The Wacom Bamboo is a popular pen stylus for iPad and iPhone. It's a longtime favorite of several of iMore's editors and contributors, and comes from one of the most trusted names in digital pen technology. However, the Wacom Bamboo is facing intense competition from several other pro-level capacitive stylus companies. How does it stack up?
Decidedly middle of the road. The Wacom Bamboo isn't a bad stylus for the iPad or iPhone, but it isn't a great one either, at least not when compared to the higher-end offerings from SGP, Adonit, and Ten One Design.
In terms of style, the Wacom Bamboo looks like a typical pen, complete with feed and straight barrel. It's got a satin-textured and milled aluminum body and comes in a wide range of color options, including black, white, blue, green, pink and orange. You can also get a Duo version that has a real ink pen on the opposite end.
The Wacom Bamboo is well put together and feels like it's built to last. Even the capacitive tip, which on some pens can tear or wear down, holds up remarkably well to extended use.
Where the Wacom Bamboo suffers a little is comfort during extended use. While some people love straight barrel pens, we prefer more rounded, more ergonomic curves. The Wacom Bamboo is also shot by pro-level stylus standards, and that combined with the sharpness of the feed made it harder to get into a comfortable position and more likely to become uncomfortable over time.
Where the Wacom Bamboo suffers a lot is in its capacitive quality. In our tests it worked okay but not great across the board. The tip was the mushiest we've used and that meant we had to push more, longer before it would start to register. Once it did register, it moved well across the glass, but any time we lifted it we had to go through that sinking, mushy tip push again.
For script writing this wasn't a huge issue because the pen tip remains in contact for extended periods. For print writing, where the pen tip leaves the iPad screen more often, it was considerably more annoying. That was even more true for standard navigation and gaming, where each and every tap and swipe required pushing just a little too much to get it to sink in and register. For drawing apps it was the same story again -- okay but not great performance and too much pressure required any time the tip had to be re-introduced to the iPad screen.
- Large amount of color choices
- Capacitive tip is too mushy
- Pen design is too short and straight, feed is too sharp
The bottom line
The current Wacom Bamboo stylus for iPad and iPhone is serviceable but not inspired. In every way we measured, with the exception of shortness, the Wacom Bamboo has been eclipsed by more comfortable, more capacitive, and generally better performing competitors. If you simply want an okay general purpose stylus to keep with your for occasional hand-writing note-taking, drawing or otherwise creating art, or simply playing games, and you have to have it without any hint of a curve to its barrel, the Wacom Bamboo is a serviceable choice. Otherwise check out the other options first and make sure you don't like something by SGP, Adonit, or Ten One Design better.