Monday, January 21, 2013

The Intuos Five from Wacom

By: Kurt von Behrmann

                Artists, Designers and assorted creative professionals know that in order to fully utilize any drawing program or photo editing program, a tablet pen tablet is an essential part of any creative arsenal.  Certainly you can function with a mouse, but they are too cumbersome for detailed workloads.
                Literally synonymous with pen tablets, Wacom is literally “the” company when it comes to pen tablet tools. They dominate the market in much the same way Photoshop is connected to digital editing.
                For those not familiar with pen tablets, what they provide is a tool that allows for the creation of lines, marks and assorted brush strokes using a pressure sensitive pen.  Simply drawing on the tablet permits you to draw as if on paper.  For programs like Painter, Photoshop and Illustrator, pen tablets make the process that much easier, if not possible.
                Adding functionality with their use as a drawing tool, they can be adept as an alternative to the mouse.   The new Intuos 5 provides the expected pen tablet functionality coupled with a touch sensitive surface.  For those who migrated to windows 8, which is geared toward touch screens, this feature  could be a real asset in and of itself alone.

                Shipping in three sizes, large 11.8" x 7.5" at $ 469.00, medium 8.8" x 5.5" $ 349.00 and small 6.2" x 3.9" $ 229.00, they look identical expect for size.   All feature touch sensitive programmable buttons.  In terms of functionality and software, the only differences between models are sizes.  This is great for those using a small one for mobile use and a larger one for desktop use.  A seamless experience across the product line is clearly the objective here.
                With 2,048 pressure levels, 60-degree tilt and 1g activation weight, the apparatus is responsive.  For those coming from the bamboo, or other more modestly featured pen tablets, the Intuos 5 feels like a luxury ride.  

                The overall build quality is what you would expect from Wacom, high quality. Even the shipping box showcases a strong sense of design.  Comfortable to hold and manipulate, the pen is a marvel of weight, design and makes drawing a real pleasure.  It is highly ergonomic.
                Included is a pen holder that does double duty as a nib holder for a variety of pen nibs. What is not included is a mouse as with the other devices.  The mouse is hardly missed here.
                The real innovation with the Intuos 5 has to do with the touch screen.  When hovering over buttons a screen pops up on your computer showing what the programmable buttons are programmed to do. This also works if you alter the defaults.  This feature removes doubt as to what the functions do perform along with work flow.
                For those that do not need programmable buttons, the defaults should suite most users, professionals included. However, having the option to program simply means those with detailed work flows can use the tablet and not switch to a mouse or keyboard short cut.
                The middle size Intuos 5 offers a generous piece of screen real-estate that should suit most users, even pros. But if a large size matters, the deluxe larger tablet is more than capable. The only one in the outfit that may seem a bit cramped is the smaller one. Having used assorted sizes, the medium is really the sweet spot between size and price points.

                The included software set up is simple, and figuring out the basics is a pretty easy process.  For users that simply want a pressure sensitive pen and no more, you can easily ignore the extra bells and whistles.
                Shipping with the device are drivers, essential software and a few interesting extras pieces of software.  Animestudio, not time limited, Color effects pro from Nik Multimedia, full version,  Sketchbook Express 2011 SP from Autodesk not time limited,  a non-time limited version of Adobe Photoshop Elements and a trial version of Corel’s Painter.  
                Given that most prospective owners are probably owners of Illustrator, Photoshop, Corel Draw or Painter, it is doubtful that they may need, or even want the extras, with the notable exception of the Nik Multimedia Plug In.   However, the value of extra software is usually appreciated.
                A wireless adapter is available that can be attached to the device internally. This component is placed in an open compartment that adds a level of functionality
                An undisputed leader in Pen Tablets, Wacom makes a notable entry with the Intuos Five.

Windows 7 SP1+, Windows Vista SP2, Windows XP SP3, Mac OSX 10.5.8+ (with Intel Processor), USB port, color display, CD/DVD drive, and internet access.

Intous 5 touch large
Active Area        
Pen: 12.8" x 8.0"
(325 x 203 mm)
Touch: 11.8" x 7.5"
(299 x 190 mm)
$ 469.00

Intous 5 Medium
8.8" x 5.5"
(224 x 140 mm)
$ 349.00

Intous Small
6.2" x 3.9"
(157 x 98 mm)
$ 229.00

Wireless accessory kit
About 9 hours on the medium, 10 hours on the small and 6 hours on the large

Software included:
Color effects pro from Nik Multimedia
Sketchbook Express 2011 SP from Autodesk