As mentioned in our Intuos 4 review, the graphics tablet is one of the few sectors in the technology market where one brand dominates to the point that it's the only one professionals would consider. Wacom still has no real rivals, since none of the alternatives on the market offer the same level of quality and industry support.
Now it’s gone and significantly improved its Intuos line once again, with the Wacom Intuos 5. Available in various sizes and prices, we’re looking at the Medium model.
Wacom Intuos 5 Pen and Touch Small (£188)
Wacom Intuos 5 Pen (no touch) Medium (£250)
Wacom Intuos 5 Pen and Touch Medium (£288)
Wacom Intuos 5 Pen and Touch Large (£388)
If you’re wondering what a graphics tablet is, it’s the electronic equivalent of drawing-paper and a pen. Try sketching a picture or editing a complex outline with a mouse and you’ll see straight away why they’re necessary. You use a digital pen to draw on this ‘digital paper’, 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 your monitor it’s a great experience.
But while these Wacom-enabled Android devices - and Windows slates like the Series 7 Slate or convertible Lenovo ThinkPad X220t - are nice to draw on, digital artists and keen designers still use dedicated graphics tablets due to the extra pressure levels, pen/nib options, better drawing surface, tilt sensitivity, and more.
The Intuos 4 was awarded a perfect 10/10 score when we reviewed it, so can its successor offer a compelling reason to upgrade? Wacom’s Intuos 5 doesn’t actually advance its predecessor’s pen tech, offering the same 2,048 pressure levels, 60-degree tilt and 1g activation weight.
However, everything else gets a significant make-over: wireless can easily be added across the range with a cheap upgrade module, the glossy plastics of previous Intuos tablets are replaced by an ergonomic soft-touch rubberized finish and, perhaps most importantly, multi-touch has been added to all but one of the Intuos 5 family – great to test out Windows 8’s Metro interface for those without access to a touch-screen device.
The Intuos 5 still comes in shades of black, which goes well with nearly everything. It might not look quite as good as its glossy predecessor when it’s fresh out of the box, but given the dozens of smears, fingerprints and minute scratches that could accumulate on the previous model over time, you’ll definitely appreciate the aesthetic improvement of the Intuos 5’s new soft-touch frame. Otherwise little has changed in the visual department, meaning it’s one attractive and slim piece of tech.
The new finish doesn’t just have a visual impact, it’s also so much nicer to touch and rest your palms on. In other words, the Intuos 5 is a significant ergonomic improvement, save that it’s now a little more difficult to slide your finger between buttons due to that grippy rubberized finish also extending to cover these seamlessly.
Build quality is the best on any Intuos yet, with not a hint of the creak that slightly marred its predecessors - not that build was a problem to begin with, as Wacom’s tablets have always been very durable. But it’s a welcome improvement nonetheless.