Intuos4 Professional Pen Tablet

Intuos4 Professional Pen Tablet

Spring is just around the corner, according to the calendar. But I’m looking out the window at a yard that’s still covered with snow right now. The east coast, where I live, got lambasted by more than 32 inches of snow in February. I’ll pursue my picture taking pleasures indoors for a spell, thank you very much. I’ve had quite enough of cold and ice for one winter.

So I bought a Wacom Intuos4 graphics tablet. I’ve always wanted a good graphics tablet. I have an inexpensive Wacom tablet that I bought on impulse at Fry’s a decade or so ago, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it. But the drawing surface is frustratingly small, and as a result I didn’t use it seriously.

The active area of my medium-size Intuos4 is 8.8 by 5.5 inches—a very comfortable size. Furthermore, the ambidextrous tablet is equipped with eight configurable function buttons and a unique scroll wheel that allows me to zoom and change tools with my left hand while drawing with my right.

I use the term “drawing” loosely, since I could not draw a recognizable object if my life’s fortune were at stake. I use the graphic pen they way I use a mouse, except with much greater accuracy. It’s hard to explain, but I have a deeper feeling of control when using this graphic tablet. And it’s really fun.

Installation was a snap on both my MacBook Pro and my young daughter’s iMac. Wacom generously provides a rich software bundle. Here is the description in their words:

“When you buy Intuos4, you'll gain access to the Intuos4 Bundled Software Download Program where, at no additional cost, you can choose to download several valuable creative applications. As part of this program, you can choose to download two different plug-ins that give you additional brush tools and photo effects in Adobe Photoshop or Photoshop Elements.”

“Additionally, you can choose two applications from a selection of three valuable creative applications offered by leading software manufacturers: Adobe, Autodesk, and Corel. Many of these applications also offer valuable upgrade programs which you can access through the Wacom Privileges Program.”

You can upgrade to CS4 for $299—a compelling offer to say the least. You also can select the sketching applications or some potent NIK plug-ins (Nik Color Efex Pro WE6). Or you can get an older version of Photoshop Elements for free. The software value goes a long way to offset the $369 retail price of the tablet.

Comes with a mouse, too. Guaranteed to provide great indoor fun while waiting for the first flowers of spring to appear. Unless, of course, you like ice, snow and cold weather.

—Jon Sienkiewicz