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Wacom’s Bamboo Folio Smartpad is the best smart pen for artists because you can use any type of paper on the smartpad and the pad will digitize your notes or drawings. The pen is the lightest that we tested, weighing 0.6 ounces, or about as much as three normal Bic pens. For saving and sharing doodles and drawings digitally, this pad and smart pen is our favorite of all the digital pens we tested.
The Wacom Bamboo Folio Smartpad comes in both A5 and A4 size variants. The Wacom Bamboo Folio A5 Smartpad has an MSRP of $149.95, while the Wacom Bamboo Folio A4 Smartpad has an MSRP of $199.95.
In our writing accuracy tests, this pen scored the highest marks possible with zero errors when replicating our writing. This pen also scored very highly in our drawing test, as we only found one small error in one of the drawings. We believe this small error isn’t enough to detract from the freedom of digitizing pen strokes on any paper surface, so this pad and digital pen is still our choice for best pen for artists.
The manufacturer states that you can write using the pad for eight hours before you need to charge it. Unlike the other pens, you don’t have to charge the actual pen with this device. Instead you charge the pad through a micro-USB connection. There is a light that comes on when the pad is charging and it turns off when the battery is charged.
It took us a little over one minute to turn on the pad and have it pair to our test smartphone, which was the second longest of all the pens we tested. Using the pad is straightforward. When you turn on the pad, the notification light is green. Once you touch the pen to your paper, though, the light turns blue, letting you know that your drawing has not yet been synced to your connected device. When you’re ready to sync, you press the button and the light turns green again.
You can download apps to use this tablet with your iOS or Android device. Pairing is simple and straightforward, and the Wacom Inkspace app has an easy-to-follow tutorial that guides you through all the steps.
During our testing, we found that if you don’t power on the Wacom Bamboo Folio Smartpad for several days, you might need to reconnect the device by toggling the Bluetooth settings. This is far from a deal-breaker, but other devices were able remain paired, even after several days of not connecting and being powered off.
The Wacom Bamboo Folio is the lightest smart pen we tested, in part because so much of the technology resides in the smartpad. The pen features soft-grip rubber and a strong metal clasp at the end. It was one of the most comfortable to hold, and all you have to do to start writing is twist the pen to expose the nib. Wacom includes a pen refill and nib removal tool to give you the most use from this pen and tablet.
There isn’t any charging port or opening on this pen, which is nice because you don’t have to worry about charging the pen – only the pad needs to be charged. However, the pad won’t recognize any other pen input, so you need to write with the included pen.
For our money, the Wacom Bamboo Folio Smartpad is the obvious choice for artists thanks to its ability to use any type of paper combined with near-perfect accuracy when replicating your writing and drawing. The battery life is a little lacking though.
- Smartpad works with any paper
- Great accuracy with writing and drawing
- Comfortable pen that doesn’t need to be charged
- Paper must be aligned with the smartpad
- Short battery life
- Cannot record audio