Product Review: Page (1) of 1 - 12/03/07 Email this story to a friend. email article Print this page (Article printing at page facebook


Flexible. Strong. Wacom's new tablet By Ko Maruyama
The Bamboo Fun is a small tablet for every computer user.  I know what you're thinking: "The name says 'fun' - - sounds like an entertainment device."  Well, you're only half right.  It'll bring you hours of entertainment, but it's also a great drawing device - even for your work needs.

There are several mice on the market, but ever since I got my first Wacom tablet (a beige ADB number with a rigid stylus), I've always been more productive when navigating my computer.  Sure - I do a lot of drawing in my line of work; which means I absolutely need a Wacom tablet.  Even your only task includes clicking documents and navigating the finder (either Mac, Windows or Vista), your cursor speed will be off the charts with a Wacom tablet.

Bamboo Fun is a fantastic entry level tablet.  It has enough functionality to make it everything a beginner needs, but it also is capable enough to complete tasks that you might find in a business office.

When most people look at Wacom tablets, they think of digital artists who create fantastic scenery, digital textures for 3D creatures, and cell animations.  YES. Wacom tablets help artists do this every minute of the day.  But new software also makes Wacom tablets useful in the shirt-and-tie office as well.

Mac Inkwell and Microsoft Office (Vista) have options and functions that are perfectly matched by the Wacom Bamboo and Bamboo Fun.    With so much of business and office work moving to a completely paperless, digital format - we'll see tablets and keyboards everywhere.

Chances are - you've already used a stylus and a tablet already.  

The little computer screen that you may use to digitally sign your name at the grocery store, or when accepting a package from a private courier is a digital stylus and tablet.  So you know that handwriting recognition is an important step in business life already.   You can't sign your name with a mouse.

You also can't draw with a mouse.

There are so many great programs available for the creation of digital artwork these days.  Some allow you to create new content from scratch, other applications allow you to modify existing artwork (or photos).  In order to really take advantage of the tools offered in these software options, you need a Wacom tablet.

You'll also use the ExpressKeys on the tablet.  There are four of these buttons on the Bamboo tablets.   In addition to the two buttons on the stylus, and the two nib ends (drawing and erasing usually), you'll start to use Wacom's ExpressKeys.  These are four separate function buttons which appear around the touch ring.  The Bamboo driver allows you to map the buttons to just about anything you'd need extra function keys for.

Additionally, there is a TOUCH RING.  The touch ring allows you to either scroll or zoom.  You'll have to make a choice when you're in the preferences, but if you want, you can make "Open Wacom Prefs" part of your pop-up menu routine.  That way, you'll have an easy way to navigate to this screen.

The Bamboo Fun starts at  under $100 and comes with hundreds of dollars of software and training.  This is a must have for any budding artist in your house.  If you have a computer (see site for OS requirements), just install the driver and third party software.  Bamboo Fun comes with Photoshop Elements, Corel Painter Essentials and nik Color Efex.

Bamboo Fun also comes with Wacom mouse that will allow you to navigate by placing the mouse on top of the tablet (In case you like the feel of a mouse sometimes). Colors are Black, Silver, White, and Blue.

I've tested the medium size Bamboo Fun tablet which matches very well with the supplied software.  It also has plenty of room to make dramatic, sweeping marks in Office and Inkwell.

The simple Bamboo package costs $79.99, but doesn't come with any third party software or the Wacom mouse.    The design of the Bamboo versus the design of the Bamboo Fun is a little cleaner - - but the "FEEL" of the Express Keys' indentations on the Bamboo Fun are very accessible.  You know where your fingers are at all times.

Both tablets come with a stylus and stand.  The stand has a nice little compartment in which to store your extra nibs.

This is an affordable, accurate way to introduce your business and/or family to the world of digital tablets.  Soon, your ability to operate a Wacom tablet will be similar to the benefits of touch typing.  Improve your productivity, your creativity and efficiency with Bamboo.

  • The Bamboo and Bamboo Fun models are the best tablets in their price range, even beating out higher priced models as well (The Bamboo has almost double the area of other drawing tablets in its price range).  The Wacom stylus does not rely on batteries!  It doesn't matter how light the battery might be, you'll have to change it - - and it will change the balance of your pen.
  • Four Express Keys (function buttons) and TouchRing allow you to be even more productive when using both hands over the tablet.
  • (Bamboo Fun only) Mouse  allows you to go back and forth from pen to mouse.
  • Perfect for the traveling spline rotoscoper or signing digital documents and PDFs.
  • Small enough for a business desk, or to bring out for educational use at home.

  • Only sensitive to 512 levels (versus the Intuos3 which has 1024 levels of pressure sensitivity).
  • No assignment for portion of tablet. You'll use the whole active surface.
  • (Bamboo Fun only) The digital mouse needs to be placed directly on the tablet to operate.


Take a virtual tour yourself by visiting the Wacom site.

For rants, ramblings and general announcements - check out a chaotic blog in the BlogZone:

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Ko Maruyama is a freelance animator in Los Angeles.  In addition to working on film and broadcast animations, Ko teaches at Pasadena's Art Center College of Design - focusing on motion design.  When working, writing or testing software allows, you can find him lending a hand in the After Effects board and lurking among the Cinema4D, Visual Effects and Photoshop posts within the DMNForums.
Related Keywords:product review, wacom, digital tablet, painter, photoshop elements, bamboo fun

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