For photo enhancements like burning and dodging, cloning and painting layer masks, you can’t beat the accuracy and efficiency of pressure-sensitive pen tablets from Wacom. As you apply greater pressure to the pen, your imaging software responds by increasing the intensity of the effect, which is a big advantage over a mouse for photo retouching.
The latest in Wacom’s professional line of tablets, the Intuos4 series, now offers you the ability to go wireless and work comfortably for extended periods. Lean in or sit back—you’re untethered and free to move around. The Intuos4 Wireless uses a Bluetooth connection to provide up to a 33-foot working radius from your computer (though in practical use, you’ll probably be much closer to your screen).
Like its wired siblings, the Intuos4 Wireless includes the second generation of Wacom pen-tip technology. The Generation 2 Tip Sensor detects up to 2,048 levels of pressure, doubling the sensitivity of the previous pen tip, and can recognize pressure as little as one gram. This means not only improved accuracy, but also a more natural feel. If the technical details of Wacom pen technology are of interest, check out their white paper on the Generation 2 Tip Sensor at www.wacom.com/generation2.
The wired Intuos4 models are available in four sizes, from the Intuos4 Small, which has a 6.2×3.9-inch active surface area, to the XL, with an active surface area of 18.2×12 inches. The Intuos4 Wireless has a surface area of 8×5 inches, just slightly smaller than the Intuos4 Medium. It’s a good balance between surface area and an overall size that’s comfortable to hold.
If you haven’t used a Wacom tablet before, it’s a very different experience from using a mouse, and might take a little practice to master. Wacom maps your pen gestures in Pen mode by default. In Pen mode, the tablet’s active surface area represents your screen. Hover with your pen over the tablet surface, and your cursor instantly appears in the corresponding spot on your screen. You might find that disorienting at first, and if you prefer the old-fashioned method of dragging your cursor around the screen, you can set the tablet to Mouse mode; but for the best efficiency, we recommend Pen mode and a little practice.
The benefits of Intuos4 extend beyond the pressure-sensitive pen itself. ExpressKeys provide immediate access to shortcut keys you use often, and are customizable for different applications. One of the best upgrades of the Intuos4 tablets is the addition of illuminated displays to remind you which shortcuts you’ve assigned to your ExpressKeys. These labels change as you switch between applications. The default settings for Photoshop include the Hand tool (very useful when you’re zoomed in for pixel retouching) and the primary modifier keys—shift, alt/option and command/control. This greatly reduces your need for a keyboard.
Another feature is the Touch Ring, which allows you to zoom or scroll, similar to your mouse wheel. The Touch Ring’s behavior also can be customized with up to four different modes for each application. You can toggle between the modes with the central button; a small illuminated indicator lets you know which of the four modes is active. With photo retouching in mind, the default settings for Photoshop include a zoom mode and brush size control.
The Intuos4 Wireless is designed to be ambidextrous. Left-handed users can turn the tablet 180 degrees to put the ExpressKeys and Touch Ring at their right hand; a setting in the tablet’s control panel will flip the ExpressKey labels accordingly. It’s another example of the user-friendly thinking behind the Intuos4 family. The Intuos4 Wireless charges over USB (detachable cable included), and you can continue to use the tablet while it’s charging. List Price: $399.
Contact: Wacom, www.wacom.com.