Product Type: Wacom mice & trackballs
Newest Review: ... imposing product, it has a very large footprint, and is in a 4:3 ratio which seems to make it bigger than it really is. It's a light gray ... more
Don't start drawing without one!
Wacom Intuos3 A4 USB
Member Name: Larrabee
Wacom Intuos3 A4 USB
Advantages: Easy to use, great results
Disadvantages: Bit pricey, not terribly attractive
I first started using Wacom tablets at university and continued to use the Intuos3 model both at home and work afterwards, so for about 5 or 6 years now I haven't actually used a mouse but have used one of these instead!
The basic function of the tablet is that you can control your computer using a pen action instead of a mouse. The surface of the tablet represents the screen and wherever you put the pen is the cursor. You hover over the tablet to move the cursor, tap to click, and press and drag the pen to er, drag!
I find the pen tablet to be a great alternative to a mouse, as its much more comfortable on the hand and wrist. It feels much more natural as most of us are used to holding a pen from a very early age, and after a long day working at a computer you don't have the aches and twinges you do with a mouse, so less chance of repetitive strain injury!
However, this tablet would be very expensive if it were just a fancy mouse, where it comes into its own and is most useful is for people who use graphic design or illustration programmes. The Intuos3 allows you to recreate the process of drawing by hand but with the results appearing instantly on your screen. It makes drawing on a computer about 100 easier and gives much much better results than drawing with a mouse. You have so much more control over your lines, it almost feels like you are drawing directly onto the screen. The pen glides smoothly over the tablet and is even pressure sensitive so you can vary thicknesses, weight, shading etc.
The area of the tablet that is sensitive surface is the same as A4 paper and there is a border of about 2 or 3 inches around the edge. On each side are buttons which are programmable to perform various functions, but I have to say I've never used these as I am so used to the keyboard shortcuts I use I didn't see the point. I'm sure they're useful for lots of people though.
The pen itself is well designed, a rubber grip for your fingers makes it comfortable to hold and there is a button which can function as a 'right click' near the nib and an 'eraser' on the end. There is also a mouse supplied with the tablet which works when placed on top of the tablet in aslightly different way to most mice in that where you place it on the tablet always corresponds to where the cursor will be on the screen. I don't use the mouse, I see no need when you have the much superior pen.
The tablet is easy to set up, it connects to your computer by USB and has a long cable so you can sit quite far away from your screen with the tablet on your lap and really get comfy! There is a CD with the driver software which is easy and quick to install and doesn't take up too much room. Alternatively, or if you lose the disc like I did, you can download the drivers for free from the Wacom official website.
This tablet has now been superseded by the Wacom Intuos4, but it is still a great piece of kit, especially if you're on a budget. You can get one on ebay for between £100-£200 while a brand new intuos4 will cost you around £400. If you need something cheaper, you can get an A5 intuos3 which is not quite as perfect but you do get used to it and it still gives great results.
The only niggle with the Intuos3 is that is a little bit on the ugly side. Battleship grey, with varying shades of grey trim for variety, it doesn't really fit alongside the most modern, attractive computers. The Intuos4 has taken a step in the right direction in the looks department but the 3 wasn't really there yet.
Summary: A must for anyone who designs/illustrates or wants to
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