Tablets with Pens! Wacom Intuos 4 Review


Measured in net years, Wacom’s Intuos 4 graphics tablet is already a sleek, sleepy dinosaur, having been released in 2009. On the other hand, given today’s infatuation with touchscreen tablets and their gestural capabilities, it’s worth reinvestigating what benefits a traditional graphics tablet can offer.

Straight Up
Touchscreen tablets are great media browsing devices and provide lovely accessible software interfaces. No argument there. But when it comes to fine, detailed control, touchscreen tablets can only manage the tiniest fraction of a graphics tablet’s input sensitivity.

But wait – your friend has paid money to a kickstarter project which will be sending them a newly designed conductive texta pen for use on their ipad. Or they’re getting a Bamboo stylus for the iPad. That’s awesome, but it’s still effectively only fingerpainting resolution. Fun to apply direct to the screen (and much cheaper than Wacom’s direct to screen Cintiq Interactive Pen Displays), but still very limited when it comes to precision and detail.

And when it comes to precisions, the Intuos 4 has the highest sensitivity of any graphics tablet available today (5080 lpi resolution, and 2048 levels of pressure). It also comes with a precision pen (60 degrees of detetctable tilt), customisable shortcut buttons and a radial menu system (think ipod) with LED labels (visible in the photo above). So when you’re ready to shift from fingerpainting little animated flipbooks on your touchscreen tablet, to creating highly detailed worlds, the graphics tablet is your new best friend.

Special Features
I’ve owned an Intuos 2 in the past and was skeptical there’d be much difference, but a range of carefully implemented design changes make the Intuos 4 noticably better to use. The physical shape has been slightly adjusted to feel more comfortable, the USB cable can be attached from 2 locations to suit left or right handers (there’s also a wireless Intuos option), the pen has been made more ergonomic (it actually feels better), and the express buttons and a touch ring have been nicely integrated beside the drawing surface, for easy access to whichever software menu items you set them up for (on a global or application by application basis).

What really brings it all together though for this version of the tablet though, is the addition of LED labels that accompany the express keys and touch ring, as these lit up labels help enable easy navigation of complex customisations and menu layers, which makes it possible  to avoid your keyboard for long periods of time when manipulating software.

The four mode Touch Ring for example, can be used for accurate and intuitive control of actions such as scrolling, zooming, changing brush size, rotating the canvas, flipping through layers, and more. Click the ring to select a mode such as brush size (which is LED displayed), then slide around the ring controller to change the actual size of the brush. Use one hand to modify tool properties, while the other continues on the tablet with the pen. It’s an effective combination, and can be customised to suit whatever combination of onscreen tools and menu items you need.

Whether seeking an alternative to the mouse or just seeking to avoid RSI, the precision and comfort of the Intuos 4, along with its newly lit-up custom shortcuts, make it an attractive input device for those wishing to manipulate their graphics, animation, audio or video software. Well worth a look!

Requirements for Intuos 4 tablet (USB Version):
Windows: Microsoft Windows XP with Service Pack 2 or 3 or Windows Vista
Macintosh: Mac OS X 10.4.8+
Cashola: The Intuos 4 Medium is $449 from

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