Fifty Three Pencil vs Wacom Bamboo Stylus Fineline

Gear That Had to Go, News, Web/Tech / Friday, February 13th, 2015


This is a quick review based on my user experience with both of these styli using my iPad Air. I bought the Fifty Three Pencil first and was attracted to its simple carpenter pencil design and innovative technology. The Pencil can be used as a traditional stylus via its capacitive tip or it can connect to your iPad via Bluetooth where things get really interesting with feature like pressure sensitivity, broad strokes of varying thickness using the sides of the stylus tip, and erasing by turning the Pencil upside down and using the opposite end like you would with a normal carpenter pencil. I was a bit disappointed that although the Pencil has a distinctive, attractive design, the tip is not much smaller than many of the rubber styli that available for the iPad. While the drag against the screen process some good frictional feedback, they tend to compress against the screen and make it awkward to judge your point accuracy.

The Wacom Bamboo Stylus Fineline seemed like the best of both worlds. It offered Bluetooth connectivity, a small precision tip, and a side button the can be programmed to undo the last action among other options. It’s designed to look like more of a professional writing instrument and has some good heft although it’s a bit slippery. The cap with the clip makes it easier to carry and less obvious than the Pencil. The smaller nip was a plus but was also the biggest problem I had with really getting comfortable with the device. As it turns out, as much as I’d like to love the Wacom Bamboo, the stylus lacks enough frictional drag to write consistently–the tip slides across the screen and offers no tactile feedback, the device seems to lose the connection with my iPad more often than it should causing delays in taking notes, and the accuracy of the smaller tip isn’t as good as what I get when using the Pencil. I used Notes Plus as my test application as it offers the ability to select either stylus as the writing tool and makes use of their special features with no bias toward either device.

So, I’m returning the Wacom Bamboo to Best Buy. Both cost $60 and maintain a decent charge and can be recharged via USB–normal USB for the Pencil with plugs into any USB port and micro USB for the Wacom Bamboo.


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