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Graphics tablet users are an odd bunch. They’ll tell you how a mouse is a horrible input device. How you’ll eventually end up with a medical device wrapped around your wrist while they draw pretty pictures of flowers and mock up logos with a pen. That love of the tablet inevitably leads them to one company: Wacom. Frankly, there isn’t another tablet maker out there that even comes close--which puts the company in an odd position. How do you upgrade a product that’s already near perfect?
The Intuos5 continues Wacom’s tradition of quality tablets for professionals. With 2,048 levels of input pressure, the tablet can handle the lightest touch to the hardest press of the pen, and everything in between. If you need a single brush stroke that transitions from faint to dark and fat, the Intuos5 delivers. The device features the ability to recognize pen-input angles up to 60 degrees. The pen design hasn’t changed from the Intuos4--its weight and grip are perfect. It’s a great ergonomic design, so why mess with it?
The pen is top-notch, but if you misplace it, just use your fingers.
All the main features from the Intuos4 are back. Well, almost all of them. The Intuos5 removes the on-tablet display of hot keys that resides to the left (if you’re right-handed) of the input area on the Intuos4. On the Intuos5, you can barely make out the buttons--they’re recessed into a black matte section above and below the wheel.
Initially, I thought maybe Wacom just wanted to save money on LEDs. But it turns out that when you press one of the buttons, its programmed task appears onscreen, on your Mac. The same goes for the click wheel--the idea is that you don’t have to look down at the tablet.
The Intuos4 came in two models: wired and wireless. The Intuos5 skips the separate SKU in favor of an optional Wireless Accessory Kit that Wacom already offers for the Bamboo line of tablets. For $40, you get a battery and wireless dongle that slide into ports on the side of the tablet. The downside is that while the Intuos4 connected to your Mac with Bluetooth, the new tablet’s wireless kit includes a USB dongle that plugs into your Mac.
Another feature to work its way up from the Bamboo line is touch gestures. The Intuos5 recognizes your finger as a pen. This is helpful when you lose your actual pen, which I do all the time. While most of the gestures are the same as the trackpad gestures in Lion, a few don’t quite jibe. For instance, a three-finger swipe in Lion switches between Spaces and full-screen apps, while the Intuos5 uses that gesture to go back and forward in your browser. The worst part is that you can’t default to Lion gestures, although you can customize gestures in supporting applications like Photoshop, which is handy. The tablet is smart enough to recognize when you’re using the pen and ignore finger inputs.
The bottom line. The Intuos5 is another great product from the kings of the tablet market. Except for a few weird gestures that don’t match up with Lion, the touch gesture features are a great addition.
Mac OS 10.5.8 or later
Still the best tablet on the market and a must-have for designers and artists.
Gestures are different from Lion’s default gestures.