hardware reviews

Wacom Intuos3 (6"x11")

I have become a tablet junkie. We all know that drawing with a mouse is like drawing with a brick so, there is simply no substitute for its intuitive natural input functionality and feel when drawing or painting in programs. This latest model, the Intuos3, is incredibly sophisticated with some great new features.

The version I got is the Intuos3 with a 6-x-11-inch drawing surface. My last tablet had a very small drawing area which I just found dysfunctional. I also have a 24-inch monitor and knew that a larger tablet would provide a more realistic setting. One great thing great thing is the 8-foot USB cable that gives me ample roaming room to sit back in my lazy boy and compose. Much better than being tied to the typical 4 feet of usb that accompanied my last tablet. THANK YOU WACOM for understanding this need. The pen is pretty standard but slightly different than previous versions but works identically to older models. It supports 1,024 levels of pressure with tilt sensitivity, meaning there is never a sudden transition from the gentlest touch to the firmest pressure. It also has comfortable rubber gripping.

The cool thing is when you flip the pen over it switches it to eraser mode. There is also a programmable two button switch on the pen as well, although I find it hard to use when I am drawing because it sometimes will pop up a menu. Fortunately you can deactivate it. I think it is there for people who use tablet pens as a functional mouse rather than drawing which makes the immediate menu access a real time saver. The tablet also comes with a cordless mouse. However you have to use the mouse on top of the tablet. While the 3 button mouse works fine I don’t like the feel of moving the mouse across the top of the tablet so have just tucked this away with my other tablet mouse. I am hoping they will not begin reproducing themselves being all alone in my dark desk drawer.

One of my favorite things on this tablet are the highly programmable ExpressKeys -- that can be set to perform any keystroke combination or launch any menu item (see Figure 1). The tablets control panel lets you set up different preferences for various applications.

Another wicked new feature in the Intuos3 are the vertical Touch Strips on each side of the tablet that can be used to perform common functions requiring variable input. These can be used to zoom in and out on an object or programmed to perform functions within an application like color or brush size adjustment. (Zooming and scrolling are the default functions for the Touch Strips.)

All of the buttons can be programmed to create user defined menus which can almost take away any need for the keyboard. This is a good thing with the eight foot cord and my usual distance from my keyboard when drawing. The only problem I have is remembering what button I programmed commands into and the menus can get pretty lengthy.

The bundled software is not bad. But it would be nice to have some bundled software that is a bit more powerful as mainly professionals would be buying a tablet of this size and price range and would probably already have better software anyhow. In this case I would say it would be nicer to have added functionality or more pen tips than bundled software I cannot use.

The Intous3 is a substantial peripheral and a must have if you are looking to get further into the world of digital art. The pen comes about as close to drawing or painting with a real brush or pencil as you can imagine. Furthermore you can become addicted to using a pen as a mouse once you get used to your screen area in relation to your tablet drawing area. It makes mousing really fast especially with larger monitors. The programmable buttons are great too and almost negate the need for a keyboard in today’s highly gui sensitive computing environment. However sincere thought must be put into their programming.

I love my tablet and would wholeheartedly recommend the Intous3 to anyone who is in the market for a high quality tablet purchase.


Tablet Dimensions: 16.5" x 10.3" x .6"
Active Area: 6" x 11"
Pressure Levels: 1,024
Resolution: 5,080 lpi
Maximum data rate: 200 pps
Accuracy: +- .01"
Tilt range: +-60º

Tested on Windows XP OS
Reviewed By: Joe Chabot
5 of 5 Stars