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Adobe Ink & Slide review

Adobe Ink and Slide
Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £84
inc VAT

Expensive and not great for fine precision drawing, but Adobe's Ink & Slide are a decent stylus and ruler for creative professionals


Warranty: One year RTB, Details:, Part code: Ink/Slide

Adobe has been the king of creative software for over two decades. Creative Suite, which includes Photoshop and Illustrator, represents the industry standard for media professionals, and technologies such as Flash and Acrobat Reader have infiltrated almost every part of our daily computing experience. Now, with a little help from stylus-maker Adonit, Adobe is trying its hand at hardware with the Ink and Slide stylus and smart ruler. They’re not aimed at your typical art hobbyist, though, as they’re only compatible with an iPad (either a fourth generation iPad 4 or later, an iPad Mini or iPad Mini with Retina Display) and you’ll need a Creative Cloud membership to get the most out of each product.

The latter isn’t mandatory, as you can still use them with Adobe’s Line, Sketch and Draw apps without one, but you’ll be missing out on all its cloud capabilities, such as accessing your personal colour themes on the move, the Cloud Clipboard to carry on working in Illustrator when you get back home, and sharing your drawings online.

Adobe Ink stylus tip

Both products are impeccably made. Built from hydro-formed aluminium, the Ink’s twisting triangular chassis is comfortable to hold and its meagre 20.3g weight isn’t that much heavier than a traditional pen. We particularly like its USB charging station, which magnetically snaps on to the end of the pen and has a small LED band which cycles through the colours of rainbow when it’s fully charged, providing a classy bit of visual feedback to let you know when to take it off the mains.

Setting up the Ink is easy. In Adobe Sketch, for instance, you simply open up the pen menu in the top right corner of the app, hold the pen down on the screen, and it connects automatically via Bluetooth. You can also personalise the Ink to flash a particular colour when you turn it on as well as choose from a set of palm preferences to match how you physically hold it. You can also enable palm rejection so you can rest your hand on the screen.

Adobe Ink stylus charging^ As well as a charging dock, the Ink comes with a tubular carry case which clips in just above the LED light, so you can still see whether it’s finished charging or not

It wasn’t quite such smooth sailing when we tried the Ink out for ourselves, though, as the palm rejection tended to be a bit hit and miss and we often found the pen simply wasn’t up to the task of accurately reproducing very small, fine pen strokes. Admittedly, we have quite a fine sketch style where we like to draw the same line multiple times, but we found this very difficult to do with the Ink as we simply couldn’t get it to draw additional lines anywhere near the first one. Other times, it simply didn’t register at all.

We suspect part of the problem lies in having to specify how you hold the pen, as we always found our grip tended to shift positions depending on what we were drawing. Switching palm preferences did help on some occasions, but having to constantly swap back and forth is a hassle and hardly makes for a very user-friendly drawing experience.

Adobe Ink stylus LED end^ When you set up the Ink, you can choose your own personal colour to light up at the end of the pen

As a result, it constantly felt like we were wrestling our drawings into shape rather than effortlessly composing them on the fly. To be fair, this is a problem we’ve encountered with other styli as well. They’re fine for broad brush strokes, but smaller, more precise movements are more problematic. It’s still a bit disappointing, though, as we were hoping the Ink would finally be able to provide the same kind of easy, intuitive drawing experience as our own dedicated desktop-based drawing tablet. Sadly, this isn’t the case.

Of course, you’re not simply buying a stylus, as you also get the Slide ruler. When you place it on the screen, it automatically generates two lines either side of it, allowing you to draw perfectly straight lines with the Ink. Tapping the button on the front will bring up different shaped stamps as well, such as circles, triangles and squares, which you can then stencil round with the Ink. Each stamp isn’t set in stone either, as you can alter the shape of each one with your fingers by holding and pinching certain sides – turning a circle into an oval or a square into a rectangle, for example.

Adobe Slider ruler

It works best in Adobe Line, which can generate two-point, isometric and axonometric perspective grids as well as graph paper. Here, the Slide will snap to certain end points on the lines you draw, making it easier to connect them with others along the same sight lines. The same applies to the Slide’s stencils as well, as alignment grids will appear to keep everything in perspective.

Like the Ink, though, the Slide was a little bit fiddly to use. Sometimes it didn’t register the ruler at all, while other times it thought it was a stylus, so we had to keep erasing the accidental lines it had drawn by rewinding the image’s progress bar, which you can do with a simple three-finger swipe. It’s also arguably slightly superfluous unless you do a lot of architectural drawing.

Adobe Slide ruler on iPad^ You can use the Slide in Adobe Sketch as well. All you need to do is press the front button to cycle through the available stencils

Taken together, Adobe’s Ink and Slide feel very expensive for what they are, especially considering the number of issues we had with both products. The Ink is no worse than other styli out there, such as Wacom’s Intuos Creative Stylus 2, but the additional Slide does add a hefty premium on to its overall price. It wouldn’t be so bad if you could buy them separately, but as a pair, the Ink & Slide is only worth buying if you’re in desperate need of a digital ruler.

Buying information
Price including VAT£84
WarrantyOne year RTB
Part codeInk/Slide

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