Wacom Bamboo Fun

Wacom Bamboo Fun

The Bamboo Fun even looks fun, doesn’t it?


Digital artists can be divided into two groups: those who use drawing tablets and those who don’t know what they’re missing. The Bamboo Fun aims for this introductory market, acting as a great gateway tablet for home photo edits and other digital art without being too pricey. And it works so well with precise, pressure-sensitive control that many of those amateur dabblers will never outgrow its features.


The Bamboo Fun excels as an introductory drawing tablet. Owners grip its comfortable, battery-free stylus to write on the 5.8-by-
3.7-inch active area. (The “medium” tablet size grows to 8.5 by 5.3 inches and a $199 price tag.) Graze the surface to move the pointer, and use a harder touch to draw. With a little practice, we felt a much tighter connection to our art applications—and the bundled, old versions of Photoshop Elements 4 and Painter Essentials 3—than with a traditional mouse.


But this control is only half of the advantage. The tablet registers 512 levels of pressure, and brush strokes vary appropriately. A light touch can give your design a wispy hairline, while heavy pressure leaves thick, dark trails. While this feature makes the stylus feel like a real-world pencil, brush, or other tool, it even helps with picture editing. We gently tuned Photoshop layer opacities, slowly letting background objects appear with a light stroke. And we physically flipped the tool over to use its eraser end to scrub out mistakes.


A few buttons built directly onto the thin tablet are useful without being excessive. Forward and Back buttons page through websites, and F1 and F2 buttons activate system commands. We frequently spun a finger around the touch-sensitive, iPod-like trackpad circle to zoom in and out of photos and sketches. And all of these extra buttons, including the stylus eraser and its two-position rocker switch, can be customized.


While we like the Bamboo Fun for its stylus, the tablet also ships with a battery-free, wireless mouse. (A non-“Fun” Bamboo is also available for $79 without a mouse or the software bundle.) This substantial-feeling pointer is pretty typical—click and Control-click, plus a scrollwheel—but could replace a desktop mouse in tight quarters. But because it has to stay in contact with the active tablet area, we felt a little cramped; we’re used to running our optical mice over any nearby surface.


The bottom line. The bundled mouse is a nice extra, but the movement- and pressure-sensitive stylus will rewire the way amateur graphics editors use Photoshop, Painter, and other applications.



CONTACT: www.wacom.com
PRICE: $99 small, $199 medium

REQUIREMENTS: Mac OS 10.3.9 or later, USB

Directly improves control and results in graphics apps. Pressure-sensitive stylus also wireless and battery-free. Eraser end instantly selects new onscreen tool. Includes wireless, battery-free mouse. Stylish, slim design. Works with Inkwell.

Software bundle good to get started, but includes out-of-date versions.





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A family member of mine was hit by a car about a year and a half ago. Her femur was cracked, and her wrist was crushed. She is now unable to pronate or supinate her hand (turn palm down or palm up).

Of course, it had to be the wrist of her dominant hand. And worse, she is a computer programmer and must must must type for a living.

Using a mouse was nearly impossible for her. She tried trackballs with limited success, but it still required her to turn her hand palm-down. She was able to get a Safe-type keyboard (it is a keyboard split in half and each half mounted vertically) so that she can type with her palms facing each other in a neutral position. But to repeatedly go from that to palm-down was agony.

We bought the Bamboo Fun for her, with much doubt that it would help. But it was exactly the thing she needed! It is the perfect adaptive gear and assistive device. The pen holder, which is included, allows her to keep her palm rotated inward, grab the pen, use it as a mouse, and then pop it back into the holder and go back to typing. It is as convenient as mousing used to be.

I have used it too, and it is tons of fun. One thing that is hard to get used to is that the pen position on the pad is the pen position on the screen, which means that to go to the edge of the screen to get a hidden dock to pop up, you have to take the pen to the tippy edge of the pad. That is a bit awkward. I wish there were just a millimeter or two of leeway there. But it is very handy.

And of course, for the mouse-dependent types, the included mouse is very handy. It just confuses some of our friends because you have to use the mouse ON the bamboo pad or it doesn't work. It appears the Bamboo pad senses the mouse, not the mouse sensing what is beneath it. As long as you know to use the Bamboo pad, it is fine.



I guess it can be a US-only offer that gives you the mouse in the same package as the Fun because I havent seen any such offer over here in europe. Not even Wacom themselves has that offer in theire shop.

Great review though. Ive been thinking of getting this for a while, just cant decide if I should go for the small or the medium. I'll see if I can find them at a shop that's willing to let me try them out.

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