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Other Hardware and Peripherals Other Apple systems and peripherals discussion.

The Wacom Bamboo Pen Tablet: First Impressions.


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goobimama

 
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The Wacom Bamboo Pen Tablet: First Impressions

I had never used a tablet before so I was a bit skeptical on spending $225 for something that I wasn't sure about. I'm glad I got it. And now that the iPod Touch euphoria has died down, I am finally excited about my new gadget.

Specifics:
A Wacom Bamboo Pen Tablet:
8.5" x 5.3" active area.
512 Levels of pressure sensitivity
Price: $225.00.

First first impressions:
It is big. Bigger than what I expected it to be. I kept on thinking that it would be 8.5" wide even though I knew that was just the active area. But this thing is big. And it looks just awesome on my tinted glass table right next to the iMac.



I wanted to do some unboxing pictures, but I didn't have a camera. It is the first product which I've used which has the packaging with the elegance of Apple. On opening the box reads a statement: "This is your Bamboo. Use it to get more out of your computer. Let us know how it goes..."



I must say, a good unboxing experience.

Setting it up:
There was no setup! I just plugged in the USB cable, and it started working perfectly and more important, instantly! I look into the system preferences, and there's a new icon "Ink". That's OS X at its best. It knows you don't need ink otherwise, but when you do, it just pops it right in. No clutter.



(Settings)

(Guestures)

(Uncommon Word's list)

Screenshots of Ink preference pane

Next I popped in the "Install" disc that comes with the tablet. It installed its own application which provided for more settings and control.



Using a tablet:
I had little clue as to how exactly using a tablet would be like, and I must say, the first few hours didn't help at all. The pointer was jumping all over the place, I was launching all kinds of files, and I could never get the thing to move like I wanted it to. I called up my Apple guy and asked him if he had any inputs.

"Just use it for two days and let me know then. If you can't use it, I'll take it back"

Five hours later:
Works like a charm. The trick is in relating the entire screen to the tablet area. I think this is a new concept, where the entire screen is mapped to the tablet. So if I click on the top right, the mouse pointer instantly moves there. And to move the pointer, you can't touch the surface. The pointer detects the pen .33mm or something off the surface. So one is like gliding over the surface for most part. To click, tap. To double-click, you get the point.

Dragging items to the trash or anywhere for that matter is super convenient. You don't have to worry about mouse acceleration at all. Cause you know that you can drag the pen anywhere without having to lift it.

It's drawing capabilities:
Again, I have no past experience to compare this with, but it seems pretty accurate to me. There's none of that pointer shivering that a lot of optical mice have when moving small distances.

Photoshop automatically accepts it's pen pressure sensitivity and it gets enabled in all areas of brushes and such. Turn the pen over and it becomes an eraser. And the tablet surface is such that it actually feels like I'm back at school and for the first time the eraser actually works!


The Pen pressure

After much practice of course, the pen tool is what shows how efficient a tablet really is. I have always found the Pen tool to be a bit of a bore but used it cause it was functional. Now it's ten times faster.

It's writing capabilities (OS X's Ink):
I'm pretty amazed with the handwriting recognition. Nothing like the palm top thingies I’ve used in the past. Of course, I have to tame my handwriting cause otherwise forget the OS, I myself won't be able to figure it out. And one has to write in separate letters, no running handwriting recognition.



And since handwriting recognition is built into the whole system, I can practically just click on a file, write something and its name gets changed. I don't need a mouse anymore! And there's onscreen gestures built into the system for stuff like Copy, paste, enter. You can't however add your own guestures for some reason.

The tablet functions:
There's four function buttons on the tablet: F1, F2, < and >. By default F1 and F2 are set for expose all and show desktop and the top ones are back/forward. One can change any one of them to launch an app, keystroke, and some other options.

Then there's the gorgeous touch ring. It's illuminated with a blue LED light all around which pulses when it's not active. Move the finger around and it zooms (A la iPod Click wheel). Tap the finger on the top and it scrolls and vice versa.

The Pen:
It does feel a bit light and is made of plastic. Not sure again now the Intuos3 pens are, but I'd bet they are a bit better. Works very well, but I’m just judging its build quality here. It has two buttons on the side which while using are within easy reach of the thumb. One button activates the scroll, which is very convenient. The other one is the right-click. At the back there's an eraser which works as a normal pointer while using it outside of photoshop and the like.

There's a mouse!
Yep. It comes with a cordless, battery-free mouse. I don't really know how it works, but just move it over the touch pad and its a normal mouse. The mouse buttons work, and so does the scroll wheel. Even the pen is without a battery btw. Again, the build quality is lacking. Compare these with the tablet which is of an amazing matte finish and a little glossy here and there.

Stray Thoughts:
This is one stunning device in looks and in features. I don't know about the Intuos3 and other high end tablets, but this one is more than I can handle at the moment. I don't get any wrist pain any more after prolonged usage of the pen (it's cause one is more actively using the wrists) and I can work far more efficiently with the pen than with the mouse in design as well as otherwise.

Here's a little sketch I made of a friend. Take note that I'm no artist before you start bashing me (how does one draw eyes?!?)
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its a nice tablet but i think 11k for your first is a little over kill.. no? mine is about the same size (although much much thinner) has the mouse and pen and every feature you mentioned and cost me less then a grand and I haven't needed anything more yet..

glad you like it so far

(and your sketch is really really god, done on the walcom?)

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Oops. I forgot about the 11k. It is Rs.11,000 which translates to around $225 or so... I did post this in the other forum that I visit and copy pasted it here.

As for the sketch, is it really good? I suck at sketching and this is the first time I have done a sketch. It was really easy with wacom (+Artrage)

And if in case you are judging by that picture, the tablet is really thin. Its just 10mm thick. Maybe I'll take a pic of it sideways...

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oh my ! i was thinking to myself "a tablet for the price of a brand new Kia..."

but now it is clear.

good write-up!

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Holy cow . . 11 grand?

I'm thinking to get my first tablet, but I can confidently predict I'll also be starting off in the 3 figure range - on the other hand from your 'sketch' it's obvious you'll probably do your price tag justice. Congratulations.

What in a nutshell is the difference between yours, and the sub $1,000 models?
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Quote:
Originally Posted by goobimama View Post
Oops. I forgot about the 11k. It is Rs.11,000 which translates to around $225 or so... I did post this in the other forum that I visit and copy pasted it here.

As for the sketch, is it really good? I suck at sketching and this is the first time I have done a sketch. It was really easy with wacom (+Artrage)
oh wow... thats some exchange rate.

have fun with it.

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Heh. Coffee on monitor.

OK, so I guess that answers the question about the differences. I shall go out and blow 2 million pesetas on mine next week
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Hehehe.... No wonder my Sketch made a good impression!
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Thanks for the review, i have really been interested in getting a Wacom. When I saw the bamboo I knew it would be the one I would want, and now you have confirmed that.
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That is a good review. Very detailed ... am thinking of a wacom pad too probably when it gets cheaper ...
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