We recently received the fantastic Bamboo Pen & Touch graphics tablet for review from Wacom. This multi-touch tablet is both well-designed and attractive, and compares favorably to traditional track pads for general computing, and much better for creative applications. Our full review follows.
The Bamboo Pen & Touch is a beautiful device, combining the benefits of a Multi-Touch track pad with the comfort and precision of an ergonomic pen tool, and the added functionality of pressure sensitivity, making it much more idea for creative applications, such as sketching, signatures, texturing, and so forth.
The Pen & Touch supports a variety of multi-touch gestures and finger taps. In my testing, I found it to support all of the gesture’s that Apple’s own track pads offer, with the added utility of having 4 hardware buttons that can be used for various, assignable purposes.
The addition of the pen is also particularly useful for precision tasks, which are difficult if not impossible on a traditional track pad. The Pen & Touch works immediately upon being plugged into my MacBook Pro, with no immediate need for drivers (although it does include software to enhance its functionality, and does include drivers that enhance its functionality).
The Wacom tablet is extremely well-built, and feels extremely solid. The packaging is stylish and effective, and compliments the product without adding a huge amount of bulk. The tablet is powered by USB, and the included cable is an ideal length for my setup – it doesn’t get in the way, and its plenty long enough to do the job. The Pen & Touch is compact enough to toss in a laptop bag, yet is large enough (with its 5.8″ x 3.6″ surface) to accomplish the majority of tasks that you might need it for.
What’s In The Box?
Inside the well-crafted and beautifully designed packaging resides everything you’ll need to utilize the tablet: The tablet, the pen, a quick start guide, an installation CD (which includes drivers, an interactive tutorial, and user’s manual), and a software DVD (containing Adobe® Photoshop® Elements 7.0 Win/6.0 Mac and Nik® Color Efex Pro™ 3.0 WE3).
Strengths And Notable Features
I used the pad to perform a variety of tasks, from general computing to working in Photoshop, to signature capture. I found that, while the tablet worked quite well for all of these things, its real strengths were in it’s creative capacities – precise and pressure-sensitive manipulations in Photoshop, a captured signature with varying line thickness dependent on pressure used, and so forth.
Another notable feature is that, instead of a plastic impression on the tablet to hold its pen, Wacom has included a fabric loop to insert the pen into, adding to the overall aesthetic feel of the device, as well as to its compact and concise nature. It also ensures that your pen won’t slip out and hide in your travel bag or backpack.
In addition, you’ll find a set of four buttons or ‘ExpressKeys’ which can be programmed with specific functions or custom software shortcuts in the Wacom driver settings. The buttons can be used to reproduce additional mouse button clicks, launch specific applications or even quickly toggle the tablet’s touch functionality, which is almost a necessity. What’s great about the design of this is that the tablet can easily be flipped into any orientation, while still allowing comfortable usage of the buttons.
Another particularly nice feature is the actual texture of the tablet – it has a very nice, smooth, and clean surface that feels very nice underneath a pen, as well as underneath one’s fingers as a touch interface.
There are very few practical downsides to this tablet, especially considering its low price, but one feature that I found lacking was the “eraser” feature on the stylus, which seemed overly abrasive to me, and felt as if it would scuff the pad, and perhaps permanently affect the surface over time.
Another thing I found lacking was the Pen & Touch’s lack of ability to be operated wirelessly. The USB interface is fine, but I can’t help but think that it would be more practical ultimately to include a small chargeable battery so that the tablet could be used without a cable for some amount of time if necessary.
The Bamboo Pen & Touch is a remarkably complete device. It is built very well, is ergonomic, has a large surface in which to explore its capacities, and is extremely usable. It functions extremely well for the home user, however professionals might find that they desire additional levels of pressure sensitivity.
With the only true downsides to this tablet being its lack of wireless ability, and an eraser feature that could perhaps be revisited, I consider this tablet to be an extremely solid performer, and a solid contender against other track pads or consumer-level tablets.
Wrapping it Up
To conclude, I’ll simply list some pros and cons of the device.
+ Compact, though still large enough to be productive.
+ Convenient fabric loop for storing the stylus.
+ Relatively inexpensive.
+ Superior alternative to a mouse for digital artists.
+ Solid build, excellent, ergonomic design, serves its intended purpose.
– Compact size could throw off artists who are used to a larger tablet.
– The design of the eraser on the stylus tended to scuff the surface of the tablet.
– Lack of wireless ability.
Rating And Purchase Information
We rate Wacom’s tablet 4.5 out of a possible 5 point for it’s low price, excellent durability, and feature-richness, although it loses half a point for being just shy of perfection.
In order to purchase the Wacom Bamboo Pen & Touch directly from Wacom (Just $99), or if you just would like to get your hands on more information on the device, I welcome you to visit Wacom’s product page for the Pen & Touch. The popular tablet is also available at Apple stores, the Apple Online Store, and other electronics retailers both nationwide and international.
Thanks for reading out review – we would welcome any and all feedback, and we hope you’ll share your thoughts with us! Sound off in the comments!