Who Should Consider The Wacom Bamboo Pen?
How many reviews have you had to wade through only to find in the last line that the product is completely unsuitable for your needs? Well, before moving on to the main part of the Wacom Bamboo Pen Review, the following will set out what type of customer this product is actually designed for.
Who will benefit most from owning the Wacom Bamboo Pen?
Primarily newcomers to the world of the pen tablet and non-professionals. It’s ideal (and great fun) for retouching images and photos, annotating documents, surfing the web and interacting in the digital world. However, in the right hands, the Bamboo Pen is an extremely useful tool to intermediates and professionals given its super portability.
Who is the Wacom Bamboo Pen not suitable for?
Someone expecting a high end pen tablet with lots of features and the ability to have fine control in customizing settings.
What’s In The Box?
- Wacom Bamboo tablet and pen.
- Installation CD includes drivers, interactive tutorial and user’s manual.
- Software CD includes Corel Painter Essentials 4.0.
- Compatible with Windows XP (Service Pack 2), Windows Vista, Windows 7 or Mac OS X (10.4.8 or higher). For Linux, community/open source drivers such as the Linux Wacom Project are available. Also, if you use Ubuntu, try copying and pasting the code below into a terminal within Ubuntu and the Wacom Bamboo should work fine following a reboot:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:doctormo/wacom-plus
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install wacom-dkms
- Software that supports features from a pen tablet input. There are many good free graphics programs available for Linux/Mac/PC such as Inkscape and GIMP.
- USB port.
- CD/DVD drive for installing software/ drivers.
- Colored screen.
- Product Dimensions (W x H x D):
- US Listed: Approx. 9.8″ x 6.9″ x 0.2″ (249 mm x 175 mm x 5 mm)
- EU Listed: Approx. 9.8″ x 6.9″ x 0.3″ (248 mm x 176mm x 8mm)
- Product Weight : Approx. 12.6 oz (358 g)
- Boxed Product Weight:
- US Listed: Approx. 32 oz (900 g)
- EU Listed: Approx. 30 oz (821 g)
- Computer Pen (W x H): Approx. 5.8″ x 3.6″ (147 mm x 91 mm)
- Pen Weight: Approx. 0.5 oz (14 g)
- Tablet Active Touch Area (W x H): Approx. 4.9″ x 3.4″ (124 mm x 86 mm)
How Does It Work?
OK, first things first. Always install the latest Wacom software/drivers before plugging in the tablet, so that the operating system installs the dedicated Wacom drivers in preference to its own generic tablet drivers. Although the Wacom Bamboo Pen seemed to work straight out the box with Windows 7, the above caveat is still recommended for optimal setup. In addition, it should be noted that with regard to those using Windows, certain features are dependent on the the operating system being used e.g. handwriting to text requires Vista/ Windows 7 (in conjunction with Office 2007 or later) to work.
Secondly, given that the unit is just an input device, the full potential of the device will be determined by the functionality of the software being used. For example, the ability to annotate directly or sign Microsoft Office documents is possible from Office 2007 onwards because this version has these features built in. Earlier versions of Office, such as Office XP, do not natively support this aspect, however, it may be possible to find third-party applications that do.
You don’t have to touch the tablet with the pen to see where the cursor is going and only need to move the pen slightly above the tablet for it to function. The pen buttons allows you to mimic the right and left mouse buttons regarding the ability to click, double-click and drag. Also, you can tap the pen on the tablet to left click and tap twice to double click. Dragging can be achieved by holding the pen on the tablet and sliding it. Right clicking to bring up a menu can be obtained by positioning the cursor in the desired location and clicking the pen button. In summary:
- Screen equates to the tablet surface.
- Moving the cursor equates to hovering.
- Left click is through touching the tablet.
- Right click is by clicking pen button.
In addition, the ability to recognize handwriting and have it converted to text in software that supports this feature, means that in theory, the tablet and pen could eliminate the need of a keyboard. However, if the user is proficient using a mouse, touchpad or keyboard, they may prefer to keep the pen tablet for graphics related work.
What Can I Use The Wacom Bamboo Pen For?
To get an overview of what types of things are possible with a pen tablet, check out computer pen uses. Obviously, the result will depend on the quality of the pen tablet as an instrument to convey the skill/ability of the user, as well as the users proficiency with using a pen tablet as an interface. The pros and cons of the Wacom Pen Tablet will be covered on the next few pages.
Wacom Bamboo Pen Pros
To get an overview of the general advantages of a pen tablet, check out computer pen advantages.
- USB Plug and play means set-up is pain-free and you will be scribbling away within 15-20 minutes of opening the package.
- Win 7 should recognized the unit instantly and it can run on Linux and Mac. However, as noted above in ‘How does it work?’, use the latest Wacom drivers for optimal performance.
Design and Ease of Use
- Good build quality and aesthetically slim, sleek and pleasing to look at.
- The clean and simple tablet means that it is ideal for those who do not like a tablet full of program dials and buttons.
- Compact, portable, easy to carry around and suitable for a mobile lifestyle. Its size means that it will fit any crowded desk or alternatively, it can be easily thrown in with your laptop/bag and used at a coffee shop or even on a plane.
- Lack of multi-touch on the Wacom Bamboo Pen has the benefit of the user not having to worry about accidentally touching the tablet.You can work in a similar way as when using paper and rest your hand on the tablet while working.
- The responsive active area of the tablet simulates the texture experienced from working on a conventional paper surface. We managed to get the real pencil-on-paper feel simply by placing a sheet of paper on top of the tablet – it still functioned great!
- The units size makes it ideal for those who do not like moving their hand/wrist a large distance in order to move the cursor across the screen.
- Though relatively petite, ComputerPen.info still found the Wacom Bamboo pen tablet to be large enough for general use.
- Adjustable for both right and left handed people.
- Easy grip, 2 programmable switch battery-free pen design has 512 levels of pressure sensitivity with the ability to control boldness, shading and line thickness.
- Comes with replacement nibs and a ring to remove nibs.
- The pen buttons can be mapped to almost anything you wish e.g. scrolling,various keyboard strokes or macros, right click or launch applications.
- USB cord is of a good length (approx. 5 ft or 1.5 m).
- Useful interactive, voice guide tutorial and games help you learn the Wacom pen tablets abilities.
- The software provided, Corel Painter Essential 4, is ideal for beginners to intermediates and retails on its own for around $40 – $70 (RPP $99). However, remember that the Wacom Bamboo pen tablet can be used with a huge range of other applications, both free (e.g. Inkscape) and paid (e.g. Flash CS5).
- Performs very well and is both responsive and accurate considering price category.
- Price to performance ratio is very good.
- In the correct hands, the equipment is capable of surprising quality work – not just cartoon doodles!
- Very good value for money and great fun to use.
- Ideal entry-intermediate level tablet, or for those on a budget, or those who require portability.
- Its budget friendly price means that it should be very appealing to those who are ‘on the fence’ regarding exploring the possibilities of using a pen tablet , but of good enough quality to give anyone a satisfying experience.
Wacom Bamboo Pen Potential Issues
To get an overview of the general issue associated with pen tablets, check out computer pen issues. It should be remembered that even the most expensive equipment will have areas where improvement is possible. The important point is to weigh up the pros and cons in order to make an informed decision and then getting the best price to performance ratio when purchasing a product.
- The reaction time was sometimes fractionally delayed on Win 7 (up to 1/2 second) and although very good for its price category, as to be expected, the sensitivity and precision was less refined compared to larger and more expensive products such as the Intuos e.g. 512 as compared to 1024 or 2048. Despite this, even an experienced illustrator would appreciate this units portability when traveling.
- Only minimal adjustment possible compared to more expensive systems. Although not a problem for general needs, those who require greater sensitivity adjustment (e.g. tilt sensitivity) and controllability (e.g. cell shading as required by a designer for high level digital graphics/ art work) should consider investing in more professional equipment (e.g. Cintiqs, Intuos line or even the Bamboo Fun for those wanting a larger drawing surface and greater sensitivity).
- ComputerPen.info found the pressure sensitivity to be slightly weaker at the low end.
- Portability would be better if the cord could plug into the tablet rather than being permanently attached.
- The side-mounted cord placement might not be ideal for those who prefer top-mounted tablets, as it makes placing the Wacon Pen Tablet near a keyboard or laptop more problematic than it ought to be. An option to plug the cord into the other side or a wireless setup would have been an improvement.
- The tablets glossy plastic tends to show fingerprints easily.
- Remember that the tablets active area represents the screen i.e. absolute positioning. Each area of the tablet represents an area of the screen, and once you put the pen down, you are in the correct place on the screen. If you cursor was in the right corner and you then lift the pen and touch the left side, the cursor will be shown on the left side and not where you were previously working.Be aware that absolute positioning can pose significant problems when using multiple monitors i.e. decreased precision, issues with differing monitor resolutions, feeling that the work is stretched out, and by default, the center of the tablet places the cursor between the two monitors instead of the center of the active monitor.
- Although well-built, the unit does not come with a protector for the active area when it is not in use.
- Lack of shortcut buttons/ hot keys/ express keys on top of tablet.
- No carrying case is supplied. Although third-party neoprene cases can be found, it would have been nice if the manufacturer provided one that also stored the pen safely.
- The main issue is that the pen does not come with a built in eraser on the end. However, this can be overcome given that the pen has 2 programmable buttons or by clicking on the relevant icon within the application.
- Accidentally pushing the pen buttons whilst working can be overcome with practice, although placing them towards the top of the pen would have been a better solution than lower down. Most problems regarding this issue can be overcome by simply holding the pen such that the your fingers are on each side of the buttons.
- The pen is somewhat flimsy when compared to more professional (and more expensive) pen tablet models.
- The natural paper like surface creates friction between the pen and tablet to prevent the pen sliding too fast. However, this may not be suitable for those who prefer a very smooth working surface.
- The pen nib may wear to an uneven point due to the active surface being slightly textured. This has the potential to cause minor scratches to tablets surface if heavy pressure is applied. However, surface scratches do not seem to affect the tablets function and aside from the extra nibs that came in the package, spare nibs can be purchased at a reasonable price.
- The side pen holder (red) may be prone to becoming looser over time. Also, it didn’t appear to hold the pen securely when traveling with it.
- For people who leave their devices constantly on, there is no way to turn off the pens LED light.
- Scroll function on the pen seemed a little on the slow side, as was resizing a window by dragging a corner.
Wacom Bamboo Pen Review Conclusion
The Wacom Bamboo Pen is designed as a straightforward, non-professional but quality input device that enables its owner to interact with their computer in a way just not possible with a mouse or keyboard. This budget friendly, sleek and compact tool allows you to draw, edit images and photos, surf the web, enhance or personalize documents in a fun, yet productive way. For anyone wishing to enter the pen tablet world or requiring a competent yet portable device, the Wacom Bamboo Pen over delivers.
Build Quality 4/5
Design & Ergonomics 4/5
Wacom Bamboo Pen Price Guide
Category: Below $100
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