Tablets: Wacom Bamboo Pen

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Wacom-Bamboo-penIntroduction:

Wacom are known for their high end graphics input devices. The Bamboo pen represents their 2010 entry level model. It comes ready to use straight out of the box with little installation time and user friendly setup. The pen tablet can be used as an input device instead of or alongside a mouse or for more artistic endeavours such as image editing and photo manipulation. With a user friendly price point and an immaculate reputation the Bamboo Pen has a lot of ground to cover to meet expectations. Does it succeed?

Specifications:

Tablet dimensions:

17.6 x 24.8 x 0.8 cm and weighs 358g

Included in the box :

Bamboo Tablet – 16:10 format , usable left or right handed.

Bamboo Pen – Pressure sensitive, battery free with two programmable push buttons

USB cable

CD-Rom with driver software and manuals

Software bundle download codes : Artrage , Bamboo pen Dock , Interactive tutorial

Spare Bamboo Pen Nibs

Review:

At first the bamboo pen may seem like an intimidating piece of kit to anyone unfamiliar with their usage. However Wacom have really succeeded in producing a great introduction to the world of graphics tablets, it's extremely easy to set-up and install, running a standard installation off the included CD and then its just plug, play and away. Wacom have even included a handy interactive tutorial which introduces the user to the basic functions of the pen and its uses, including how to program the buttons on the pen and how you may use the hardware for things other then photo manipulation.

You may of thought that graphics input tablets are very limited in scope and use, mostly for the professionals as it were. To an extent you're right, the Bamboo Pen is most useful when working with graphical tools such as Photoshop or illustrator, but it is not limited to them. It can be used simply as a user control device much like a mouse, the tablet represents your screen area and a quick tap of the pen can be used to open programs, navigate folders etc... The programmable buttons aid in this as they can be used for a variety of tasks such as a right click or scroll wheel. This also makes it great for internet browsing, holding down a button to scroll through the window or jumping between web pages.

The Pen includes pressure sensitivity as standard and so is particularly useful in programs such as illustrator or painter allowing the user to set how sensitive they wish the tablet to be. This allows for a phenomenal amount of user control in the production of any graphic design or painting. The sensitivity can be used to manipulate your brush strokes or colour depth in much the same way as real paintbrushes and pencils do allowing the user to create some outstanding graphical effects. As a photo manipulation tool, the Bamboo Pen offers an unparalleled degree of control for those extra fiddly manipulations and ease of use for general photo editing tasks.

As with any device like this there is a learning curve to its use. At first the pen feels a little unwieldy, cumbersome even. But after a couple of hours the ergonomic design starts to make sense. Soon enough you will wield something mightier then the sword with ease. Its design is comfortable and easy to use over long periods of time and is designed to alleviate cramps from prolonged use by their patented pen shape when compared to their competitors. I used the Bamboo pen for over five continuous hours during a Photoshop project and my hand/wrist were feeling better then they would have if I had been using a more traditional mouse keyboard setup. The options of switching the tablet and pen for left and right hand use will give the lefties something to be happy about as the tablet operates exactly the same from either angle and has no drawbacks from switching away from the more traditional right hand use.

The included software while basic is good at showing off the capabilities of the tablet. As with most products of this type the more effort and use you put into it, the better and more satisfying the results. Frankly it blows its competitors out of the water. The Wacom Bamboo Pen is easily one of the best value for money graphics tablets available and is worth considering even if you just have a passing interest in photography or graphic production.

Price:

£60-£80

Verdict:

5/5 - The Bamboo Pen is worthy of the Wacom name, it offers excellent user control and an overall sleek aesthetic. It will sit nicely on any desktop and even us non-art types will find it an useful and engaging product. It may even inspire you to turn your hand to use it for something more.