It doesn't really matter whether you're an accomplished graphic artist, or an amateur designer just looking to have fun - Wacom tablets are an effective means of transforming your most creative ideas into digital form so you can share it with the world.
My Experience With The Device
For many years I knew I was capable of drawing some decent artwork by just using a mouse, as crude a drawing device as that is. Then, as I grew up and began playing around with the more advanced painting/photo editing applications, I realized that I required a new input method to create my artwork. After plenty of research, I discovered the Wacom brand. A company that began creating graphic tablets back in the 1980's, they were clearly the top brand for these type of input devices.
As of now, I've owned my Wacom Bamboo tablet for almost 3 years. The device has held up considerably, despite using it on a daily basis. It's taken the place of my mouse, and wherever my laptop goes, it tags along in my lapotp's carrying case. I couldn't be happier with my purchase.
Setup And Features
I primarily use it with Photoshop. However, it works just as well with other free to download graphic applications such as GIMP. Also, I've installed the drivers and the free Wacom applications on multiple systems so far and the setup was so easy, I actually forget the specific steps. It's a breeze to setup for new users.
The device's surface doubles as a touch pad, though I always turn that function off as there have been instances where I will activate something I didn't intend to. Just by having my hand brush against the surface. Not an issue for me at all as I keep those touch features turned off anyways.
Who Is This Tablet For?
I use my Wacom device mainly for artistic andeavours and general operating system nagivation. However, it does work just fine for gaming if you're playing something with heavy mouse control. This device wouldn't be optimal for a keyboard + mouse setup as it's cumbersome to use both at the same time. In my experience, this tablet + pen should be used as the main input. Though, I am perfectly able to use quick shortcut keys on the keyboard whenever required.
If you're a photographer, and I'm certainly not, this device would also have it's uses. Photoshop feels right at home with a tablet whether you're drawing or editing. You'll no doubt feel as comfortable using this as I do with any type of graphic design.
The Various Wacom Products
There are several different types of Wacom tablet devices depending on your needs. I'm listing two here as I believe these have the most features when compared to the price. There are cheaper tablets with smaller surface areas, however (keeping in mind that I've only tried the
one device that I own, which is a larger tablet) I wouldn't recommend trying to draw or edit using a small surface. Just the thought of it sounds awkward. However, that could just be my own preference.
Amazon Price: $80.00 Buy Now
(price as of Feb 11, 2014)
Wacom Bamboo Fun Tablet
First up is the exact tablet that I'm using right now. It's a rather large surface area, easy to setup, and feels comfortable to have on your lap or on a desk. The pen is battery free, despite it having a couple useful buttons on it. Not sure how that works considering it's battery free, but I couldn't live without those buttons. I use one button to scroll around my canvas, and the other is the right click function. While you tap the surface with the pen to left click. It all works very smoothly.
The actual tablet has four buttons on it as well. All of which can be set up to your liking with the Wacom application that comes with the device drivers. You can set these up as application shortcuts (like Photoshop, perhaps), or use a button to switch back and forth from a
second monitor. A useful feature for those with a dual monitor setup.
The pen has 1024 pressure levels. Which is obviously useful for many reasons. You can custmize this in a myriad of ways so the application you use will react accordingly. Press hard to make thicker lines, brighter colours, or more opacity. On the rear side of the pen is an eraser. Works exactly as you'd expect. Though doesn't have it's own pressure sensitivity.
Amazon Price: $499.00 Too low to display Buy Now
(price as of Feb 11, 2014)
Wacom Intuos Tablet
The Wacom Intuos series has some very interesting additional features when compared to the Bamboo. First off is, in my opinion, the most important feature: Full range of motion for the lithium powered pen. Fully mimicking real-to-life brush strokes as you paint around the canvas. This will definitely be the tablet I choose to upgrade to when the time comes. The pen also has a full 2048 levels of pressure sensitivity, which is double that of the Bamboo series. Not to mention pressure sensitivity for the eraser as well.
The tablet itself has 8 customizable shortcut buttons compared to the Bamboo series' 4 button design. I should also mentioned that the Intuos version comes with free downloadable copies of Adobe Photoshop Elements 11, Autodesk Sketchbook, Anime Studio Debut 8, Corel Painter 13 30 day trial and Nik Color Efex Pro 4 select edition. So lots of applications to play with right out of the box.
My Concluding Thoughts
The best advice I can give is that if you're completely new to Wacom drawing tablets you should consider picking up the cheaper Bamboo model as it's more than capable of producing fantastic artwork. However, if you're somebody sporting the newest version of Photoshop and wants to jump in with the best tech available, you might want to look into the Intuos series. As it just simply has more to offer with it's features and included applications.