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Wacom finally shows the iPad its sensitive side

A latecomer to the market, the company finally unveils a pressure-sensitive stylus for the iPad, the $99 Intuos Creative Stylus.


It's a bit of a niche, but disconnecting the pressure-sensitive stylus from its dedicated drawing tablet and enabling use with a more mainstream, general purpose tablet like an iPad is quite liberating for designers and doodlers alike. Wacom, known for its excellent drawing peripherals like the Intuos5, has been strangely slow to jump into this market -- but finally lands with its $99 Intuos Creative Stylus (ICS).

The ICS joins products like the Adonit's Jot Touch 4 ($90) the Pogo Connect ($80) and the Hex3 Jaja ($90) with workarounds to give the fundamentally insensitive iPad display pressure-sensitive drawing capabilities (in which stroke width changes in response to changes in stylus pressure). Because of the tablet constraints, the ICS uses a Bluetooth 4 connection like the Jot and the Pogo rather than the electromagnetic resonance technology used in its dedicated input devices -- if you want EMR in a portable tablet you'll need to fork over a lot more dough for Wacom's newly announced Android tablets, the Cintiq Companion and Cintiq Companion Hybrid. Bluetooth 4 limits the stylus compatibility to the iPad 2, current-generation model, and the Mini. The other benefit of EMR is battery-less operation; the ICS incorporates a AAAA battery, slightly smaller than the Pogo and Jaja's AAA design.

The stylus comes with a case that stores a spare battery and nibs, but a clever tablet mount would be more useful. Wacom

As with most standard stylii, the ICS has a fat rubber nib, designed to mimic the size of a fingertip, the smallest area the tablet can sense. the Jot and the Jaja use interesting designs to circumvent this constraint, with a fine-pointed stylus that connects to a disc so that you have a better sense of thin strokes and where the center of the stroke lies.

Like the Jot, the ICS offers its trademark 2,048 levels of pressure-sensitivity. The Jot uses a USB charger rather than disposable batteries, however. And it has palm-rejection technology like the competition as well.

Because of the lack of a native API, pressure sensitivity has to be invoked on a app-by-app basis. At launch, Wacom lists app support for Autodesk SketchBook Pro for iPad, ArtRage, Bamboo Paper, ProCreate, and Psykopaint. Surprisingly absent: Adobe Ideas. Wacom says it's on the roadmap, though.

The Intuos Creative Stylus is slated to ship in October, and will come in a two-tone blue and black as well as solid black.