Drawing with Wacom 

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Whenever the subject of graphics tablets comes up, the first name that springs to my mind is that of Wacom, the company behind products such as the Pen & Touch offering which is the focus of this next review.

Wacom Intuos Pen Graphics Tablet
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Available in either small or medium format, this Intuos Pen & Touch product has been developed to help when drawing, sketching or creating projects on a computer.  It does this by stepping in and taking over from the mouse controlled cursor and providing a drawing pad work area.  The kit consists of the tablet, micro-to-standard USB lead with an “L” shaped plug at the micro end, stylus pen with cloth material holder, Quick Start Guide and a software CD.

My review unit was of the smaller version of the product with dimensions of 210 x 177 x 8mm (W x H x D) which gives you an active working area of 152 x 95mm.  The tablet weighs 463g which means it should not cause too much inconvenience if it needs to be held for lengthy work sessions.  The silver active area is headed by a 4cm wide black strip featuring light indicators for power and data transfer on the front and a compartment at the rear that holds the material holder for the pen stylus.  This compartment can also be used when you need to replace the tip of the pen unit. 

The length of the provided USB lead is not particularly generous at barely 92cm.  This length gives a clear indication that Wacom feels this tablet is more suitable for use with a laptop rather than a desktop system.  I know that the length of this USB lead meant I had to rearrange my work area in order to clear the necessary space required by the tablet when it was attached to my floor-based work system.  A laptop certainly offers greater flexibility with regards positioning the tablet.

The Quick Start Guide sticks to its title by offering little more that the basic instructions for linking the tablet to a computer via a USB port.  The computer needs to be connected to the Internet so that the automatic downloading of the required drivers can take place.  If you do not have access to an Internet connection then you can use the supplied CD which contains the installation software.

I was not expecting any problems with regards to the installation but I was quickly disillusioned.  My first attempt at installing the software on a Windows 7 system proved less than successful.  In fact you could say it was a total failure.  After a system reboot, required to complete the installation, I was limited to controlling the desktop cursor with the tablet rather than the mouse.  A second system reboot removed this problem and returned control of the cursor to the mouse while at the same time presenting a message that the driver failed to load and no tablet was recognised.  Subsequent restarts produced the same result.

At this point I switch to a second system, this time running Windows 8.1.  The installation was smooth and trouble-free.  As yet I have been unable to discover why the first installation failed so miserable.  I have since set up the tablet on a second Windows 7 system without problems which seems to point the problem at the computer rather than the Wacom device. 

When working with this tablet and pen combination, the initial problems with the installation were quickly forgotten.  Using this combination of tablet and pen can certainly makes for a friendlier working environment when drawing and sketching within various appropriate applications even for somebody such as myself who could never be described as being artistic by a long shot.  This kit can also be used to replace the mouse when working on the desktop but this is not something I would recommend as I feel the mouse is far better suited to this type of work area and the tasks involved.

Pull up your favourite graphics program and you will be able to use this tablet to show off your artistic ability.  Among the graphics programs I have used with this tablet are Photoshop Elements, ArtRage, Paint Shop Pro and Bamboo Page.  This latter title is a Wacom developed app that can be downloaded free-of-charge from the Windows store.  Using Bamboo Page, you can create notes and sketches on different types of paper, use different pen thicknesses and a limited range of colours.

The pen unit supports 1024 pressure levels while the tablet allows for gestures to activate certain tasks.  You can rotate, scroll and zoom with a one or two finger gesture.  Using the company’s ExpressKeys™ feature you can assigned up to four user-specified actions.  The tablet also supports wireless connectivity with the purchase of an additional module (not tested).  Currently pricing for this product is set at £89.99.

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OverallWacom Pen & Tablet rated 68 out of 100

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