Developer: Sensu Brush
Price: $39.99
Device Reviewed With: new iPad, iPhone 5

Usability Rating: ★★★★½
Integration with iPad/iPhone Rating: ★★★★☆
Hardware Design Rating: ★★★★½
Re-Use Value Rating: ★★★★½

Overall Rating: ★★★★½

The Sensu Portable Artist Brush And Stylus is a revelation for digital artists, iPad enthusiasts, and anyone who wants the portable convenience of a paintbrush that’s also a stylus. The paintbrush hairs are synthetic and infused with conductive properties, and were originally created for the cosmetic industry to help fine powders release from make-up brushes when they contacted skin. There’s a luxurious feel to the Sensu brush; it connects with the touchscreen devices I tested it with with a deliciously tactile sensation. It can be used with any painting or drawing app on the iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch, making this a versatile tool.

The build of the Sensu Brush And Stylus impresses with its solidity and careful craftsmanship. When the metal cap is closed over the brush hairs, I’m reminded of my treasured Bullet-style space pen. The rubberized hard stylus nib is exposed when the cap covers the brush end, and this cap can be reversed to fit over the stylus end, as well, making the Sensu look and feel like a traditional artist’s brush. The website warns users to use care when replacing the cap over the brush end; this is a warning to heed. The metal cap could certainly bend one or more of the brush hairs, as the tolerance for fit is precise.

The rubber stylus nib is smooth, non-stick, and is made to last. I was able to draw, tap buttons, swipe, and type with little effort. It doesn’t stick or stutter on the screen, and feels as at home on the small iPhone 5 screen as it does on the iPad 3. The brush end is delightful, feeling as familiar as an actual paint brush. At times, the smaller size–for portability’s sake–can challenge an artist. My painter friend liked having the rubber nib and the brush available for use at the same time, but felt that the shortness of the cap-less Sensu Brush and Stylus felt awkward. Perhaps a second, longer and less portable model will be created in the future.

Overall, the Sensu Portable Artist Brush And Stylus is a triumph of form and function, letting digital artists create works of art on the touchscreen of an iPad or other device using a familiarly formed paintbrush tool. At $39.99, the brush/stylus tool won’t break the bank, and is a fine addition to any digital artist’s toolbox.

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