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Wacom Creative Stylus 2 review: Wacom's Creative Stylus 2 draws a softer, finer line

The battery-free and fine-pointed CS2 provides a more subtle sense of pressure.

Lori Grunin Senior Editor / Advice
I've been reviewing hardware and software, devising testing methodology and handed out buying advice for what seems like forever; I'm currently absorbed by computers and gaming hardware, but previously spent many years concentrating on cameras. I've also volunteered with a cat rescue for over 15 years doing adoptions, designing marketing materials, managing volunteers and, of course, photographing cats.
Expertise Photography, PCs and laptops, gaming and gaming accessories
Lori Grunin
3 min read

Artsy types with tablets looking to duplicate their desktop pressure-sensitive stylus experience finally have a nice set of options to choose from these days. Gone are the fat-tipped, clunky styluses of previous years; now there are choices like Adobe Ink , with its technology soulmate the Jot Touch, and now the Creative Stylus 2 from veteran stylus company Wacom. In a significant update from its first-generation product, it eschews the fat 6mm carbon-fiber coated rubber tip and replaceable batter in favor of a fine 2.9mm nib and an internal USB-charged battery. The price is also more attractive than before, dropping to $80 (£65/AU$100).


Wacom Creative Stylus 2

The Good

The Wacom Creative Stylus 2 is well designed, reasonably priced and comfortable to use.

The Bad

The rubber cap on the USB connector will likely rip off.

The Bottom Line

The Wacom Creative Stylus 2 is a great, well-priced pressure-sensitive stylus for iPad artistes.

Like its desktop tablet styluses, Wacom's CS 2 has two programmable rocker buttons. Sarah Tew/CNET

If you're familiar with the original Creative Stylus, you'll find the new version has a similar but refined design. The CS2 is slightly longer and has shed about 0.1 oz/6 g, but the barrel is roughly the same width. It retains its 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity. At review time it was supported by a handful of apps including ArtRage, Autodesk Sketchbook and Zen Brush, with more on deck. (You can find the complete current list on Wacom's site.) Like the original, the Creative Stylus 2 comes with a nice hard case, plus a replacement nib and USB charging cable.

Like the Bamboo Fineline, the CS2 charges via a USB port at the end. Sarah Tew/CNET

Like its sibling the Bamboo Fineline, the CS2 has a Micro-USB connector at the top with a small attached rubber cover. Based on my experiences with the Fineline, I predict that if you don't handle the stylus with care all the time, the cover will probably rip off and disappear. Battery life seems to be pretty reasonably long and it recharges fairly quickly,

The pressure difference translates to a broader range of intensities for the Creative Stylus 2. Lori Grunin/CNET

Testing with an I like the feel of the Creative Stylus 2 far more than the original, but it really depends upon whether you prefer the friction-y glide of the old fat nib compared with the slippery-surface-skating feel of the smaller, harder nib. I could also really tell the difference between the 1,024 levels of pressure supplied by the Bamboo Fineline versus the CS2; it translates into better sensing of a light touch and a broader tonal range rendered by strokes of increasing pressure. And the Creative Stylus 2 feels just as effective as the Fineline for taking notes.

You do have to do some digging to figure out to connect the stylus to your favorite art apps -- it's a different procedure for each one, but that's common among these styluses. The app developers generally provide decent instructions for doing so, though.

Like most current styluses, the CS2 connects via Bluetooth 4 but support is implemented on an app-by-app basis; as yet, as far as I know, none of them support the native pressure sensitivity incorporated into the programming interface. That means Apple phableters (and owners) won't be able to take advantage quite yet. Then again, there's no support for or either.

The CS2 will support Wacom's forthcoming cloud services, DropZone cloud clipboard and ControlRoom, which will store various pen and settings -- those sound a lot like the Creative Cloud functionality in Adobe Ink . According to Wacom these are still a couple of weeks away, slated for the end of October.

The Wacom Creative Stylus 2 is really worth the upgrade from the original version, and a great accessory for anyone who does art on an .