Wacom Intuos4 Pen Tablet

Anyone familiar with the use of graphics pad or tablet will know the more precise and controlled advantages offered by working on photos or video, say, with the more natural “drawing” interface a tablet allows than the blunt instrument that is a mouse will be very happy indeed with this update of Wacom’s Intuos range.

Let’s get this clear at the outset; the new Intuos4 tablet is quite simply excellent (incidentally it has by the way, already been awarded TIPA’s best digital accessory in Europe award). We had the Medium sized model to play with (there are Small, Medium, Large and Extra Large variants) with an active area of 223.5 x 139.7mm and the first standout feature of note is the brilliantly simple ambidextrous design.

The new layout has all controls on one side of the tablet; the advantage here is it makes it easier to use all the features since the detachable USB cord and dual USB ports then allow you to turn the tablet 180 degrees and plug it back in for left and/or right-handed use.

Add to the mix new LED backlit labels for the programmable ExpressKeys, (though the bottom model in the range, the cheaper “Small” version, disappointingly lacks these LED labels) means the problem of forgetting what ExpressKey is programmed to do what is eliminated since the LEDs allow you to see what is programmed even automatically switching between applications, which is very neat indeed.

It is the customisability of the Intuos4 system that provides its real power as the new Touch Ring feature demonstrates. The Touch Ring allows you to use it like the ExpressKeys, but can be programmed to zoom and scroll or change brush size in a photo editing package such as Photoshop. Alternatively, it can be used as a scrubber if video editing is more your thing.

The new Grip Pen has also received significant enhancements with new Tip Sensor technology that provides for almost weightless sensitivity in terms of pressure. It has 2048-levels of pressure compared with the 1048-levels of the Intuos3 series tablets, making it much smoother and more precise for brush strokes and the like.

The weighted pen stand has been revised in that it is a storage compartment for replacement nibs and the nib removal tool too. But one of the other significant enhancements is the redesigned mouse. The mouse does not need a battery but is oh so much more precise to use than on previous versions and overall, while the Intuos4 is an evolution on the previous very good Intuos3, it provides a set of updates and new features that make it so much better.

One sticking point however must be mentioned, it may look a bit overpriced at a penny shy of £330 but after using the Intuos4 Medium for a few days, it’s hard to argue against owning one, assuming you have the budget, of course.

Verdict

It’s hard to improve on something that’s already brilliant, but Wacom have obviously had a good head scratching session and come up with just that. The brilliant just got, well, erm … brillianter? But at a price, because the Small is priced at £199.99 with the price rising through the range to the Extra Large being priced at a rather startling £699.99.