The pen itself is as well-put-together as the tablet. It has a tactile rubber coating running three quarters of its length and the two customisable rocker buttons on its barrel – used for right-clicking and panning by default – aren't as fiddly as some I've used. And when you've finished using it, you just pop it down on the supplied stand. Best of all, the pen doesn't need batteries to run, so it won't run out of juice when you need it most.
It all works perfectly either as a graphics tool or simply for mousing around. The tablet has a report rate of 133 positions per second and 512 pressure levels, which contributes to smooth transitions from light to dark in drawings – assuming your software supports pressure sensitivity, that is. And standard mouse actions, such as double-clicking and right-clicking are achieved without having to be over precise – a failing that can afflict some tablets.
On a more serious note, if you experience wrist strain from too much mousing, switching to an alternative like this might just relieve a little of the strain. It doesn't take very much getting used to and if you switch between the two approaches, you may just save yourself some pain.
All good so far, but there is one problem. The review unit I was sent emitted a quiet but persistent buzzing noise and I'm not the only one to have experienced this, as a quick trip to Wacom's forums revealed. It's a problem that Wacom says has now been resolved at the manufacturing stage, but in the absence of a full product recall, there's still a risk, albeit a small one, of ending up with a faulty unit that you'll subsequently have to return to your retailer. At least Wacom is aware of the problem and willing to deal with it, should you encounter a buzzing tablet.
Despite this I'm still going to give the Bamboo a tentative thumbs-up. It's very easy to get used to and in use it's responsive and flexible. It may not be the cheapest consumer graphics tablet on the market but it is the best looking and the addition of the touch ring really does make it a viable alternative to a mouse – if not permanently, at least to give your wrist something else to do.