Wacom Bamboo Pen & Touch Graphics Tablet
This basically takes a traditional graphics tablet, which requires a pen to interact with, and adds touch technology so you can use your fingers as well. And given Wacom has an unmatched pedigree when it comes to creating tablets
The Bamboo Pen & Touch, its 248 x 176 x 8.5mm dimensions (with an ‘active’ area of 147 x 92mm for the pen and 125 x 85mm for touch sensitivity) and 360g weight strike a good balance between portability and a decent working area. Certainly as a touch device it’s more generous than even the largest touchpad, though as a pen tablet it’s at the smallest end of the scale. In the box you get a driver CD, pen and tablet, plus three spare identical nibs and a metal nib-remover, though unlike the Intuos 4 there’s no pen holder to store these in.
Aesthetically, the Bamboo’s smooth blending of matt and glossy black plastics with a white LED strip is classic Wacom. Indeed, it’s quite an attractive peripheral, if not quite as classy as the far more expensive Intuos 4 range. It feels well-built too, though its thinness makes it feel fragile. One definite step back compared to its more expensive siblings is the permanently attached USB cable. If this becomes faulty or is damaged you’ll have to replace the whole tablet or send it off for repair.
You can set the Bamboo for right or left-handed use with a simple selection in the Pen Tablet Properties application. In its right-handed position, the Bamboo offers four large buttons called ExpressKeys to the left, divided into pairs by a narrow LED strip that glows orange when receiving input from either the pen or your fingers. These buttons offer excellent, crisp feedback. Our only complaint is their glossy finish, which will need regular cleaning to keep finger-print free; as so often with modern devices, style has been prioritized over convenience, though at least the tablet’s surface has been kept matt.
Installation is a piece of cake, with drivers for Windows XP to 7 and OS X (Wacom’s drivers provide the multi-touch features for XP and Vista). Once installed, the Pen Tablet Properties applet lets you customize pen and tablet settings to your heart’s content with a clear, logical interface. The Pen Tablet Preference File Utility, meanwhile, will let you Remove, Backup or Restore preferences, though a simpler, integrated and above all on-the-fly switchable profiles system would be preferable.
On the hardware side, while not sporting the prodigious 2,048 pressure sensitivity levels of the Intuos 4 Grip Pen, the Bamboo Pen & Touch pen does sport 1,024 of them. Considering that the pens in Wacom’s previous top-end Intuos 3 line-up and current Cintiq (pricey) range use this pressure sensitivity level, it’s certainly nothing to sniff at and will be more than good enough for even professional artists and photo-editors.
Of course, using the pen is only half the story. Thanks to its multi-touch capabilities, the responsive tablet allows you to do everything that a mouse can and more. You can left-click by tapping a finger, or right-click by tapping both. You can drag and drop by adding a second finger to a left or right swipe, scroll or go Forward/Back by swiping both fingers simultaneously, zoom by pinching and finally rotate by turning two fingers in a circle.
Bamboo Pen & Touch you’re also getting a darn good pen tablet for the price. As such, for digital artists on a strict budget or regular users just looking for a fun new way of interacting with their PC, it’s a very good option.
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