Side Notes

A couple points of trivia for you regarding the PL500. First, I already had a Wacom Graphire attached to my machine when I hooked up the PL500. I was able to use both devices at once with two cursors on my screen. FOr all I know it was a fluke, but that's a nice little treat for those of you of the ambidextrous persuasion.

Later, after I unplugged the Graphire and then tried to plug it in again, I couldn't get it to work until I completely removed the PL500's drivers.

Wacom PL500
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You can use the PL500 on your lap or set it up on its stand, which can be angled from straight up to a comfy recline of about 15 degrees.

It also requires a USB port. I had no trouble running it through my keyboard's USB port on my G4 because the PL500 includes its own power supply.

The cordless, battery-free UltraPen that ships with the PL500 supports 256 levels of pressure sensitivity—fewer levels of pressure than Wacom's other graphics tablets. And the PL500 doesn't support pen tilt. But somehow when I'm working on the PL500 I don't miss these things. The ability to create art at the tip of my pen and with such beautiful and speedy results far outweighs my need for a more levels of pressure. I'd like to be able to use tilt, but, as I say, I could get used to working without it, if only I could keep this review unit, but, alas, it must be returned to Wacom within the week.

The PL500 is a serious tool for graphics and video professionals, even audio professionals—basically anyone who can benefit from using a pen-based system with the convenience of having the monitor built in.

I spoke with a Wacom representative recently who told me he knew what my review would say before I wrote it. He said I'd write, "It's great, but I wish they could bring the price point down."

I don't know about that. Of course, we'd all like our tools for free, so, in that sense, of course I want them to bring the price down. But for me, if a tool can help me get my job done faster and more effectively, it's worth the price of admission. This is a sophisticated piece of engineering that's a pleasure just to look at, let alone work on. It will save you time and, therefore, make you money. Plus you'll just enjoy what you do more.

The PL500 works on any Mac or Windows machine that supports USB and has a graphics card with a DVI connector. Even at its current price point of $3,999, I give the PL500 a strong buy recommendation.

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Dave Nagel is the producer of Creative Mac and Digital Media Designer; host of the Creative Mac, Adobe InDesign, Adobe LiveMotion and Synthetik Studio Artist WWUGs; and executive producer of Creative Mac, Digital Media Designer, Digital Pro Sound, Digital Webcast, Plug-in Central, Presentation Master, and Video Systems sites. All are part of the Digital Media Net family of online industry hubs.

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