I like using a stylus with an iPad to take notes when I am in a meeting or when I am monitoring a hearing or trial in court. (When I am actually trying a case or arguing a motion at a hearing, I stick with pen and paper, not only because it is faster, but also because I'm likely to be using my iPad to review pleadings or exhibits.) I've reviewed quite a few styluses over the years, including the BoxWave Capacitive iPad Stylus and the Ten One Design Pogo Sketch Stylus (both reviewed on 12/12/10) and the Kensington Virtuoso Touch Screen Stylus and the BoxWave Capacitive Styra (both reviewed on 3/30/11). Until recently, the Kensington Virtuoso without a pen (reviewed on 8/2/11) was my favorite, but I've been trying out two other styluses over the last few weeks and I really like them. Today I'll talk about my favorite one, the Wacom Bamboo Stylus for iPad. It is $29.95 on the Wacom website, and I bought mine on Amazon for $28.25.
The Bamboo Stylus is about a half an inch shorter than the Kensington Virtuoso Touch Screen Stylus so it is not quite as long as a standard ball point pen but it is just barely long enough for my large hands to be comfortable to use. (I am not a big fan of small styluses that make you feel like you are writing with a golf pencil.) It has a nice weight to it and feels very nice in the hands. It feels like a premium stylus. It has a pen clip which you can remove if you want, but I kept it on because I often store it in my shirt pocket.
I like this stylus because it feels good in my hand, but I really love this stylus because of the tip. The tip is smaller than any other iPad stylus that I have seen. For example, here it is compared to the Kensington stylus tip, which is the standard size that I have seen on most other styluses:
That size difference results in a noticeably better writing experience when you are taking notes or when you are using a drawing app such as Paper. Because the iPad is made for a large finger and not a precise fine point, you never feel like you are using a pen tip when you write on an iPad screen. However, with the Bamboo Stylus, you really do feel like you can write more precisely than with other styluses.
As you can see, I bought a black one, but it also comes in green, blue, orange, pink and white. I see that the Wacom website calls this model the "solo" because you can now pay $10 more for a "duo" model that includes a pen. I can see why some people see 2 in 1 as an advantage, but I prefer to just use a stylus when I need a stylus and then use a regular pen when I need a pen. [UPDATE 5/30/12: Here is my review of the Bamboo Stylus duo.]
There are only three bad things that I have ever heard about or experienced with the Bamboo Stylus. First, it is more expensive that most other styluses. You can pick up the great Kensington Virtuoso Touch Screen Stylus for only about $16 on Amazon. But for the extra $12 (on Amazon), you really do get a much better stylus for writing. It's worth it.
Second, even though it is great to have a more precise tip when you are writing notes or drawing, I sometimes like to use a stylus when I am using my iPad for normal tasks, such as flicking through screens or reading websites. I actually find the more precise tip of the Bamboo Stylus less comfortable in those situations; the standard size tip on the Kensington stylus is better for that.
Finally, I've seen some reports on Amazon that the tip on the Bamboo Stylus is more fragile than other tips and can tear. I've only had mine for a few weeks so I haven't seen this yet, but just to test what I would have to do if this did happen, I purchased some replacement tips on the Wacom website. The Bamboo Stylus Pen Nib Set costs $4.95, and that gives you three replacement tips. You have to pay another $5 shipping and handling, so that's $10 in total that you have to pay — which is about the cost of some other styluses. It is fairly simple to unscrew the metal end, take off the rubber tip (you need to work at it a little, but then it does come off) and replace the tip. Who knows if I will ever have to replace mine for real, but the fact that Wacom sells the replacement tips — not to mention the fact that they are often out of stock on the Wacom website — indicates to me that some people do find a need for them.
If you can get over paying almost $30 for a stylus, I think that you will really like the Bamboo Stylus. The more precise tip makes it easier and faster to take notes on an iPad, and considering that taking notes on an iPad will alway be slower than paper, anything that you can do to make that process faster is a plus. And then once your notes are on the iPad, you get all of the advantages that come with that, such as the ability to easily e-mail your notes, save them forever without taking up space in a cabinet, and having access to your notes whenever you want them in the future. The Bamboo Stylus quickly became my favorite iPad stylus. If you want an excellent, premium stylus for taking notes on your iPad, I suspect that you'll love the Bamboo Stylus as much as I do.