Wacom Inkling: Analogue-to-digital sketching

Love to doodle? I’ve been doing art with digital devices for ages and very little (for me at least) matches the joy of scribbling with paper and pen. Although 53 digital’s Paper comes close. Wacom are something of the de facto standard when it comes to tablets and even they know the joys of old fashioned sketching. Of course one of the fun things about living in the future is that we can take old fashioned things and ram cutting edge technology in them.


Inking is digital sketch pen that captures a digital likeness of a user’s work while sketching on old fashioned paper. We’ve seen other fancy pens – notably (pun intended) LiveScribe’s offerings – although Inkling is doesn’t require special notebooks and instead works with any piece of paper.

Rather than a complete input solution, Inkling is more of a “front end” for artists, illustrators and graphic designers for their rough concepts and creative brainstorms. Rough ideas are capture on real paper in real ink and then brought to life on a computer.

Inkling works via a wireless receiver that’s positioned on the edge of the page. As long as there’s an uninterrupted line of sight to the pen tip, you can capture the sketch and manipulate it digitally later on. The ballpoint pen uses Wacom’s pressure sensing technology (1024 levels of sensitivity) to detect how hard the pen is being pressed to the paper so you can apply shading and various other forms of nuance to your work. The bridge between the digital and analogue worlds works both ways and you can create layers in the digital file while sketching on paper.

When you’re done sketching simply connect the receiver via USB to transfer all sketches as bitmap or vector files. It’s odd that something so futuristic as analogue-to-digital sketching uses something that feels as old as USB but it is a universal input method. Wireless background syncing would be nice but I’m clearly spoilt.

Files can be edited with Inkling Sketch Manager (included) to edit, delete, add layers or transferred to creative software applications for further editing including Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator CS6 (both 32bit and 64bit operating systems), as well as Autodesk Sketchbook Pro 6. Alternatively, files can be saved in JPG, BMP, TIFF, PNG, SVG and PDF formats for use with other applications. Inkling Sketch Manager also supports Mac OS 10.8.

The Inkling sketch pen is priced at £149.99 (including VAT) and is available now from Wacom partners and the Wacom eStore.

Wacom to Manga Management

Graphics tablet manufacturer Wacom has gone all anime – teaming up with Japanese comic book and digital art craze Manga for a quirky special release.

Bamboo Manga is especially for those fans who not only enjoy following these distinctive digital fellows but also like to try their hand at redrawing the characters and even designing their own.


The special pack combines Wacom’s popular Bamboo Pen and Touch tablet with specialist software Manga Studio Debut 4 and Anime Studio Debut 8. So whether you’re a Yu-Gi-Oh! fan or a My-HiME enthusiast, you can carry these characters around in your mind and recreate them whenever and wherever artistic inclination strikes.

Manga Studio gives you access to traditional Manga-style drawing tools and effects plus the all-essential word balloons to insert your own dialogue. Once your masterpiece is complete, Anime Studio breathes life into the scribbled cartoon chums with audio, video and special effects for 2D movies, cartoons, anime and cut-out animations.

Manga is a massive industry, with a global following and scores of spin-offs. With Manga Wacom you could channel your artistic flair and create unique graphical illustrations in the style of these enchanting oriental characters.

But Wacom has even greater designs on these discernible digital creatures. It’s primed to join the Manga convention circuit, inviting the most devoted Manga-kas to turn their hands at creating the characters – much like those theme park caricaturists – with their own quirky Japanese still-life models at the disposal of their Bamboo Pen.

Wacom and Manga is a natural match-up, as Manga has experienced a real revolution in the advent of commercial graphics devices. The Wacom responds as if pen on paper, meaning the digital artist can hand-draw characters straight to PC before activating their own anime adventures.

String your designs together for storyboards, fight scenes, even whole episodes. Then share via social networking sites or Manga communities.

Akin to most multi-touch displays, this distinctive black and green tablet responds to gestures such as pinch to zoom and flick to rotate. It also lets you use pen and multi-touch together to keep your digital design flowing and the stories going.

Wacom Bamboo Manga is £89 and on sale now.

Latest Gadgets: Best of the Gadget Show Live 2012

We took out annual pilgrimage up to the Birmingham NEC to visit the Gadget Show Live 2012. As usual there was a weird and wonderful range of gadgets on display, but various things stood out.


IK Multimedia iRig Mic Cast
Released on the first day of the Gadget Show Live, the IK Multimedia iRig Mic Cast is the latest step in IK Multimedia’s plan to plug almost everything into your iPhone. Small and lightweight, the Podcast Mic uses the 3.5 mm headphone jack (rather than the 30-pin connector) and features a monitoring output port and the ability to easily toggle between high and low levels when recording.

Antares Autotune Guitar
When my father was teaching me to play guitar he had the annoying habit of always, always insisting I tune my guitar before playing (as well as the annoying habit of insisting his band had already covered practically every style of music already in the 70s). Anyway, I can set his mind to rest with the Antares Auto-tune guitar. The pretty amazing onboard DSP will automatically tune your guitar for you, keep it in tune and maintain perfect intonation. It uses some very smart technology so you can switch between tunings on the fly. For more info head to http://guitar.auto-tune.com/

Bamboo Stylus duo
Wacom launched a Bamboo Stylus duo for the iPad and Android tablets that combines one of the best capacitive pen tips I’ve used with a premium ball-point ink pen at the opposite end for use on old-fashioned paper.


Griffin Helo TC Assault
We also popped by Griffin for some old fashioned RC helicopter fun with the Helo TC Assault, a fantasic iPhone controlled helicopter, with built-in soft missiles that you can launch across the office or living room. Check out some footage here.

Wacom’s wireless interactive Bamboo pen tablets

With people posting the view from their office window, their cat asleep on their pillow, or the plate of food they consumed for breakfast, sharing digital images with others has almost become a national obsession. Given this rapid rise in posting to the world our day’s proceedings, no matter how mundane or exciting, technology manufacturers are increasingly looking for ways us to execute our national obsession more effectively, efficiently and rapidly. Heading the way in making social computer users’ quest to bombard their contacts with posts and tweets that will essentially ‘bore the socks off them’, is Wacom, a Japan-based company with a vision to ‘bring people and technology closer’.


Living up to its goals to fuse the gap between people and technology, Wacom has announced an all-new line-up of its market-leading Bamboo products. This range of interactive tablets promise to be colourful, inventive and creative, and include the Bamboo Fun Pen & Touch (small/medium), the Bamboo Pen & Touch (small) and the Bamboo Pen (small).

For those of you with absolutely no idea what I am talking about – myself included – these lightweight, battery-free, wireless and super-portable ‘pens’, enable fast and easy navigation of PCs and Macs. With a multi-touch functionality the new Bamboo range has 1024 pressure levels that allow users to make accurate cursor movements and handwritten notes. Not only can users imprint their own handwriting on their PC, but they can surf the web, scroll through documents, flick through photo galleries and rotate images, with just the stroke of a finger.

So what’s the difference between the Bamboo Pen & Touch and the Bamboo Fun Pen & Touch? The latter being more fun than the former we presume? Well except being silver as opposed to black, the Bamboo Fun Pen & Touch possesses all the same features as the Bamboo Pen & Touch, but also boast an, Wacom inform us, ‘outstanding’ software bundle that includes Adobe, Photoshop, Elements 8 (for small), ad 9 (for medium) and ArtRage 3. The medium-sized tablet can also double-up into a digital canvas with Corel Painter Essentials 4.

It certainly sounds fun and ideal for fine-tuning and editing creative work!  The Bamboo Pen & Touch is priced at £74.99 and the Bamboo Fun Pen & Touch is priced at £89.99 for the small model and £169.99 for a medium model.

Wacom Paper and Bamboo Stylus review

We like tablets over here at Latest Gadgets and love poking, swiping and pinch-zooming our grubby little fingers over their shiny surfaces. Touchscreen technology, whilst eons old, has hit the mainstream. Almost any screen I come across now I instinctively reach out to touch it and increasingly, the screen responds. However, magical as touch-screens are (and they are a bit magic) they aren’t always the perfect input device, no matter what Steve would have you believe (I have a BlueTooth keyboard for my iPad, when I want to do some proper writing … like right now). And I’m not great at doodling with my finger.


Enter Wacom, the world’s leading manufacturer of pen tablets and the Bamboo Stylus, Wacom’s pen designed specifically for the Apple® iPad®, and winner at this year’s Plus X Awards this year (in the ‘high quality’ and ‘ease of use’ categories). We had a quick play with the Bamboo Stylus and the Wacom Paper app at the Gadget Show this year. At the time the app was a beta, so was a little rough around the edges but the Stylus was easily the best we’d played with today.

Why? Subtle design elements, such as a sophisticated black and silver design with satin-textured metal body, ergonomic comfort and balanced weighting give the pen a premium feel. I’ve used rival products that feel like a stick with a bit of rubber attached on the end so it’s nice to work with something with an attention to build quality. In addition, the fine tip gives detail control when scribbling away in Sketchbook, Brushes or Wacom’s own Bamboo Paper.

Bamboo Paper lets you create virtual notebooks for the iPad and allows notes and sketches to be shared visually, easily stored and archived for use at a later date. It features different cover colours, paper types (blank, lines and squares) and pen thickness. Besides being a digital notebook, Bamboo Paper can also be connected to a projector, becoming a visual presentation tool to share notes or drawings with colleagues. Originally £1.19, Wacom permanently reduced the price to £0.00, although they will introduce paid add-ons in the future.

Bamboo Stylus is priced at £24.99. More info here.

Latest Gadgets at the Gadget Show Live 2011

Latest Gadgets made its yearly pilgrimage to the Gadget Show Live in Birmingham to play with the latest and greatest tech that manufacturers had to offer. Fighting our way through the bear pit that is the coffee table in the press room, we emerged refreshed and ran around attempting to see as much as possible before the caffeine wore off.


Our first stop was Brasso (covered here) who had a little stall set up to clean all our gadgets. As an owner of a filthy iPhone, iPad and pair of glasses it was nice to have someone give them a quick wipedown. Plus there was cake. Orbitsound had their T3 mobile stereo speaker on display – a little iPod classic shaped unit that provides stereo sound on the go – and that can be worn around the neck to create a sound aura. Amazing. Also a potential nightmare if young kids on London buses get hold of it.


Wacom had just that day released a Bamboo stylus for the iPad. I’m keen doodler and had a quick play. It feels great to hold – and is very close to holding a real pen. It’s also 25 percent slimmer tip than main competitors as the reps insisted on telling me. The prototype app to accompany it (you can of course use the stylus with all drawing apps) looks pretty fun as well but wasn’t yet ready for final assessment. The stylus should be out in mid-May for about £25.

We waved at the people from 3M who were showing off their MPro 180 wireless pico projector rigged up to a PS3 and an iPad. We had a more in-depth look at it here. The most stylish area was the shiny white Golla zone where lots of beautiful people looked over enthusiastic about a range of pretty looking laptop bags and camera cases. We took a look at some here.


iPad stands were ubiquitous, but the only one that actually caught our eye was Cygnett’s that had copied Apple’s Smart Cover technology (well the wake from sleep functionality) and added a stand that works vertically and horizontally – all in a big (and admittedly slightly bulky) leather case. They were stood next to Henge Docks – a great laptop dock that enabled you to use your MacBook with a Widescreen monitor and pretend you have a full desktop.  We also had a quick look at the PopBox – a self-styled “Apple TV” killer, that streams your HD content via DLNA and its own app store. And we also played with some wireless Jaybird headphones, the Qb desktop USB speakers and FlipVideo who surprisingly said nothing about their impending demise.

Of course this is a tiny fraction of what we had a play with so expect to see a few more in-depth articles over the coming week.