I was a big fan of the Alupen when it launched — so much so that I went out and bought my own. It was chunky, looked like a metal pencil and felt pretty good in my big hands. Then came the Wacom Bamboo stylus and our love affair was over.
Now, though, the newer skinnier, cleverer Alupen Pro has got me two-timing the svelte Bamboo. Why? Because it has a biro built in.
The iPad certainly doesn’t need a stylus, any more than a kid needs a brush to get paint onto, well, onto everything. But for drawing apps like Paper and Photoshop Touch, or writing apps like the excellent Noteshelf, a stylus is a great addition. And the Alupen Pro is up there with the best.
With a stylus, it all comes down to two things: tip feel, and balance. The old Alupen felt good in the hand, but after a while the tip would stick and drag across the screen. This made fine linework and handwriting tricky.
The new one feels even better in the fingers. It’s slimmer, sure, but still has a decent girth and heft. After using this new version, it seems clear that the old Alupen’s combination of hexagonal section and large diameter weren’t quite right. There’s a reason that markers are round after all, it seems.
Tip feel is also a lot better, and rivals the Wacom. The Bamboo still feels a little smoother, and its tip is smaller which is psychologically more accurate, even though it makes no real difference.
All these styluses can be allowed to glide lightly across the screen without registering a touch, requiring a slight pressure to get them working. This is great, but the larger the tip, the more drag it suffers when you press. Thin is most certainly in.
The pen is also a very nice addition. Twist the tip and a ballpoint pen pops out. And why not? After all, you might as well fill the shaft with something, right? The German-made Pelikan refill writes smoothly enough, although my handwriting skills have lapsed so completely that it is honestly hard for me to really tell.
There’s little not to like about the Alupen Pro. I guess that I could poke fun at the little leatherette pouch that comes with it, but as you will either toss it or lose in the first day it doesn’t really matter.
If pushed, I’d say that the only things I don’t like are the tip size, which is slightly larger than the Bamboo’s tip, and the slight extra drag on the screen, likely cause by that bigger tip. But don’t let this sway your decision, though. It is really only apparent if you use them both side-by-side for a few weeks as I have.
If you want a combo pen and stylus, get this. It’s at least as good as almost every other stylus I have used, and it has a pen. If you really want to ultimate in balance and feel, the Bamboo may still slightly have the edge, but not by much. And it doesn’t have a pen.
The Alupen Pro is $40