January 05, 2011, 10:09 AM — Touchscreen devices such as the iPhone and the iPad have become part of daily life for many of us—they're our phones, our navigation devices, our media players, our all-purpose, look-up-everything machines. But for those of us living in colder climates, there's a solid four- or five-month stretch where these gadgets also the bane of our existence—in order to use them, we have to shed the protective garments that keep our hands from turning into popsicles.
The iPhone's capacitive touchscreen relies on the conductive properties of the human body, which is why you can't use your iPhone with most styluses or while you're wearing gloves. But, as they say, necessity is the mother of invention, and staying warm is one of the basic necessities of survival. So inventors came up with a clever idea: gloves that use conductive thread to mimic the properties of a human hand. I took a look at four pairs of touchscreen-friendly gloves to see how they held up in the frigid reality of a New England winter.
Etre Fivepoint gloves
Etre's Fivepoint gloves ( Macworld rated 3.5 out of 5 mice ) are made from lambswool and colored in a distinctive two-tone pattern: Oxford blue with gray fingertips. Those fingertips contain the secret sauce that makes operating touchscreens possible: thread that conducts just enough electricity from your fingertips to activate your touch-sensitive device.
The gloves come in two sizes: medium and large. Large was the better fit for my hands, but I found that some of the gloves' fingers were a bit longer than my fingers. With normal gloves, this isn't much of a problem, but when you're trying to use a touchscreen, you really need to have the glove taut against your fingertip in order for the capacitive fabric to work properly—the fabric needs to comes in contact with both your skin and the touchscreen. As a result, I sometimes found myself having to tug on the gloves to make sure that they were fitting snug enough. Of course, your mileage may vary depending on the size of your hands.
For the most part, though, the Fivepoint gloves work as advertised. They're even pretty warm, though for truly cold days, you may find them a bit porous. It's also worth noting that wool isn't the most moisture-resistant material, so if you're dealing with a very wet climate, these gloves may not be ideal.
One advantage of the Fivepoint gloves compared to some "touchscreen" gloves I've seen is that the conductive thread is incorporated into the tips of every finger, so you can use all ten of your fingers for touch-sensitive tasks—good for typing on the iPad or playing some games.
The Fivepoint gloves go for £25—about $39—as of this writing.
Agloves Touch Screen Gloves