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Review of Wacom’s Bamboo Pen and Touch Tablet

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I picked up a Wacom Bamboo Pen and Touch to play with. I like trying different input devices and was curious if using a large track pad could work well for certain games. Although I'm a programmer with no artistic ability, I also wanted to play around with drawing using a tablet.

This is a nice compact tablet that fits easily into my laptop bag. There's a spot to hold the pen so it's not loose in the bag. I can use it on the train easily as it doesn't take up much space. It's a very portable tablet. The device automatically switches between touch and pen input. The light on the tablet is yellow when in touch mode and brightens when a touch is detected. When the pen in in range the light turns white and the tablet switches to pen input. Multi-Touch gestures are supported.

Drawing with the tablet works well for me. Drawing in the bundled Adobe Photoshop Elements is responsive. The Bamboo Pen and Touch supports a thousand levels of pressure sensitivity so you get a fair amount of detail when drawing. The Bamboo Pen and Touch is a fun device for a beginner. This tablet or the Bamboo Pen (no touch, but cheaper) is a good choice for a starter tablet. If you're not sure using a drawing tablet is for you, this a good one to try. It's relatively cheap, and good enough. If you're doing a lot of detailed artwork (and can draw more than stick figures) you'll want a Wacom Intuos4 instead.

I found with a tablet I could navigate around Windows 7. When I click in a box where I would normally type, a small app comes up allowing you to write in the text instead of typing. It's not as fast as typing, but it's an interesting feature.

Note taking in OneNote works pretty well for me. Amazingly the OneNote software can actually recognize and convert my handwriting into text. I haven't tried this in a meeting, but I have a feeling this would work well for note taking during a meeting if you don't feel too odd having a tablet plugged into your laptop.

A track pad (even a good one) isn't really a mouse replacement when playing video games. For navigating the desktop it's fine, but I'm too used to using precision gaming mice when playing shooters. I have successfully played some Team Fortress 2 while using Bamboo Touch, but I don't feel that I have the same accuracy as with a mouse.

Adobe Photoshop Elements is bundled with the tablet. My computer came with this, so I installed the software on my daughter's computer and let her try out the tablet. She started trying all the buttons and before long was drawing robots and houses. This might be my favorites use. It's good enough for my kids to use, but not so expensive that I'm worried about them trying it out. When I upgrade this will probably become a tablet for my kids to use.

Keep in mind I'm not a professional artist, I'm a programmer. If you draw for a living, you probably want a better tablet. This is a less expensive option if you want to try out a tablet or don't need the same precision as the Intuos4 gives.



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