PROS / The multiple layers per digital page and pressure sensitivity are ideal for sketches.
CONS / This pen doesn't include note managing or handwriting conversion software.
VERDICT / While it falls short in its note-taking capabilities, the Wacom Inkling is one of the best digital pens for sketching.
Wacom has long been popular among graphic artists for its graphic tablets that give you the ability draw or paint in graphics programs like Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator. The Wacom Inkling is a digital ballpoint pen that allows you draw with real ink on real paper while still giving you the control of a graphic tablet pen.
The Inkling uses a positional receiver that's common amongst most digital pens. You place the receiver at the top of your sheet of paper and it uses infrared and ultrasound waves to create a digital page over the surface of your paper. These waves communicate with a sensor in the pen’s tip to create a vector image.
A unique quality to this pen is the ability to create multiple layers per digital page. The multiple layers allow you to create depth and give you greater control when you edit the image in a photo-editing program like Adobe Photoshop.
This electronic pen also has 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity. This means you can use this pen in the same way as a Wacom tablet pen. When you connect to your computer, you can draw directly in Adobe Photoshop just as you would with a tablet pen. The pressure sensitivity allows you to control a wide range of brush features, including size, angle and color. This gives you incredible real-time control over digital painting and sketching.
Pressure sensitivity also affects the way the ink records to the digital page when you're sketching away from your computer. For example, if you sketch lightly, the digital page will reflect this. Likewise, if you press hard to create a heavy ink line, the digital image will mirror this. With the Inkling, the vector image closely resembles your original sketch because the pen strokes aren't uniform.
Of the electronic pens we tested, the Inkling has the most comfortable grip. It's soft and comfortable to hold. A small flare near the tip keeps your index finger from sliding over the sensor, which would interfere with your image. In addition, the Inkling has a battery life that lasts for up to 15 hours of continuous drawing and a storage capacity that can hold hundreds of sketches.
The major disadvantage of the Inkling is the lack of note managing and OCR software for converting handwriting to text. This pen clearly prioritizes sketching. However, the image files of your digital pages are still compatible with OCR software and note managing programs if you want to use it for more than just sketching. You’ll just have to purchase them separately as they’re not included with the pen.
The Inkling is easy to set up and start using out of the box. The receiver clip is sturdy enough to clip to your favorite notebooks. In addition, if you want to learn new techniques or different ways to use the Inkling, Wacom has video tutorials and an extensive online support page on the company website.
The Wacom Inkling is a digital pen that allows you to digitally capture your sketches with real ink on real paper, while still giving you the pressure-level and layered control of a graphics tablet. With the priority focused on artistic solutions, you have to purchase note managing and OCR software separately if you want to use this pen for taking notes.