Tech-stravagant? New $50 Bluetooth pencil improves iPad app

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The team behind popular drawing app Paper have released a stylus that will work bring special features to the app.

Aptly named Pencil, the stylus can be purchased via maker FiftyThree's website. Two models are available -- an aluminum Graphite model for $49.99 and a hardwood Walnut model that comes with a magnetic snap for $59.99.

Pencil features a tapered tip that can be used on its sides for larger strokes, and has an eraser at the top like traditional pencils. The eraser end works with Paper so you don't have to switch tools mid sketch. The 5.43 x 0.61 x 0.33-inch stylus connects to your device with Bluetooth Low Energy, but no setup appears to be required. Pencil should work as soon as you press its tip to the screen. It charges via USB and lasts for up to a month of normal use on a charge.

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When you use Pencil in the Paper app, it activates several special features. Apart from enabling the eraser tip functionality, you get palm rejection and blending functions so you can work on your art as if it were an actual lead-on-paper sketch. These features only work on iPads with retina displays or the iPad mini, but Pencil works as a regular, albeit expensive, stylus with any touchscreen device.

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FiftyThree does not recommend using a screen protector with the stylus, claiming the rough surface can increase wear on the rubber tips and may interfere with your device's ability to detect Pencil. Each Pencil comes with a removable, rechargeable Lithium-polymer battery, extra eraser and tip and a 30-day guarantee.

If you want to make better use of all that screen real estate on your non-iPad tablet, but don't want to shell out $50 for a stylus that won't do anything special, the $14.95 Wacom Bamboo Stylus mini could be a suitable alternative. However, iPad owners who already use Paper may find Pencil a worthy companion that brings life to their sketches.