Several days ago, I was passing through Marshall’s (a local department store) when I noticed these gloves, the Isotoner SmarTouch 2.0. I was thinking I could use a new pair this year, either because something happened to my old ones or because I was certain to lose them this year- it’s my annual winter ritual!
My first question was what made them “2.0”- as far as I can tell from the SmarTouch web site
, the difference from the original Smartouch gloves is a third finger of touch screen compatibility.
The recommended price on these gloves is $44.00, which is not a price I would be willing to pay for gloves (unless they were iGloves with an iCloud-based Find My Gloves connection- hey there’s an idea for a new device for Apple, a Find My Stuff iCloud-connected tracking beacon. That’s a freebie guys, you can thank me in your next keynote!) but Marshall’s was selling them for $16.99, which I found perfectly reasonable.
I’ve seen gloves made for use with touch screens, I’ve tried one or two in the store and found them lacking- most touch screen gloves seem to be without a very key feature: some sort of grip surface. Yarn or fleece, the materials you often see gloves made of, tend to be far more slippery than the skin on your hands. This translates to constant danger of devices slipping and dropping- which will really put a damper on your texting. These gloves do have a grippy surface across most of the palm and around the thumb. It actually feels almost sticky to the touch but without leaving a residue. It definitely held onto my iPod touch, but on the area of the where
there is no grip, the device still slips around more than I’d like. Would if be too much to ask for the grip to cover the entire palm and fingers- the parts of your hands that are actually holding onto the device?
The other important part, of course, is the touch screen-compatible fingertips. Embroidered with a thread that supposedly is conductive of electrical impulses, I was skeptical. I put on the gloves and turned on the iPod. Swiping across the slider to access the home screen took a few tries, as did entering my passcode and opening an app.
When I modified my movement to be a bit more deliberate, and made a much more pointed effort of tapping on the screen, it got a little better. This gave me an idea. The gloves are a little big for me- the small ones were far too short in the fingers, the medium-large are just a bit too big overall, leaving them loose everywhere and my fingertips not in proper contact with the thread. Pulling the finger back so that they were snug against my skin, I tried again.
The typing was a little awkward but I was pleasantly surprised to find its accuracy comparable to typing with my bare hands. This has stood consistent through several typing sessions over the last few days. I’d include a typing sample, but for autocorrect. The same is true when I try other functions- swiping, zooming in and out, flicking.
It is important to note that the touch-conductive thread only appears on the thumb and first two fingers so these gloves would be pointless for anyone making use of the VoiceOver function. I also just wish it was on the other fingers myself because I use them a lot.
The gloves themselves are made of a fuzzy, warm micro fleece, speaking strictly as gloves, I have no complaint aside from the way they fit my hands- nothing I can much blame on Isotoner. Checking over the Isotoner website
, they are available in a dizzying array of styles and colors for both men and women, with suggested prices ranging from $35-$88. My particular pair is the fleece lines Tech Stretch variation in Lapis
My overall assessment is that these are good for sending or checking and occasional messaged when you’re out in the cold but I wouldn’t be using them for any extended iMessage sessions. I’d like to see more coverage of the grippy surface and for the touch-conductive thread to appear on all fingertips. It would also help a lot if it were to extend a bit farther down, instead of only being placed on the tip. I don’t personally find them worth the $44 price tag- not by a long shot- but the $16.99 that I paid for them was well enough spent.
For a better understanding of the grip/touchscreen features of these gloves, I’ve added my own color-coded photo diagram!