The Wacom Intuos Creative Stylus is a pressure-sensitive iPad stylus from arguably THE foremost maker of digital styluses and drawing tablets. They had previously released the Bamboo iPad Stylus to good reviews, but the CS is the first iPad tool from Wacom to feature pro features, design, and connectivity. It was not the first pressure-sensitive stylus to be released to the market, but with the company's reputation for great art pens, this stylus was highly anticipated.
I personally don't think the CS produced anything groundbreaking or new compared to the few other pressure-sensitive styluses that have been produced so far, but it is solid and performs well. It stands its ground against its competition and is one of the best styluses you'll find in the market so far.
Note that the Intuos Creative Stylus is not the same thing as an Intuos pen or drawing tablet that Wacom also sells. (And on the same token, the Bamboo iPad Stylus is not the same thing as a Bamboo pad pen.) They are separate products. Why Wacom insists on using the same names for these things is beyond my understanding, and I get confused questions about it a lot. So to make things clear, no, you can't take the pen that comes with an Intuos tablet and use it on an iPad. Ok? Good. On with the review…
Version: First generation
Release date: October 2013
Notable features: pressure-sensitivity, palm rejection
Current price: $99.95
In the box:
Wacom Intuos Creative Stylus
two spare rubber nibs
one AAAA battery
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 have had experience with this, not with the CS but with it's standard counterpart, the Bamboo iPad Stylus. They have (I think) the exact same tip. 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 plus side is the CS comes with two extra nibs. When my Bamboo broke, I had to order more tips, which were always out of stock so it took forever.
The CS is made to look more like the pro pens that come with their digital tablets like the Intuos or Cintiq. It is all black hard plastic with a rubber grip that flares around the tip. The CS is about 5 1/4 inches long, making it longer than the Bamboo and shorter than a Cintiq pen. There are two buttons; what they do and how you program them depends on the app you are using.
The overall construction quality is very good. It is pretty much like their tablet pens, but slightly heavier because it houses a battery.
The CS comes with a nifty carrying case. This is unique to other styluses I've bought. None of the other dozen or so styluses I have ever came with a case. It's a good quality case too, and holds not only your pen but has slots for 5 extra nibs and a battery too.
The pen comes with two extra nibs, which is super nice. Like I mentioned above, you might need them if you use the stylus a lot.
Pressure sensitivity, bluetooth, and palm rejection
Wacom claims 2048 levels of pressure sensitivity in the CS. This functions very well for the most part. I could transition from light to dark or thick to thin strokes very easily while drawing. It seemed to transition very smoothly and evenly. The biggest trouble I had was that I had to press a little hard in order for the pen to register.
The pen connects over Bluetooth 4.0. This means the pen is only compatible with the iPad 3 or newer, and the iPad Minis. You connect the pen within the specific app, not in the iPad settings. Connection was very fast and simple most of the time. Usually, you tap a button in the app, then click one of the pen buttons to turn it on.
Palm rejection functionality is pretty much junk, but that is not Wacom's fault. The technology itself is shoddy across all styluses I've tried, which makes me think we won't see great palm rejection until the next great hardware or software innovation comes along. At best, the pen might disconnect a few times while you are drawing, causing stray marks or accidentally zooming in or out. At worst, it causes your app to slow down and/or crash. You also have to turn off multi-tasking gestures on your iPad for best results, which is annoying because I love multi-tasking gestures. Anyway, I keep palm rejection turned off.
Writing and drawing
I found writing with the CS a little too awkward. The tip is big, and the stylus feels big. It's more comfortable for me to write with the Bamboo because even though they have similar tips, the pen is smaller and weighted better in my hand. The rubber tip drags, which is good for drawing, but for writing quickly it is, well, a drag.
For drawing, the pressure-sensitivity made it slightly difficult to get super light lines because I had to press harder for the pen to register. It got easier with practice. I also got better results when I held the pen more upright than at an angle. Otherwise, the drawing experience is very good. It is much like the Bamboo, and comparable or better than competing pressure-sensitive styluses.
This is a list of what I think are the most notable art apps currently available. Crossed out items are not compatible with the advanced features of this stylus, such as pressure-sensitivity. This is not an exhaustive list of the device’s compatible apps (check out the manufacturer’s website for detailed specs), but it should give you a good idea of its range.
The pen is powered by a AAAA battery. I had honestly never even heard of AAAA batteries before the CS was announced, but yes they exist and yes they look just like AAA batteries but smaller.
At first, I was annoyed by this because I was wondering how I was going to replace the battery. I have never seen AAAAs in stores. You can go to an electronics store or order them online though. The battery is replaced by unscrewing the cap on the back end of the pen.
Also - I'm beginning to think the battery will last forever. After several weeks of light to moderate use, it still reads above 90% power. I guess a trip to the electronics store or waiting a few days for a replacement to arrive in the mail won't be so inconvenient after all if I only have to do it once or twice a year. Wacom claims you can get 150 hours out of one battery.
Compared to the Wacom Bamboo iPad Stylus
The Bamboo stylus is one of my favorite iPad styluses. It is very comfortable, sensitive, and accurate. When the CS was announced, I was very excited about it. Even though I already owned a pressure-sensitive stylus in the Jot Touch, I was eager to see what Wacom could come up with. If the CS was just "a pressure-sensitive version of the Bamboo" it could be a real treat.
For the most part, it did that. You turn off the bluetooth functionality on the CS, and it feels virtually identical to the Bamboo. But in small ways I think it fell slightly short. On a ballpoint plastic tip like the Jot's, adding pressure-sensitivity is a natural addition that fits right into the functionality of the pen. The trouble with rubber nibs however, especially the squishy variety that comes on the Wacom styluses, is that when you add pressure-sensitivity the feel of the tip becomes a lot different. The tips on the Bamboo and CS may be identical, but I had to press harder on the CS to register light lines. I also couldn't hold the pen at extreme angles. The feel and sensitivity I like so much in the Bamboo, while not completely gone in the CS, is marred slightly.
Another nitpick I had was the body shape. The Bamboo is very slick and balanced and tiny. The tapered shape on the CS made the grip wider. Even though the tips are identical on the Bamboo and CS, I felt like I was using more of a marker than a pen. Some people might like that, but I like the Bamboo better. It's just a preference thing and not a big deal ultimately.
Compared to other pressure-sensitive pens
The CS is one of the better styluses on the market. I would have to give the edge to the Jot Touch though as far as pressure-sensitivity so far. The Jot is easier for me to get light lines and reads more sensitively. However, the CS is still a quick favorite of mine. I like it better than the Pogo Connect, which has a similar rubber tip and technology.
Compared to regular drawing tablets
Despite the Wacom name, don't expect the CS to turn your iPad into a Cintiq. This rubber tipped stylus is still very much an iPad stylus. It is still only slightly more accurate than a fingertip, and not quite a normal writing pen. However, it improves on the experience, and the pressure-sensitive technology is a big well-done leap in the right direction.
Overall grade: B+