Wacom Intuos Creative Stylus 2
Before we get to the Creative Stylus 2, its predecessor (without the ‘2’) is well worth a look, particularly since you can now pick it up for £20 on Amazon. It’s more like an alternative product. The squishy tip, similar to ‘dumb’ styluses and FiftyThree’s Pencil, may look clumsy in pictures, but in use it’s actually very precise, with active pressure sensing just like the current generation of products.
Because there’s more rubber in contact with the screen than with the new fine-point model, you get more tactile feedback. The AAAA battery can’t be recharged in the pen, but the ability to carry a spare can be seen as an advantage.
The Creative Stylus was my favourite when it first appeared, and I’m not sure it isn’t still. If you want a proper iPad pen without paying through the nose, snap it up while you still can.
The new Creative Stylus 2 takes a similar form, with the same big matt grip, but has a hard tip reminiscent of the Adobe and Adonit pens, giving you a smaller and more visible point of contact with the less satisfying feel of two hard surfaces rubbing together.
Again, it has two buttons in a see-saw formation, serving as undo/redo by default. It comes in a neat black hard case with a spare tip and a charging cable, which plugs into a micro USB port under a flimsy rubber cap at the hind end of the stylus.
Wacom lists 16 compatible apps, though some are obscure. Procreate supports the original model, but when I connected the 2 it came up as ‘Unsupported Stylus’ and not only was palm rejection disabled but I couldn’t get it to register pressure light enough for fine lines. Autodesk Sketchbook is listed as compatible, but when I connected the 2 as ‘Wacom Creative Stylus’ its performance seemed erratic. It worked well with Zen Brush, giving a good range of pressure control, and with Wacom’s own flawed Bamboo Paper app.
It’s compatible with Adobe’s apps too, and the quality of this stylus justifies its price of around £65.
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Wacom Bamboo Stylus Fineline
Bamboo is Wacom’s consumer line, so this alternative to the Creative Stylus is marketed to general and office users rather than designers. It comes in a businesslike silver-grey finish (once you’ve peeled off the giant regulatory information label) with a pocket-clipped cap that you can pop off and stick on the blunt end while you work. That end features a micro USB port, for direct charging, with the same unsatisfactory rubber cover as the Creative Stylus 2.
The tip also works similarly to the Creative Stylus 2, except that it’s even finer. This doesn’t mean it’s more accurate or can actually draw thinner strokes – those are software issues – but it does feel more appropriate for fine-lining.
Unfortunately, Wacom’s Bamboo Paper app, which is specifically aimed at note-taking, has a weirdly laggy and imprecise feel, although its palm rejection is good enough to let you rest your hand on the screen while writing. Plenty of other apps are supported, with the same caveats as for the Creative Stylus 2.
No software, to be honest, makes handwriting on the iPad screen practical. But for things like quick diagrams with brief annotations, the Bamboo, at around £49, is a good option. Although I found it transmitted a narrower range of pressure than the more expressive Creative Stylus 2, it’s usable for drawing too.
More info Wacom