Ink and Slide: Adobe’s Stylus Revolution

| In-Depth Review

To the Point: Adobe Ink

Ink is a sleek looking stylus with a triangular-shaped aluminum body that twists along the shaft. The shape makes Ink surprisingly comfortable to hold in either hand, and Adobe even took into consideration that not everyone in the world is right-handed.

Adobe's Ink stylus with carrying tube chargerAdobe's Ink stylus with carrying tube charger

When the Mighty concept stylus was first shown off, Adobe's David Macy told The Mac Observer, "Mighty feels great for both right and left handed people. The triangle twist makes it sit flat at the finger tips where the user holds it and also at the base of the thumb."

Ink sports a single concave button that doesn't get in the way when you're drawing or writing, but is still easy to press. The stylus is rechargeable and offers about eight hours use before it's time to juice up again. Recharging takes about an hour, so you should be able to get a full day's work in before pluggin in for the night.

Ink connects to your iPad via Bluetooth 4.0 LE. Adobe says it's compatible with the fourth generation iPad, iPad Air, iPad mini and iPad mini with Retina Display.

Our tests showed Ink held up without any problems and lasted all day long. Charging is quick enough that it's OK to forget to plug in the Ink before going to bed and power it up the next morning without having to worry about unexpected down time.

Adobe paid attention to the little details with Ink. Along with its cool look and feel, it includes a magnetic charging base. When the stylus is charging, a ring around the base lights up red and then pulses through the color spectrum once charging is complete.

The base also serves as the cap for the included stylus storage tube. It's great for protecting your Ink while it bounces around in your computer bag and it looks good, too.

Ink also sports a light at the charging end that pulses through the color spectrum when you first turn it on, and can be customized to show a specific color when you quickly double tap the button. Customizing the color is a clever way to personalize your Ink, and handy if you hang out with other Ink users: just pick different colors for each person's Ink so you can tell them apart.

Holding Ink is an absolute pleasure. It's comfortable in your hand, balances well and doesn't feel like it's going to fall apart, plus its triangular shape helps a little to keep it from rolling off tables.

Ink's stylus tip is only 3.18mm across and tapers to an even smaller point. The stylus was co-designed by Adonit, so it's using Pixelpoint technology -- the same tech we first saw in Adonit's Jot Script several months ago. It sports 2,048 levels of pressure for better control over your lines and strokes in apps that support pressure sensitivity. Ink works in other apps just like non-pressure sensitive styluses.

The problem with many styluses is that they feel like writing on glass with plastic, and Ink offers pretty much the same experience. That said, it feels better than any other hard-tip stylus I've tried and drawing with it felt more natural because of that. The smaller tip also means it's easier to see what you're working on because the stylus doesn't obscure your view.

My biggest complaint about Ink is that the tip is significantly offset from where you're actually drawing. The gap between my stylus tip and lines was a good 3mm, which is significant. If we weren't blessed with undo in drawing apps I would've given up on trying to draw anything where even the remotest level of precision was needed.

I know this wasn't the case, but it felt like I spent as much time undoing as I did drawing just to get my lines fairly close to where I wanted. Drawing glasses on faces, for example, always left them sitting too low. Hopefully this is something Adobe can address with a software update, otherwise I'll be stuck drawing people that need to push up their glasses.

Adobe does include some basic calibration in its Line and Sketch apps based on which hand you draw with and the angle of the stylus in your hand. It helps, but wasn't a perfect fix for the issue. I found the hand position that most closely matches how I hold pens put my lines farther way from my stylus tip, so I experimented with the other position settings until I found one that seemed to work better.

That said, I was pleasantly surprised with how good the Ink felt both in my hand and on my iPad display. We still aren't to a place where fine point tips feel like pencil or pen on paper, but we're getting much closer with Ink.

To take advantage of Ink's ability to copy content from your art from one app to another -- or even to another iPad -- you'll need a Creative Cloud account. Adobe offers free accounts with 2GB of storage, but you won't get access to Creative Cloud apps like Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator. You can set up an account by creating an Adobe ID at the Adobe website.

If you aren't comfortable having an Adobe account you can still use Ink and Slide, but you won't be able to copy and share content between devices.

Next Up: Adobe's Slide ruler

Product: Adobe Ink and Slide

Company: Adobe

List Price: $199

Pros:

Great design, comfortable, durable, includes stylus carrying case. Customizable stylus light color is a nice touch. Creative Cloud makes moving drawings between devices easy.

Cons:

Limited support outside Adobe Line and Sketch, poor app performance on original iPad mini. Stylus tip feels like plastic on glass. Routine re-logins for Creative Cloud are a big annoyance.

The TMO Express Newsletter emails you the latest Apple headlines every weekday.

Comments

super stars

I have ordered Adobe Ink and were waiting for shipment. I am eager to have the new fantasic stylus to have a trial with MyBrushes App on iPad. http://mybrushes-app.com/MyBrushes-Pro.html

Log-in to comment