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Wacom Intuos3 6x11

Wide-format pressure-sensitive graphics tablet By Dave Nagel
Summary: The Intuos3 6x11 is the latest addition to Wacom's high-end line of pressure-sensitive pen tablets. Sporting exactly the same base features as the other models in the line, the new configuration offers a wide aspect for a more natural feel when working with wide-format displays and multiple displays.
Manufacturer: Wacom Technology (
Platform: Mac OS X and Windows
Price: $389.95 (suggested price)
Users: Visual artists (graphic designers, motion graphics artists, photographers, 3D artists and animators, etc.) and anyone who finds using a pen tablet more intuitive and productive than using a mouse (which is pretty much anyone who's ever used a pen tablet).
Recommendation: Strong Buy

If you're in the visual arts, you know you should be using a pen tablet. Or at least you ought to know. The main issue is really just choosing which Wacom tablet is right for you. For the budget-conscious, there's the Graphire line. For the budget-unconscious, there's the magnificent Cintiq line, with their integrated LCD displays. And for most professionals in the middle, there's the Intuos.

Tablets, in general, are tremendous productivity boosters and creativity enhancers. They allow you to perform actions in just one stroke that would otherwise take multiple strokes and clicks with a mouse, plus numerous parameter adjustments. If you're cloning in Photoshop, for example, with a tablet, you can simply vary the amount of pressure on the pen to increase or decrease the opacity of the clone and tilt the pen to adjust the brush size on the fly. So you don't have to interrupt your workflow to make adjustments. And when you're painting, well, nothing brings you closer to your canvas than the interaction you experience when you paint with a pressure- and tilt-sensitive pen. A mouse doesn't even compare.

As for which tablet to use, I've reviewed just about every model Wacom offers, and they all have their benefits. If you have the money, the Cintiq line is just amazing, giving you the ability to draw directly on the screen. And the Graphire3 is a great little tablet for those of you just starting out and don't necessarily need all of the features offered by the other tablets Wacom makes. But I happen to have at least one tablet in all of Wacom's lines (yes, including a Cintiq), and, when it comes right down to it, the one I use everyday for everything I do in every program I use is the Intuos3. It's the one I generally recommend to anybody who asks.

Previously, there were three sizes of Intuos3 tablets: the 4" x 5", the 6" x 8" and the 9" x 12". But earlier this month, Wacom launched a new model: the 6" x 11" Intuos3. Sporting exactly the same base features as the other models in the line, the new configuration offers a wide aspect for a more natural feel when working with wide-format displays and multiple displays.

Hardware features
The Intuos line (currently called Intuos3) is the high-end series of tablets that offers the most features and highest level of precision of any of the tablets. The new 6" x 11" model offers all of the advantages of the previous models in the line, but it's designed specifically for those who work either on multiple displays or on a wide-format display, with a wider aspect to provide a more intuitive relationship between screen real estate and the tablet's working surface.

Personally, as you might already have guessed, I'm a man who uses not only multiple displays, but multiple wide-format displays. And my tablet of choice to date has been the Intuos3 6x8. I don't find it awkward at all, regardless of my monitor configuration. But after I tried the Intuos3 6x11, I did immediately feel more comfortable with the increased horizontal tablet space. I suppose it's a matter of personal taste, but the Intuos3 6x11 runs only about $40 more than the Intuos3 6x8 and gives you 66 square inches versus 48 square inches, which is certainly enough to make it worth considering.

Beyond the size of the tablet's working surface, there are no differences between it and the other models in the Intuos3 line. Basic features include:

? 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity with the pen (twice that of the Graphire4);
? 5,080 lines per inch resolution (more than twice that of the Graphire);
? Eight programmable keys located on the tablet;
? Two programmable scroll strips located directly on the tablet that can be used with your finger or pen;
? A cordless, battery-free pen with pressure-sensitive tip and eraser, rubberized grip and two-button side switch;
? A cordless, battery-free five-button mouse that operates on the tablet surface.

The pen, incidentally, has replaceable nibs in case yours wears down ever. I've been using my Intuos3 grip pen for 14 months straight every day and have yet to notice any wear at all. It also includes, in the box, five additional nibs: three standard plastic ones, one pressed felt nib and one spring-loaded nib that's designed to give you enhanced tactile feedback. (It works; that's the one I've been using all along, although I have been tempted at times to go t the pressed felt nib just for a change of feel.)

It should also be noted that the Intuos3 line shares the same tools with the more recent Cintiq models, so you can control your Cintiq and Intuos tablets with a single pen, rather than having to switch when moving between devices.

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