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Page 115 of 162

114 MacDirectory REVIEW INTUOS 4 DIGITIZING TABLET > A WORLD-CLASS PLATFORM There are a number of competitors in the world of digitizing tablets but the unquestioned leader is Wacom. Their prosumer Bamboo line, professional Intuos line, and LCD Cintiq line are the dominant forces in their categories and Wacom's continuous efforts in R & D allow them to set the standard by which all others must be measured. As expected, the newly introduced and highly anticipated Intuos 4 line raises the bar yet again. The Intuos 4 is available in four models with active areas ranging from 6.2"x3.9" to 24.5"x18.2". They boast an amazing 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity, can recognize +/-60ยบ of tilt, and their cordless pens have a near-zero starting pressure that is one-tenth that of the Intuos 3. Onboard controls are arranged in an ambidextrous design with a touch ring and express key buttons along one side and a concealed slider on the reverse that is used to switch the tablet's tracking orientation between right- and left-handed positions while simultaneously revealing the corresponding USB cable port. The touch wheel has a center button for switching between four user-defined modes, such as zooming, scrolling or canvas rotation. Modes are indicated by a series of LEDs along the inboard edge of the ring. There are eight user-definable express key buttons (six on the smallest tablet) that are distributed above and below the touch ring and the three larger models feature a prominent set of backlit icons next to the express keys. Lefties might hope that the concealed slider would simultaneously shift the mask for the express key icons to a left-handed configuration, but this is not the case. You can, however, choose to dim or complete- ly extinguish the icon backlight. Except for the cool factor, this is no big loss. Now, if the tablet were to have a flip-up panel and a set of swappable icon masks, that would have been very cool. Perhaps next time. The control panel follows previous designs and accommodates other models, including older products that you may have lying around. In addition to providing a wide range of options for the express keys, touch wheel, stylus buttons and mouse controls, it offers the capability of toggling between single and multi monitor configurations. While this may not be of value to those who use a monitor for palettes, it does make for easy painting and retouching. On the downside, the toggle does not affect cursor speed, resulting in either an extremely slow cursor when in dual screen mode or an extremely fast cursor single screen mode. The Intuos 4 stylus features a tiny ceramic capacitor that is not only amazingly sensitive but better maintains its sensitivity over its life, which is guaranteed for 20 million strokes. The stylus is 3/4" shorter than its predecessor and an indistinguish- able .5 grams lighter and is quite comfortable. The programmable five- button scroll wheel mouse provides angle detection and the placement of buttons in front of and behind the scroll wheel is a nice arrangement. If anyone has ever wondered at the price of a replacement Wacom stylus, it is because half of the technology of a Wacom tablet is found in the stylus. Unfortunately, stylus support is not backwards compatible, so if you are a fan of the Intuos 3 art pen or other instru- ments you will need to wait for their debut and then pony up. One last hardware goodie: the pen holder contains a set of replacement nibs and a nib puller. Rounding out the package is a software bundle composed of Nik Color Efex Pro plug-in filters for Photoshop and Photoshop Elements plus a choice of two of the three Applications: Photoshop Elements, AutoDesk Sketchpad Express 2010 or Corel Painter SketchPad. They are decent apps for starters, particularly Photoshop Elements. The Intuos 4 series is every bit the thoroughbred and is a worthy successor to the Intuos 3. The sensitivity and control are magnificent, the onboard controls are well designed, and the gloss and matte black-on-black styling is very attractive. If there has ever been a device that could persuade mouse-bound designers to finally experience the capabilities of a drawing tablet, the Intuos 4 is the tool for the job. For serious tablet hounds in the graphics and painting fields no persuasion is required. The Intuos 4 is a genuine world-class platform. Product Wacom Intuos 4 Digitizing Tablet Made by Wacom Price $229, $349, $469, $789 Pros Unsurpassed sensitivity, brilliant design Cons Not backward compatible with previous pens, not entirely as ambidextrous as asserted Rating HHHHH WORDS BY TREY YANCY

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