Review unit provided by Renaisser
Renaisser is a company known for making digital styluses that are compatible with Microsoft Surface devices. The Renaisser Raphael 530 stylus is the latest addition to the line up with a retail price of USD 39.99. FYI, the Microsoft Surface Slim Pen 2 (review) is priced at USD 129 and the older Surface Pen is US 99.
The Renaisser Raphael 530 supports Microsoft Pen Protocol 2.0 (MPP2) and has tilt sensitivity, 4096 levels of pressure sentivity and palm rejection.
The build quality is excellent with its full metal body. The matte textured body is comfortable to hold and has good grip. One side of the cylindrical design is flat to snap magnetically to supported Microsoft Surface devices. Unfortunately the pen doesn't snap to the Surface Pro 8 because that tablet doesn't have flat side edges.
There's a side button and eraser button at the back.
The pen is powered by a built-in battery with USB-C charging. Charging the battery for 15 minutes provides 70 hours of use, and charging for one hour provides 100 hours of use.
Here's a size comparison with the older Surface Pen (middle) and the Surface Slim Pen 2 (bottom).
The tip is rubberised just like the older Surface Pen's tip. This tip has some resistance against glass and provides good control for drawing.
The tablet I've used for the tests and sketches below is the Microsoft Surface Pro 8.
These are line tests created with Affinity Photo. I tested the three pens for (1) initial activation force and diagonal line wobble, (2), tapering strokes, (3) pressure transition and (4) drawing dots.
1. The pens with the best initial activation force are Slim Pen 2 and Raphael 530, followed by the Surface Pen. Slim Pen 2 has minimal to no diagonal line wobble. Raphael 530 and Surface Pen have slight wobble with diagonal lines which you can see in test #3 as well.
2. All three pens have some difficulty with tapering strokes. The strokes can taper but not as smoothly compared to pen displays or pen tablets.
3. Lines are able to transition from thin to thick and back to thin. This means the pens are able to detect minimal pressure changes. Note the diagonal line wobble with Raphael 530 and Surface Pen.
4. Dots can be drawn easily by tapping the pen tip.
Below are sketches drawn with the Renaisser Raphael 530.
This was drawn with Affinity Photo. I did not experience any problems with the wobbly diagonal lines while drawing.
This was drawn with Concepts. Drawing experience is good. No issues.
These are tilt sensitivity tests from Concepts app with the same tilt brush.
Out of the three pens, the Slim Pen 2 was able to produce the largest stroke variety, followed by the Surface Pen and lastly the Raphael 530.
The Raphael 530 has difficult producing thick and broad strokes with tilt. If you can't create broad strokes with tilt, the alternative is to change the brush size and that of course is not as convenient. So tilt sensitivity is an area the Raphael 530 can improve.
Drawing performance is good. There is slight wobble with diagonal lines but it's mostly a non-issue while drawing. The main downside is it's difficult to get really broad strokes with tilt brushes compared to Slim Pen 2 and Surface Pen.
For US $39.99, the Renaisser Raphael 530 definitely provides more value for money compared to the Microsoft Slim Pen 2 and even the Surface Pen. Despite the minor downsides, this is a pen I can recommend because you can save a lot of money by not going with Microsoft's pens.
By the way, do check out my review for the Renaisser Pelican K8 wireless keyboard for the SP8 too. That keyboard case has a slot to house the Raphael 530 pen.