Microsoft yesterday released a series of fixes to its Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book Touch and Pen drivers that appear to have resolved a long-standing problem with pen stroke tapering and smoothing.
Backed by three decades of digital pen input innovation, Bamboo Smart delivers the power of note-taking and ideation to a wider audience of laptop and tablet users.
Las Vegas, Nev. - Jan. 5, 2016 - As mobile users demand more from their devices with the help of digital styluses, Wacom® continues to innovate and raise awareness in the smart stylus category.
Bamboo Smart for select media tablets and 2-in-1 devices builds on Wacom’s 30 years of pen input leadership and the feedback of thousands of professional users as well as enthusiasts and hobbyists. The result is two premium Bamboo Smart styluses.
The first, making its debut at CES 2016, is Bamboo Smart for select Windows® 2-in-1 devices enabled with Active Electro-Static (AES) technology.
The second, introduced this past September, but new to most CES attendees, is Bamboo Smart for select Samsung® devices using Wacom’s Electro-Magnetic Resonance (EMR) technology. Both styluses offer pressure-sensitive precision and sublime comfort, producing handwritten notes and rough ink concepts that feel and look like they were produced by traditional media.
Deep Digital Stylus Experience Drives Performance
“We drew on Wacom’s long history and market knowledge to come up with the new Bamboo Smart styluses,” says Mike Gay, Senior Vice President for the Consumer Product Business Unit at Wacom. “Not only are we opening up digital note-taking and ideation to a new set of laptop and tablet users, but we are also providing a way for users to think differently and explore new ways to communicate and collaborate.”
Both Bamboo Smart styluses are designed with high quality materials and use technology developed to enhance the effortless experience of a traditional inking pen. Every subtle written or drawn detail is captured accurately. Comfortable and balanced in the hand, Bamboo Smart owners can fearlessly take notes and sketch out rough ideas and concepts on their laptops and mobile devices just like they would with pen and paper.
Two programmable side switches on the barrel of Bamboo Smart’s AES stylus allow for fast and convenient access to regularly used commands, such as right click or double click. The stylus requires a AAAA battery that will last approximately one year when used around three hours per day.
The Bamboo Smart for Samsung features one side switch and requires no batteries or any type of charging. Bamboo Smart users will find that they can get more out of their favorite productivity apps such as OneNote and Wacom’s own note-taking app, Bamboo Paper.
Current Devices Compatible with Bamboo Smart Bamboo Smart for select Windows 2-in-1 devices:
• Dell® Venue™ 10, 5000 Series (5050)
• Dell Venue Pro 10 5000 Series (5055)
• HP® Elite x2 1021 (New)
• Lenovo® ThinkPad® P40 Yoga™
• Toshiba dynaPad N72 (New)
Because AES technology is native to these devices, the Bamboo Smart works immediately, no pairing required.
Bamboo Smart for Samsung devices:
• Samsung Galaxy™ Note 3
• Samsung Galaxy Note Edge
• Samsung Galaxy Note 4
• Samsung Galaxy Note 5
• Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.0“ with S-Pen
• Samsung Galaxy Tab 9.7“ with S-Pen
Bamboo Smart for Samsung is battery-free and cordless.
For more compatibility information, visit wacom.com/comp Availability and Pricing Bamboo Smart ($39.95 USD) for Samsung is available now on the Wacom eStore and at online retailers such as Amazon. Bamboo Smart for Windows will be available in February
As many readers discovered last month, Wacom's recent Feeldriver update introduced a bug which disabled the Surface Pro 1 and 2's volume buttons.
The company has now posted a new version, ISD_7.2.1-24, which corrects the issue as well as several others. You can download it here.
According to Mike Bagdanoff at Wacom, "The 184.108.40.206 uses too much CPU. We tracked the problem to an expensive API call that someone slipped in (the culprit has been punished). On slow units it can cause a delay in the cursor movement in some apps."
The Feeldriver should work with any Wacom-equipped tablet PC. As the Wacom website states, "note that Surface Pro 3 is not a tablet with Wacom feel IT technologies and the driver should not be installed on Surface Pro 3." If you have any doubts about compatibility, download and run the WacomHardwareCheck utility found on the same page.
I haven't had a chance to test this new version yet, but please post your findings below.
Although this piece is dedicated to note-taking instead of art, it's always nice to see the lowly pen getting some respect in the media. Enjoy!
Revision 3's Technobuffalo has put together an excellent introductory video to the new Surface Pro 3 pen. Host Jon Rettinger focuses primarily on OneNote, but there are a couple of shots in the video that zoom in to demonstrate the accuracy of the pen tip. Well worth five minutes of your time.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Ron2k_1 of Belize City, Belize posted this very detailed review of the Wacom UP-911E pen over at the TabletPCReview forum and his post inspired me to order it so I could compare it head to head with the discontinued Axiotron Studio Pen (see my review "I have a new favorite tablet pc pen and you can't have it" Don't know why I'm really proud of that bitchy headline).
My pen should arrive within a week or two and I'll post my findings as soon as I can.
In the meantime, I asked Ron's permission to reprint his article and amazingly detailed photos here. The UP-911E is expensive at $90-and-up from third party Japanese sellers on ebay, but I am fond of bigger pens and you may like its size better than the only other two-button pen currently available, the Fujitsu T5000.
GUEST POST by Ron2k_1, reprinted by permission from this TabletPCReview forums thread.
So I finally got a chance to go to the post office to clear my UP-911E Pen.
It all started after searching and searching for the ever-elusive Axiotron Studio Pen every digital artist out there venerated. I found the following website for reference and started looking for its closest match: Wacom Asia Pacific | Pen Compatibility
So, if you're still reading, here are my observations.
First, my lot of pens for visual reference if anybody else have any of my other pens:
And here are the specs of the above pens (Profile measurements):
First, the UP-911E as it is a very irregular shaped pen:
And for the others (Tried to keep in 16ths of an inch; 8/16 is 1/2 and 4/16 is 1/4 and so forth):
Motion Computing-------5 12/16----------------7/16
Bamboo Feel Carbon--5 15/16--------------13/32
Surface Pro-------------------5 8/16----------------5/16
Fujitsu Lifebook-------------5 4/16----------------6/16
Lenovo x230t----------------5 2/16----------------6/16
Galaxy Note 2----------------4 7/16----------------4/16
I'm really not sure if the nibs used by the UP-911E are standard or not. I guess the only way to know is to buy a few and try them. But at least I can notice that the nibs used by Fujitsu, x230t, motion computing and UP-911E are all interchangeable and at the same length of 1 1/16" and same standard circumference. So if anybody can confirm that any of these pens use Standard nibs, then we can say that the UP-911E uses Standard Nibs as well, which would be great.
Still reading? Artists, this may be of interest to you:
On Photoshop on my Win 7 HP, i7 x230t, the UP-911E is almost as accurate (with very small nib offset) as the most accurate pen I've ever tried - my Bamboo Feel IT Carbon pen.
Here are some screen shots. First, the UP-911E (notice the cursor, not that off from the tip of nib):
Then, the Motion Computing (this one felt pretty bad..):
And finally, the dead-on-center Bamboo Feel IT:
Next, my pressure buildup test done on sketchbook pro. I tried to build pressure consistently with same amount of press with all three pens. The Bamboo Feel seems a bit thicker as it is heavier:
EDIT May 7, 2014: At the request of forum member dream3 in post # 5, I tested the three pens on light stroke mode. I tried several brushes (knife, pencil, air brush) and I had a hard time noticing any difference between the UP-911E and the Bamboo Feel IT pen. I believe that the Bamboo Feel IT is probably infinitesimally more responsive to very VERY light strokes but the weight of the pen may have something to do with it. On the other hand my Fuiji pen and Motion Computing pen require significantly more force to register the same pressure level
Now, here is where the UP-911E scored high marks. This pen is so comfortable to grip and make long strokes with. It is not as heavy as my Carbon pen (28g), or as light as my Fujitsu pen, but it weighs maybe a gram or two more than the motion computing pen, which according to surfaceproartist blog weighs 15g. So this pen weighs IMO around 16g or 17g.
Here are some screen shots of how it looks in your hand. Note that I'm not a leftie, but was forced to awkwardly hold it that way as I needed my right hand to take pictures:
Now for note-taking, I gotta say that my Carbon pen still reigns supreme. I can make short strokes and draw letters better and more comfortable and fluidly with my Bamboo Feel Carbon than any other pen I've tried; even my newest addition UP-911E. Here are the results:
On my Galaxy Note 2, nothing beats the stock 4.5" pen. I remember reading that the digitizer on the Galaxy Note 2 were slightly different than the standard Wacom digitizer.
To wrap up, this pen cost US$90 from a Japanese supplier (which reminds me, I need to leave him some feedback) on ebay. It arrived super fast and in a very secured outer package. I didn't take pics of that package but I took pics of the inner package which is the UP-911E box that is labeled Cintiq on the outside:
If you notice from above it even came with a little stand:
If you were brave enough to read all that and still have questions, just shoot them up (at the original TabletPCReview forum thread located here).
Lately it seems like another Surface Pro replacement pen option turns up for me to test at least once a week.
I thought I'd exhausted all the compatible stylus options until a poster on the TabletPCReview forums suggested I check out the Fujitsu Digitizer Pen T-5000.
Designed for the Wacom-equipped Fujitsu Lifebook series, it's not clear whether the T-5000 is widely available. The links on Amazon are all for third party vendors and the Fujitsu site doesn't reference the T-5000 directly. They list three Lifebook models with pen input, but the replacement pen sets listed as accessories don't have a model number. It's likely these pens are compatible with the Surface Pro as well, but proceed with caution unless you find someone who can verify this.
At first glance, the Fujitsu Digitizer Pen appears to be the smallest replacement pen we've reviewed yet. At 5.2 inches long, it's a full .3 inches shorter than the Surface Pro pen. However, it turns out the pen is actually the same length as the premium Wacom Bamboo feel pens. What makes those pens seem longer in practice are their large caps, which the Fujitsu lacks. But the T-5000's solid construction and textured finish almost compensate for that. The barrel is about the same diameter, so the pen doesn't really feel small in the hand.
More importantly, the pen features an eraser tip and two buttons: a rarity in the world of replacement stylii.
Although there's no way to store it or attach it to the Surface Pro, the pen has an eyelet located just under the eraser for attaching to a lanyard. The Digitizer Pen ships with a generous five replacement hard plastic nibs and an extractor ring.
Like most tablet pc pens, the performance of the T-5000 is fairly equivalent to the standard Surface Pro stylus. Whenever you get a new pen you may wish to rerun the Wacom feel calibration tool to be absolutely accurate, but I didn't have any problem drawing without re-calibrating.
The button rocker height is a bit closer to the pen barrel than I prefer, but the buttons are very firm and unlikely to be clicked accidentally. And despite the pen's short length, the button is located .1 inches further from the tip than the Modbook Pro pen (the other two button replacement option). This small difference makes it easier for fingertips to steer clear of the buttons while gripping the pen close to the tip.
Compared to other lower cost pen replacements, the build quality of the T-5000 is excellent. If you're in the market for a two-button option, have smaller hands or don't mind a shorter instrument, the Fujitsu Digitizer Pen T-5000 is definitely worth a look (if you can find it).
If any of you can confirm the model number and compatibility of the pens available directly from Fujitsu, please leave a comment below.
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Buttons on pens don't do anything for me. In fact, I think they're often a nuisance as I frequently find myself clicking them accidentally with my thick knuckles.
However, many of you swear by your pen buttons and I've been hunting high and low for a readily available Surface Pro pen replacement that will accommodate your needs. I've tested five pen replacements to date and none have more than one button. And the three higher end pens don't even have eraser tips either.
Thanks to a tip from reader Steven Weitz, I finally wrapped my fingers around the replacement stylus you've been clamoring for, although you'll have to pay a relatively steep premium for the privilege.
That pen is the Modbook Pro Digitizer Pen, which retails for $70 from the Modbook Store. The plastic pen is virtually identical to two other pens I've reviewed previously: the Wacom Penabled Tablet PC Eraser Pen and the Samsung Electronics Slate PC Digitizer Pen, both of which cost about 50% less than the Modbook pen.
Modbook doesn't offer any precise specifications, but the pen is 5.5 inches long from eraser to nib and is very light, weighing about half an ounce, just like the Wacom and Samsung stylii. I can only assume that Wacom produces all three pens as the nibs are interchangeable as well.
Modbook clearly charges a hefty premium for its boutique product, but they at least offer a generous selection of nibs: five felt, four pencil and three stroke tips. The stroke tip is grey with a small spring. According to Wacom, these nibs are supposed to provide a more "brush-like" feel.
Packs of five nibs cost $5-$10 from Wacom, so the additional nibs are definitely welcomed.
Performance is very consistent across all the tablet pc pens I've tested. Some users have reported that one pen is more precise than another, but I haven't found that to be the case in my testing. With calibration, every stylus displays the same accuracy.
I personally prefer heavier, slightly thicker pens that are closer to real world instruments. However, any of the replacements I've identified will offer a more satisfying experience than the standard Surface Pro pen.
I appreciate that the Modbook Pen's button is angled high enough from the pen's barrel to avoid most accidental presses. And assigning button actions is a simple matter of finding the Pen Tablet Properties in Control Panel.
I'm told that there are other two-button options out there, but I think most of them are for older devices and not easily obtainable. So if you absolutely need that second button, the Modbook Pro Digitizer Pen is the way to go.
Motion Computing markets a line of rugged Windows 8 tablets aimed at professionals in medicine, construction and other industries. The products must be pricey because their website doesn't list prices and they only sell through value added resellers (a quaint throwback to the pre-Internet stone age, imho).
Though you wouldn't know it by reading any of their specs, some of the penabled Motion tablets use Wacom technology and their LE-series pens are compatible with the Surface Pro.
I ordered one to check out and really like it. At 5.71” long x .43” diameter (144mm x11mm), the pen is significantly longer than the standard pen and the Wacom Bamboo Feel without its cap.
Although it's made of plastic and light weight (.54 oz / 15 grams), the Motion pen flares out toward the tip and has a nice rubberized section that makes it very comfortable to hold steadily. It also has a recessed button which minimizes accidental presses.
The six nibs that ship with the pen are not as soft as Wacom's textured nibs, but they offer a nice amount of resistance against the Surface Pro's screen. Some of you may disagree, but I don't like hard plastic nibs that reinforce the sensation of gliding on glass.
Although the rear of the pen looks like it might be an eraser tip, it's merely an eyelet for threading with a lanyard (very handy if you're using the pen in the field in one of those hectic professions mentioned above). CORRECTION 12/12/13: Thanks to reader Chris Howard, I retested the eraser tip on the Motion Computing pen and it does work on the Surface Pro. I can't say why it didn't during my initial testing. Thanks, Chris!
The stylus doesn't ship with any kind of a cap, which unfortunately leaves your pen nib susceptible to damage in your bag or pocket.
Also missing is the second button many of you are clamoring for; I've yet to find this elusive beast but promise to keep searching.
For approximately $40, the Motion Digitizer Pen is definitely worth considering and may actually become my favorite.
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