Wacom Inkling: Digitiser pen without the tablet

Wacom is a company almost synonymous with computers and pressure-sensitive tablets and pens. Traditionally you got a tablet, which came in different sizes, and you had to use a particular pen to draw on the tablet to create your art.

By Magnus Nysted (PRODUCT REVIEW)

Published: Sat 10 Mar 2012, 11:07 PM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 1:56 AM

Sure, it was pressure-sensitive and had all kinds of nice features, but still, you were tied to having the pen and the tablet. Now that has changed with the Inkling.

As it turns out, don’t throw out your Wacom tablet just yet. The Inkling won’t completely replace it, but it may be a compliment to one for many users. Briefly, the Inkling is a digital sketchbook for those who like to sketch and draw on paper. But you will not have to scan your work, as the Inkling pen sends everything to your computer, where it’ll be available in a digital format.

It’s well worth pointing out that the Inkling pen is also a real pen, so it draws on paper with ink while at the same time digitising what you draw. The pen is wireless, and talks to a small tracker, about the size of a pack of cigarettes. The tracker attaches to the edge of a paper, which can be no bigger than A4. It attaches with a clip, and ever time you squeeze the clip to attach it to another paper, it recognises what comes next as a new page. The pen and the receiver fit nicely into the included case, which also works as the charger for both. This sounds good and it works well, up to a point. The pen lights up in green when you put the tip in touch with the paper, so you know it’s registering that you’re drawing. Then the tracker unit keeps track of what you do, but there are inconsistencies. I’m no great artist, but in every drawing I tried, there was something that didn’t register properly. It may be that I could learn over time what works and what does not, but that then negates the whole use of this item, I think.

Included with the Inkling is Wacom’s Sketch Manager software, which, to be honest, is not very good. The interface is inconsistent and non-standard as well as buggy. But basically you can with the software save each sketch in a 600 dpi resolution and you can export in various file formats. And that’s about what you will want to do with the software anyway.

So do you really need the $200 Inkling? If you’re travelling a lot and need to sketch, it might just be the thing for you. You can sketch on real paper and transfer your work to a computer when you get to one. In other words, you can get the best of both worlds. But for most anyone else, the Inkling is an expensive toy. So, before buying the Inkling, think about what it is exactly you’ll do with it. It certainly has its problems and limitations, but it is also a titillating and exciting technology, which might just be what you’re looking for.

Magnus Nystedt @mnystedt

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