Wacom Bamboo Stylus Fineline review: There's a fine line between good and great

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CNET Editors' Rating

4 stars Excellent
Review Date:

The Good The Wacom Bamboo Stylus Fineline feels high-quality and well-balanced, with an attractive design and a natural stroke.

The Bad It's not really suited for writing pages and pages of text or for people who write in a cramped print.

The Bottom Line It's a great stylus for annotating and sketching, but you might find the Wacom Bamboo Stylus Fineline a little harder to use for long stretches of writing or printing.

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Wacom performed a global survey on people's attitudes toward handwriting, and it concluded that people like it, think it's important, and want to sustain that experience on their digital devices. That's the theory behind Wacom's Bamboo Stylus Fineline, its first fine-nibbed stylus for note-taking and sketching on Bluetooth 4-generation iPads. Offering pressure sensitivity, a USB-chargeable battery, an attractive design and well-weighted feel for a reasonable $60/£40, the Fineline is an excellent stylus that I find myself wanting to use, even though it's not always the best choice for the task.

Its design hearkens back to the product line that began with the fine-nibbed Wacom Bamboo Feel models for the Samsung Galaxy Note and Windows 8 tablets. It uses different technology, however, since those devices have a built-in layer to support Wacom's electromagnetic resonance (EMR) technology, rather than the iPad's capacitive touchscreen display.

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Like most Wacom styluses, the Fineline curves to a slight bulge where most of its weight lies. Sarah Tew/CNET

Constructed of aluminum, with a grip made of painted ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene), it feels solid and looks classy and elegant, similar to the Bamboo Solo and Duo rubber-tipped styluses. It's not nearly as thin as those -- unsurprisingly, given that it needs room for all the electronics, which are contained in the slight bulge just above the nib area. There's a button to activate the Bluetooth transmitter that doubles as a programmable button when connected, with a tiny LED light in the middle to indicate Bluetooth and battery status. The button has a gentle concave curve, which helps prevent you from accidentally pressing it.

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There's a small LED that's used to indicate a search for a connection and battery status. Sarah Tew/CNET

At the top is a USB connector for charging, with a captive silicone cover. Wacom rates the battery for 26 hours, and it seems to trickle-charge while attached to a portable power supply if you need it to. At the other end there's a traditional pen cover that fits on the top of the pen when you're using it. The pen feels properly weighted with or without the cover, so if you happen to lose it, no big deal.

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You charge the stylus via a USB connector on its top. Sarah Tew/CNET

The pen also delivers 1,204 levels of pressure sensitivity, the same as the Bamboo pen tablets.

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