Firm and function
Accompanying the tablet is a lightweight but sturdy stylus. Considering that the Bamboo is supposed to be an entry-level product, the Bamboo pen is pretty damn fantastic given the price. Its pressure-sensitive nib supports 1,024 levels of pressure, while the other end is an ‘eraser’ nib that automatically switches to Erase or Delete functions in lots of software – notably Photoshop. It even features a rocker switch on the side that can be configured to trigger custom clicks, keystrokes and other actions.
A little clothing-style label tag at one end acts as a sleeve for the stylus
So much for the Pen & Touch’s pen: now for the touch. I was expecting a few basic clicks, scrolls and sweeps, but Wacom has done its best to pack in the wider range of two-, three- and four-finger gestures that modern touchscreen users have grown to expect. This includes zooming and rotation, swiping between programs and navigating consecutive web pages.
Under Windows, it includes Flip 3D and Show Desktop, while under Mac OS X Lion, it supports gestures for Mission Control, Exposé and Launchpad, not to mention the new ‘Natural’ scrolling option.
Bamboo Dock provides access to some pen-friendly app-style mini-programs
What the Pen & Touch’s touch functions lack, however, is immediacy. There always seems to be a teeny-weeny little time lag before the tablet responds, and it needs a pretty firm touch to recognise anything at all. And it doesn’t seem to like multi-touch gestures unless you place each finger down separately. For example, when sweeping with three fingers between web pages in Chrome, the tablet ignores the gesture unless I drop my fingers onto the tablet 1-2-3 in rapid succession before each sweep.
Also, Mac users who have selected ‘Natural’ scrolling will find that horizontal sweep-navigation of web pages works the wrong way. Perhaps all this is just something I have to get used to. Having been accustomed to ultra-sensitive and ultra-responsive touchpads such as Apple’s Magic TrackPad, I have probably been spoilt.
Next page: Wireless whirled
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.