Wacom Intous4 Wireless Pen Tablet

I've been using the Wacom Intous4 Wireless pen tablet for about two weeks now and I'm probably just getting to the point that it's becoming second nature. It's not as thoughtless as using a mouse yet, but it's getting there. The wireless model is very similar to the regular Intous4, but it it does have some slight differences in its design. The tablet is slimmer than it's wired brother and has two lights on the top surface that let you know when it's on (orange) and when bluetooth is connected (blue). There's also a plate to one side of the base that can be removed and replaced by the supplied pen holder loop, which is a handy accessory and essential if you plan to use your tablet outside of your studio, office or home. As soon as you start to unbox the Intous4, you know that it's a quality product just by the packaging. I was a bit disappointed that Wacom don't supply the mouse with this model.

The pen has a nice feel, both in grip and the smoothness of the nib on the surface of the tablet. It has a rocker switch that is configurable to your own way of working. I find that for Photoshop, the forward button is well suited to the hand tool, so that you can press it and drag your image across the screen when you're zoomed in. The back button of the rocker is handy when it's mapped to the Alt key. This is especially useful with the Clone Brush, as you simply press the button and tap the tablet to select your source, then release it to start cloning. I always preferred Paint Shop Pro's right click on the mouse to select the clone source, rather than than the two handed Photoshop way. One thing I would have liked on the pen is a scroll wheel. The Pen Holder is weighted and can be used for either placing the pen in vertically or sitting it across horizontally. Twist the pen holder and it opens up to reveal the 10 replacement nibs and a pen removal tool.

The Controls at the side of the tablet can be used right or left handed by simply rotating the tablet and making a quick adjustment in the software. There are 8 Express Keys which can be mapped to anything you like and have a fantastic LED display beside each one that lets you know what that key is set for. As the set-up can be customized for each piece of software individually, the display changes every time you switch programs. The Touch Ring is a sensor, rather than an actual wheel, so it has a nice smooth feel. The button in the centre of the wheel lets you switch between the four different applications that you set it for in the software, such as zooming, brush size, brush softness and so on.

The software is very easy to use and I quickly set-up all the buttons, switches and wheel without the need to read the manual. I did loose all of my set-ups after using the tablet for a few days and have no idea why. It might have been pilot error, but you can bet that when I set it up again, I used the back-up software to save my settings... just in case! Although I bought the Intous4 to use with Photoshop and Lightroom, I have it set-up for Safari too, and I'm reaching for the pen as often as the mouse when surfing the web.

Conclusion: As you've probaly figured out by now, I like the Intous4. I bought the wireless version because I do a rough edit and slideshow at weddings and I have a laptop with bluetooth built in. Another plus point is that I'll no longer need to plug in my travel mouse either. Although I have a bluetooth adapter on my desktop computer, wireless doesn't bother me too much, but it might come in handy sometimes. I also bought this tablet because I was curious too see if it would be a more natural way of editing and to see if it could speed up my workflow. It has worked on both counts, although I'm hoping that it speeds up my workflow even more in the weeks to come. Wacom have done a fantastic job on this product and I think that this is the perfect time to give a pen tablet a go if you have never used one, or if you have used one in the past, but it didn't perform the way it should...I still wish they included the mouse though! One more thing - Check out the price on software bundles with this product. There are great deals to be had with Lightroom 3 included.