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Wacom Intuos4 Rocks

Wacom recently released their new line of Intuos4 graphics tablets. After getting one to try out, I must say, I like it. A lot.

In the world of Photoshop users, there are graphics tablet users, and there are those who find minimal if any use for a tablet. I must admit to having been in the latter category. I bought an original Wacom Intuos tablet when they came out years ago but it always seemed an unnecessary barrier between me and what I was trying to do. Maybe I wasn't used to using it, but it just felt unnatural. Since then, it's basically become relegated to sitting on the shelf. I rarely plugged it in to use it. All that changed with the release of the Intuos4 line.

I bought the Large version but there are also Small, Medium and even Extra-Large models. I probably could have been equally happy with the Medium, but I splurged. Even when I first took it out of the box I admit I was impressed. Compared to my old original Intuos, this new incarnation was a huge improvement. Its sleek, piano black body just exudes quality. My old tablet plugged into a serial port and required an external power connection. The Intuos4 is powered directly from a simply USB connection.

There was definitely a lot of thought put into the design. For those who are left-handed, the tablet can be rotated 180 degrees with no compromises. You can also move the USB plug to the opposite side to keep it out of the way. Even the Wacom logo is printed facing both ways so it's always right-side up regardless of the orientation you choose. The button labeling for the row of "ExpressKeys" is provided by pale blue OLED (organic light emitting diode) displays alongside the keys. The labels changes based on what function you have assigned to each key.

In the middle of the row of ExpressKeys is the new Touch Ring that anyone familiar with the iPod interface should find immediately familiar. As you roll your finger around the ring, you can easily zoom in and out, rotate the canvass, adjust your brush size, or cycle through the document layers. To switch between each of these functions, just press on the button in the center of the Touch Ring. This Touch Ring alone may well be worth the price of getting an Intuos4 tablet for many users. This thing makes working with large images easy.

But perhaps the main reason to get a graphics tablet is the tablet itself and how the pen interacts with it. This is another area where the Intuos4 designers have definitely done their homework. Drawing on this thing feels amazingly close to actual drawing on natural media. The weighted pen base also houses a variety of pen nibs so probably everyone will be able to find one they are comfortable with. I was forever losing the extra nibs to my old Intuos pen.

The Intuos4 pen is fully pressure sensitive requiring just one gram of pressure for the tablet to sense that the pen is in contact with it. From there, you can control the behavior of your tool in Photoshop based on how hard you press. Even the eraser on the back end of the pen is pressure sensitive. It all feels very natural. Even as a photographer I found easy to get used to. Artists who actually work with pencil or pen and ink will definitely feel right at home.

An included mouse isn't the most ergonomic in design, but I've never been one for mice that look to be more at home playing video games than working in Photoshop anyway. For my needs, I find it quite usable and it's nice that it can be used directly on the same surface as the pens so it doesn't take up more desk space than necessary.

As I said at the outset, I like this thing a lot. I've only barely scratched the surface of the options available with the Intuos4 tablet. If you have even a passing interest in getting a graphics tablet, now is the time to do so. The new Wacom Intuos4 rocks.

Date posted: May 10, 2009


Copyright © 2009 Bob Johnson, Earthbound Light - all rights reserved.
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