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Wacom Intuos4 graphics tablet system

Tablet features 8.8 x 5.5 inch drawing area with 2048 levels of pressure By John Virata

Wacom graphics tablets are the standard to which all other graphics tablets are judged, and for the most part, there aren't a whole lot of competitors that can match the usability and fit and finish of a Wacom. The Intuos4 is a medium size tablet that features an 8.8 x 5.5 inch drawing area on a 14.6 x 10 inch platform. It sports 2048 pressure levels with +/- tilt sensitivity of 60 degrees. It employs Wacom's Generation 2 Tip Sensor for better performance as well. The unit is priced at $349 MSRP and includes a two year warranty.

Setting up is straightforward. The inside of the box even has a simple graphic detailing the steps that you take to set up the Intuos4  for use. In addition to the drivers, the install CD includes the tutorial, user's manual, registration tips, and technical notes. Once you plug the tablet into your computer's USB port, the software guides you through the rest of the setup process. Once setup you can launch your favorite graphics application and get to work.

For this review I worked with the Adobe suite including Photoshop and Illustrator on a 13-inch MacBook Pro. The Intuos4  enables you to work directly with the stylus, as well as a the included Wacom mouse, which gives you mousing capabilities on the tablet when not using the stylus. The mouse is a generic two button device with a scroll wheel. It works when placed on the drawing surface, and when you are readiy to work with the stylus, simply remove the mouse from the drawing area.

The real work gets done with the stylus. Wacom has the best stylus' on the market. This particular stylus is matching black in color and features a built-in rubberized grip that ensures a steady hand when drawing or painting on the tablet. It features a replaceable nib and an eraser feature as well as two programmable buttons (DuoSwitch) located on the shaft that change command depending on the tool that you are using at the time. For example, with the Photoshop text tool selected, pressing the button on the stylus shaft brings up the text pulldown which shows such text functions as cut, copy, paste, and check spelling. You can make changes right there. Push the button while in the Brush tool and you have quick access to the master diameter and hardness selections, without having to move to the static location of these selections in Photoshop.

On the Intuos4 tablet itself you have access to a control panel with programmable Express keys and the Touch Ring. These keys enable you to perform such functions as rotate canvas, auto scroll, brush size adjustment, and pan and scroll, all from the tablet. This is another great feature in that you don't have to move your pointing device to access these functions, simply control them with your fingers. You can use the Express keys to change the pen's functionality. The Touch Ring controls zooming and scrolling. It features four LED lights that are changed by pressing the button in the center of the Touch Ring. Each LED represents a specific function in your graphic application. The defaults are set for Photoshop, with the LED #2 set to cycle the layer; LED #3 adjusts Brush size; and LED #4 rotates the canvas, which requires Photoshop CS4 or later. You can also purchase optional pens for airbrushing, inking, art, and grip for $69.95.

The Intuos4 provides for a wonderful stylus and tablet system. Combined with the included mouse, there is really no other need for another input device. The Intuos4 does it all. There is a reason why Wacom tablets are the best on the market and that is their superior functionality, user experience, fit and finish, and unboxing experience. No only is there a lot of thought with regard to the engineering of the Intuos4, the attention to detail in the packaging just confirms that Wacom appreciates good and solid design. Wacom tablets have always been the tablet of choice for graphics designers, and based on how the tablets are packaged, it is no wonder  that these tablets are coveted by designers. From the carefully printed outer sleeve of the box, to the presentation of the tablet and its accessories inside the box, everything is highly designed. For more information, visit

Wacom Intuos4 Graphics Tablet System
8.8 x 5.5 inch drawing area on a 14.6 x 10 inch platform.
2048 pressure levels with +/- tilt sensitivity of 60 degrees
Price: $349
Available in black

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John Virata is senior editor of Digital Media Online. You can email him at
Related Keywords:graphics tablet, input device, drawing tablet, digital tablet,


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