I’ve been using some form of a graphics tablet for nearly 20 years now. The vast majority of years it has been a Wacom tablet. Yes, there are other companies that make graphics tablets. Many have come and gone over the years and it is because Wacom’s tablets are simply better. Stick with a mouse if you must, but don’t choose a different brand of tablet just because is costs less.
Wacom has just refreshed their lines of tablets and I’ll list all three lines here, along with purchasing links when available. For those already using a Wacom tablet less than five years old or so, you may not need to rush out and buy a new model. A new computer may be a reason to look into a new tablet. For those of you trying to manipulate graphics with a mouse, you’re all nuts! Did you learn to draw with a bar of soap? No, you used a crayon. So why not use a pen and tablet to create and edit graphics on your computer?
I am going to list the three lines of tablets from most powerful and most expensive to least powerful and least expensive. For those who want the bottom line, the least expensive tablet here lists for $79 so there is truly something for all needs and budget levels.
Wacom Cintiq Companion
Some people hear the word tablet and they think about the “new” definition of tablet meaning a flat screen that you control with your finger. Wacom has had monitors in the Cintiq family for years and now they have release two Windows 8 tablets controlled with their pressure sensitive pens.
These are mobile workstation powered by a 1.9 GHz Intel Core Processor and Intel HD Graphics 4000. The pressure sensitive pens provide 2048 levels of pressure, plus tilt recognition. Multi-touch input is also supported, and ExpressKeys and a touch ring are built into the tablet. There are two cameras included, a 2 MP front-facing and 8 MP back camera. Each of the Cintiq Companion tablets support a second screen and external keyboard. Included with both are an adjustable stand and soft carrying case.
The Cintiq Companion has a display size of 13.3 inches (1920 x 1080 pixels)and is available in two models. First is one with 8 GB memory and 256GB SSD running Windows 8 ($1,999 list price) and the other has 8 GB memory and 512GB SSD running Windows 8 Pro ($2,499 list price).
Wacom Intuos Pro
The high end of tablets without a screen is the Wacom Intuos Pro (the successor to the Intuos5) and it comes in three sizes (small, medium and large). No matter which size you get, there is a bunch of free downloadable software included. Titles include Adobe Photoshop Elements 11, Autodesk Sketchbook Express, Anime Studio Debut 8, Corel Painter X3 (30 day trial) and Nik Color Efex Pro 4 select edition. You also get a wireless accessory kit included. The pen and tablet together support 2048 levels of pressure sensitivity in both pen tip and eraser. Along the side are 8 customizable application specific Express Keys and a multi-function touch ring with 4 customizable functions.
- Wacom Intuos Pro Large ($499 list price)
- Wacom Intuos Pro Medium ($349 list price)
- Wacom Intuos Pro Small ($249 list price)
For those looking for a graphics tablet on a budget, look to the Wacom Intuos family (formerly the Bamboo models). For most users, the features found in the tablet are more than enough. You still get to work with a pen instead of a mouse!
As with its big brother, some free downloadable creative software is included. Titles are Autodesk Sketchbook Express and Art rage 3 Studio for the Wacom Intuos Pen Small or Adobe Photoshop Elements 11, Autodesk Sketchbook Express, Corel Painter Lite and Nik Color Efex Pro we3 for the Wacom Intuos Pen and Touch models. All models include application specific express keys, a pressure sensitive pen and 4 application specific Express Keys.
- Wacom Intuos Pen Small ($79 list price)
- Wacom Intuos Pen and Touch Small ($99 list price)
- Wacom Intuos Pen and Touch Medium ($199 list price)
No matter which tablet you ultimately choose, give yourself a couple of days to adjust if you are new to using a tablet. Once you’ve gotten used to this new way of interacting with your computer, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it. Yes, you can still connect a mouse to your computer. I have one, but I probably touch it less than once a week as I use the tablet for everything!