Wacom has long been the go-to brand for designers looking to equip themselves with the best for creative design and expression.
As inspiration comes wherever you go, so does the demand for a device that marries mobility with creative capabilities. The Intuos Creative stylus was designed to satisfy this demand - to elevate the comfortability of tablet writing/sketching/painting to the level of the real experience.
But more specifically, the Intuos Creative stylus was an attempt to bring the Cintiq experience to an iPad. It is definitely much cheaper, but is the price tag the only thing that is reduced?
Can the Intuos Creative stylus meet such a tall order? Read on to find out.
Even before going through how the stylus performs, the hardware design of it is paramount to the entire experience.
The Intuos Creative stylus weighs in at 25g, a good weight that makes it feel like you are holding a quality sturdy pen while not being too heavy. It is also slightly top heavy to provide more comfort while writing.
The rubber grip on the bottom half of the stylus, which is slightly thicker as it goes down the tip, prevents your fingers from slipping downwards while doing your work.
2 short-cut buttons can also be found on the rubber grip. It is a design that is reasonable in concept, but is of some getting used to in practice. I find myself accidentally pressing the buttons numerous times when first using it, activating the function that I assigned the buttons to perform when I do.
The functions differ from app to app, but for the Wacom Bamboo app, users can assign either buttons the function of eraser, undo, redo, full-screen, and none.
Its width of 10mm and length of 135mm is similar to that of most pens, and thus mirrors the real writing experience.
This also invites users to use the stylus with their palm on the screen, which is encouraged since the Intuos Creative stylus comes with a palm rejection feature, but more on that later.
The stylus uses a rubber tip, which also comes with 2 replacements found in a well-built compact case.
In the case, you can also find a AAAA-battery, quite rare to find but it will offer you 150 hours of usage, which when using the stylus for an hour a day, works out to 150 days (or just over 3 and a half months).
This addition of a carrying case is rare in the stylus market, and a definite plus point since you would want to protect such an expensive stylus.
The Wacom Intuos Creative stylus has hit the mark and checked every box in my books, but this is just one third of the assessment.
For the S$139 price tag, you will be getting an great stylus that is capable of palm rejection, is sensitive enough (with its 2,048 pressure levels) for working on the finest of details and the convenience of using the 2 short-cut buttons on the rubber grip, - but only if you use it with an integrated creative app.
The fact that the Intuos Creative stylus is capable of palm rejection is fantastic, as it is a nagging problem for a lot of stylus users.
The discomfort from not being able rest your palm is a huge barrier to translate the real experience when writing and drawing on to a tablet.
Sadly while the Intuos Creative stylus is capable of palm rejection, there is still much room for improvement.
Sometimes the palm rejection does not work. On some occasions, the tablet mistook some of my more finely drawn strokes as palm inputs, and cancels them, making writing a frustration task.
I believe this is due to the fact that sometimes the app (I most often use the Bamboo Paper App for this review) recognises the rubber from the rubber tip rather from the metal point which is under it.
The metal point is where the stylus registered the 2,048 pressure levels, and thus when not in "confident" contact, the palm rejection feature will take over and cancel your stroke out.
This was further proven when I did light brush strokes with a separate stylus (a simple plastic stick with a rubber tip) that I bought for S$2 off the street. And every single time a stroke is given using that stylus, it is automatically cancelled out due to the palm rejection feature.
It is a useful feature, but one that is on occasion, more of a burden than a help.
However, if one wields it well, he can take advantage of a truly sensitive piece of technology. A simple comparison below (using the Bamboo Paper app) showcases the difference when pressure is applied using both styluses.
And so it is a mixed bag for this point, which 2 good features but with room for improvement before we can safely say that the Intuos Creative stylus has broken through the barrier of the discomfort of tablet writing and drawing.
Now while the stylus is powerful with capabilities that few below its price tag can make, it is only possible with an integrated creative app.
When using the Intuos Creative Stylus on an app that does not support it, my S$2 stylus works just as well as the wholly expensive S$139.
Thus, buying this stylus will mean using it with 1 of the 15 integrated creative apps (with 6 more coming soon) to make it worth your while.
Here's a comparison table that simplifies what apps you can use with the stylus and the various costs and benefits.
Out of all the applications listed, I found the Bamboo Paper app to be the most versatile and the easiest to utilise for users of different skill levels. You can draw, write, sketch, paint, and more on the app, and with the Intuos Creative stylus, you have already unlocked some of the paid add-ons of the application, and what better way to use this stylus than with its own propitiatory app.
True enough, other apps does some aspects better than the Bamboo Paper - I found Paper by 53 to be a better drawing/painting app, Autodesk Sketchbook Pro to be a better designer-centric app and Penultimate by Evernote to be a better notetaking/writing app - but for the full package, currently the Bamboo Paper stands on top of my list.
That being said, there isn't really one app that does it all, and the limitations of each individual app are still hindering that real paper experience.
Wrapping It Up
The Wacom Intuos Creative Stylus is one of the expensive styluses you can find. And for that S$139, you really get a professional-grade stylus for your iPad and iPad mini, one that can assist in your creative works of writing and art.
The hardware itself has no faults, and the case that comes along with it will help increase its duration of usefulness. And while there are some areas to improve in terms of palm rejection, it is definitely something that can be tweaked with a software update.
I believe Wacom has achieved what it set out to do on the hardware side of things. It has brought a true powerhouse of a stylus to the tablet playing field. All we need now is an app that can match it - because for now, it is the apps that are pulling the stylus down.
Compared to the Cintiq Companion, the Intuos Creative stylus still playing catch up in satisfying the demands of top-notch designers and artists. But for what it lacks it makes up for massive savings as well as mobility.
And so the question is, is your skill level good enough to go beyond the bounds of your iPad? Or is the iPad and the Intuos Creative stylus sufficient for you to get what you need done, and to be refined later on the computer - which is actually a quote stated on the Intuos Creative Stylus website!
In fact, if you feel you don't even need such a sensitive stylus, Wacom's Bamboo Stylus Duo may be a more suitable and economical choice. You won't need 2,048 sensitive levels for writing down notes, and for the lack of that feature as well as the short-cut buttons, this humble alternative will set you back roughly $30 (or $100 cheaper than the Intuous Creative stylus). It is more for the note taker than the artist, but has the same attention to detail and quality that brought pride to all of Wacom's products.
Lastly. will we ever get to a point where we feel like writing or drawing on paper while doing so on a tablet? I believe so, but it will need a whole new innovative addition to the current capabilities of a stylus - and this is the ability to provide tactile feedback. Check out this video on a TEDtalk by Katherine Kuchenbecker on Haptography, the digitization of our sense of touch. Just image the possibilities of the future!
This section exists to acknowledge that fact that no matter how good a review is, it is definitely wise to seek other reviews and make your own judgement before making a purchase. Here are some other quality reviews of the Wacom Intuos Creative Stylus: