Wacom Bamboo Stylus review

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The capacitive stylus market is growing bigger and bigger, and we’re starting to see more high-end styli out there. I’ve tried quite a few of them, and so far my favorite has been the Just Mobile AluPen. When Wacom announced they were making a stylus, I was hoping for something that one rise to the top of the crowd right away, seeing as how Wacom is a company that produces digitizer tablets and only make high quality products. The Wacom Stylus has now been released, and I got my hands on one. Read on to see how it stacks up.

The Bamboo Stylus is clearly aimed at people who don’t mind spending a bit on a stylus. It has an aluminum body, very stylish finish, and even a removable clip. It’s priced at $30 in the US and a lot more in other countries, which even puts it above the AluPen as far as cost goes. The brand name is likely to be part of that, but it’s definitely a premium quality product as well.

One of the features that the Bamboo Stylus promises is a smaller tip. That’s true, but it’s still a rubber ball at the end of a stylus, so we’re not talking resistive stylus sizes here. Naturally Wacom want to produce the most accurate stylus possible, and I have a feeling that they tried quite a few designs before landing on this one as the smallest tip possible while still making it work well. That is also why I have completely ignore this Kickstarter project, as I think that design on a capacitive stylus simply won’t work. If the world’s biggest pen tablet manufacturer can’t find a way, I somehow doubt a web designer can.

The thinner tip of the Bamboo does work rather well and it is easier to be accurate- or at least write smaller- than with the AluPen which has the “normal” sized tip. Sometimes the device doesn’t recognize any input though, requiring more pressure than with the AluPen. This is logical, as a smaller rubber ball means you need more pressure to get the same amount of rubber in contact with the screen as with a bigger one. It’s a not a huge problem, but happens now and then.

The increased accuracy isn’t really all that noticeable when writing though. You can write smaller than with the AluPen, but if you write that small you’re going to have other issues such as the screen being too low res and inaccurate to properly form letters. S-es tend to become |-s, for instance. Writing on a capacitive screen means you need to produce writing that’s a certain size, and at those sizes there isn’t any real difference between the two.The same goes for other uses, really- it’s more accurate but at a level you won’t notice.

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The biggest difference between them is the difference in size. The AluPen is about the size of a thin permanent marker, while the Wacom Bamboo Stylus is closer to a ballpoint pen. If you think about it, there is one key different between how you use those two pen types; with a ballpoint pen you rest your palm on something, and with a permanent marker you’re normally writing/drawing so big you don’t have to. This difference also translates to the styli quite well; the AluPen is better when your hand is hovering above the screen, while the Baboo is better when you can rest your palm and write properly.

When it all comes down to it, these two styli are pretty equally matched and share the spot as the best styli I’ve tried. The Bamboo’s smaller size and tip makes it better suited for detailed writing and drawing where you can rest your palm and use the stylus like you would a pen. The AluPen is however better suited for instances where you’re using it as an extension of your finger (e.g. games or navigating the OS/apps) or writing huge letters. Some writing apps have a magnification mode built in where you write huge letters which are then shrunk down, and in those cases the AluPen would be better for writing those big letters and the resulting shrunken writing would be more accurate than what the Bamboo could produce normally. What I’m basically trying to say is that it really all comes down to what you intend to use the stylus for. I’d pick the AluPen for apps like Notify or Max and the Magic Marker, but I’d choose the Bamboo for apps like Penultimate or SketchBook. Unfortunately they’re too expensive for me to recommend getting both, and either stylus will make the buyer happy- that much I can guarantee.

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Andreas Ødegård

Andreas Ødegård is more interested in aftermarket (and user created) software and hardware than chasing the latest gadgets. His day job as a teacher keeps him interested in education tech and takes up most of his time.

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