Wacom Bamboo Fun S Pen and Touch
Graphics tablet and trackpad in one
Review Take TWO pointing devices into the shower? Not me, I use Wac-and-Go.
When I first saw this product demonstrated – a graphics tablet with pressure-sensitive stylus but whose surface equally supports touch gestures – I thought I’d seen the best creative gadget ever.
Wacom's Bamboo Fun S Pen and Touch: the finish is not so much cool grey as spray-paint silver
You see, I’ve been a dedicated Wacom user since the UD series appeared back in 1992, and a confirmed owner (i.e. bought with my own money) since the ArtPad in 1994. But last year saw my Intuos 4 accompanied on my desk by a clutch of touchmouse and touchpad alternatives. If only someone could put pen and touch input into a single device...
Ta da, as they say.
The Pen & Touch is a category of Wacom’s popular Bamboo range of home-use graphics tablets. The ‘Fun’ edition comes with a graphics software bundle. The ‘S’ in the product name means it’s the Small version; the larger Medium version (352 x 209 x 11 mm) costs £170.
The textured surface of the four ExpressKeys looks and feels like crumpled paper
Apart from the cheap-looking spray-paint silver look, this new Bamboo model sports an improved design. For a start, it’s landscape rectangular, instead of square, which saves desk space between you and your keyboard. It can be turned 180 degrees to suit left- or right-handed use, to give the other hand easy access to the four large ExpressKeys.
These four large buttons, with their unusual crumpled paper-effect textured surface, can act as keyboard modifiers, custom keystrokes, tablet mode switchers or as simple program launchers. You specify the actions in the Bamboo preferences panel.
Wacom supports a good range of touch gestures on Windows and Mac platforms
My only problem with the ExpressKeys is that they are super-sensitive to the slightest touch. Since I generally keep my graphics tablet in front of my keyboard – as with a mouse, using a graphics tablet stretched out to the side of a keyboard is a recipe for RSI – I found that I kept triggering ExpressKey actions with my sleeve whenever I reached across to type something.
Next page: Firm and function
I had one of the smaller pro Wacom tablets, with mouse, for years. It was excellent, until the mouse finally gave out. I replaced it with a Bamboo. The tablet is fine, but the mouse has some felt-like material that wore away in about a year. Very poor quality. I now use it as a mousepad for a conventional wired mouse --- but it is there for the rare occasions when I do need to do some graphic work.
Mine is the early Bamboo model. Obviously, from this review, things have changed, and I haven't seen the new model. If I was buying again, though, I'd try to spend the extra on one from the professional range. It wouldn't be fair to write off the Bamboo as a toy, but it would be fair to say that the higher-range tablets are made as tools for professionals.
The good news is ... they work with Linux. Or at least, in my experience, with Ubuntu.
Were you living under a rock 3 years ago when the Bamboo Pen&Touch originally came out?
Because this is basically the same thing.
Further to my last post
I understand that the pro models have more levels of sensitivity. Again, mine is an older model of Bamboo, but you might want to check this out re your requirements.
Wacom seem to think we can do without a mouse. Personally, I find that really hard. I find the pen about as good for ordinary mouse work as ... a mouse is for drawing. I guess it is just a matter of getting used to it.
Gestures are optional. Also http://www.livelab.dk/tablet2midi.php if anyone else is interested.
I'm looking at this a as MIDI instrument controller - two axes plus pressure sensitivity, with bonus buttons, and 4 function modifiers - potentially tasty. Outputs will be in the range 0..127, so there would seem to be the resolution available at the UI, even if it turns out the pressure input is limited by quantization (as some MIDI keyboards are). I'd be interested to know in what applications/operations its response is perceptibly slow. The last Wacom tablet I had simply inserted its output into the mouse event queue, which is the sort of thing I'd need, nothing fancier.