When my Genius MousePen packed up, I had to face the hard problem of choice. Barry Schwartz in his TED video was right: choice does not always make you feel better. It actually makes you feel pretty lousy sometimes. Anyway, Genius was dead and something new had to be bought. I reviewed Genius MousePen before and praised it for good performance, especially on a fast computer. I still think it was pretty good for its money. It lasted me 2 years during which I carried it with me everywhere and moved it about a lot. I think that's what finally killed it. My guess is that the cable did not enjoy this dynamic lifestyle.
So I decided it was time to finally get a Wacom. But which? Bamboo was cheap, but terribly small and not really up to my purpose. There was an Intuos2 on eBay, but, having observed Intuos' compatibility issues in the past, I wasn't so keen on getting an old model. Intuos4 seemed far too expensive. If I, say, wanted to go for the A4 size, then for a few dollars more I could get a Cintiq from eBay. Thus, it looked like Intuos3 was the only way to go. It probably is the most popular graphics tablet anyway.
I bought one from eBay. It wasn't quite new, but came in the original box (which wasn't as stylish as the Intuos4 box, I have to admit) and did not reveal many signs of wear, except that it was clear that the previous owner has a pet who liked to chew on the stylus. The installation CD was quite useless in my circumstances as the tablet was launched when Windows Vista hadn't even been conceived. So I downloaded the drivers from Wacom's official website and after some tinkering my husband got the computer and the tablet to recognise each other.
Apart from the tablet itself, the pen, and the pen holder, the box set contained a special Wacom mouse. But the mouse was quickly dismissed as unnecessary, even though it works much better than the Genius mouse from the MousePen set.
Now I should probably switch to my impressions from the tablet. I decided not to divide them into pros and cons because in this case it seemed difficult.
1. The tablet I bought is A5 (meaning the active drawing surface, not the tablet itself), which is quite enough for drawing. Its 1024 pressure levels are really there.
2. The drawing surface is smooth and even, so the pen moves easily and the tip doesn't wear out as quickly as with Intuos4. Same with the drawing surface: you don't end up leaving marks and feeling guilty that you've applied too much pressure. The Intuos4 surface has a rather dry feel, Intuos3 is like a skating rink compared to it. On the other hand, you don't get that authentic feel provided by Intuos4 with its matte surface and special pen tips: whatever you draw on Intuos3, it feels like digital drawing (but do you care?).
3. What I didn't like about the drawing surface is that it starts coming off and other people using Intuos3 also complained about it. I had to attach the corners of mine with super-glue. Not sure it's a nice idea, but at least it holds the surface in place and doesn't affect sensitivity.
4. There are 2 modes for the wire. It can come out from the top of the tablet or from the side. I switched mine to the side mode and put a bit of scotch tape under it to hold the cable in place (otherwise it will be popping out). This is quite good, although Intuos4 takes the idea even further and allows you to plug the wire on either side of the tablet (which is just awesome and will allow you to change the wire if your pet chews on it or something).
5. The navigation buttons on the sides are not as funky as on Intuos4 and I don't even know what most of them do. The little zoom touchpads are handy though.
6. The tablet feels solid and built well (if you forget about the drawing surface coming off!). Of course, it is heavier than most generic tablets.
7. The pen doesn't require a battery. Most users comment that it makes it feel lighter, which is true, but I only noticed the difference after holding both pens in different hands. Otherwise, I'm sure, everyone just forgets about the weight of the pen. But the rubber grip is great.
8. The performance is excellent. I noticed that I can draw much quicker with Intuos3 than with Genius MousePen. I wasn't very happy with the way Intuos4 imitated pencil drawings. I have no such complaints about Intuos3.
9. Can't avoid talking about the price. As an old model, Intuos3 is cheaper, especially if you get it from eBay or a similar place. But as a Wacom tablet, it's still quite expensive. I think a couple of years ago it was too early for me to buy it, now is just the time.
10. Installation. Unlike generic tablets, Wacom products are not plug and play. If you buy an Intuos3 now, you will most likely find that the CD supplied hasn't got the right drivers for your machine. You can find them on the Wacom website, but things will not necessarily go smoothly at first. You might have to uninstall and re-install the drivers a couple of times before you figure out what works. Fortunately, it will work eventually (I hope).
This is probably it. I think Intuos3 deserves 5 stars for being what a graphics tablet should be. It is not absolutely perfect, but I am fully satisfied with it and don't think I will turn to generics again.
NB: This review is mirrored in my blog on my personal website www.artymind.com
I purchased the Wacom Intuos3 A5 many years ago after trying in vain to edit photographs ACCURATELY with just a mouse.
Installation of the software is a breeze, as is learning how to use the tablet and pen itself. I have chosen to use it exclusively with the pen, using the mouse as a paperweight. This Intuos comes with several pen nibs so the wear the pen experiences is negligible.
The size of the pad is perfect for sitting alongside a keyboard in place of where you would ordinarily keep your mouse/mouse mat. Some may be tempted to opt for a larger A4 version however there is little difference between the two for the casual artist. Each corner of the tablet is relative to the points on your monitor, so if your cursor is at the top left of the tablet workspace, it will be in the top left corner of your screen, if t is in the middle, it will be in middle of your monitor screen also. This feature takes a few minutes to really get used to if you've never used a tablet before but it soon becomes very natural.
I've used my tablet for digital illustration, photo manipulation and as an alternative to a mouse. Hotkeys and touchstrips on either side of the pad (accomodating left handed artists) mean you are able to assign functions and spend less time swapping from keyboard to tablet.
Having mentioned the touch strips, the only issue with this tablet is that the touchstrips are a little inaccurate. When zooming into an image it is difficult to accurately land on the zoom level you require as there are no rulers/guides that link the slide and your software. I prefer to use the software shortcuts for this function so the touchstrips are a surplus to my requirements.
However, keep an eye open for new drivers as they come out and you'll have a tablet that will serve you for all of your illustration needs.
The Wacom Intuos 3 A5 graphics tablet is something that I have used many many times since purchasing it well over 3 years ago, as a bit of an amateur illustrator this has given me the ability to draw, paint or do a bit of graphic design without the hassle of setting up vast amounts of different materials, pencils, paints, water, paper and the likes.
active area of 203 x 152mm
movement resolution, 5080 dpi
Accuracy, 0.25 mm
Features, 8 programmable buttons, 2 scrolling strips
pressure sensitive: 1024 levels
Great for use with any graphics based software package such as Photoshop, corel painter, Freehand and many others, this product greatly improves workflow and image generation.
The tablet itself has programmable buttons on the side that can be configured to a wide range of commands but as default are set to very common keyboard buttons such as shift, ctrl and alt.
The touch strips are also fully customisable and as default are set as a zooming function.
The pen is incredibly accurate and comfortable to use with alt click and double click buttons built onto the side and also has an eraser on the reverse end of the pen.
Using the tablet in Photoshop and Corel Painter really unlock the full uses of the brush tools within the software ( this is even more apparent in Painter) features such as line thickness, controlled by pen pressure and tilt, controlled by yep you guessed it tilting the pen.
Note that I did not give any details on the included mouse as it is completely useless and have never heard of anyone who has actually used it other than to try it, this is because it can only be used on the graphics tablet.
Brand new these go for around £200 but second hand can be around £150- £175.
This A5 version perfectly suits my needs as someone who enjoys to do digital art but does not do it professionally.
Professional artists should look into buying the larger versions, A4 or A3
With an active area of 203 x 152 mm, the Intuos3 A5 fits easily on your desktop or in your briefcase - this makes this size the perfect companion for users of notebook computers. The ultimate size for people whose ideas are bigger than their workplaces. As all Intuos3 pen tablets, the Intuos3 A5 comes with the Intuos3 Grip Pen (including the Stroke and Felt Pen nib) and the ExpressKeys as well as the Touch Strip on both sides of the tablet.