Adobe Ink & Slide

Adobe Ink & Slide Review

May 19, 2015 - 6 minutes read

I’ve been using Adobe and Adonit’s Ink and Slide for about 5 months now on and off. I think it’s about time I wrote a bit of a review for those of you out there trying to choose an iPad stylus and considering this one. You may be surprised, one way or another.

Hardware

Starting with face value, when I first received the Ink and Slide, I was designer-‘gasming over the nice packaging. The tools themselves are also beautifully engineered. Compared to other styluses I’ve purchased or used, like the Pogo Connect, or Pencil by FiftyThree, the Adobe Ink and Slide looks and feels professional. Like a lot of work went into it. I’m even still soothed by the rhythmic light pulses the end of the Ink gives off when turning on, pairing or charging.

I was briefly confused why Adobe codenamed this stylus Napoleon, until I realized it included a tiny ruler. Face Palm.

Once you get past the aesthetics and quirky name however, you have to wonder how that nice shape feels in the hand and how it is to use. The odd twist the stylus has feels nice to hold, and the function button has just enough give that it’s not easy to accidentally press. The Slide, which acts as a digital ruler, feels a bit small and awkward for me to use. That awkwardness is particularly amplified when you are drawing on the go, balancing your iPad on your lap, for example. If you are trying to balance, place the Slide, and get ready to tap or draw with the Ink on the template created by the Slide, it can be difficult to achieve precision. This is one of the few moments that I find myself wishing that the Ink or Slide had an extra function button, or some other type of function existed, to help with these types of awkward interactions.

iPad Life Drawing by Spencer Goldade

In use

In use, the stylus feels nice on the iPad’s screen. I’ve used many different types of styluses (styli?), with all different types of tips and nibs. The Ink’s tip feels firm, rather than with some resistance like some rubber tips. It actually feels a lot like a Wacom tablet’s stylus in use does. I had zero qualms with this. In further comparison with a Wacom stylus, the pressure sensitivity can be hard to recognize by touch. With a Wacom stylus, you can feel a bit of give, almost like a shock on a car. The Ink feels almost completely firm to me, though, making it hard to tell how much pressure is enough.

Again, in use, I found myself wishing there was an extra function button to act as an undo key. In the Ink’s primary apps (the Adobe apps), the function button acts to bring up a quick menu to select colours, brushes, and more. This is awesome, but having another key to do other things like undo, seems lacking.

The app issue

I like the shape of the stylus, I like holding and using it, but an issue exists. As I already mentioned, the Adobe apps that the Ink primarily works with, are a few versions away from being considered as my main art making apps of choice (to put it nicely).

At one point during my last figure drawing class, turning the iPad to portrait mode, the Ink suddenly started registering the marks I was trying to make an entire inch to the left of the tip rather than right beneath it where it should be. These types of bugs and interactions have been riddled through my use of the Ink and Slide, which unfortunately right now works primarily with the Adobe apps.

Comparing those apps to my favourite art app, Paper by FiftyThree, the tools just don’t hold up. In an app like Paper, the tools react more like natural media, where the tools in the Adobe apps are still very much clunky digital brushes. Photoshop even on a home computer isn’t known for its great default brushes, so maybe Adobe just doesn’t get this aspect of things. Sadly the experience with the Ink & Slide suffers because of this compatibility issue of only working with a select few apps. Of the non-Adobe apps that Ink & Slide works with ProCreate of course shines. The only issue with ProCreate is that it may not work well on your older iPads, regardless of which stylus you use. At the time of this review, I’ve yet to try Adonit’s own app, Forge, but I hear good things.

iPad Life Drawing by Spencer Goldade

The nitty gritty

The Adobe Ink & Slide is a great stylus. I love using it, I love how it reacts, and I love how it feels in my hand (rare with a stylus). The only issue at the time of writing this is that the Ink & Slide needs more app adoption. If you’re an app developer considering adding support for this stylus, please, please do. It’s so nice, it just needs to make a few friends!

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