Although E FUN may have just released its APEN, Wacom today introduced its very similar - yet different - Inkling digital sketch pen. Like the APEN, Inkling is a ballpoint pen that writes in ink on regular paper, and is combined with a small receiver that users clip to the top of the page. That receiver logs the location of the pen on the paper. When that data is transferred to a computer, a digital image of whatever was written or drawn is the result. Inkling is unique, however, in that it also incorporates pressure-sensing technology. This means that the relative line weights of the inked content will be transferred to the digital images, which makes it particularly well-suited to artwork.

The pen can detect 1,024 different levels of pressure, so it's quite sensitive. The receiver can reportedly store thousands of sketches at a time, and can also facilitate multiple layers of a single sketch. When users want to render their drawings for emailing, editing or other reasons, the receiver is simply hooked up to a computer with a USB cable.

Inkling exports its files directly to Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator (CS3 or newer), and Autodesk Sketchbook Pro (2011). Wacom's included Sketch Manager software also allows users to edit, delete or add layers to their work, or to save files in a variety of formats, for manipulation using other applications.

It would also be possible, of course, simply to put pen-and-ink drawings through a scanner. That could be quite time-consuming, however, plus the user would need access to a scanner-equipped computer. With Inkling, however, any machine running Sketch Manager would suffice. The pen and receiver are also much smaller than a typical scanner.

Inkling will be available through Amazon and the Wacom store as of the latter half of September, at a price of US$199.