Wacom Intuos3 Pen Tablet: A6 Wide review

Using a graphics pad can seem a tad strange at first, but once you’ve tinkered for a while when editing an image, video clip or graphic, you quickly realise the advantages over a mouse.

The Wacom Intuos3 A6 Wide provides excellent support for the ever-growing numbers of us that have a PC, laptop, or notebook with a widescreen format display. The new A6 comes with Corel’s Painter Essentials 3 to help get you going (plus some free video tutorial downloads if you register the software) and an easy to install driver.

On my G5 iMac – used to test this new tablet – the preferences, the bit where you select the pen nib pressure, double click, tilt sensitivity and button preferences are housed within the Mac’s system preferences. They are clear, simple to set up or change and make getting the tablet to match the entire screen or just a portion of it simple.

Four ExpressKeys and a Touch Strip sit next on the left of the active tablet area and enable you to assign oft-used commands to a simple press of the buttons. The Touch Strip allows you to control menu scrolling or image zooming for example by sliding a finger up or down the strip.

The new gripper pen is (ahem!) “rubbery” to use, as is the new surface of the tablet, which offers a paper-like feel under the various pen nibs provided with the tablet. A switch on the side of the pen can be assigned various functions such as opening files or a “right click” mouse-like function for example and depending what you want to assign/use most often. Similarly the ExpressKeys.

The tablet needs to be plugged into a powered USB port once the software’s on board and immediately the cursor on screen darts about as fast as your hand holding the pen hovering over the pad. The tablet’s small active area might seem odd to use at first, but once you’ve got used to the way the distance moved on the tablet equates to the distance the cursor moves on screen, then you’re away, this takes but a few minutes to get to grips with.

The tactile sensations of the three nibs give you a brush-like feel (the grey “stroke” nib), a felt tip pen feel (the black “felt” nib) and the standard nib (it’s white) gives a smooth feel with less friction than the “felt” nib.

It’s resolution of 5080dpi makes it very responsive to fine control and editing and 1024 levels of pressure sensitivity in both the pen tip and eraser make it extremely easy to control the breadth of the brush/eraser stroke you’re making. In short, this tablet’s designed for precise graphic work; it’s even able to recognise a tilting angle of 60 degrees by the pen for use with wider “brushes”.

A couple of gripes include an overly thick USB cable (my older Wacom pad has an easier-to-get-out-the-way, thin USB cable) and given the small active tablet area, the device’s total footprint is quite large. Plus the lack of a mouse is a little frustrating given the price. But I’ll bet there will be a mouse and pen pack out soon. These minor points aside, the Intuos3 A6 Wide is a cool bit of kit to use.

Verdict

At around £190, the Intuos3 A6 Wide Pen Tablet looks a tad expensive given it comes without a mouse. However, the Corel software’s nice and the pad is an cinch to use and set up.

Overall then, it’s a cracker and once you’ve got one, you’ll not be working on images with mouse ever again.