- Editor's Rating
- Good construction, solid feel
- Works on multiple tablets, not jus iPad
- No place on iPad to dock stylus
- Stylus or no stylus, iPad not great for note taking
Quick TakeThe Bamboo Stylus may not transform the iPad into an ideal note-taking or graphic-design tablet, but it is great for day-to-day use.
Many contend that real tablets have pens, like the Wacom and N-trig units the Windows 7 convertibles and slates support, and the iPad does not. While N-trig works its way into the Android tablet lineup, Wacom is making a play for the millions of iPad users with its Bamboo Stylus for the iPad.
The company claims that the Bamboo Stylus makes drawing, painting, or writing for your iPad feel more natural. TabletPCReview takes a look to see if that’s true.
Build & Design
The Bamboo Stylus looks like, well, a stylus. It’s 4.76 inches long, with a relatively thick diameter of .35 inches. It weighs less than a half an ounce, but it feels extremely solid. At launch, it retails for $30 (Note: It has since moved down to $20).
It has silver tips and a black grip that Wacom describes as “satin textured metal.” It’s extremely comfortable to hold and features a nice balance and firm construction. Additional colors are also available.
The cap at the top of the stylus screws off, allowing users to remove the clip if they so desire. The tip is soft and has a limited give; it’s almost like a hollow rubber ball. Wacom claims it’s 6mm in diameter.
Unfortunately, the iPad’s design leave no place to dock this stylus. I usually clip it on to the outside of my protective Folio, but those with Smartcovers or tight casing will have to pocket the pen, making it easy to misplace or lose.
Not that the folks at Wacom are asking, but perhaps a magnetic element is in order so the Bamboo sticks directly on the iPad.
Being that the Bamboo is a Wacom stylus, it requires no batteries. There is also no calibration and it works right out of the box. The rubber Bamboo tip feels great against the iPad, and flows smoothly — though not effortlessly — requiring a minimal amount of pressure to register.
There are no buttons, so everything must be touched or tapped. Unlike Windows tablets, the iPad will not register the stylus with a cursor as the Bamboo hovers near the screen — so in essence, the Bamboo merely takes the place of your finger.
That said, I found it preferable to a finger for day-to-day use. While it may leave a faint black smudge from time to time, it doesn’t muck up the iPad display with fingerprints after steady use, and it allows me to see more of the screen, portions that would be otherwise blocked with my hand, ultimately giving me more control. Navigating the iPad and common apps with the Bamboo just feels more natural, too.
Unfortunately, that control only somewhat extends to note taking on the iPad. While the stylus is better for taking freehand notes than a fingertip, it has a real limitation: the lack of pressure sensitivity. The iPad either registers the strokes or it doesn’t, there is no in between. So, users have to carefully form each letter and clearly lift the stylus in between each. For frantic scribblers like myself, notes will too often become a mess of blotches, wiggles and lines.
Based on my personal experience, this is hardly the case with Wacom-toting Windows tablets, which usually translate chicken scratch with great accuracy.
Complicating things is the relatively thick tip. Wacom claims that at 6mm, it is 25% thinner than other iPad styluses. That may be true, but it is still thicker than any Windows tablet stylus. Overall, the entire note-taking experience reminds me of doing the same with a piece of paper and a Sharpie marker.
The same criticisms apply for freehand drawing. As with notes, I found the stylus to be preferable to just a finger, but the Bamboo Stylus and iPad will never replace my artist tablet.
Finally, I was happy to discover that it works with other tablets and smartphones. I tested it on the iPhone, Asus Transformer, BlackBerry PlayBook, Motorola Xoom, and Motorola Droid X. It worked like a charm on the iPhone, but was a bit jittery on the Android and BlackBerry devices — though not enough to ruin the experience.
The Bamboo Stylus solo may not transform the iPad into my go-to note-taking or graphic design tablet, but it is extremely useful for day-to-day operating.
I keep the iPad close at all times, and I’m sure to pack it when I travel. With all the useless and cheap iPad accessories out there, it’s nice to see one that is actually useful and well constructed. It makes the iPad experience so much more enjoyable, it’s easy to recommend.