Wacom's Bamboo Spark is the company's second go at creating a real pen that automatically creates a digital version of your notes and sketches. The first, the Inkling, generated a lot of hype that it ultimately couldn't live up. It was unable to deliver the precision that artists wanted – though to be fair, a precision that Wacom never promised, but we all got a bit carried away by the idea of it – so drawings were rarely usable beyond initial sketches.
The Bamboo Spark has more modest aspirations – and different technology. Rather than artists, it's aimed at creative directors and designers – and businesspeople in general – who want to keep digital copies of notes and sketches but prefer pen-and-paper to iPad and Paper.
There are two components to the Bamboo Spark: the pen itself and a case for your tablet or phablet – we tried the full-sized iPad version. The case is more than a paper holder, it feels the pressure of the pen through the paper – so you can't use pads that are more than about 60 or 70 sheets – and records the strokes.
The pen feels and writes/draws like a traditional ballpoint – and you fill using standard cartridges that you can pick up cheaply at WH Smtih, Rymans or even larger supermarkets. You can draw on bog standard paper too.
Push a button on the case and your words and letters are transmitted over Bluetooth to your iPad (or Android tablet or Galaxy Note or whatever).
They end up in Wacom's own application, from where they can be saved to your Photo Stream or uploaded to Wacom's cloud service for quick access on your laptop or desktop – though direct import into tools like Evernote or OneNote for OCR-based translation of your words would likely be better.
Watch the video above to find out what illustrator and designer Lizzie Mary Cullen made of the Bamboo Spark when she had had some hands-on time with it at the Digital Arts office in London. We'll publish a full review soon.