Friday, 14 November 2014

Wacom Intuos Pro (Small)

For the past few years I have been using a Wacom Intuos 3 for my day job. It was terrible. I mean it performed its function as a tablet and pen perfectly fine, but the construction was awful. The pen button quickly fell apart and the rubber grip became smooth and yucky. The tablet itself was way too big for me (my IT manager had ordered a size Large) and the surface cover got scratched and dented. All this I could live with but when the cursor itself became erratic and stutter, I had enough and demanded a replacement. And voila! My IT manager came through and ordered me a brand spanking new Wacom Intuos Pro (small). So I thought I would offer a quick first-use review:

This thing is a completely different beast from the older Intuos 3 (I have also owned the Intuos 2). The tablet is quite wide [32cm x 20cm] with a lot of real estate taken up with navigation and function buttons on the side and a wide beveled edge.

The function buttons come pre-programmed but can also be user defined. The actual area that is sensitive to the pen is quite small in proportion [15x10cm]. Neatly, the sensitive zone is illuminated with tiny corner markings that glow. The surface also acts as a touch sensitive pad that reacts to finger gestures. I turned this feature off as I have no use for it and it was annoying to use the pen and have the tablet accidentally mistake my palm for a gesture. A final point to note is that the unit contains a battery so can be used wirelessly. I don’t know how long one charge lasts, I have chosen to wire my unit up permanently.

The pen is a complete revamp from the rather shoddy versions of the previous Intuos pens. It feels a lot sturdier. In fact it is almost identical to the pen I use for my Cintiq. The rubber grip has a high degree of friction to stays firm in your fingers, but watch out for dust and detritus as they tend to stick to the rubber surface. The default nib is super smooth but there are spares and other versions stored hidden within the pen holder cylinder.

I didn’t fiddle about too much with the software settings, I just define what the pen clicks do. Pressing one of the tablet function buttons brings up an overlay navigation panel on the screen which is a useful trick.

The feel of the Intuos Pro surface differs markedly from my previous Intuos 3 – the cover is not smooth. Instead, it seems to be slightly textured and this affects how the pen nib glides across the surface. It takes a lot of getting used to. I’m not sure I even like it as it is such a wholly different experience from using my Cintiq. Luckily my day job does not involve digital drawing, so the lack of a super smooth gliding action is not necessary, but I think it’s an important point to make if you are reading this review. Swapping the nibs around doesn’t really improve the situation – the felt nibs are even worse to be honest.

In other areas, the base of the tablet has little friction pads and they really do a good job of keeping the item in place on the table. One annoying niggle is I did often brush the surface of the touch keys and bring up the navigation screen which was not my intention. I can't find a way to turn off these keys.

Conclusion - still an awesome product for those wanting to upgrade away from a bog standard mouse. Using a Wacom pen of any type will in my opinion save your wrists from strain and increase accuracy with cursor pointing and clicking. If you do digital art, then this is the ideal tool. It just takes a bit of getting used to.


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