When speaking about a pen based digital tablet, do the terms: beauty, symmetry, precision, and functionality seem out of place? When one considers the vast majority of tablets on the market, these terms are indeed out of place. If fact, most of the tablets on the market are the antithesis of the afore mentioned terms. What about the Wacom Intuos4? Is it possible that this descendant from a long and storied line of pen tablets could epitomize these lofty terms? Read on and discover the answer to this “dodging and burning” question.
LIFE IMITATING ARTAs Pablo Picasso touched brush to canvas, or Ansel Adams peered through his little window frame into the world, could either of these revolutionary artists have envisioned the pixel possibilities of today? Artists tend to visually portray their dreams and wishes. Rarely does life ever catch up to these whimsical visions portrayed upon various mediums. The Intuos4 brings all the wonderful pixel possibilities of painting, drawing, and photography, to life.
For many years, artists frowned upon the non-traditional tools developed by Wacom and other companies. There will always be purists who feel that the old techniques within their art forms are best. Modern day art students are learning to embrace the virtues of digital tools and mediums. Leaders within the digital art field like, Bert Monroy have embraced these tools and created breathtaking art for all the world to enjoy.
The Intuos4 pen tablet from Wacom is on the cutting edge of the digital art revolution. Through its comprehensive set of tools, artists can mimic many of the traditional tools and mediums without the limitations that accompany most of those traditional tools and mediums. The Intuos4 allows the limitless potential and creativity of the artist to flow through their mind’s eye into a digital canvas where all things are possible. Indeed, with the Intuos4, the artist can bring to life the art which heretofore could only exist in his/her mind.
DESIGN & FEATURESWe all grew up hearing the old adage, “You can’t judge a book by its cover.” However, I have learned that companies that take the time to beautifully package their products, generally care a great deal about the quality of the product inside the beautiful packaging. Companies like Apple Inc., and others have always packaged their beautiful, precision crafted products in beautiful packaging. When I opened the shipping box containing the Intuos4, I was immediately attracted to the beautiful packaging. I was then even more excited to discover the product that would deserve to be adorned so elegantly.
Removing the Intuos4 from its traveling home revealed an aesthetically pleasing piece of hardware.
The first thing you notice is the tablet’s svelte depth. At .5”, this is a very thin device. Adding to the pleasing aesthetics are the downward shaped edges and the matt and glossy black surface finishes. Together, the device projects elegance and precision. Clearly, Wacom understands a very important industrial design theorem, function plus form equals success. On the left (with the device oriented for a right handed user) are the ExpressKeys which allow programmable interaction with connected computers and applications.
With the inclusion of two USB connectors, one may orient the ExpressKeys to the right or left depending upon preference. Next to the ExpressKeys, Wacom has included illuminated displays (OLED) which provide an instant reference as to the current function(s) for the corresponding key. This is a very nice and useful touch. In between both sets of ExpressKeys, Wacom has added a user-defined Touch Ring which can control up to four different functions within each application.
The Intuos4 Grip Pen has a new contoured barrel design to minimize grip effort and ships with multiple nibs (tips) depending upon painting/drawing preference. There are four color identification rings to identify multiple grip pens configured for a different styles etc. Also included in the box are a pen stand that houses the extra nibs, a traditional mouse to use the tablet in a more traditional manner, and a USB cord to connect the Intuos4 to the computer of choice (Mac or PC). Jump to the product page for additional information regarding features and optional accessories. At $349.00, the Intuos4 – Medium is not cheap. However, considering the included accessories and the quality of the hardware/software, the price is more than reasonable.
IT’S MIGHTIER THAN A SWORDPicking up the grip pen, the rubberized outer grip provides an ideal combination of grip and comfort. Having easily installed the included drivers, I settled into a Photoshop session to put the Intuos4 through its paces. In addition to being comfortable within the hand, the Grip Pen was very sensitive.
This latest edition of the Grip Pen features a new Tip Sensor which requires no more than one gram of pressure to activate. The result is 2048 levels of pen pressure sensitivity. While the comfort and sensitivity are great, a little more weight could aid in the ability to more precisely control the pin, both when hovering and coming into contact with the active area of the tablet.
The active area surface itself employs just enough resistance to allow the nib to flow smoothly across the surface. The Medium version of the Intuos4 seems to be the sweet spot, both in terms of active area size and overall functionality. Using the Intuos4 with my 24” LED Cinema Display, I didn’t feel cramped. When editing a digital image, sometimes a long movement of the pen, either horizontally or vertically, is required. On a smaller active area, this can be cramped and cumbersome. The larger active area of the Intuos4 – Medium, provides an ample amount of active area to assist in producing a smooth and precise stroke of the pen.
The highly sensitive Tip Sensor with the proper nib in combination with the ideal area surface finish and space can greatly aid in those situations when one must edit a highly magnified file.
Using the Intuos4 to edit at the pixel level is a dramatic improvement over the traditional mouse scenario. The ability to relax your wrist and freely apply pressure where needed will transform your editing and artistry. This device will allow one to recoup the investment through improved productivity and superior artistry. As one’s skill level and technique continue to improve, the Intuos4 will continue to pay dividends well into the future.
MAKING A GREAT PRODUCT EVEN BETTERThe one recommendation I would purpose, would be a slight redesign of the Grip Pen in order to add a little weight. Currently, its weight, or lack thereof, can make it difficult to be precise in highly magnified images, as well as, moments when a long line segment is required.
MyMac.com Review Rating:The Wacom Intuos4 – Medium professional pen tablet receives high marks for form and function. At present, it is, IMO, the well deserved market leader in the space. There is, as with every product, room for improvement. However, based upon their continual improvement of this product over the years, I am sure Wacom has some great new features on the horizon. I am awarding the Wacom Intuos4 – Medium professional pen tablet the well deserved rating of 8 out of 10 in our MyMac.com Rating System.