Wacom Bamboo Tablet

Nov 1 2008



My first drawing tablet was a Calcomp Tablet I bought a few years ago. Computer graphics have always fascinated me and I knew having a drawing tablet would be a great aid in the learning process. There is simply no better substitute to drawing on a computer. The precision is something you cannot achieve with a mouse alone.

The Calcomp served me well but I wanted to see if there is anything better and I figured I’d give Wacom a try. They seem to be the only other choice. I am a hobbyist so I didn’t need the top of the line tablet. The Bamboo model seemed the right fit. I didn’t go for the package that included a wireless mouse since I didn’t need it and didn’t want to pay extra for it.

I am impressed. From the nicely designed box that is reminiscent of the way the Apple Ipods are boxed, to the tablet itself, I felt Wacom is really proud of their products and will back it up.  In the box are the tablet, pressure-sensitive pen, pen stand, USB cable and CD containing the driver. It’s pretty sparse. Extra nibs not included unfortunately and that’s the only part that's expendable.



Esthetically, the tablet looks sleek. The main body is in matte black and the buttons area in gloss black. Overall dimensions are 8" x 7.4" x 0.5" so it's quite slim and lightweight. The drawing area is roughly 4" x 6" and I found it adequate for my needs. The four buttons are illuminated with blue LED and looks nice. The round area at the center is a touch ring, which acts as a zooming function by default in Adobe Photoshop and other similar softwares. You simply slide your finger around in circles and you can zoom in or out. I found it very useful. You can also press up or down on the touch ring to scroll up and down a web page. Unfortunately, I don't see this as being practical since it was inconsistent and imprecise. I never knew when I’ve pressed down hard enough since there is no tactile feedback like with traditional buttons. Often times it required multiple presses and became annoying.



The pen is capable of 512 levels of pressure.  Both ends are active with one end for painting and the other for erasing by default. The eraser tip is unquestionably a time saver as you only need to flip the pen to start erasing just like its real counterpart. Flip it again and you’re back to painting. Located on the side of the pen are two buttons corresponding to the left and right mouse buttons by default. All buttons are programmable.  The pen is also rubber coated for a better grip. I really wish extra nibs were included. Lastly, a pen stand is included and you can either prop the pen vertically or lay it on its side.



After connecting the tablet via USB Windows XP recognized the tablet as a pointing device. The pen and tablet worked as a pointing device with the stock Windows driver. The pressure sensing is not enabled until you install the Wacom drivers.

I have enjoyed painting with the Bamboo.  The pen tip glided on the tablet very nicely.  The pressure sensing is the icing on the cake and makes a whole world of difference in what you can achieve in your painting program. Pen strokes are more natural. I've been using it for a few days and the pen tip is wearing down quickly. I'll have to get new ones soon.