Wacom are known for their exceptional pen displays and pen tablets, used for graphical design work around the world. But now they have moved into the mobile market with the Bamboo Spark.
The Bamboo Spark is a smart folio that allows people to take handwritten notes to capture, shape and share ideas. Once written on the notepad in the Bamboo Spark, no idea is ever lost. With the push of a button, Wacom’s new product synchronises what has been written or sketched on the paper to the Wacom Cloud, storing it for later refinement. The Bamboo Spark can also convert handwriting to text. We got sent one to check out!
There are three different options for the Spark, one for your iPad Air, one for your mobile phone and one for a generic tablet, all of which feature the same notepad technology. They’re just different housings for your mobile devices. In the box is the folio, a pen, a USB cable and two replacement ink cartridges. Picking the folio up for the first time, it’s clear that this is a high end quality product. It looks great, has a very luxurious finish inside and out, albeit very business looking. This is not a problem for us, as this isn’t necessarily aimed at the creative types, more a sketch pad or note pad for business meetings or academic classes although could be used for on the go artwork ideas. The folio is also very light and thin; making it easy to fit into a backpack or briefcase type bag.
Inside is a notepad which is on top of a pressure pad. This acts as the brain behind the folio. This smart piece of tech feels the weight of your pen, touching the notepad and interrupts what you are doing. Also inside is a pen holder and side pocket to house your device. The pen you get with it is nice with good weight to it. But it is just a plain old pen. The folio does require charging via micro USB. The port is found on the top of the folio. The on/off button can be found at the bottom and inside there is a button found centrally near the spine.
It’s dead simple to use. First you need to download the free Bamboo Spark app, which is available on both iOS and Android. You then turn the folio on and pair to two together via Bluetooth. The next step is to start writing or doodling. There is a notepad provided, but you do not need to use any special paper, just need to ensure the paper is over the pressure pad. This applies to the pen aswell, any pen will do! Once you have filled the page with whatever you want, hit the button, the only one inside and it will turn your page of work into an electronic version and send it to your mobile device. At this point, you can view your page, edit it, export it as an image, PDF or WILL, or even export it as text. The button to convert the text has BETA in bold next to it, which I later learned is a very new feature for the Spark. I tried it out and was pleasantly surprised! I wrote a couple of sentences, in my standard, poor, manly handwriting and the results were very good. It understood words, upper and lower case letters and punctuation but it did not recognise ‘&’, which it thought was a ‘$’. This is still a work in progress but at this stage, very promising results indeed.
Other bits to mention, Wacom offer a free 5GB cloud storage solution to hold all your notes which is very useful. The folio can also work offline and store upto 100 pages if you are unable to connect it to another device.
The only possible flaw I found was that once you finish with a page, you MUST hit the button and transfer it to your device. You cannot turn the page and continue to write, as this will just override on the pressure pad and mix the two pages together. Not a huge issue, you just have to remember to do it.
Overall, this is such a cool idea that actually works and there are so many possible applications for this. It currently retails for £119.99 and can be purchased direct or via various popular shopping sites. For further info, visit the official Wacom Bamboo Spark page.