Although I had never done a drawing tablet review before, I felt obligated to do so once I had actually used the Wacom Intuos 4 for the first time. For those graphic artists out there who have not had the pleasure of using a digital drawing tablet before you can be rest assured that many of your peers are using one to mimic the feel of pencil and paper on a computer. These devices usually come with a computer mouse, a pen and the actual drawing tablet itself. The pen is what most people find themselves using most as it is pressure sensitive and tries to mimic the actual experience of drawing (aka pressing down more gives you a darker line). Despite there being only a few companies that compete in this area, there is one that has clearly established itself as the leader among professionals. Wacom is a well known worldwide company that produces top of the line drawing tablets that are commonly said to be the industry standard by artists, architects, photographers, cartoonists, graphic designers and anyone else who likes to create things on their computer. Until you actually use one, you can't really understand how invaluable they are.
Wacom Tablet Review
This article will focus on the Wacom Intuos 4 medium drawing tablet (item model number PTK640) which is marketed toward professional digital artists who like to use a tablet that has the same feel as drawing on paper. Because of this they have the highest specifications of any other Wacom device. The drawing tablet dimensions are 10 x 14.6 x 0.5 inches and come in at about 2.2 pounds. It does take up some space on your table, but many people alleviate this problem by holding the drawing tablet in their laps to draw.
â€¢ Pen pressure sensitivity now has 2048 levels which means it can capture even the lightest of touches. This really comes into play (for me) when I use it to add shadows to photographs or artwork. You can even turn the pen around and have access to an eraser, just like on a pencil. This eraser has the same pressure sensitivity as the pen.
â€¢ The natural feel of the pen actually reduces stress to the hand and the wrist. Anyone who uses a mouse eventually starts to feel the effects of this stress. It may take a little while to get use to using the pen, but once you do, youâ€™ll be using it a lot more and you may notice that those wrist pains just start to disappear.
â€¢ I like the fact the drawing tablet comes with a mouse. I hardly ever use it, but the times I do need it, itâ€™s nice to have (plus it's cordless).
â€¢ The drawing tablet has several touchpads which can be used to set up your own custom shortcuts. The settings will change in an illuminated display area beside the pads. Because of the illuminated display the drawing tablet is reverseable and can be set up easily for right handed or left handed people. Iâ€™ve also noticed that since all the touchpads are on the same side of the drawing tablet I can draw with one hand and use the other to work the pads.
â€¢ This tablet also has a finger sensitive touch ring which allows you to scroll, zoom, adjust brush sizes, etc. A central button allows you to choose between four functions. I didnâ€™t think much of it when I got the tablet, but I find myself using it quite often now.
â€¢ Every switch on the drawing tablet and pen can be customized depending on the drawing software you are using.
â€¢ The pen stand has a twist off storage area that contains extra pen nibs and a pen nib removal tool. Those nibs are easy to lose and nice to have in one area.
â€¢ If you decide to get the Wacom Intuos 4 you will also be entitled to download a selection of titles that can be enhanced by use of the tablet. I believe I chose the Corel Painter Sketch Pad.
â€¢ Widescreen format.
â€¢ Wacom drawing tablets often hold their value quite well, so if you ever need to sell it you should be able to get a decent price for it.
â€¢ The pen has a rubberized grip on it which makes it feel great but also attracts dust (a minor nuisance I suppose). The pen also has a rocking like button on it that is a bit awkward to use. I wouldâ€™ve just preferred regular push buttons.
â€¢ The tablet surface is rougher on the Intuos 4 than it was on the Intuos 3. This causes a closer pen on paper experience, but also causes the pen nibs to wear out a lot faster. If you continue using a worn out nib you will eventually scratch the surface of the digital tablet. Extra nibs are about $1 each. This is one area that I wish they had not changed, but I remember people saying that the Intuos 3 was too slick. I never minded the slicker surface, myself. I wish Wacom would let you choose what type of surface sheet you wanted.
â€¢ I seriously thought about switching to the small version as even the medium does take up quite a bit of space. The only difference (besides size) would be that the small drawing tablet does not have the OLED display. In the end though I decided to keep what I ordered, even though the smaller version would have worked better for me.
â€¢ My drawing tablet came with driver software already on it, but when I updated the software through the Wacom website I ran into problems. There were bugs between the Wacom software and the Vista software which I had to fix every time I restarted my computer. I eventually just reinstalled the version that came with my drawing tablet and have had no problems. Wacom may have fixed these problems as it has been a year or more since I did this. Iâ€™ve just never saw a reason to update my driver software yet.
â€¢ The price on the upper range is about $349, but depending on where you buy it can go lower. (Note: The upper range on the small is about $229.)
â€¢ A carrying case of some kind would have been very helpful to help protect everything when traveling.
Overall I am very pleased with my purchase of the Wacom Intuos 4 drawing tablet and I hope the things I've said in my review helps you make an informed decision. Iâ€™ve owned it for a while now and while I don't use it all the time, it is taken advantage of quite often. The primary reason I bought this device was for the pen sensitivity technology and in this area Wacom excels; I would have no problem recommending this product to someone. Itâ€™s a buy.