After seeing impressive preview footage of the Wacom Inkling, we were very keen to get our hands on it. A tool that enables you to sketch directly to paper with a ballpoint pen, then upload the results to your PC for editing? Sweet. But there was a nagging doubt - the worry that the official demo might be too good to be true.
There are two component parts to the Inkling – a pen and a receiver. The receiver is housed in a separate carrying case. This doubles as a charger and is also home to the Inkling’s USB cable and four pen refills. The pen ships with a rechargeable battery (the manual advises this must be charged for three hours before first use).
In action, the Inkling pen works just like an ordinary pen. You can draw and sketch with it fluidly and intuitively. It’s a little bulkier than your average biro, but not much. The receiver clips to a standard notebook or piece of paper, recording every stroke. You can even add new layers to your sketch with a click of the receiver's button.
When you’ve finished doodling, you reconnect the receiver to your computer with a USB cable and launch the Inkling’s Sketch Manager software. This enables you to review your drawings, edit layers and even play back a drawing like an animation. This feature, impressively, gives you a sort of Undo for ink drawings too - with the power to select which parts of the playback timeline to include in the finished file.
Enjoy the flexibility and feel of pen on paper, with all the possibilities of digital imaging
Then, finally, the really impressive bit; you can export files to Illustrator, Photoshop or SketchBook Pro. Import into Photoshop, you get a bitmap file to work with. In Illustrator, your image is converted to vectors. Alternatively, you can save files in a variety of vector and bitmap formats to use in other packages.
Our time with the Inkling wasn’t entirely without glitches. We noticed lines missing from a couple of our sketches and another tester reported that layers drifted when she tried it. However, graphics tablets have their own foibles and ways of working you have to get used to. The Inkling’s a device we really don’t mind spending time with.
The highest praise we can give is this; we didn’t want to send the Inkling back. It has clear, professional applications in design and the arts but, more importantly, it’s load of fun. If you’re in the market for a budget graphics tablet, we suggest you give the Inkling a look first.