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Graphics tablets is one of the few sectors in the technology market where one brand dominates to the point where it's the only one professionals would consider. Wacom has a well-established reputation as the best that money can buy, but despite the lack of competition the company hasn't stood still. It has recently upgraded its professional Intuos range of tablets and we're taking a look at what the Intuos 4 Professional Pen Tablet has to offer.
The Intuos currently sits near the top of Wacom's range, which starts with the Bamboo for casual users, offers the Graphire for those who want wireless, and culminates with the Cintiq which combines a tablet and LCD monitor into a single device. Though Cintiqs are still the most expensive of Wacom's offerings, in fact the Intuos 4 is the best-specified tablet out of the lot because the Cintiqs are still based around the same architecture as the Intuos 3 was.
Before we get onto the upgrades and changes Wacom has implemented in its fourth Intuos tablet, let's quickly go over just what a graphics tablet does and what it's for. Essentially, it's like a piece of very thick digital paper. You use a digital pen to draw upon it, and what you draw appears on your screen. Of course it doesn't appear on the tablet (unless you have a Cintiq), so it takes a bit of getting used to, but once you have the hang of coordinating your hand to the screen you'll never want to go back to a mouse for drawing or detailed photo-editing. Nearly all tablets are pressure-sensitive so you can vary the width, opacity or jitter (etc) of your lines, and Wacom's pens uniquely offer 60 degrees of tilt sensitivity too.
The Intuos 4 package consists of the pen and tablet, USB cable, pen-holder and driver CD. The first thing some might notice is that the set has received a visual make-over. Gone is the blue and grey colour scheme that adorned all but the special edition Intuos 3 tablets, to be replaced with a mixture of satin and gloss black that makes it look and feel like an even more premium product.
To go with the new look the pen feels different, too. Its whole length is now soft-touch instead of just the lower part on its predecessor (though the lower rubber 'grip' is still replaceable), which combines with a shorter and slightly fatter body to make it more comfortable to hold. The two-way rocker switch near its base sticks out less too, so it's not as easy to press the lower ‘button' accidentally while working. Its action remains flawless however, with a nice click to confirm presses. Wacom's unique ‘Penabled' technology means the pen never requires batteries, and its build quality is excellent.
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