Price When Reviewed: 183 . 280 . 357 . 626
Pros: Still the best tablet on the market; extra control keys.
Cons: Documentation could be better.
A radial menu accessed from the ExpressKeys allows control of media such as iTunes and access to email and the web browsers, and to commands such as copy, paste and undo.
This seems a small point, but when the tablet is in use it becomes significant: the addition of this level of system control is a real boon as, it means the user can avoid moving back to the keyboard more easily. As our test model, the Intuos4L, is a large device and best positioned directly in front of the screen, the chances are the keyboard will be in an awkward location so switching between keyboard and tablet becomes a pain.
The tablet is extensively adjustable through its System Preferences panel. Everything from tilt sensitivity to screen mapping is included. Unfortunately, the panel is complex and will require some practice to get used to. Tip Feel is one of the most interesting options, allowing for fine-grained control of the amount of pressure required on the pen.
Tilt sensitivity is impressive. Working in an application such as Corel Painter, titling the stylus pen has exactly the same effect as tilting a pencil or brush.
Pressure sensitivity remains high, and the pen itself offers 1,024 levels of sensitivity -- something which again becomes apparent when you use it with compatible software. Wacom claims that the new tip captures the slightest nuance of pressure, and we certainly wouldn’t dispute this claim.
The pen includes a DuoSwitch rocker button, which can be used for clicking, emulating keystokes and as a modifier. Flipping the pen over, an eraser is located at the top end.
The wide-format, textured tablet area is a joy to use. To the touch the active area feels like matte plastic but the pen’s nib really does drag across it like a real pen on paper – the resistance is remarkably similar. The sheer size of the active area, which can be divided into portions, means the Intuos4 will quickly become well-nigh indispensable. Over time, this product will pay for itself many times over in productivity gains.
On the downside, documentation was verging on non-existent. This may be because we received an advance review unit, but if not, Wacom could really do better. An interactive tutorial is included on the CD, but nothing beats detailed documentation, either printed or at least as a PDF. For example, muddling through the System Preferences panel will be baffling to new users who aren’t familiar with previous Wacom tablets.
All in all, though, this is a worthy upgrade to Wacom’s Intuos range.