This pressure-sensitive graphics tablet is now over 8 years old, and in that time Intuos have gone through several upgrades. However, the tablet is still available and if you can pick one up at a bargain price, then it's well worth the investment.
The Intuos2 A5 is one of the smaller versions of this tablet - they are available up to A3 in size - but for medium use, the size is quiet comfortable and doesn't take up too much precious desk space. In fat the size means I can just shove the keyboard back on the desk, but keep it within easy enough reach to use both the keyboard and the tablet as necessary.
The Tablet is not wireless, but connects via a very long (2.5 meters) USB cable. There is a small LED light on the top of the tablet to indicate when it is plugged in (it glows orange) and the light changes to green when either clicking with the pen or activating one of the buttons on the tablet.
The primary feature of the tablet is that it makes pressure sensitive drawing possible, something that cannot be achieved with a mouse. This means that it can be used with graphics programmes that accept pressure sensitive signals, such as Photoshop, to mimic the feel of traditional artists tools, such as pencils and brushes. It is also far more accurate and natural to use than a mouse. It adds that extra dimension to your graphic work and soon becomes one of those "how did I ever do things without it" tools.
The Grip Pen, which is included, is very comfortable and well balanced. The grip has just enough give to mean using it for prolonged periods of time is no problem. On the grip is a programmable two-way button, which does take some getting used to, but is worth it in the end. The pen also has an "eraser" button on the other end, though rotating the pen whilst using it can be a bit awkward. Tips, grip and buttons are all easily replaceable on the pen.
The tablet has an A5 drawing area, with a few inches of shelf on either side on which you can rest your hands whilst drawing. The pen glides nicely across the surface, with just a very little bit of resistance so it feels more natural. Across the top of the drawing area is a set of 13 programmable buttons. Using the software these can be customized to your needs, or turned off completely. There is also a handy button for switching the pen between "pen" and "mouse" mode. In "Pen" mode the pen tracks more slowly, whilst in "mouse" mode much faster.
Speed, sensitivity and pressure of the pen are all highly customizable with the software so after a little playing around, you can get the setting working correctly for you.
The software also allows you to change aspect ratios of the tablet with the screen, you can even change it from portrait to landscape, or somewhat bizarrely, mirrored!
Set up (on a Mac) is very simple. It just requires small application to be installed in the System Preferences, and from here all the multitude of options are available.
The tablet also comes with a "cordless" mouse. When this was released, this was in the time when cordless mice were a rarity. At the time this may have been a big deal, but the mouse is both unattractive and uncomfortable to use. The benefit is that you can easily use the mouse on the tablet, so have no need for an additional mouse, however with the cordless mice that are available today, this mouse is redundant.
In conclusion: The tablet is well built and I have never had any problems in the 8 years of its life. Although new models have better features, such as increased resolution, for the occasional to medium user this tablet still does the job and the A5 size caters for this type of use. Heavy users should look at the larger sizes available. It makes an incredibly positive difference in the way you will work and opens up many new avenues within graphic programs.