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The Wacom 'Graphire 3 Classic' is a drawing tablet which comes packaged with a wireless mouse, and is compatible with both PC and Mac.
For those of you don't know what a 'tablet' is (or at least not in a computing sense), it's basically an electronic drawing pad where whatever you sketch will appear on the screen. The use of a tablet makes a designers job considerably easier as it allows them to draw on the pad as if they were drawing on paper. Generally the tablet is used in combination with programs such as Photoshop and Illustrator - although they can be used in word processing software which utilises handwriting recognition.
Although the Graphire3 is a few years old, it is still widely available on eBay - expect to pay in the region of £30 - £40. You certainly shouldn't worry about buying a second hand one either, as Wacom products are generally well made and stand up to a few knocks and bumps.
Powered by USB and requiring no batteries, the tablet is dark blue in colour and has an A5 area in which to draw on. The included stylus / pen (which features two buttons that can be assigned to different tasks) fits into a slot on the back of the unit, which is handy as it prevents it from getting lost.
As well as the pen, the included wireless mouse is comfortable to hold and has a handy clickable scroll wheel. Unfortunately, the bottom of the mouse is made of a light grey fabric (presumably to allow it to glide over the tablet's smooth surface) which unfortunately gets dirty very fast, and also very bobbly.
As the tablet is A5 you would imagine that the working area may be a bit cramped to wok on - but on the contrary, this small size isn't an issue as a small movement on the pad relates to a bigger movement onscreen.
If you've never used a graphics tablet before, it may take you a little while to get used to it the process - that said, after only a short use, the technique should become second nature. Overall, the Wacom Graphire3 Classic is a great product, which is both well made and easy to use - don't be put off by its fairly small size.
Overall, this is a very, very good Graphics pen/mouse/tablet combination. Made by Wacom, at present, it is a little bit out-dated, but this lowers the price. Make your own choices, but I think that this is a really great pen that does everything required for those not wanting to take up photograph editing as a profession.
I bought mine from savastore.com, at the competitive price of £63. As I bought it in the run up to christmas, delivery was free to - a bonus! The next day (very prompt delivery), I came home from work to see this long, thin box on the door step (signed for by a friend). As soon as I got in, teh packaging came off, and, displayed nicely in a blue box was the tablet in all it's glory. I bought the A6 sized tablet, and the whole unit was not much bigger, though still big enough to fit on a resting place for your hand whilst working - a definite bonus. The mouse was in the same colour as the tablet - a dark blue, and just smaller than my previous PS2 (plug in) mouse. Then I got to unwrapping the bit of the package that I wanted most - the pen. It was about as long as a standard Biro, but a little thicker. On the side was a 2-way button that acted like a mouse (more on that later), and at the end the hard white pressure sensitive nib. At the end of the pen was the eraser - a real help during long projects. All of the cables were included in the box, and, as a plus, the tablet gets it's power form the USB line, so there is no need for an extra mains power cable.
Taking it to my computer, I expected it to plug and play. It didn't. This, as I later found out, was because I plugged it into my USB hub. It worked fine (plugged and played) once I put it directly into the back of the computer. I must emphasise, this is probably a problem specific to me, and no great problem even if it's not.
Upon putting the disc in, you simply follow the onscreen instructions,and within a minute, the pen is ready to go. If you go into the 'Control Panel' on yur computer, there is anew area created for changing the pen/mouse settings.
The mouse is just the same in operation as any standard mouse. It has left and right buttons, and a central scroll wheel. The only problem I had with it was it's default speed setting - much too slow - but this was soon changed in the easy to use and afore mentioned control panel.
The pen, when I first used it, was very different to anything I had ever used before, and it did take as little time to get used to. The problem I found was the at mouse buttons on the pen, if you held it on the wrong part, did rather get in the way. You must take also into account that in general operation you do not let the pen touch the tablet, as this acts like a mouse click. Instead, you hover it about 1/2 inch above the tablet.
Next, I went into photoshop to try out the pen. You must change the screen size in the control panel for it to work properly, but again, this is not challenging after you've found it the first time. The pen was very sensitive, and easy to use. I created some great photos in a matter of minutes - it is so easy with this tool!
One thing, the mouse must be completely removed from the tablet before the pen will work, and vice versa.
I will give prospective buyers only one word of warning - if you don't need a graphics pen, don't buy one, bacause after you've got used to one, you'll never go back to using a mouse again! They are just so good at writing in word documents, and especially photo editing, amaong many, many other things.
The software I got included with this pack was Painter pro, but I have not yet been able to install this, as I camn not find the serial code. I am awaiting an email from Wacom now, but they have been more than helpful. This was the only real con with this pen.
In summary, this is one of the best bits, and best working bits of hardware that I have bought for a long time. As mentioned above though, if you don't need one of these, don't buy it! They are so good you won't go back! This particular pen/tablet/mouse I think is currently, in the below £100 price bracket, the best one on the market - cheap, and the best package with the best functionality around. Well done WACOM!
Please, everybody out there, don't loose you PS2 mice! You need them if you ever need to start in safe mode, as the USB tablet will not work!
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