| 2,048 Levels of Pressure Sensitivity, 8 Express Keys, 4 Function Touch Ring, Optional Wireless Kit
Wacom precision with a multi-touch
On the 1st March 2012, Wacom released the latest version of their industry standard graphics tablet range, The Intuos 5. It was 5 years ago that I first discovered digital art with the Intuos 3 and I have been using the Intuos range ever since. Soon after it's launch I recieved an Intuos 5 Touch medium and I have spent the past week trying it out. Here are my thoughts on Wacom's latest release.
In the box
As one would expect, the Wacom Intuos 5 is packaged beautifully. Inside you will find the Intuos 5 tablet wrapped in a descriptive overlay explaining the default button functions. The tablets new design is incredibly clean looking with the express key buttons all moulded into one smooth touch panel. The Intuos 5 comes in one color - black - with white function indicator lights and subtle white corner markers to show the active drawing area. Packaged next to the tablet is the pen/stylus and the pen holder containing additional pen nibs, both of which are identical to those included with the Intuos 4 range. Hidden underneath the Intuos 5 tablet is the standard USB cable and the user manual / driver bundle.
Last year when I purchased my Intuos 4, I was forced to choose between a wired and a wireless enabled bluetooth version of the tablet. But now with the Intuos 5, Wacom has made the wireless functionality an optional ad-on to the standard wired version. A wireless accessory kit can be purchased separately and consists of 2 small USB receivers (one for the tablet and one for the computer you are connecting with) and a battery. This is in my opinion a great step forward for Wacom because it allows customers to add the wireless functionality to their tablet should they actually need it.
On the underside of the tablet, there are 2 latches that house the wireless functionality. Under the first latch are 2 slots for the USB receivers and under the second is a slot for the battery.
My favorite aspect of the Wacom experience is using the preference panel to configure and customize how you use your tablet. The preference panel will be familiar to existing Wacom users providing options to configure the individual express keys to perform specific functions in specific applications. The touch ring can have up to 4 separate functions toggled using the middle button of he ring. You can also configure the functions associated with the 2 buttons on the pen and adjust the impact of the pressure sensitivity of the nib.
One of the big new changes introduced with the Intuos 5 tablet is touch. The input area of the tablet now doubles as a large multi-touch track pad - similar to that which ships with Apple's current notebook line. All of the system gestures are available including scrolling, pinching and swiping with different finger combinations. As with the express keys, you also have the ability to configure custom gestures specific to Adobe Photoshop and Corel Painter.
The new touch functionality is a massive addition to the Intuos range offering an increasingly natural experience for those that are willing to adopt it. As with any new workflow, it can take a while to program your brain to instinctively use it, but in my opinion it is well worth the effort.
One problem that is common when configuring your own functions is trying to remember what you actually configured. This was a big problem for me when using my Intuos 3 tablet because it had no indicators outside of the preference panel. The Intuos 4 solved this problem with a small backlight screen next to each button which displayed the name of function that it performs. The Intuos 5 has removed these screens in favor of a HUD software solution. Simply holding your finger over a button brings up a transparent overlay on your screen with the relevant function highlighted. This elegant solution is unobtrusive and quick to get used to.
One additional HUD can be activated using one of the express keys which gives a full screen break down of every function currently configured on the tablet and pen.
The Intuos 5 is a solid upgrade building upon everything that I love about the previous models. The 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity, express keys, touch ring and close software integration all graduate from the Intuos 4 with the addition of multi-touch gestures, HUD interfaces and an optional wireless kit. For more information and pricing, visit Wacom's website - http://www.wacom.com