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Wacom's Bamboo Pen and Touch review

This article was taken from issue 83 of ImagineFX magazine, on sale now. Be the first to read ImagineFX articles in print before they're posted online and get your hands on loads of additional DVD content by subscribing. Visit our shop for more options.

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Price: £75 | Company Wacom | Web www.wacom.com | Contact 020 7744 0831

With more apps integrating multi-touch gestures into their user interface, the humble graphics tablet is taking on a new lease of life as a multi-touch input device. As you will have seen in last month’s Intuos5 review, the Wacom range of graphics tablets now comes with complete support for multi-touch gesturing across its entire range, including its entry-level Bamboo products.

The Wacom Bamboo comes in two styles: the silver Fun range or the matt black Pen and Touch reviewed here (known as the Bamboo Capture in the US). The Pen and Touch has the same matt black look and feel as the Intuos, but is offset with some luminescent yellow trim to separate it from its more serious, larger sibling.

It has the same enlarged work area as the Intuos with the surface sheet marked out with white LEDs and surrounded by a non-active border. This makes it much easier to work right to the edge of your canvas. However, because of the size of the tablet, if you make any sweeping motions in your artwork it can struggle and you end up drawing on the blank area without realising.

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Above: The Fun range comes in silver and includes the larger M range, but at £200 it gets close to the Intuos series in terms of cost.

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The Bamboo’s stylus pen is a reduced model compared to the Intuos/Cintiq with a mere 1,024 levels of pressure, but that’s still pretty darn impressive when placed next to other tablets on the market. Unfortunately, it doesn’t feel as ergonomically pleasing in the hands as the Intuos/Cintiq’s pen. It lacks a rounded tip and has a slightly stiff action that we couldn’t resolve even with extensive tweaking of the settings. It does, however, include the same pressure sensitive eraser tip on the end as the Intuos’s, making it perfect for quickly correcting mistakes when drawing.

The Bamboo supports the standard gestures for rotating, zooming and navigating back and forth through web pages. Gestures can be managed and activated via the Bamboo preferences panel, but there’s no option to create customisable gestures as there is on the Intuos. As such, you’re limited to your system-wide ones, unless the app you’re using has multi-touch functionality built in.

As well as utilising gestures, the Bamboo has four programmable express keys with a textured plastic surface that gives it the analogue feel that we felt the Intuos lacked. However, because it doesn’t have the heads-up display or function wheel of the Intuos, anything more advanced than simple shortcuts will still have to be done through either menus or keystrokes. When choosing shortcuts for the Express Keys – with gestures, say – you can also only select system-wide shortcuts and keystrokes along with Wacom’s default options, such as activating the Bamboo preferences.

Instead of the heads-up display, there’s the Bamboo dock. This can be used as a launchpad for apps and comes loaded with four fun apps and a link to the Wacom Collection of similar drawing and sketching apps that work in conjunction with the tablet. The Bamboo can also be used with the same £35 wireless kit as the rest of the Wacom range, which can help remove wires from your desktop and is great when used on the go with a laptop. However, because of the Bamboo’s compact size it’s unlikely you’ll find yourself using it like a sketchpad on your knee and so it’s not as much of a necessity as it is with a larger Intuos.

Although it may lack features when compared to more advanced tablets, those features come at a hefty price. At just £75 the Bamboo Pen and Touch is £125 less than an Intuos and £100 cheaper than the Medium Fun model. This means it’s the perfect graphics tablet for beginners and keen amateurs on a budget.

Features:

  • Supports multi-touch gestures
  • Reversible design for left and right handers
  • Dimensions (WxDxH): 278x176x11mm
  • Active Pen area: 147x92mm
  • Active Touch area: 125x85mm
  • Weighs: 418g
  • Max reading height with pen of 16 mm

ImagineFX rating: 4/5

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