There are few graphic designers, photographers, and illustrators around who haven’t used a Wacom graphics tablet at one point or another in their careers. Wacom are certainly at the forefront of the market for graphic design and illustration with their tablets, and we’ve been given both the Wacom Bamboo, and Intuos4 wireless to take a look at – both of which are definitely a step up from the current iPad tablet and stylus combination!
Today, we’re reviewing the Wacom Intuos4 wireless model, the more expensive of the two models that we have, and the larger of the two also. It retails for around £300 in the UK, and promises 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity, customisable ExpressKeys with OLED displays and new radial menus that enable fast access to shortcuts. Does it come up good on its promise, or are you better sticking with the ol’ keyboard and mouse? Let’s find out.
If the box is anything to go by, you are in for a treat when you start using the Intuos4. The tablet itself is contained in a protective sleeve to prevent damage during shipping, and underneath you will find a whole host of goodies, including the necessary stylus to use the tablet, a nice little desk holder for the stylus, and an installation disk for both Windows and Mac OS X.
Installation and Setup
Before you can hook the tablet up to your computer, you will first need to install the necessary software from the CD which is provided inside the box. Simply put it in your computer (I used a Mac Mini for this, although the drivers are compatible with Windows computers as well), and select the “Install” icon that appears.
When you select to install the software, you’ll be asked if you’re right or left handed. This is because the Intuos4 has touch sensitive controls and a circular dial on the side of the tablet input’s main input area (more on that in a second).
From here, setup is as simple as plugging in the tablet to your computer with the USB cable that is provided with the unit, and letting the installation program do its thing. Once it’s done, you’re good to unplug the tablet, go wireless, and doodle to your heart’s content.
The Wacom Intuos4 looks absolutely top class, with curved edges and a very usable area for input. What impressed me most, however, are the OLED displays beside the customisable ExpressKeys on the side. Admittedly, it took me a while to get used to inputting using the tablet, but I was doodling away in no time with the help of Photoshop.
Originally, I was quite skeptical over how useful the radial menus would be, with the hardware dial on the unit. It’s quite difficult to get used to if you haven’t used it before, but it’s certainly worth getting used to. Providing quick access to brush sizes and various tools within the software that you can use with the tablet, it’s sure to make any graphic designer or illustrator incredibly proficient and far more productive than previously when post-processing images and video graphics.
The only down side to using the Intuos4 is that it can sometimes be a little awkward getting the right height of the pen to move the cursor without clicking or drawing, and if the distance allowed between the pen and the tablet for recognition was increased then it would make the product that little bit easier to use.
There is no doubt in my mind that an awful lot of time has gone in to the development of the Wacom Intuos4, making it as good as it can be. It’s simply a necessity for any graphic designer, illustrator, and any other profession that requires the input of drawings on the computer, as I don’t believe that there is a better way than this to accomplish such a task.
As I mentioned earlier, you can pick up the Intuos4 for under £300 on Amazon, so if you’re interested, be sure to take a look.