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Wacom Inkling digital pen: Hands-on photos

We were pretty excited about the Wacom Inkling when we first heard of it last month. And so you can bet we made a beeline straight for the Wacom stand at the Computers Unlimited event in London last night to try it out.

The Inkling is digital pen that communicates with a tiny receiver that you can clip on to a note pad, sheet of drawing paper, beer mat or “virtually any drawing surface up to A4 size,” according to Wacom.

When you clip the unit onto a drawing surface, you press the left-hand button once to activate it; from then on it’ll start automatically saving your new drawing. This little receiver saves all of your penstrokes as you go.

Each press of the right-hand button from then on saves the new drawing as a layer; this allows you to pick apart sketches and blueprints or whatever later on when you export them into Adobe Photoshop (or Illustrator or Autodesk Sketchbook Pro) via the Inkling Sketch Manager program.

This is a great feature for designers and artists collaborating on projects; you can sketch out an idea, email it and then everyone else on your team can go in an add/change things as they like.

The receiver unit has a mini USB port to connect to your Mac or PC and a short USB wire comes included.

Best of all, the pen itself uses common ballpoint pen style nibs, so you can easily get some more when you run out of ink; you get four nibs included. Everything folds up neatly in a compact, easy to carry around case. Nice!

The Wacom Inkling will be hitting stores in October and will be going for £149.99.

Click through for more hands on pictures of the Inkling, the carry case, the Sketch Manager program and our rubbish picture of a cat.

The button over on the left is the on/off power button. The one over on the right with the SD card-esque icon is the ‘save as layer’ button. You don’t have to save every layer as you can as a big, multi-layered image; you could just sketch everything out in one go and just tap this one to save it as a single-layer sketch.

We saved our cat picture in three layers. Yes, we know it’s not very good; we only got a Bs at A-Level Art and Design. The receiver unit can save up to 2GB’s worth of drawings and sketches; you can delete old stuff from the Sketch Manager program.

You should also note that while the receiver allows you to draw on any piece of paper up to an A4 size, it won’t register anything within 2 centimeters of the receiver itself.

Wacom says that Inkling is accurate to within +/- 2.5 mm of the main drawing area of an A4 sheett, and within +/- 5.0 mm at the edges.

One final tap of the save button and our cat is ready to be exported to the Macbook.

The receiver unit of the Wacom Inkling has a built-in battery that has up to 8 hours of life, taking 3 hours to fully charge up from flat via a USB port.

And here’s our work of art in all it’s glory. The Inkling Sketch Manager software allows you to save everything in a native format as well as JPEGs, PNGs, PDFs or SVGs. Sketch Manager creates native bitmap or vector versions of your drawings which can be opened up in Photoshop, Illustrator or SketchBook.

A neat feature of Sketch Manager is that if you’ve saved multiple layers, there’s an option to ‘play’ through all your layers and watch them magically build up. As well as allowing you to see where you made mistakes you could also exploit this feature to make some funny animations.

The handy little case where everything all fits in, the receiver, the mini USB-to-USB cable, the four ballpoint nibs and the Inkling pen itself. As well as the receiver charging from a laptop when it’s plugged in to transfer files, you can also charge it, along with the pen from the fold up carry case.

There’s a mini USB connection on the exterior of the case; pop the USB cable in here and connect it to an active laptop to and it’ll charge both the pen and the receiver. Then Inkling pen’s battery last 15 hours and takes 3 hours to charge.

Everything folds up in this neat little case. It’s really light and everything inside is adequately protected. Perfect for gathering everything up and slinging it in your bag.

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