The new Bamboo models are thinner than the previous versions and have been redesigned to allow digital artists to work with maximum comfort whilst also allowing them to be creative at the same time. There are 4 buttons on the Bamboo Pen and Touch that allow you to turn the touch facility on or off, right click the mouse to bring up the contextual menu in which ever application you are using and bring up the “Bamboo Dock” application. The buttons all work well – after all, they just need to “click” and they have been textured slightly so you can easily determine where they are when drawing or holding the tablet.
Installation is no problem. In fact, when I plugged this into my Mac, it worked straight away with no need to add additional software! I did install the application from the CD though as I thought it would most likely add extra stuff for Adobe products. On a Windows PC, I would expect that you would need to install the drivers before anything could happen.
The provided USB cable is nice and thin too, which cuts down on the bulk of the device. Next to the USB connection on the tablet is a small cover than can be removed to add a wireless (bluetooth) connector if you want to be totally portable from your Mac or PC. This would only be for comfort really.
The Bamboo Dock application allows you to install small “apps” to use with your Bamboo tablet. These can range from simple games to full blown painting and drawing apps, such as SumoPaint, which is free on the Mac. I guess this is Wacom’s idea of their own “App Store” and I expect they make some cash from it somehow.
To be honest, I usually have this turned off when drawing, but I can see the appeal for some users. As with other graphics tablets, you can turn it around to be a left handed version if you want. When you install the drivers and software, it will ask for your handedness and assign itself accordingly.
Pen And Touch.
The pen itself is the usual Wacom design and is light, easy to use and features 1024 levels of pressure sensitivity. Flip the pen over and Photoshop turns the selected tool to the eraser for you – very clever stuff. You also get some replacement nibs too, as I will expect that they will wear down over time.
The tablet surface has a slight texture to it too, probably to allow some kind of feedback whilst drawing. My only complaint would be that the pen has to be very close to the surface to be detected. I am sure this was not the case with an older Wacom model I had back in 1998. When you are not using the pen, it slides snugly into the small ribbon tab at the end of the tablet – perfect if you are using it at home with little children around who like to play!
The touch feature is very handy and was not something that I would have thought I would have used, but I am glad I opted to buy the model with touch added. When working with Photoshop, for example, you can draw, then use 2 fingers on the tablet to pinch (resize) or pan around the document. Very handy indeed! Saves you fro reaching for the mouse all the time.
You can also use the panel as a touch interface for all other operating system commands on a Mac, so you can flick through photos with your finger and stuff like that. If you are thinking of buying one of these tablets, then I suggest you spend that little extra and choose the touch version if you can. It all feels very natural if you have used an iPad before.
Should I buy the Wacom Bamboo Pen And Touch graphics tablet?
To conclude, the newer models of the Wacom Bamboo range are excellent, cheap, funky graphics tablets that deliver 100% of what you would expect from the leading manufacturer in this area. Although not as good as the Wacom Intuous range, or as “professional” as the interactive pen display models, this tablet is perfect for the home user who is interested in photo editing or digital art.
The quality is solid, the design is perfect and you will find yourself creating digital masterpieces in no time at all. If you don’t mind spending a little more money, the Wacom Bamboo Pen And Touch graphics tablet is the perfect choice.