Pix & Stix is an iPad (or technically any Tablet) set of drumsticks and a single guitar pick, designed to work with the iOS version of Garageband. Can a set of iPad drumsticks turn me into, as Charlie Sheen might have said, a bitchin' rock god from Mars? There was only one way to find out. We covered the Pix & Stix drumsticks and guitar pick for iPad way back in May, when they were just a product in development. The other week, a set of them landed on my desk.
This presents a problem. I'm an award winning journalist, a man of moderate ego and all round top bloke. No, really, I am. Just ask my ego. He'll tell you. One thing I am not is a rock god from Mars. But perhaps, just maybe, the Pix & Stix could turn me into an object of adoration for millions and wealthy beyond my wildest dreams?
There's really not too much to say about the drumsticks and rubber pick that you get for your $24.95; they're solidly enough made rubber drumsticks and a single pick that you could conceivably use on regular drums if you were so inclined, although you'd get a different sound than with regular sticks due to the rubber tips. That means they don't scratch the surface of an iPad while remaining conductive enough to register as presses — or in other words, they work. Sort of.
Pix & Stix's own video shows them nicely in action, and if you're truly keen it is possible to drum passably on Garageband with them, but you'll need some practise to get to that stage, as the action hitting the screen is a little more flat — a bit more like a press rather than a tap — than you might expect from regular drums. Perhaps more tellingly, if you're just using them for Garageband and wanted to set up a quick drum beat, you'd be able to do so more quickly with just your fingertips.
As for the pick, while it's fun to hold your pad and strum it, it's also got something of an input lag; anyone attempting some speed metal would quickly find a few key parts of their riff missing in action.
But who said that you could only use the Pix & Stix with Garageband? What I found was that they're a pretty fun way to play iOS games, especially anything that only needs simple tapping actions. I can't say they improved my (admittedly not great) Tiny Wings scores, but they did make it a different kind of challenge. You could even use Pages to drum out a document if you felt like it — although you'd probably need more than the average rock star god's worth of drugs in your system before that seemed wise.
I know the question that you're dying to ask — am I now, as an owner of a set of Pix & Stix, a bitchin' rock god from Mars?
No; I'm not. That's probably for the best, though. I can see the fun utility in the Pix & Stix, but only for a limited while. Anyone serious about their music is more likely to get real results out of either real instruments or careful finger playing in Garageband. Anyone just messing around probably won't want to drop $24.95 on a pair of drumsticks. As for me, I'll just have to keep on dreaming of my future rock god stardom. [Pix & Stix]