStylus, but I don't particularly feel like this under-delivers on the technology. Attempts by other tablet makers to make styluses more prominent still appear forced. It's one of those input options that you either use regularly or hardly ever.

DirectStylus, on the other hand, feels like it was deliberately included for the small niche of users who want a more accurate drawing technology, but are on a budget. There's simply no other Android-based tablet out there at this price point that offers a comparable level of stylus control.