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Wacom’s New Bamboo Sketch is the Perfect Stylus for iPhones and Non-Pro iPads

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Introduced earlier this year, the Bamboo Sketch is Wacom’s latest precision stylus designed to work with the iPhone and the iPad over Bluetooth. It’s meant to mimic the feel of traditional pen-and-paper writing and drawing with interchangeable pen nibs and customizable shortcut buttons.

Priced at $80, Wacom’s new stylus isn’t a better option than the Apple Pencil for iPad Pro users, but for the iPhone and other iPad models, it’s worth checking out.

 

Design

The all-black Bamboo Sketch looks sleek and stylish. It’s made from a textured plastic that’s super grippy, so it’s easy to hold and feels comfortable when writing.

It’s both thicker and heavier than a regular pen, and while it is well-balanced in the hand, my hand did get tired while writing after about 15 to 20 minutes because of its weight and diameter. Size wise, it measures in at 142mm long (about the size of your average pen) and it is 10mm in diameter. Its official weight is 18 grams, which is actually lighter than the Apple Pencil.

Design wise, the Bamboo Sketch features two shortcut buttons at the top that are customizable with different functions, and a spot where the charger connects at the bottom. Aside from those design elements, this a standard pen-like stylus.

The Bamboo Sketch features a unique swappable tip, with 1.9mm firm and soft pen nibs included in the packaging for a custom feel when writing. I didn’t notice much difference between the two different tips, but mostly stuck with the soft one because it felt a bit smoother.

Wacom ships the Bamboo Sketch in a high-quality carrying case that houses the stylus, extra tips, and the USB charger. When I opened the package, I thought the case also doubled as a way to charge the Sketch, but that’s not how it works.

The Bamboo Sketch attaches magnetically to an included USB charger, which then can be plugged into a computer or a standard USB outlet. The charging dongle is tiny (about the size of a small flash drive) and feels like something I’m bound to lose at some point, so that’s a negative, but at least it can be stored in the carrying case when not in use.

Charging through the case would have been a lot more convenient because attaching a stylus to my computer is somewhat awkward, but it’s superior to a wired solution. The Bamboo Sketch’s battery should last for about 16 hours. In my experience, that was enough for about two weeks of use for approximately 30 to 45 minutes a day.

The case also includes a hole that’s used for swapping out the aforementioned interchangeable nibs. Stick the Sketch into the side of the case and tilt it to pull out the existing tip, pop a new tip out of its slot inside the case, and press it into the top of the stylus. It’s a simple, hassle-free process and I appreciate how easy Wacom made it to swap tips.

Features and Writing Experience

Wacom says the Sketch has a natural, precise feel that’s similar to a pen on paper. It doesn’t feel like writing on paper, of course, but it was smooth and comfortable to write with, and as precise as you’d expect a Bluetooth-connected stylus with a fine tip to be. It’s about as close to a pen and paper experience as you can get on a tablet or a phone screen.

The Bamboo Sketch connects to the iPad using Bluetooth. Once charged, pressing one of the buttons on the stylus activates Bluetooth, and it can be connected to an iPad or iPhone using one of Wacom’s apps, or through the Bluetooth section of the Settings app on the device.

While in use with an iPad, the Bamboo Sketch requires you to disable multitasking gestures to enable palm rejection features within apps. That means no using four and five finger gestures to do things like pinch to the Home screen or swipe between apps.

If you’re someone who often uses those gestures, turning the feature off will be a hassle because it’ll need to be toggled off every time you want to use the stylus and then on again when you’re done.

The Bamboo Sketch is able to work systemwide on the iPhone or the iPad, so it can be used as a finger replacement. Within select apps, it also has additional features like pressure sensitivity and palm rejection.

Support for the Bamboo Sketch has to be enabled through software, so the experience is simply not as good as an Apple Pencil on an iPad Pro, especially the newest iPad Pro models with ProMotion display technology.

Palm rejection worked poorly for me regardless of which app I was using and whether I was using my iPhone or my iPad. It kept detecting small movements from my hand, leaving marks on the page and interrupting what I was writing or sketching.

I much preferred to just not touch my palm to the display than to deal with the spotty palm rejection features while writing. Unfortunately, holding my palm up isn’t always comfortable.

Palm rejection with the Apple Pencil works much better because with the Pencil connected, it rejects all touch when the Apple Pencil’s tip is on the screen of the iPad Pro. It’s hard to compete with that.

On non iPad Pro devices, spotty palm rejection is about as good as it gets. Some apps do it better than others, but it’s never going to be perfect. It helps a lot to start writing before you put your palm down, but it isn’t foolproof.

As for pressure sensitivity, the Bamboo Sketch was as natural and fluid to use as the Apple Pencil. Pressure sensitivity worked well — a light press gave me a thin line, and as I pressed down harder, the line got thicker. Bamboo Sketch has 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity.

Pressure sensitivity matched the Apple Pencil, but on iPad Pro models, the Bamboo Sketch can’t compete when it comes to latency. When you write or draw with the Apple Pencil on one of the new iPad Pro models, the line is right at the tip of the stylus and it stays there as the Apple Pencil moves. With the Bamboo Sketch, it’s offset and noticeably slower at tracking. It’s also not able to do the side of the pencil shading that’s possible with the Apple Pencil.

These features only apply to the iPad Pro — if you don’t have an iPad Pro, the Bamboo Sketch works as well or better than any other connected stylus I’ve tried (I’d say better on the whole, given its ergonomics, grip, and pressure sensitivity).

The Bamboo Sketch has one edge over the Apple Pencil — two shortcut buttons. In select apps, shortcuts can be assigned to the two buttons on the stylus. For example, in Wacom’s Bamboo Paper app, the buttons can be set to do things like erase, undo, redo, or open full screen mode.

Supported Apps and Devices

There are a good number of apps that support the Bamboo Sketch and all of its available features. ArtRage, Astropad, AutoDesk SketchBook, Bamboo Paper, Concepts, Good Notes, IbisPaint, MediBang, Notes Plus, Procreate, Sketch Club, Tayasui Sketch, Zen Brush 2, and Zoom Notes all support pressure sensitivity and shortcut functionality.

All of the above listed apps aside from ArtRage and Procreate support palm rejection.

According to Wacom, the Bamboo Sketch works with previous iPad generations that feature Bluetooth connectivity and the iPhone 6 and above. I tested it on a previous-generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro, a current-generation 10.5-inch iPad Pro, and an iPhone 7 Plus.

Bottom Line

For iPad Pro owners, the Apple Pencil is the best stylus on the market and it’s not really worth considering any alternatives, including the Bamboo Sketch. There’s no comparison, especially with iOS 11 improvements that allow the Apple Pencil to be used system-wide.

If you have the money to spend on a high-end stylus and have an iPad Pro, buy the Apple Pencil. If you don’t have an iPad Pro and need a stylus that offers enough precision for note taking and fine sketching, the Bamboo Sketch is a great option.

How to Buy

The Bamboo Sketch can be purchased from the Wacom website for $79.95.

Brooklyn-based writer, editor and creator with a love of all things streetwear and/or delicious. Always on the hunt for the next best coffee shop. Obsessed with new sunglasses.

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The Galaxy S9’s main specs detailed in extensive new report

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In just over a month, the phones many Android fans are waiting for will be finally unveiled in Barcelona, Spain. Samsung confirmed as much last week at CES, putting to rest all rumors that said the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ might be announced earlier than expected.

The phones have hardly been a secret, and we already know Samsung plans to reuse last year’s Galaxy S8 design for one more year. We also have a pretty good idea of the sort of hardware improvements that we can expect from the upcoming Galaxy S9 duo. But a new report from Korea gives us the best look yet at the Galaxy S9’s hardware specs, leaving almost nothing left for Samsung to surprise us with.

The Galaxy S9’s most notable improvement is the camera, Korean language ETNews says. The phone will have a single-lens 12-megapixel rear camera, while the Galaxy S9+ is getting a dual 12-megapixel camera setup on the back. All cameras are going to feature a variable F1.5/F2.4 aperture that will let users operate the phone like a DSLR camera. The variable iris tech was already used in the Samsung W2018 clamshell phone Samsung that was released in China last month.

The Galaxy S9 will also become the first flagship phone in the world with an F1.5 aperture, which will let it capture even more light. Low-light photography should be dramatically improved as a result. Last fall, LG launched a smartphone with an F1.6 aperture, the LG V30.

Another camera feature coming to the Galaxy S9 series is slow motion shooting mode — that’s likely the super slow motion mode that has been mentioned in previous reports. On the front side of the phone, you’ll find an 8-megapixel camera with autofocus. The Galaxy S9’s selfie cam also incorporates the components needed for facial recognition features, and the phone has a standalone iris recognition camera as well.

Aside from the camera, the Galaxy S9 will feature other interesting technology, like the Substrate Like PCB (SLP) mainboard design that will let Samsung squeeze miniaturized circuits into an even smaller space, thus freeing more room for the battery. SLP will be used in roughly 60% of Galaxy S9 units, or the ones that will be powered by Samsung’s own Exynos processor. The iPhone X employs similar tech, and it’s what allowed Apple to reduce the size of the logic board in the handset.

Finally, the report notes that the Galaxy S9 will bring over Samsung’s first display that will incorporate Y-OCTA technology. That’s short for Youm On-Cell Touch AMOLED, and it refers to new display tech that allows Samsung to reduce the overall size and weight of a screen and place the touch sensor right on top of the flexible OLED layer. The report makes no mention of 3D Touch-like support for the Galaxy S9, which had been rumored.

The report does not mention the actual size of the Galaxy S9 batteries, but a report earlier this week hinted Samsung will rely on the same 3,000 mAh and 3,500 mAh capacities used for the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus. The new Galaxy S9 and S9+ will be unveiled during a press conference late next month ahead of their expected release on March 16th.

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Bloomberg: Apple hires data scientist team for analytics project

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Apple has hired a team of data scientists from a company called Silicon Valley Data Science, Bloomberg reports. While it doesn’t sound like a full blown acquisition, the report notes that Apple’s hiring spree includes the CEO of the consulting firm.

Apple confirmed some of the hires in a statement to Bloomberg as well:

Founded in 2013, the Mountain View, California-based startup provided data analysis to larger companies to improve their forecasts, operational efficiency, and customer relationships, according to the firm’s website. An Apple spokesman acknowledged a few dozen employees from Silicon Valley Data Science joined the company.

The report goes on to say that the new data scientist hires have been assigned to “analytics in ad-related initiatives” at the company.

The new hiring wave follows Apple’s acquisition of audio recognition service Shazam in December, the startup behind the QuantumFilm image sensor in November, and the team behind the development service Buddybuild earlier this month.

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Razer Phone 2 Could Launch In September With Project Linda

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The Razer Phone was launched back in November of last year and now it looks like we have some details about its successor, the Razer Phone 2.

According to a recent report the second generation Razer Phone will launch in September of 2017. The device is rumored to launch along with the new Project Linda.

Project Linda was revealed at CES 2018 earlier this month, it is an add on device for the Razer Phone that turns the handset into a gaming laptop. As yet there are no specifications on the new Razer Phone 2, although we can expect it to get a number of upgrades over the current handset.

The existing Razer Phone is equipped with a 5.72 inch IGZO LCD display that has a QHD resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels. The device is powered by a Snapdragon 835 processor and 8GB of RAM. The handset features 64GB of storage and a microSD card slot for expansion.

Other specifications on the device include a8 megapixel front facing camera for Selfies, on the back there are two cameras. One has a 12 megapixel sensor with a wide angle lens. The other has a 13 megapixel sensor with a telephoto lens. The handset comes with a 4000 mAh battery and Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 4+.

As September is the rumored launch date for the second generation Razer Phone it looks like the handset could be made official at Mobile World Congress 2018.

Source Frandroid, GSM Arena

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