Customer Reviews: Wacom Bamboo Pen Tablet
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on February 20, 2011
I've strictly been a traditional artist since I've first found my passion for creativeness, but, after 5 months of being deployed to Iraq I've grown tired of the short supply of sketching paper and the absolute zero supply of canvas and oil paints so I've finally bought into the digital world of art.

At first, I couldn't decide which tablet I wanted. By nature I wanted to just jump right in with an Intuos4 tablet and Photoshop software. After much consideration though, I'm actually happy to say I'm glad about my decision with the Wacom Bamboo.
For starters, it's cheap. At only $70.00 it definitely has the more appealing price on the market. Also, it's simple. There isn't 10+ buttons scattered across the surface with no markings or recognition for what it actually does. It's a clean slate with a sleek and appealing look. Nothing to fancy, but, eye catching enough to certainly make you feel like a winner.

The next important thing is portability. Being in Iraq, I travel between bases where I live every 2 to 3 weeks. I have to grab everything I'm going to need, throw it into an assault bag and pray I've packed enough to keep me sustained and entertained for the duration I'm away. With the Wacom Bamboo, it's as easy as unplugging it and slipping it into you laptop case along with your laptop. Even with hard drives, a mouse, and camera, it's thin enough to barely make a bulge in your luggage and light enough to be virtually unnoticeable.

The software for the tablet is also worth mentioning. Besides the great factor that it came with a free version of Corel Painter Essentials 4 (Win/Mac), I was able to insert the software disk and within 15 to 20 minutes, I was scribbling away on my tablet like I've had it for years. I think one of the greatest features (outside of it's artistic capabilities) its has, is it's handwriting personalization software. It's a little painstaking at first, but once you've completed the handwriting recognition run-through, writing on the tablet actually becomes an enjoyable past time and most certainly changes every Windows program with it's "insert-text" capability.

There are a couple downsides I found with the tablet as well. For one, it's small. But I can't really call that a downside since that's one of the reasons I purchased it. It definitely does become a challenge at times getting the perfect detail on a drawing the way you want it with the surface dimension ration difference from the tablet to your screen. For me it's (what I'm guessing) a 5x7" drawing area versus a 17.3" (1920x1080pi/HD) screen. So minimal movements on the tablet make much larger strokes for on the screen. This can be combated with zoom features though. A second issue I've found is the density of the pens tip. I figured with a company with such a wide line of tablets they could have been able to design pens that don't scratch up their tablets. But I noticed that after only a few hours of sketching away on my tablet, there were already noticeable hatch marks all across my tablets surface. Again, it's something that I half expected but not within a 2-3 hour time period.

Again, for the most part, this is a fairly decent buy for the price and accessibility. I also suggested Autodesk Sketchbook Pro 2011 for anyone who enjoys this digital art thing. I purchased it with my tablet and was able to increase my skill with my tablet within hours using this program. Quick, easy, and simple to use.

Best of luck to you all from your soldier's overseas and I hope this can help someone in making their decision.
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on June 4, 2010
Overall i am pretty pleased with this tablet and its price but there are a few cons that did come to mind quite quickly after installing it.
Perhaps the biggest draw back is that wacom has decide to disable the erase top on this cheaper tablet model, so you can no longer flick your pen over and use the other side.
Another thing that i found a bit annoying - but i'll most likely get used to - is the tablet surface. Its no longer that smooth glass like plastic but its now a more rough surface, which leaves me feeling as if i'm scrapping the top when i use it.
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on January 7, 2010
First the bottom line: If you can't afford an Intuos or need something smaller to travel with, buy one. It's the best pen tablet on the market for the money. The only thing you won't like is that it scratches easily.

I also own the Wacom Intuos 3, but I purchased the Bamboo so that I'd have something smaller to travel with. It exceeded my expectations. It's every bit as responsive as the Intuos 3 for everyday tasks (although I haven't tried any serious photo retouching yet). Because of its small size, it's not as comfortable as the larger Intuos tablet, but it still saves my wrists from the horrors of using a mouse all day. If you're used to the Intuos, you'll notice that the surface of the Bamboo has a little texture too it, so the pen doesn't glide as smoothly across the surface. I like the feel of the Intuos better, but the Bamboo still feels good in my hand.

The only thing I don't like is that it scratches easily--especially on the shiny black part. It was scratched within the first day of use. The scratches are just cosmetic, but I suggest getting some kind of case or sleeve to pack it in. I've just gotten used to it being a little rough looking, and I'm fine with that.
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on September 19, 2010
Note that this review is for the Bamboo Pen. I thought that I was ordering the basic Bamboo (which evidently never existed or is no longer made). I expected to get a pen device with four Express keys that I could use with my Notebooks like my Intuos 3 with my desktop machines. I am a graphic artist and use the pen and Express keys to work on fine detail as well as general sketching.

First - there are no Express keys so I will have to work with one hand on the keyboard and one on the pen while balancing the tablet somewhere. I would rather hold the tablet and trigger the Express keys for brush size and color selection with my thumb.

Second - the sensitivity of the pen pressure and position is just not adequate to do fine work, no matter how much I enlarge the image.

I'm not sure if the Pen & Touch would solve my problems. I can imagine the touch stuff getting confused from my hand on the tablet while I'm using the pen (similar to the way that the touch pads on notebooks get in the way of my thumbs while typing).
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on February 15, 2010
I bought this for my daughter, who is just starting to get into animating and drawing digitally. It has far exceeded expectations. She got it installed quickly and once she was convinced to actually read the instructions and use the disk that came with it, her use quadrupled. She has been very satisfied with how it works and hasn't found any quirks she can't work around; her only "complaint" is that the controls are different than similar things she's worked with at school. Overall it's an excellent value if you're looking for a beginner tool!
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on September 20, 2010
I'm writing this review having spent an entire evening trying to get the thing to work with any level of acceptability. I failed. This is not due to the physical tablet itself, for all of its physical features have worked at one time or other tonight. Touching, dragging, clicking, double clicking, scrolling, navigating, zooming, rotating, buttons, pens. Just not together. This is not a physical problem, it's a problem with the drivers.

I have tried every single driver on the website as well as the one which came with the installation CD. All of them are full of bugs, these are the most bug-laden drivers I have ever come across in my life. I have a relatively clean installation of Windows 7, with very few programs installed and very little hardware attached. Everything else works perfectly. So it's not my computer.

The first problem I had came when I tried to go through the interactive tutorial. Tapping was disabled at the part when they have you tapping an example icon. I went to the settings panel to see that it was enabled there. So I rebooted my computer. Sure enough, tapping worked. I went back to the tutorial and tapped said icon with success. Next came the part where you drag a folder. Dragging did not work. Once again I rebooted. Dragging worked on my desktop. Then the touch on/off button wouldn't work. After a reboot, it would. Then tapping wouldn't work again. Then navigating swipes wouldn't work in my browser. So I'd remove all traces of the driver and try another version. Then it would work, but the touch on/off button would activate backward navigation in the browser. Then I'd reboot and it would work properly, but something else would stop working. Then I'd install another version of the driver and one set of problems would disappear while another set would appear. If I didn't know better I'd say these drivers were happened upon by accident by a room full of monkeys sat at computer keyboards typing away randomly. They're that bad. It's now 11:45pm and I've been trying to get this thing to work since 6pm.

Doing a bit of searching online I've come across scores of reports of Wacom drivers acting up in every manner possible, sometimes in exactly the way I've described. Not only am I sick to the back teeth of spending money on computer products and software that have not been tested fully, I am also sick of wasting hour upon hour trying to get the most basic things to work. This thing is going back to the store tomorrow and I have made a mental note to avoid all Wacom products in the future.

UPDATE: Right after reading this review, I set out to get this thing working once and for all. I uninstalled the driver, cleaned the registry, rebooted, unplugged the device, reinstalled the latest driver, plugged in the device. All was working perfectly. I tested every feature. It worked. Excited, I fired up Adobe Illustrator. Upon loading the program, the device mysteriously disabled both its tap function and its touch on/off toggle button. Neither of these features now work at all, despite rebooting and checking the settings. I don't know who I hate more: Wacom, or myself for wasting another 15 minutes trying to get this heap of junk to work.
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on January 24, 2010
As my first pen tablet, it has taken me a little bit to get used to the interface. Now that I've gotten more comfortable with it, I really love it. I use Adobe Photoshop CS4 for graphic design, and this helps immensely when drawing directly on the canvas. Compared to drawing with a mouse, it's a night and day difference. The markings look natural, and the changes in line width based on pen pressure are fantastic.

My only complaint is with Corel Painter Essentials 4 (the bundled software.) While it does produce nice effects and painted textures, the program itself seems buggy and slow. I'm running this on a Quad Core Mac Pro with 8GB RAM, and Painter is extremely sluggish when working with large files. For smaller projects it may be fine, but I think it's not ready for a professional environment. I'm assuming that the pro version (Corel Painter XI) is much better in every respect, but it obviously is much more expensive.

All in all, I'd definitely recommend the Wacom Bamboo Pen Tablet. It's fun, useful, and very inexpensive.
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on December 31, 2010
This drawing tablet is perfect. I'm not an artist or anything, so this had everything I was looking for and then some. For $50 this was a GREAT buy, and it would also be a good buy for the current value now.

One thing that really bothered me for a while when I started using it was that I had to sort of wait 1 second before I could draw. I'd have to put my pen down, wait, then start drawing or else it wouldn't recognize it. The problem was in Control Panel -> Hardware & Sound -> Pen & Touch, all I had to do was turn off Navigational Flicks and it worked perfectly.
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on October 22, 2010
I was searching for different types of mice to alleviate the discomfort and pain I was having on my wrists and hand (I haven't gone to a doctor but I suspect that I might have carpal tunnel syndrome). Anyway, I've tried different things such as adjusting the height, seat, position of arms, I've used a vertical mouse, trackball, etc., but nothing worked until I found this tablet. The pain and discomfort are gone.

I use the pen for normal mouse operations (clicking, dragging and scrolling), and even drawing and note handwriting. Learning curve is very easy. I am also a teacher. I've used this tablet with a free program called "Jarnal" in the classroom. I lecture on my computer (connected to a projector). At the end of the lecture I print to a PDF file and post the notes (PDF file) on the web for my students.

The left click is done by touching the tip of the pen on the tablet. You can also program the two extra buttons on the pen to do all kinds of things in the Bamboo settings (Right click, middle click, scrolling, sequence of keyboard keystrokes, etc. For example, I had to perform a sequence of keystrokes after I click something in a program. I programmed one of the buttons to do just that).

The pen does not need any batteries (nor the tablet). The tablet also will work right away (just plug it in the USB), but if you want to change the settings you need to install the driver that comes with the tablet.
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on April 12, 2011
This speedpaint was done with the Wacom Bamboo merely a week after obtaining it. Note that this isn't the limit of what it's capable of, only what I am capable of with it thus far lol. Check youtube for other videos: Some people have created some FANTASTIC masterpieces with this simple, economic tablet!

I've never used a digital tablet. I was resorting to drawing my sketches out on paper, scanning them, then tracing and coloring them digitally. Of course, that leaves a lot to be desired... I wanted to skip a few steps, and I felt a digital tablet was the way to do it. Of course, the first thing that popped into my mind was "Get the best", so of course I took a look at the cintiqs... Didn't take long to realize that that probably wasn't the best place to get a starter tablet lol. I then took a look at the ever so famous intuos line... very doable price, but still quite pricey for something that I was afraid I might use twice then never use again... Then I came across this little tablet, the bamboo. Didn't look stellar, had no bells or whistles, and it seemed to have sensitivity issues... But what the heck I thought, let's try it!

In a matter of a few intense days of practice, my skills grew comparable to my pencil and paper skills. I thought not looking at the drawing surface as it was on screen was gonna mess me up, but actually... I never noticed how much my hand gets in the way of my drawings until I got this tablet. I still have a lot of learning to do, but even so, I'm abundantly happy with this product!

My only complaint is limited access to the eraser tool. I found it best with my eratic sketch style to rebind the "drag" key to erase. It's great that they allow the feature to rebind... The obvious problem then however, is that there's no drag key, and I must now fuss with the scroll bars on the sides of the screen. But like I say in many of my reviews: That's me just being finicky and looking for something to complain about, because otherwise, this product has served me VERY well, and I suspect it will serve me well in the future. I've never tried an intuos, and I'm sure it's got its perks, but at its pricepoint, I can't justify upgrading from this perfectly functional piece of hardware!
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