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Wacom Bamboo Pen And Touch Graphic Tablet

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Bamboo Pen And Touch Tablet

  • Price: £80 (€89.90) ($129) Approx.
  • Supplier: Wacom
  • Web: www.wacom.com

System Requirements

Windows 7, Vista, or XP with Service Pack 2; Mac OS (10.4.8 or higher); Colour Display; Powered USB Port; CD/DVD Drive.

Wacom is probably one of the most popular graphic tablet manufacturers, creating elegant and robust graphic tablets, not only for the casual user but also for the graphic design professional. The Wacom Bamboo Pen and Touch is based on a traditional graphic tablet but has the added touch technology which no longer restricts you to using just a pen, instead you are now able to also use your fingers just like a mouse.

At first glance the tablet looks extremely thin and quite fragile but, in reality, it is robust and highly portable. The smooth piano black casing with matt surround also gives it that touch of elegance.

One does have to admit that, if you have never used a graphics tablet before, it can take some getting used to and, at first, the tablet may not appear as responsive, especially to finger touch, as one would expect. However, with a little practice, you soon get used to the tablets idiosyncrasies and, as your confidence grows, you soon start handling the tablet like a pro.

Installation

The installation was pretty straightforward. All we had to do was insert the Wacom CD setup disc, install the drivers and Bamboo Dock software, decide whether we wanted left or right hand tablet access and finally insert the tablet’s USB plug into a vacant USB port on the PC.

While installation is over pretty quickly, and we know you are eager to start using the Wacom Bamboo Touch and Pen, we do advise that you spend a few minutes going through the included Wacom tutorial as this gives valuable insight into how to use both the pen and the touch facilities.

Touch and Go

If you are used to using a Laptop touch pad then you will certainly be at home with the Touch facility of the Wacom tablet. The touch pad, of course, is considerably larger, 125 x 85 mm, than your average laptop touch pad. At the side of the touch pad you will find a row of four buttons, better known as Express Keys. These are divided into two sections separated by a White LED strip. The white strip tells you that the tablet is connected and working and changes according to whether you are using the touch pad or the pen. For instance, lower your finger to the touch pad and the white LED strip will brighten; touch the pad with the pen and the LED will turn orange.

The touch pad is capable of doing everything a mouse can do; for instance if you want to click on an item you simply tap your finger on the tablet. To right click you tap with two fingers. If you want to move forward or backwards you swipe two fingers simultaneously over the touchpad in the direction you wish to move. To zoom in you use your index finger and thumb and ‘pinch.’ To zoom out you expand your finger and thumb. Rotating an object is also easily achieved by simply rotating your two fingers in a circular motion. How far the image rotates, however, will depend upon the application you are using, with some rotating only 180 degrees while other will rotate a full 360 degrees.

ExpressKeys

The side of the tablet contains four programmable Express keys. The top button turns the touch facility on or off while the second one is programmed to open the Bamboo Dock. The third button performs the Right click option while the bottom button performs a click. These are the default settings but you can easily program the buttons to suit your needs by selecting the option from the Bamboo Preferences.

Fig: 1-1 Program the Express keys from the Bamboo Preference Tablet tab

Fig: 1-1 Program the Express keys from the Bamboo Preference Tablet tab

Write Away

The Bamboo Touch Pen is nothing fancy being completely straight with no contours. The stylus is situated at the base of the pen and an eraser sits at the top. The stylus has 1,024 pressure sensitivity levels and the pen active area is 125 x 85 mm. This area can be made smaller, if you wish, by making the necessary adjustments on the Pen, Advanced, tab of the Bamboo Preferences.

Fig: 1-2 Changing the active pen area in the Pen Mode details window

Fig: 1-2 Changing the active pen area in the Pen Mode details window

 Just above the stylus is a rocker switch. The upper, longer, portion of the switch corresponds to a right click when pressed, while the lower, shorter, portion corresponds to Pan and Scroll. Again these are the default settings. To make changes to the rocker switch parameters check the options on the Bamboo Preferences Pen tab.

Fig: 1-3 There are a host of other options available for the rocker switch

Fig: 1-3 There are a host of other options available for the rocker switch

 The Wacom pen uses Electromagnetic Resonance Technology as a power source; therefore the pen doesn't require batteries. For safe keeping the pen is stored in the cloth tag with the Wacom logo on the opposite side of the tablet.

While the pen does incorporate an eraser we did find it somewhat temperamental. Obviously the eraser will only work in applications that have an erase option and you can find more details on what applications will work with the eraser on the Wacom website. Unfortunately, when we tried the eraser on some of the recommended software applications we couldn’t get it to erase; instead it acted as a stylus and continued to draw instead. The only applications that we did get the eraser to work was Microsoft Word 2010, Microsoft OneNote and Microsoft Journal.

Bamboo Dock

Bamboo Dock is an additional set of software that comes free with the Wacom Pen and Touch tablet. By default there are four applications: Landmarker, Mona Lisa, Free the Bird and Input Panel.

Fig: 1-4 The Bamboo Dock Default Icon Set

Fig: 1-4 The Bamboo Dock Default Icon Set

 There is also an icon for the Bamboo Tutorial. You can download and install additional applications, known as Minis, from the Bamboo Wacom Minis website. Some of the more popular additional minis include: Doodler, Sumo Paint, InTouch, Live Brush and a few others.

Verdict

The Wacom Bamboo Pen and Touch graphic tablet is stylish and, at around £80 or less, (€89.90) reasonably priced. It can takes some getting used to initially if you are not used to using a graphics pen and/or a touchpad, but the excellent tutorial quickly guides you through the various aspects of using the tablet. Our one complaint was that the eraser didn’t work in all application, even though, according to the Wacom website, it was supposed to. However, all in all the Wacom Bamboo Pen and Touch is well worth the money and, as Windows 7 already supports touch tablets and Windows 8, it appears, will rely even more heavily upon the touch capability, the Wacom Bamboo is a welcome accessory and highly recommended.

  • Ease of Use: 8.0
  • Features: 9.0
  • Value for Money: 9.0
  • Overall: 9.0