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Tablet Artistry: Tools and Styluses Tested

Wacom Bamboo Stylus for iPad

Unlike the Wacom tablet pens (or the Wacom Bamboo tablet), the Bamboo Stylus for iPad is a capacitive stylus, not an active pen (Bamboo just means Wacom’s consumer rather than professional line). The Bamboo Stylus has a large rounded tip and feels rather like an expensive pen in your hand; it’s the diameter you’re used to in a pen with enough weight to stop it flipping out of your hand, and it’s nicely balanced with a black brushed metal finish that gives you a comfortable grip. At just over four inches long it’s long enough to use - but not too long to carry conveniently. The clip at the end is removable if you don’t want to clip it into a pocket or find that it affects the balance (the clip fits snugly on the iPad 2’s magnetic cover but you may not want to have a metal clip pressed up against the bezel as you carry it around).

Unlike the usual foam tip, the nub on the end of the Bamboo Stylus is hollow rubber and gives gently as you press or swipe it across the screen. It tapers in so it’s much slimmer than the average adult finger, meaning you can see the lines you’re drawing more clearly, and there’s virtually no drag (also unlike the foam tips). You can use it at an angle and usually get good results rather having to hold it uncomfortably upright (unscrew the metal protector around the nib to use it a much more pronounced angle, although this may put more stress on the tip).

You still have to press a little more firmly with the stylus than with your finger to get the same effect but that often works to your advantage when you’re painting and you want a lighter touch; you get shorter, smaller, more accurate strokes rather than the generous, sweeping strokes from painting with a fingertip. At $30 this is a premium stylus that several of the digital artists we spoke to are adopting as their favorite iPad tool.