Product Review: Page (1) of 2 - 09/21/01 Email this story to a friend. email article Print this page (Article printing at page facebook

Wacom Graphire Power Suite

Pressure-sensitive tablet and graphics software package By Dave Nagel
The low end of pressure-sensitive tablets sure has come a long way. I remember my little ADB pad from back in the early '90s?one of the first truly affordable pressure tablets. It was a great idea, but it just wasn't all there. The sensitivity was too sharp, and the driver was slow as the dickens. (Remember watching Photoshop finish sketching your strokes 15 seconds after you stopped drawing?)

The Graphire Power Suite from Wacom has changed all that. Like the days of old, the low end tablet still has a 4" x 5" active area. But, besides the size, you get an outstanding set of tools for the price?$99 including the pad, the pen, the cordless mouse and a chunky software bundle.

The Graphire Power Suite ships with Adobe Photoshop LE, Corel Painter Classic, some handwriting notation software (a download from the Wacom Web site for Mac) and the Wacom Control Panel. The Control Panel is one of the most feature-rich I've seen in a while, with six tab settings for the pen and four for the mouse, each of which can be customized for individual applications.

The pen itself is comfortable. In addition to the pressure tip, it has a double-ended button that can be programmed for combinations of mouse clicks and keystrokes, as well as an eraser on the end, which, just like a pencil, can be tipped over to erase bitmap data in a graphic (with pressure sensitivity) or text in a text editor.

Wacom Graphire Power Suite at a Glance

Maker: Wacom
Price: $99

Equipment Used: G4 400; Mac OS 9.0.4.

Overall Impression: This is a slick little pad that's clearly bargain-priced. The Graphire tablets lack some of the features of their more mature siblings in the Intuos line, but, for the money, they do quite well.

Key Benefits: With 512 levels of pressure, which can be adjusted graphically along a curve in the Wacom Control Panel, you can attain a lot of subtlety in your work. Plus it comes with some pretty decent entry-level software and utilities. The pen is comfortable, and the mouse is quite nice, with three buttons and a scroll wheel. It's accurate (1,015 lines per inch), and the driver is very fast.

Disappointments: The pad has a small active area, which obviously makes it less useful than some of the other pads on the market.

Recommendation: Buy

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