The Wacom Bamboo iPad Stylus is one of the top styluses I always recommend. It is well designed, feels great, and is not super expensive.
Super pros might prefer to get a fancy pressure-sensitive stylus, but if you're looking for something simple and good, this is the stylus to get. I even like it better than Wacom's high-end counterpart, the Intuos Creative Stylus (you can read why in that review).
Note that this review, including the pictures, largely refer to the first generation Bamboo stylus. Wacom has since released a variety of different options, including mini versions and models that double as a regular writing pen. If you're looking to buy, I believe the older pen I own is most comparable to the current Bamboo Stylus Alpha and Bamboo Stylus Solo.
I should also point out that the Bamboo iPad Stylus is NOT the same thing as the Bamboo Pad that Wacom also sells. In other words, you cannot use the pen that comes with a Bamboo Pad drawing tablet and use it on your iPad. They are separate products. And to further add to the confusion, Wacom sells other mobile tablet styluses under the Bamboo moniker, such as the "Feel" stylus and Galaxy Note stylus, that do not work on the iPad either. I get a lot of confused questions about this, and I have no idea why Wacom chose to use the same name for these products, but oh well.
Version: First generation
Release date: April 2011
Current price: $14.95-$19.95
In the box:
Wacom Bamboo iPad Stylus
The tip on the Wacom Intuos CS is round flexible rubber. It is 6 mm wide in diameter and very squishy to the touch. Some rubber-tipped styluses you find on the market have very firm, solid nibs, but that is not the case here. When you press down with the pen, the tip flattens against the screen. It is like a little hollow rubber balloon.
I really like this quality in the tip. I expect some people won't like it because the squishiness might make the pen feel more inaccurate, more like a blob then a pen. But when it presses down on the screen I feel like it is connecting better to what I'm drawing.
The rubber drags across the screen slightly, which is good. Plastic tips tend to slip and slide across the glass, so this feels more natural.
One major downside to the airy tip is that it is susceptible to tearing. I've had to replace my nib once so far in the couple years I've owned it. The tearing doesn't really affect the function of the pen, but it is annoying and it might damage your screen if it wears down too much, so you'll want to replace it.
The Bamboo doesn't come with extra nibs. When my Bamboo broke, I had to order them, and they were always out of stock so it took forever.
The Bamboo is about 4 3/4 inches long and has a metal body. There is a clip, which you can actually remove by unscrewing the top. The tip end is also removable. Taking off the cover exposes the nib more and allows you to replace it.
The overall construction quality is very good. It is very sturdy. The body is weighted just right, and the more I try out other iPad styluses, the more I realize how important a quality that is. It just feels excellent.
None to speak of, but the Bamboo comes in a lot more varieties now than when I first bought it. You can get double-tipped models with ballpoint pens, mini versions that attach to your phone, that sort of thing. Though I've never tried any of them personally, I'd imagine the quality of the tip and the drawing experience is similar all around, so get what you prefer.
Writing and drawing
Writing might be awkward, because that rubber tip is still a big fat rubber nib. However, the Bamboo is a great improvement over using your finger, and better than most other styluses. Even though the tip looks similar to a lot of the other rubber styluses on the market, you really have to use them to realize there can be a wide range of difference. The Bamboo nib is one of the smallest, while also being really sensitive. The weight and design of the pen also makes a big difference. It's not hard to find a cheaper pen than the Bamboo, but it is well worth the extra money in my opinion.
Depending on preference and speed in which you write, you might not like how the rubber drags on the iPad glass. I like it for drawing, but for writing I think it makes the process slower.
The drawing experience is very good. The tip is super sensitive, so you don't have to make a huge effort to draw lines like some other styluses I've tried. The tip feels soft and comfortable, but not overly fat, blobby, or awkward. It lacks fancier features, but I'm of the belief that pressure sensitivity is a luxury feature at this point in the stylus game. It is nice, but not necessary to make good art on the iPad. Plus you don't have to worry about app compatibility, battery power, connection issues, or high prices. If you're on the lookout for a simple affordable stylus that works really well, this is the one I recommend.
Compared to the Wacom Intuos Creative Stylus
I actually like the Bamboo better than the more expensive, pressure sensitive Intuos counterpart. I like the size, shape, and weight better. The tip is more sensitive; the extra sensors on the Creative Stylus forced me to push harder in order for the iPad to register my lines.
Compared to other pens
The Bamboo is more accurate and comfortable than other styluses I've tried with similar rubber or foam nibs. I wouldn't say it is the most accurate stylus on the market - I would give the edge to the Jot with it's pointed, plastic disk tip - but the Bamboo is a strong second. I use the Bamboo interchangeably with my Jot all the time. To decide between one or the other is more a matter of personal preference, depending on the tip you prefer.
Compared to regular drawing tablets
The Bamboo improves the drawing experience on the iPad greatly, but don't expect it to be comparable to something like the Cintiq. Drawing with a rubber nib takes some getting used to, no matter how well done it is. That being said, I enjoy the Bamboo a lot.
Overall grade: A