Wacom Bamboo - Less is MoreThe Wacom Bamboo line of graphics tablets comes in three* new models, introduced in September of 2011, to meet the needs of a variety of non-professional users such as home and office workers, students, photo enthusiasts, digital scrapbookers, and novice designers and artists.
I really like the direction Wacom has taken with the new Bamboo product line. They have reduced the number of models from five to three, which helps users focus on an appropriate model and reduces confusion. Whether you are looking for a tablet as a mouse replacement to alleviate repetitive stress fatigue or for more creative uses such as photo editing and painting, Wacom has a model to match your needs.
* Update: A fourth model, Bamboo Splash, was introduced later to provide an entry-level tablet with creative software for users with artistic interests.
The Bamboo Product Line
- Bamboo Connect is a small pen-only tablet intended for home and office use for quick sketching, document markup, doodling, and so on.
- Bamboo Capture is a small tablet with both pen and multi-touch input, intended for digital photo enthusiasts and beginner designers.
- Bamboo Create is a larger tablet with both pen and multi-touch input for users looking for a larger work area.
- Bamboo Splash is a small pen-input-only tablet with a software bundle of artistic software intended for creative uses such as drawing, painting, and sketching.
- Wacom Plug & Play Wireless Accessory Kit is a battery-powered module which allows the Bamboo Capture or Bamboo Connect to connect to your computer wirelessly instead of using a USB cable.
Wacom Bamboo Overview
- More comfortable than using a mouse. Works in graphics software to add pressure-sensitivity to your brush strokes and lines. Works in any software as a mouse substitute.
- Tablets come in two sizes with wide aspect ratio, 1024 levels of pen pressure sensitivity, and a textured surface designed to feel like pen-on-paper.
- Pen features an easy-to-grip handle and two programmable buttons. Three spare nibs and a nib tool are included.
- The Bamboo Create pen also includes an eraser end, which automatically switches to an eraser tool or delete function in supported software.
- Capture and Create models have four programmable ExpressKeys. Tablet can be rotated to place the ExpressKeys on either the left or right side.
- Wireless Accessory Kit can be purchased separately to allow the Capture and Create models to be used wirelessly.
- Works with handwriting recognition and pen features built into Windows and Mac OS X. Additional software is included, which varies by model.
- One year warranty. Free tech support in the USA (not toll-free). Electronic User Manual.
At first glance I thought the new Bamboo designs looked cheaper than the previous models, but once the new look grew on me, I could understand why Wacom made the design choices that they did. These new tablet designs have fewer shiny areas (and will look cleaner with heavy use), and there are fewer grooves and areas for dirt and grime to accumulate.
I was glad to see they brought back the rubberized grip on the pen, but unfortunately, this makes it very difficult to insert and remove the pen from its attached ribbon holder. Using the pen holder was so awkward, I had to pick up the tablet and use both hands to insert and remove the pen from its holder. I am hoping that later production runs of the Bamboo line will provide a looser (but still secure) fit.
Even though the wireless kit is an added expense, it's genius--and it really enhances the flexibility of how you can position the tablet, especially given the short length of the included USB cable. The cable is only three feet long and uses a special connector on the tablet end, so you can't simply replace it with a longer cable from your drawer; you would have to use a USB extension cord of some kind. But with the wireless accessory, the cord is only needed for charging.
The wireless kit itself is very well designed. The tablets with wireless support have compartments for a battery and a small wireless module. The wireless receiver that plugs into your computer is tiny, but a storage compartment is built into the tablet so you don't need to worry about losing the small part when you travel.
My only complaint about the wireless kit is that the power button is a bit hard to find by feel alone, so you may need to crane your neck a bit (or pick up the tablet) to turn it on. A power-saving feature in the software allows you to set an auto-shut-off time from 1 to 20 minutes.