March 31, 2009 Although we’d all be lost without our trusty mice helping us navigate around our virtual desktop, there are some tasks that they just aren’t suited to. Anyone who has attempted to draw the simplest of pictures using the mouse knows that they are a poor substitute for the control that can be had from a traditional pen or pencil. That is why graphics tablets are such an essential tool of the trade for graphic artists, photographers and designers to name but a few. And probably the biggest name when it comes to graphics tablets is Wacom, so when they release an update to their popular Intuos line of pen tablets it’s worth taking a look see.
Wacom say the new Intuos4 was inspired by members of Wacom’s professional community, so have delivered a pen tablet system capable of capturing the slightest nuance of pen pressure against the tablet surface. For software applications that support it it offers 2048 levels of pressure sensitivity, which is up from 1,024 for the Intuos3. Wacom’s new proprietary tip sensor technology offers users near-zero (one gram) starting pressure to emulate the feel, response and result derived from working with traditional media.
The Intuos4 Grip Pen features a pressure-sensitive eraser and two customisable side-switches for setting commands such as double-click and right-click on the pen. The tablet’s new reversible (ambidextrous) design puts all of the shortcut and modifier keys in the ideal position for both right-handed or left-handed users. The ExpressKeys are located on one side of the tablet, making them all available to the users’ non-dominant hand. To move from right-handed to left-handed use, the tablet can be rotated 80 degrees with the orientation of the illuminated icons changing within the Wacom tablet driver software.
Also new to the Intuos4 are illuminated OLED displays (not featured on the Intuos4 S) that display the current function setting of each ExpressKey. As these settings can be application-specific, the displays will update immediately as the user changes between applications. Meanwhile the introduction of a user-defined Touch Ring allows control up to four different functions in any application. A button located in the centre of the ring ‘toggles’ between functions such as zoom, scroll, brush size adjustment, canvas rotation and layer selection. The position of an LED located along the perimeter of the Touch Ring indicates the current function.
Accessories for the unit include a new weighted pen stand that also functions as a twist-off storage compartment for alternate pen nibs and nib extractor. Standard, felt, stroke and flex nibs ship with the Intuos4, allowing users to simulate working with a variety of traditional art and design materials. Also available is an Art Pen, which turns on the rotation feature in Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and Corel Painter X to deliver natural brush effects, much like a calligraphy pen, as well as an Airbrush that enables users to create and define paint patterns within certain creative programmes. Finally, there is also the Classic Pen and a cordless and battery-free Wacom mouse.
The Wacom Intuos4 is Mac and PC compatible and is available now in four sizes:
- The Intuos4 S with an active area of 157.5mm x 98.4mm, (6.2" x 3.9") is retailing for USD$229.