At Photoshop World I picked up the just released Wacom Intuos Pro tablet. For me, I prefer the medium-sized one as it is comfortable to hold while using, but large enough to work on. The tablet has seen some improvements over past models (particularly in areas of ergonomics and wireless use).
Do You Need a Tablet?
A lot of users wonder what the heck they’d need a tablet for. Many mistakenly think it’s only about drawing and illustration. The tablet is more of a control surface however and one that reduces wear and tear on your body. For me it’s a matter of comfort and control. The whole tablet behaves as a multi-touch trackpad and it allows me to change my grip from time to time (switching from touch to pen to mouse) to reduce physical stress.
The tablet feels great to the touch. While similar in design to the previous models, the buttons feel distinctive and easy to locate by touch. The whole tablet is ambidextrous (just rotate it 180? and change click the Options button in the control panel).
What I really like is the wireless accessory kit is included (it previously was an extra you had to order). This allows the tablet to run off a rechargeable battery and connect to a USB dongle (although I wish Bluetooth connection were possible). The dongle has a secure compartment on the side of the tablet for travel. With the adapter, you can work up to 30 feet away and easily reposition the tablet as you see fit.
There are four versions of the Intuos Pro.
- Small ($249 USD) This tablet works well for those looking for an ultra-portable design as it measures 12.5 x 8.1 x .45 inches.
- Medium ($349 USD) This size is my personal preference at 15.0 x 9.9 x 0.5 inches. This matches my laptop well and easily fits in the bag for on-location work. Its large enough to use comfortably at a desk.
- Large ($499 USD) This size works best for illustrators or those with a large work area. It measures 19.1 x 12.5 x .60 inches.
- Intuos Pro Special Edition ($379 USD) This matches the medium tablet closely. However it has a cooler look with silver accents. It also is better at detecting which applications are running and can configure itself to match shortcuts automatically.
The Bottom Line
If you want complete control of your workspace, Wacom delivers. The new tablet feels great to hold and touch, and really boosts my workflow. I like that there are four major controls I can use.
- ExpressKeys. Eight physical buttons can be mapped for each application. You can use these to perform almost any task such as keystrokes, navigation, or even launching apps.
- Touch Ring. This ring can be mapped for four different styles of control. I often use it for brush sizes, volume control, or scrolling through video files.
- Radial Menu. With the click of a button on the pen, you can open a custom menu. This puts your eight most used commands (per application) at your fingertips.
- Heads Up Display. This will show the current settings on-screen then fades within a few seconds so as not to disrupt the creative process.
The special edition version also offers some auto-detection for specific creative software packages and comes with some additional presets loaded.
After installing, be sure to load the latest driver http://wacom.com/intuospro/welcome
Rich has published over 100 courses on Lynda.com. Rich has authored several books including From Still to Motion, Understanding Photoshop, Professional Web Video, and Creating DSLR Video.