Graphics tablets are produced by many companies, but Wacom have consistently produced high quality hardware. They come at a premium, however, even more so if you live outside of the US.
Wacom categorize their tablets into home &office, creative professional and specialist. For this article I will be taking you through their latest revision of a tablet from their home & office range - the Bamboo. More specifically, the mid-range "pen and touch" in black.
The tablet features 4 shortcut buttons on the tablet, and two on the pen itself along with the eraser on the back. The most prolific element in comparison to earlier models is the design of the tablet itself.
The unit has now taken on a different orientation, and I think I cleaner look. This new bamboo also features a gloss surround, as opposed to the matte finish from the previous model. The pen holder has been completely re-designed. The pen now rests in a "tab", similar to the tags on clothing. While this new design is unique, and innovative for this type of product, it does create practical issues which I was get to later in this article.
The new Bamboo features a single rectangular light, again designed to give it a sharper, more professional look. When plugged in, this light glows a dim white. When the pen is recognized it turns to orange, and then turns more luminent when pressure is applied.
Ease of Use:
I will break this section of the article into two parts: one which will cover the physical use of the product; and one which explains its usability with software.
I'll start with the areas which are not so great practically. The tab on the side, which I mentioned earlier, can become quite troublesome. The horizontal nature means that I have to use quite a lot of desk space up just to access the pen easily. Furthermore, the buttons of the side latch onto the fabric on the tab and restricts it from coming out the way it went in. If you are like me, and don't have a large desk space, then it can be a slightly frustrating experience. Having said this, once the pen is been used for long periods of time it can just rest on the desk when you’re not using it for short breaks.
The good points, I believe, outweigh the cons. The curved sides, like the old Bamboo, create an ergonomic shape in which to rest your hand on. I have experienced no pain in my hand after using the tablet for a long period of time. In addition, the pen is also very comfortable to hold, and the buttons are easily assessable.
Integration with software:
I apologise in advance to people who use different software for operating system and graphic design software. I am currently working with Windows XP and Photoshop CS4.
Installation of the tablet is very straightforward, and I had no problems there. Unlike other tablets I’ve used in the past, the Bamboo was all ready to go once it was installed. It did not find the need to adjust any settings, and the buttons automatically assigned to useful features. I was surprised when it was able to integrate so well into Photoshop. The buttons correspond to the right tool/command and I have not had any problems with compatibility.
The pen features 1024 levels of pressure, which provides an accurate and realistic feel when using the tablet. The active area of the tablet may be small compared to others, but the accuracy makes it so precise, even when zoomed out.
In all the Bamboo is a solid package for any experienced designer, who is fed up of trying to draw or paint using the mouse.
+ Compact design makes it great for small desks
+ Attractive design fits seamlessly into a computer environment
+ Battery less pen gives you one less thing to worry about, and a lighter pen
+ Good compatibility with Photoshop
+ Accurate enough to create a professional result
- Tab is a great design feature but is not very practical
- Compared to other tablets it is a pricey option and I only recommend for serious designers
Thanks for reading,
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