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Wherever you look for a professional graphics tablet, it is all about Wacom. So does it dominate the design market for a reason or is it just a fashionable thing?
I could never allow myself to spend the money on a Wacom tablet for personal use, but I am happily using one at work and I can stay that Intuos4 is not just a stylish item. Instead of writing a long essay about its advantages, I will just try to outline them:
1. Intuos4 is recognised by graphic software. Corel Painter and Sketchpad, for example, can tell at which angle you are holding the stylus, which is very handy when shading pencil drawings. And it's just more natural anyway.
2. The tablet is supplied with almost a dozen tips for the stylus ergonomically packed into the stylus holder. The tips come in several varieties, each designed to imitate a particular drawing tool (pencil, brush, etc.).
3. The matte surface and the changeable stylus tips make the experience of using Intuos4 truly intuitive.
4. Unlike cheap generic tablets, it really has pressure levels.
5. The navigation area on the side is very handy for such things like zooming in (although every now and then I tend to touch it accidentally).
6. The tablet can be easily customised for left-handed users.
7. Wacom tablets are known to be reliable. Cheap tablets even feel cheap and flimsy. A Wacom tablet is nice to the touch.
8. Having registered my tablet with Wacom, I got an opportunity to download one piece of graphic software for free (I chose Corel Sketch Pad). That's a nice bonus!
Now, some disadvantages:
1. Fist of all, the price. Wacom Intuos4 will cost you about £250. For a third of this price you can get a simpler tablet which will still do the job. I use a Genius table at home and it meets my needs. I actually think that Genius is seriously following Wacom's steps and can be called a budget version of it.
2. Wacom tablets are reliable and sometimes this fact can bring not only happiness, but disappointment as well. Unlike the plug-and-play generic tablets, Wacom tablets need original drivers. So chances are, if you want to use your Intuos4 for decades, it just won't run on an upgraded computer. I tried to use Intuos3 with Windows 7 and even though I managed to find the correct driver, pressure levels wouldn't work in Photoshop.
Conclusion: If you can afford it, go for Wacom. It is a fully professional tablet and after using it once you won't want to return to cheaper variants.