Tablet Pro

There are basically 3 types of Surface Pen compatible stylus

1 button with Bluetooth

2 button without bluetooth

2 button with bluetooth

Microsoft Surface Pen

best surface pen alternative

 

The Surface stylus by Microsoft is an example of a single button pen with a bluetooth button that is also an eraser. The eraser can be used in many programs to erase digital ink. This stylus is magnetic and a quality product. It also supports tilt and 4096 levels of pressure sensitivity. The inclusion of the bluetooth button makes it more expensive (around $100) and the AAAA battery adds weight to the stylus. The single Right Click button on the side can be changed to other functions by using the Tablet Pro Pen Tool. The bluetooth button can also be remapped inside of Windows with further abilities through the Pen Tool. It is useful for triggering the Windows ink workspace, sniping tools, cortana, or opening OneNote with many other options as well. This stylus is well suited for ease of use and not speed of use. 

R520 Stylus

 

The R520 stylus by Renaisser is a 2 button stylus without bluetooth. The removal of bluetooth (which is not typically used to interact with a drawing, 3D modeling, or design program reduces the cost of the stylus without sacrificing the tool as it pertains to artists. This stylus is magnetic but most in this variety are not magnetic. This has 4096 levels of pressure sensitivity with others ranging from 1024 – 4096, with 4096 as the industry standard. This one has tilt and about 50% of pens in this category contain tilt.  This pen charges via micro usb, the lack of removable battery makes this the lightest option. The 2 button design includes the eraser button, which allows you to erase without flipping the stylus like the Surface Pen. The eraser side button can be used to sub material in Zbrush and other 3D sculpting programs like Blender, it can also be used to eraser digital ink in most drawing programs. The second button is a Right Click button. This button can be remapped using the Tablet Pro Pen Tool to almost any function including modifiers like “alt” “ctrl or “shift” 

Wacom Bamboo Ink Plus

best surface pen alternative

 

The Wacom Bamboo Ink Plus is a dual protocol pen. While I will address this topic at the bottom, it isn’t pertinent to this category. The Ink Plus is the second iteration of the dual protocol pen by Wacom (the digital pen leader). The pen has tilt, 4096 levels of pressure and a bluetooth button. The cost is similar to the Surface stylus at around $100. This pen charges via usb C. The 2 side buttons are eraser and right click. Don’t confuse this stylus with the Wacom Bamboo ink stylus which is cheaper, and lacks tilt. This type of stylus removes the eraser butt of the pencil and moves the eraser button to the side. The second button is the Right Click button. Both buttons can be remapped using the Tablet Pro Pen Tool. This stylus seems to suffer from poor line quality and while sounding ideal on paper, it does not produce lines that look good on digital paper. 

The dual protocol aspect means this stylus can be used on most wacom tablets as well as most Surface or Surface Pen compatible devices. 

Pro's

  • high quality
  • cleaner lines
  • simple to understand how to erase
  • always on
  • long battery life
  • tilt
  • 4096 levels of pressure
  • Right click button
  • remappable using Tablet Pro Pen Tool
  • bluetooth button
  • good for 2D digital artists
 
 
 
 

Pro's

  • high quality
  • cleaner lines
  • 2 side buttons
  • very reasonable price
  • remappable using Tablet Pro Pen Tool
  • faster erasing
  • tilt
  • 4096 levels of pressure
  • Right Click button
  • long battery life
  • weight is similar to a pencil
  • balanced (reduces hand fatigue)
  • slimmest (similar to a pencil)
  • good for 2D and 3D digital artists
  • full range of pressure available

Pro's

  • ok quality
  • 2 side buttons
  • remappable using Tablet Pro Pen Tool
  • faster erasing
  • tilt
  • 4096 levels of pressure
  • Right Click button
  • long battery life
  • bluetooth button
  • compatible with wacom and ntrig devices
 

Con's

  • high price
  • lines still have jitter/wobble
  • heavy
  • no eraser side button
  • not ideal for 3D artists
  • light pressure is harder to achieve
 
 
 

Con's

  • lacks a bluetooth button
  • needs a micro usb cable to charge

Con's

  • poor quality lines lots of jitter and wobbles
  • high price
  • not ideal for art besides recreational