Wacom Intuos Pro (Medium)
If you've been working with a drawing table for a while, and itching to upgrade, Wacom's new Intuos Pro may be exactly what you need. I got the chance to play around with the new tablet and thoroughly enjoyed it. Come inside for my full review.
Just a few weeks ago I posted my review for Wacom's Intuos Art, a new introductory computer tablet that's perfect for getting started, but today I'm taking a look at it's big brother, the Intuos Pro. It's got pro in the name, which makes sense, considering this one is being marketed for the professional crowd (those who'd use it as part of their jobs). Having used the smaller tablets for many years for my own professional purposes, I was really interested in seeing how different the upgrade would be. The jump is pretty significant and I don't see myself ever turning back.
I mentioned it in my previous review, the but set-up on the Intuos line is ridiculously easy, and the Pro version is no different. All you have to do is plug it in and go. Seriously. I didn't even need to crack the seal on the install disc, as the drivers will automatically install once you connect the tablet to the computer. Even better, buttons are already set and programmed, meaning you don't have to go into the settings to make them happen (though you still can if you want to change them from the defaults).
When you hit the buttons, a nifty overlay pops up on the screen to remind you of what all the buttons do. Literally, you can plug the Intuos Pro into the computer and start working immediately without needing to check the settings or do anything else. I had a project pulled up in Illustrator (my normal inking program) that I was already in the middle of when I swapped out for the Intuos Pro. Without resetting the computer or even the program, I was able to go right back into working on it, without any issues. When it comes to installing brand new hardware, that's a pretty impressive feat, and makes for an easy transition to the next level.
One of the things Wacom has seemed to do with their new Intuos line, is to ensure that users, regardless of the tablet they choose, get a similar experience. At least in terms of how the tablets "feel" when you're drawing. Feel and sensitivity is a big deal when it comes to drawing and computer tablets haven't always made this work. My old tablet didn't have the right feel to it. It was too smooth and the stylis felt like it was gliding more than drawing. It seems like a minor issue, but I assure you it's a big one and is incredibly hard to get used to.
To counter this problem, many (myself included) would tape a piece of paper over the top of the drawing surface. This would make it feel more like drawing on paper, and thus easier to use. Hell, Wacom even had a separate cover you could buy for your tablets that would help with the issue as well. One of the best things about my time with the Intuos Art, is that I no longer NEEDED the paper taped on top. The drawing surface feels great! I was very happy to see the same is true for the Intuos Pro.
Working on the Intuos Pro felt pretty much like drawing on regular paper. It was easy for my hand to fall into the muscle memory of drawing and create the lines I wanted. I can't stress how important this aspect is when it comes to choosing a tablet for yourself. If something 'feels' wrong when you're using it...You're not going to get the results that you want. While there are workarounds, it's nice that the Intuos Pro doesn't need any.
The Intuos Pro comes packaged with the wireless kit, so there’s no need to buy it separately. Again, since this size of tablet is more than likely going to stay on your desktop, wireless capability may or may not be important to you. I hate clutter, and my desk is already busy enough, so being able to get rid of a cable lying around was nice for me.
That said, I noticed that there’s a tiny bit of delay when I switched to the wireless option. With just about any tablet on the market, there’s a tiny delay between drawing the lines and seeing it pop up on the display. I’m talking fractions of a second tiny, and it’s something you get used to quickly. When I went wireless, I noticed the delay was just a little longer. Not much, mind you (still talking fractions of seconds), but enough to throw me off.
In the weeks that I’ve used it, I have become accustomed to it, but it was certainly odd initially. It’s a minor issue and easy to overcome, but something I noticed in my time with it. The battery life for the wireless mode is pretty impressive. I was able to use it off and on through a week and a half before needing to recharge it. Depending on how much work you do on a daily basis, this will obviously vary; but the battery life is still pretty solid.
That's not all the Intuos Pro has going for it though. For one, it's pretty large giving you much more are with which to work on. While it loses out on the portability factor that's one of the highlights of the smaller Intuos Art, this tablet is meant to be your PRIMARY work horse. You likely won't be moving it around much any way.
Having worked with a smaller tablet for several years, making the switch to something so much bigger was both odd and exciting. All tablets give you the option to make the drawing area of the tablet equivalent to the size of your computer display screen. When you're working on a small tablet, it's like shrinking down your display to fit within the boundaries of the surface area. While it's all there, and still easy to use, you're working on a smaller scale compared to what shows up on the screen.
The larger size of the Intuos Pro allowed me to expand that drawing room, thus making it feel like I was drawing at the proper scale. The lines and shapes I create with my hand are now approximately the same size as what shows up on the screen. The scaling is virtually gone, making it easier to work with finer details without having to zoom in super close (losing the big picture aspect of your project).
The only downside I've seen on the Pro, as far as the size goes, is that it doesn't actually let you use the entire surface area of the tablet. It's odd, but there's about an inch or so on the far end that I simply can't use in conjunction with the display. I mean, it's still a touch sensitive area, so you can use the various touch gestures (zoom, rotate, etc.), but you can't actually use it while drawing. The placement of it just seemed odd to me, but isn't necessarily a huge problem or deal-breaker.
Buttons and Stylus
I've already mentioned the Express Keys, and how easy they are to use, but if you're not using them, you're missing out. These buttons are incredibly useful, and help ensure that you're able to do just about all of your work via the tablet, without having to switch back to your keyboard. When you're in 'the zone' you want to be able to keep working and not mess up the flow. Having so many options on the tablet itself makes this easy.
Along with those 8 express keys and the radial wheel (which you can assign even MORE tools to), you have the touch dial, which allows you to cycle through four different options (completely customizable of course), which you can then adjust using the touch dial. By using the touch dial you can adjust the size of your brush, cycle through your layers, or more. It's a handy tool, that once again helps keep you focused on what you're working on.
When I worked on the smaller tablets, I would use a combination of the device and my keyboard, utilizing the hotkeys on there to switch between tools and brushes. With the Intuos Pro and all the options
The Stylus on this upgrade model is pretty awesome. It feels sturdier and fits better in your hand. It's a little more ergonomic, making it easy to hold/utilize for longer periods of time. It's a bit thicker than the smaller models, but is also more comfortable. Not to mention the fact that it has a built in eraser at the top, so all you have to do is flip it around, rather than hit one of the buttons to switch tools. Not to mention the fact that it comes bundled with a nifty stylus base (which also doubles as a spare nib holder), you can use to store your pen and generally feel cool about using.