A really solid, quality introduction to the world of graphics tablets, the initial key appeal of the Wacom Bamboo Pen is its modest price tag. Appreciating that you can pay easily into the hundreds for a professional Wacom unit, the price of this particular product has fallen below £40 in some quarters. And you really get quite a lot for your money.
What you get
Inside the smart box, there’s the tablet itself, the stylus pen (which slots inside a cloth sleeve when not in use), and a CD of software. There’s nothing special about the latter, as it covers the utilities and tools you need to get the Bamboo Pen working. But it does include a hand-holding tutorial for those getting used to a graphics tablet for the first time.
You also get, in the Bamboo Dock, a selection of fairly useful software tools, both in a practical and educational sense. The input panel, for instance, allows you to provide written instructions, and even our scrawliest scrawl was picked up quite easily by the software.
Mona Lisa, meanwhile, harks back to the days of Kai’s Power Goo and its ilk, allowing you to distort the famous painting. Animator lets you put together fairly limited little animations, meanwhile, while Free The Bird is a lovely little game in which you direct a ball towards a birdcage by drawing objects in its path.
But the idea isn’t that you use the Bamboo Pen just within the suite of software that Wacom has provided. Rather, it’s designed to be used as a means of controlling your PC as a whole.
The hardware’s biggest forte is when it comes to creative projects, such as photo and image work, that requires a very precise touch – and it’s here that the Pen works well. A tap down on the tablet acts as a left-click of the mouse, while a button on the stylus pen itself performs the right-button mouse functions.
Given the small size of the tablet itself – its active area measures just 85x125mm – there isn’t room for buttons on there as well, such as a control to toggle the tablet on and off. But it’s modest enough to be able to put aside, if required.
That said, you do have to make concessions for the price. The Bamboo attaches your PC using a USB lead, for one, unlike the more expensive wireless models. Furthermore, the surface area of the tablet itself is quite small, and we did struggle trying to use it to run Windows across a 24in display.
So the tablet as a universal controller for your PC might be a bit ambitious in this case. You also don’t get any graphics software of note bundled in, if that’s what you’re looking for.
But look what you do get: a smart, effective, quality graphics tablet, with a stylus pen reacting well to differing degrees of pressure. Granted, the pen itself isn’t the most comfortable, but nor is it likely to cause you too much grief. Instead, it’s a nice budget compromise, and part of a quality product that punches comfortably above its pricing weight.
- Great value, and you get a very good product for your money.
- A couple of concessions for being so cheap.
A really nice graphics tablet, at a price that makes it worth a try for potential dabblers. More committed users are best advised to spend a few quid more, though.