With the advent of Windows 7, suddenly multi-touch devices are coming out left, right and centre, from monitors like the Dell SX2210T to the unique Wacom Bamboo Pen & Touch tablet we're reviewing today. This basically takes a traditional graphics tablet, which requires a pen to interact with, and adds touch technology so you can use your fingers as well. And given Wacom has an unmatched pedigree when it comes to creating tablets - its previous Intuos 4 Graphics Tablet scored a perfect 10 and grabbed an Editor's Choice Award - we are expecting good things.
This isn't Wacom's only touch tablet, either. First there's the black Bamboo Touch, which has no pen and won't accept one if you buy it separately later on - basically it's just a huge multi-touch touchpad. The black Bamboo Pen & Touch we're checking out here is the next step up, coming without any software except the standard Bamboo Dock application, which we'll get to later. And above this are the white and silver Bamboo Fun Pen & Touch tablets, available in Small and Medium (though even Small is slightly larger than the standard Pen & Touch) and with bundled copies of ArtRage and Photoshop Elements.
Returning to the Bamboo Pen & Touch, its 248 x 176 x 8.5mm dimensions (with an 'active' area of 147 x 92mm for the pen and 125 x 85mm for touch sensitivity) and 360g weight strike a good balance between portability and a decent working area. Certainly as a touch device it's more generous than even the largest touchpad, though as a pen tablet it's at the smallest end of the scale. In the box you get a driver CD, pen and tablet, plus three spare identical nibs and a metal nib-remover, though unlike the Intuos 4 there's no pen holder to store these in.
Aesthetically, the Bamboo's smooth blending of matt and glossy black plastics with a white LED strip is classic Wacom. Indeed, it's quite an attractive peripheral, if not quite as classy as the far more expensive Intuos 4 range. It feels well-built too, though its thinness makes it feel fragile. One definite step back compared to its more expensive siblings is the permanently attached USB cable. If this becomes faulty or is damaged you'll have to replace the whole tablet or send it off for repair.