Whether you are a hobbyist or a professional, or even if you are just a gadget-mad geek, the Wacom Inkling is marketed as the ideal choice if you are looking for a basic ink-to-digital pen. This compact and mobile device is capable of storing thousands of pages of hand-sketched design, allowing you to creatively create away from your laptop or computer. From jotting down sudden ideas on a napkin to more complicated illustrated design, the Inkling offers a way of storing and transferring them via USB to the device of your choice.
What can the Inkling offer you? Using Wacom pressure-sensitive technology, the ballpoint pen can record an epic 1024 different levels compression. This means that even the smallest change in your sketch can be accurately detected and recorded. The Inkling also provides the option to add layers to the digital file of your drawing whilst still sketching on paper. Using the Sketch Manager software included you are able to modify, add or remove layers even after the sketch is transferred to your computer.
The Inkling has the ability to save your sketch in a number of different digital file types including jpg, png, bmp, tiff, svg and pdf allowing you total flexibility in the formatting of your sketches. Whether you need the clarity of jpeg or the simplicity of tiff, the Inkling can step up to the mark. Exporting is made easy with options to a number of different brands of editing software such as Adobe Photoshop, Autodesk SketchBook Pro (2011 onwards), Autodesk SketchBook Designer and Illustrator (CS3+).
Portability is a definite positive of the Inkling. Not only do the pen and receiver both store and recharge in a compact case, the product measures a dinky 2 x 6 x 8.4 inches making it simple to carry between workspaces and home, and the perfect size for your briefcase or backpack. The pen itself is wider than a normal pen or pencil, and of course it is considerably heavier too. It is pertinent to remember that the design is that of a ballpoint pen rather than a pencil. However for many customers who have purchased the Inkling, the nuances of the pen design are of little concern. Reviews have shown that some customers have identified a phenomenon common in the ink-to-digital pen market referred to as ‘jaggies’. Jaggies is the name given to any lines of your sketch that, once transferred to digital, have a bumpy or jagged appearance. This issue has been reported by some users who felt that the accuracy of their sketches had been compromised. However others argue that the Inkling is primarily a tool for transferring quick, rough sketches rather than polished work and as such it is an unfair representation of the product. They have recommended that if you are after precision then you should instead consider the Wacom tablet.
Another plus for the Inkling is that there is little additional outlay once you have purchased the product. The pen takes inexpensive regular 1mm ball size mini-ballpoint refill cartridges, comes with rechargeable batteries and no special paper is required. The box contains all of the equipment you need including four spare cartridges, receiver, charging case, USB cable, Inkling Sketch Manager App pre-installed onto the receiver, and all the instructions you need to get started.
What are the limitations of the Inkling? Well as with any technology there are a few. Whilst it can be used on larger paper it will only record a drawing area equal to A4 (210 x 297mm). It will also not record any pen strokes made within 2cm of the receiver. The use of infrared and ultrasonic technology means it is also necessary to ensure a direct line of sight between the receiver and the pen tip in order for it to record accurately.
There is a mix of reviews for this product ranging from positively raving to supreme disappointment. One thing is certain. You have to be realistic in your expectations of a product that is marketed as a sketching product, not a precision drawing tool. However if you are looking for a simple to use ink-to-digital pen that doesn’t cost the earth then the Wacom Inkling should fulfill, if not surpass all of your requirements.