Styluses for capacitive screens like the iPad used to be wide and squishy—bad for precise drawing and writing. Only recently have companies been able to come up with pen-like tips for a superior experience. Wacom is the latest to offer one such device in the Bamboo Stylus Fineline.
The Fineline comes on the heels of Adonit, who was the first to figure out how to make a pen-like stylus tip work on an iPad. It seems now that the problem has been solved, everyone is having a go. Fineline is encased in an ever-so-slightly tapered silver tube. It looks understated and stylish, with a clip on the cap and a micro USB charger under a rubber lid on the other end.
You can draw with the Fineline in any app at all, but there are additional features that are enabled when you pair the device with Wacom's Bamboo Paper app via Bluetooth. When connected, the Fineline provides 1024 levels of pressure sensitivity, as well as palm rejection. Those two features place the Fineline in a unique position amongst its small-tip competitors.
The Adonit Jot Script, the first stylus to have a pen-like nib, is not pressure sensitive. Adobe's Ink and Slide devices (manufactured by Adonit) are pressure sensitive, but the palm rejection really does not work very well as we pointed out in our recent hands-on. In my testing with the Wacom Bamboo Fineline, I found both the pressure sensitivity and the palm rejection to work great. There you have it.
As stated, you are limited to Wacom's Bamboo Paper app to unlock these Bluetooth features, with added support coming for other third party apps. Bamboo Paper is definitely a basic app for note-taking or sketching, but it does have one of the fastest response times of any drawing app I have used. It is the only note-taking app that renders legible handwriting when I jot casually at full-speed. With a decent price of $60 (UK price unknown at this time), the Wacom Fineline is in a pretty good position for capturing the hearts and minds of the digital note-taking populace.
In addition to the Fineline, Wacom is updating its Intuous Creative Stylus, the fat-tipped Bluetooth device that was introduced last year. The new version features the same great precise tip as the Fineline, and now charges via USB as opposed to using AAA batteries like the first version. The Intuous Creative Stylus 2 has more pressure sensitivity than the Fineline (2,048 levels to be exact) replacable nibs, and a contoured grip with 2 buttons, making it a more versatile all-around tool than the Fineline. It will be available in October for $80 (UK price TBC).
If you're fine with those old rubbery stylus tips, Wacom still has options for you. Their Bamboo Stylus Solo and Duo both are both slick looking implements without the Bluetooth features and fine tips of the Fineline and Intuos Creative Stylus. What they do feature is a special carbon-coated tip that is supposed to provide a more natural feel to your strokes. In our quick tests, the difference was negligible. The Bamboo Stylus Duo, which has a stylus on one end, and a traditional pen on the other end, will go for £24.99, while the Solo, with just the capacitive stylus, will go for £16.99.