It came to my attention this morning that Wacom, the purveyor of drawing tablets for your computer, has issued yet another iPad product under their Bamboo brand: Bamboo Paper. It’s pitched as “a natural and realistic writing and sketching application tool” as a “perfect complement to the Bamboo Stylus for iPad.” After playing with it for the day, I agree. It is the perfect compliment for the Bamboo stylus; both leave me wondering why Wacom bothered. What follows is more of a first impression than a full review.

Bamboo Paper gives a clean interface with simple controls that are, unfortunately, locked in the portrait orientation. The drawing engine uses speed to determine line thickness within a small range, giving a natural look to what you write. There are 6 colors—three of them blues—and three line thicknesses, not very far apart. Add in a single size eraser and I’ve listed the full tool line-up.

Bamboo Paper's lack of features makes it useful for only the most basic doodling.

You get one notebook. Sure it has unlimited pages with bookmarks, but that is a poor substitute. The directions reference the front page as the “library,” so perhaps more notebooks are in the works. You can rename your notebook. You can email your notebook or an individual page as a pdf or image. You can export an image to your photo library. I’m pretty sure I just listed everything that this app does.

Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing inherently wrong with Bamboo Paper, just like there is nothing wrong with the Bamboo Stylus. I just have it in my head that Wacom, an industry leader, should be bringing products to the market that exceed the feature sets and usability of other products/apps already out there. Bamboo Paper does not do anything that other note apps, like Notability, don’t already do. The other apps have more features. What little is there is executed well, but at this time, I can not think of a use for which I would choose Bamboo Paper instead of another application.

My mother always says to mention at least one positive thing when you’re being critical and I will apply that sage advice here: Bamboo Paper ignores your wrist very accurately if you put it down to draw. I think that is part of why it is a little wonky when you try to pinch to zoom, but at least you can work from the wrist.

Fortunately, it’s free until the end of the month, at which point, the price will be $1.99. I really hope they add enough capability to justify charging anything for this app.

Source: Wacom Bamboo Paper