MacDirectory Magazine

Winter-Spring 2008 (#36)

MacDirectory magazine is the premiere creative lifestyle magazine for Apple enthusiasts featuring interviews, in-depth tech reviews, Apple news, insights, latest Apple patents, apps, market analysis, entertainment and more.

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114 MacDirectory REVIEW | CREATIVITY If the thought of a drawing tablet leaves you in the tall grass, Wacom's new Bamboo series of consumer tablets may be exactly what the bwana ordered. Forming a substantial step up from the Graphire line that it replaces, the Bamboo series ranges in price from $79 to $199 and includes a finger-sensitive rotating touch ring, four programmable function buttons and a detachable USB cable. While the Bamboo does not compete with Wacom's professional Intuous line, the Bamboo series provides consumers with an excellent introduction into tablet-based drawing and painting, as well as offering features that will appeal to professionals as well as consumers. Features Both of the Bamboo Fun models offer 512 levels of pressure sensitivity, a resolution of 2,540 lines, and feature a set of four programmable buttons arranged on either side of a finger-sensitive wheel in the center of a highly attractive touch ring that enables the user to instantly zoom in and out with a twirl of a finger. While the function buttons on the standard bamboo are backlit in blue, the Bamboo Fun models have a glowing blue ring around the wheel. The basic $79 Bamboo model is available in black only (albeit a very appealing black). It measures 7.88" x 7.36", is a mere 0.3" thick, and has an active surface area measuring 5.8" x 3.7". Included with the tablet are a two-button stylus with eraser tip and a software bundle featuring Adobe Photoshop Elements (version 5 for Windows and 4 for Mac), Corel Painter Essentials 3, and the Nik Color Efex Pro 2.0 GE Photoshop/Painter plug-in. No mouse is included. The Bamboo Fun tablet offers the same resolution and pressure support as the Bamboo but has a slightly different button layout, is available in four colors (while, black, blue and silver) and in two sizes. The $99 small version measures 8.4" x 7.3" x 0.3" and has an active area of 5.8" x 3.7". The $199 medium version measures 11" x 9.3" x 0.3" and had an active area of 8.5" x 5.3". In addition to the other components, the Bamboo line includes a lightweight two-position stylus holder and a set of replacement nibs. A welcome and long-awaited touch is the detachable USB cable. Identical to cables used with digital cameras, this makes for worry-free transportation and reduces cable wear, increasing the life of the tablet. While not as slick as Wacom's Bluetooth offerings, the detachable cable is something that should be incorporated throughout the Wacom catalog. Hands-On Some who are new to drawing tablets might gaze at the larger dimensions of the Wacom Intuous line with envy, but after spending a month in a busy and highly varied multimedia creation and production environment it is clear that the Bamboo Fun offerings are anything but toys. The only issue I found with the size of the active area was in a multiple monitor setting, in which case the spanning of monitors made the drawing area a bit small. This was eased by the ease of zooming with the touch ring, but if you are constantly zipping between menu, pallet and dock, you could begin to feel the need for a larger Intuous. As for the touch ring, it is a bit lively with some applications, and could stand a slight reduction in response but, like many others, zooming from the keyboard is so second nature that the touch ring is more of a bonus than a necessity. In regard to the relationship between the Bamboo and the Graphire 4 that it replaces, the two added buttons and wheel are nice additions, but I find myself missing the clip-on clear cover and built-in stylus holder of the previous consumer line. The setup and programmable functions are easy and familiar us users of other Wacom products and you can get up and running within minutes. Conclusion The Bamboo and Bamboo Fun are great tablets for beginners, consumers and many professionals alike. The designs are very well thought out and hugely appealing. They are sexy, functional, and are available at a budget-friendly price. WACOM BAMBOO > BAMBOO FUN DRAWING TABLETS Product Bamboo and Bamboo Fun drawing tablets Made by Wacom Price Bamboo: $79.00, Bamboo Fun: $99.00, $199 Pros Detachable cable, lighted elements Cons No mouse with standard Bamboo model Rating HHHH WORDS BY TREY YANCY

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