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Wacom Intuos 4 Graphics Tablet - Wacom Intuos 4 Graphics Tablet

Ardjuna Seghers

By Ardjuna Seghers



Our Score:


Pens from the Intuos 3 won't work with the newer tablet, but rather than a way of making you pay all over again for the large variety of pens the company offers (including Grip, Airbrush, Inking and Art models), it's because they have received a genuine hardware upgrade inside too, doubling the Intuos 3 pen's 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity to a heady 2,048. The nib now only requires a single gram of pressure to register an action compared to the previous pen's 10, so an even finer touch than before is possible. Also, both the nibs and the eraser at the pen's top now feel softer, giving better resistance and making them feel more like the real thing.

Wacom has cleverly designed the stand to be more than just a pen-holder like it was for the Intuos 3. It's taller and heavier than before, and its glossy base unscrews from the hollow top section to reveal a foam holding area for all your nibs and a compact metal nib-extractor. Storing the nibs in the pen-base is an inspired idea, one of the many incidental touches that elevate the Intuos 4 above its predecessor. Ten nibs are included, which with the one pre-installed in the pen makes for a total of eleven. These all give a different feel to writing or drawing, and include pen, stroke, hard felt and flex nib varieties.

Naturally the biggest changes concern the tablet itself. Compared to the Intuos 3, the surround of the actual tablet area has now been changed to a matte rather than glossy finish, which not only means less maintenance but also gives your palms a securer resting area.

Indeed the only glossy section is a piano-black strip on the side, which contains the updated controls and, in what is one of the most dramatic upgrades since the beginning of the Intuos line, two monochrome organic light emitting diode (OLED) displays. This advanced display technology doesn't need a backlight, meaning they require less energy, are never tiring on the eyes and look really cool too, with the white symbols on a perfectly black background really adding a lot of visual appeal.

Their practical purpose though is to tell you the functions of each of the eight fully programmable matte buttons (called ExpressKeys) the strip houses. You might think it's easy enough to remember what eight buttons do, but taking into consideration that you may want to have different configurations for different software packages, or even switch between various configs within a single piece of software depending on the task, you'll soon wonder how you ever managed without them.

It's worth noting that the smallest Intuos 4 - of the four sizes available, which like T-shirts include small, medium, large and x-large - doesn't come with the OLED displays and only has six buttons, so if you're not severely constrained by either space or budget it's well worth making the medium tablet your minimum starting point.

Dark of Day

July 31, 2009, 8:57 am

I'll second all that!

I got the medium sized one shortly after it was released and it is fantastic.

Doesn't make your skills any better alas but certainly lets you make the most of any you have ...and enjoy doing it!


July 31, 2009, 1:55 pm

I will third that!!!

Lee Marshall

July 31, 2009, 1:59 pm

Great review, just a shame it's currently out of my budget.

However, will you please use the correct spelling of Matt, it is not Matte!!!!

Matt is a dull or flat finish

Matte is a mask to block out areas of film (as in Matte Painting, the crappy backdrops they use on low budget sci-fi films)


July 31, 2009, 3:15 pm

@ Lee Marshall: Both forms of spelling are, in fact, correct. Matte is more specific to masking and film, however, it is still applicable and therefore valid when referring to the finish of an object.

PS - I want one of these.


July 31, 2009, 4:49 pm

I've been using the M size for a few months now. I actually don't feel that PhotoShop (certainly up to CS2) really makes the best use of these tablets. For me the most compelling software to buy is AutoDesk Sketch Book Pro, it's a beautiful, fast sketching program that is ideal either for illustration or marking up screen grabs, something that I've found very useful when discussing product designs in conference settings. You get a limited licence for free with the tablet but as the full package is only a £90 download it's silly not to buy the fully featured version. It doesn't have the awful cursor lag of Corel's sketching programs (I'm using a very fast laptop with a Quadro FX3600 graphics card) and it's a lot more flexible.

Moving up from my old skiddy Graphire to the Intuos 4 was a massive step up in performance, the surface provides a very comfortable level of friction but it really does wear the felt nibs down like nobody's buisness. I'm very happy with my purchse, I would've loved to buy a Cintiq 21 (my client has a bunch of them) but at £1300 less (and a lot more portablity) I'm quite happy with my Intuos 4.


July 31, 2009, 5:02 pm


Thanks for the interesting feedback.

As to your point about the Cintiq 21, the Intuos 4 is not only a lot cheaper but also offers a better surface, double the pressure sensitivity and other advantages. As mentioned in the review Cintiqs are still based on the same tech as found in the Intuos 3 :(


July 31, 2009, 6:57 pm

For U.S. readers please put the price in U.S. dollars for those who don't know the conversion rate.Also where,or if available in U.S.Thanks.


July 31, 2009, 8:11 pm

@ phred, I think TR wil start doing that when American sites starting doing it for UK readers as well. ;)

Francesco Mastellone

July 31, 2009, 8:37 pm

And for European readers, please put the price in Euros, for those who can't use any of the converters which are all over the internet.

...I don't think that's gonna happen, fred ;)


July 31, 2009, 9:59 pm

Yeah now you know how it feels Pfred! Anyway my dashboard says the pre-VAT price translates to about $574.91.


July 31, 2009, 10:23 pm


Sorry Phred, we're a UK site so our priority will always be UK pricing. Having said that, our shopping links have recently been updated so now US pricing should be available :)

On a general note, we reviewed the Large tablet, where the Medium offers the same basic functionality but is significantly cheaper (around £330/$350)

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