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Customer Review

365 of 395 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Possibly the best tablet yet, but not flawless, October 12, 2011
This review is from: Wacom Bamboo Capture Pen and Touch Tablet (CTH470) (Personal Computers)
Notice: The following review is based on using a 2009 white Macbook. The issues that I note with various touch input methods all worked fine with a friend's Macbook Air- except "natural" scrolling, which is still messed up as explained lower in the review. I assume then that if you have a Mac that natively accepts four-finger input via its trackpad that the touch input gestures of the Wacom Bamboo will work fine for you as well. (My computer natively only supports two-finger gestures, though the tablet augments that significantly to three and most of the four-fingered gestures.)

The hardware looks nicer than it does on the box (the box is darker and more muted than the product), but not quite the same coloration as is on Amazon's site or Wacom's site. In the online pictures it looks as if the buttons on the tablet are light grey/silverish, but they're definitively black in real life. The tablet's color online appears quite white, especially on the drawing surface, but it's grey. It looks like it'll blend in perfectly next to a Macbook Pro or Macbook Air. It's rather elegant.

The four buttons are interestingly not flat. Those little flavor indents in the picture are actual indents. Its a nice design touch, and actually kind of begs you to touch it more.

I was concerned about the newer "paperlike" feel that Wacom has updated all of its products to have, but it feels good. I actually liked the smooth plastic textureless gliding of my last tablet, and still might a little bit more, but I can already tell that this tablet's texture is entirely decent and I'll adapt to it rather painlessly.
It feels good on the fingers. Might not be as smooth as Apple's glasslike surfaces, but it's analogous to the trackpads Apple used before switching to glass.
Everything is responsive. The rotate feature can get a little weird with the pinch/zoom feature, not really knowing which one to apply, so I turned the rotate feature off in preferences. Oh- preferences for touch motions can't be configured in an "I want this to do X" sort of way. They have their intrinsic attributes and can only be toggled on and off.

It does a really good job at distinguishing between what I intend to be an input with my fingers or my pen. So if I lay my hand on it to use the pen- no problem, it gets it. You don't have to worry about toggling the finger-touch on and off.

Oh, by the way- there is approximately an inch's worth of margin on the top, right, and bottom of the usable tablet area. It appears to be quite a large surface, but a decent portion of that does nothing. I'm just eyeing it, but it looks like 6" x 4" worth of usable space, which doesn't sound like much to someone that hasn't used one, but I find to be a quite preferable size. I'd actually rather use a smaller tablet than larger. It's just a preference on how much you like to move as you draw- large sweeping strokes of the arm, or smaller subtler strokes of the wrist.

You might be surprised (as I was) to realize the pen doesn't have an eraser (as my previous, lesser Wacom tablet did).
I'm pretty sure you can't replace the pen with a better one as the driver software doesn't have any indication of the pen having an eraser end.
Honestly, not that big of a dilemma to me. You can program one of your six buttons (4 on the tablet, 2 on the pen) to switch to eraser tool if you want it anyway.

Four months in, my tablet stopped accepting input correctly and I contacted Wacom. The interaction with the customer service representative went very smoothly- no stupid questions asked (if you've ever talked to AT&T, you know what I mean). He sent me a pen immediately. (I did have to send him a copy of my receipt, via email- so hold on to those.) Three days later, it arrived and it works flawlessly. Pretty sure I have to send my old pen back on my dime, though. Oh, well. I'm still very pleased it wasn't the tablet itself that stopped working correctly.


When this tablet first came out, the driver software was a big issue for Lion compatibility. It has since (mostly) been fixed. The one extremely glaring flaw that still exists has to do with two finger scrolling. Wacom gives you two options: Natural and Standard. Standard is what is default on all Macs prior to OS X Lion- you move your fingers up, the page goes up. Move them left, it goes left.
Natural is, I presume, supposed to be what OS X Lion has as default scrolling functionality- similar to the iPad. You move your fingers up, the page goes down. Move them right, the page goes left. It's supposed to replicate dragging the page with your finger itself. Unfortunately, Wacom got it wrong in a really weird way - the left and right scrolling is identical to Standard mode. So you move your fingers up to scroll down, and left to scroll... left. Inversion-fail.

The four-finger swipe between spaces also exists in the preference pane, but doesn't work at all for me. Pity.

I'm sure they'll get around to fixing these oversights at some point. Ultimately though, the touch functionality that does exist makes this the most convenient line of Wacom tablets to use by far. Weighing this tablet with the current pro tablet - Intuos 4, I would probably choose this one for 9/10 tasks. Concept art and high quality painting or sketching would be the only project I'd prefer an Intuos 4 on at this point in time, due to the pen tilt functionality and extra pressure sensitivity.

The following issues with the driver software were fixed on Jan. 3rd, 2012. Check out Wacom's page to update your driver, and be pleased with the fact that your tablet is now very similar to an Apple Magic Trackpad, except with slightly less responsiveness and pen control:

a) Pinch/zoom had you pinching to make something bigger (while it oddly shows the zoom out magnifying glass) and vis versa.
b) The three-finger forward and back gestures were swapped, so Back is swipe right instead of left.
c) The four-finger gestures to show the desktop and to show Mission Control didn't work.
d) The left/right four-finger gesture didn't switch Spaces/fullscreen applications. Instead it brought up the Command + Tab application switcher panel.

Wacom has only allowed the keys and pen buttons for Bamboo tablets to be configured Globally, so you cannot create specific key commands per application.
Because this functionality is entirely software driven, it's omission is merely to provide an extra distinguishing factor between their consumer and pro lineups. If you want application specific button-mapping, you'll have to pay more for an Intuos 5 (available now at Wacom's page, probably shortly on amazon).

The Intuos 5 also boasts tilt/rotational pen controls, double the pressure sensitivity, a more ergonomic pen with an eraser, and more quick-access-buttons.

The button-mapping, by the way, can make your workflow considerably faster. It's a pity the drivers force you to reprogram your hot keys every time you want to switch applications though, especially since it's an unnecessary handicap.


The included CD stated on its packaging that it came with Corel Painter Essentials. It doesn't. It doesn't state that it does on the outside packaging or on any of the websites I've seen. It did get my hopes up for a second seeing that my disc claimed it did though. :P
And for some reason Autodesk SketchBook wouldn't install on my system. Don't know why.


Altogether- I like it, I'd recommend it, and it's got more bells and whistles than the last tablet I had. It remains to be seen how the tablet itself will hold up over the years. Due to the precedence of quality set by Wacom in the past, I would have assumed nothing other than rugged durability, but with my pen giving out after only 4 months, I'm a little more hesitant.

If you've never owned a tablet before, trust me. Tablets are amazing. They'll change the way you use your computer forever- for the better.
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Showing 1-10 of 12 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 21, 2011 7:11:57 AM PDT
E. Manns says:
I've yet to get a graphics tablet (Mom's taking me out shopping for my birthday tonight!), but it might be possible and relatively painless to use Automator to do just what you said of swapping preference files! Then, you don't have to learn the foreign language of programming AppleScript or whatever...

Just launch Automator (with the cute robot holding a PEN, lol)
Look at the Finder actions
stack a bunch of actions
be ready to test it out & finagle
Add your Automator action to the right click menu

That last step has been Very useful in renaming a batch of files at my internship, and if I can easily make something that allows me to select files and press a button to put duplicates with an added suffix into a new folder, then you can make a preference switcher. I really think adding it to the right-click menu is the most elegant method. Happy "hacking!"

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 21, 2011 4:05:17 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 21, 2011 4:19:41 PM PDT
neoREgen says:
Happy birthday! I hope you enjoy your tablet, if that is what you end up getting.

Thank you for the idea.
I'm not sure why I didn't consider Automator- I've used it for most of my pseudo-programming needs thus far.

I ran into a dilemma before any programming was required, unfortunately.
If anyone wants to help troubleshoot, by all means. Below is just my attempt so far. (could cause stress on your birthday! don't read it! just enjoy your tablet :P)

In User>Library>Preferences, I found a few files (com.wacom.touch.pref, com.wacom.wacomtablet.pref) that seemed to become modified when I altered the preferences in System Preferences>Bamboo. I duplicated the files to the desktop (I'll refer to these as PrefA), changed the settings of some key commands in the System Preferences>Bamboo pane to alter the two existing files in the Library (I'll refer to these as PrefB), quit System Preferences, manually replaced the PrefB with PrefA, and found that when I opened System Preferences>Bamboo the changes wouldn't appear- it still displayed the preferences of PrefB.

I'm not sure if I simply found the incorrect files, or if a background process was maintaining the state of the PrefB files despite PrefA having overridden them. It's possible that terminating that background process would relaunch it and force it to actively reread the files and realize that they'd changed, but I'm not sure if there's a specific process for the Bamboo settings or if it's a global process (which is my bet) that could cause other preferences oddities if terminated.

If it does turn out that my dilemma was due to a background process, it's kind of over my head at this point, though. :/
Fortunately my main workflow recently has been in two applications, one of which I'm accustomed to only needing one key command, so changing it isn't too painful. If I find myself much more restless about it once I start jumping between Photoshop and Illustrator constantly again, I may decide to look further into the roadblock I've come across.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 22, 2011 7:29:57 AM PDT
E. Manns says:
Hello neoREgen!

I did have a happy birthday! My mom surprised me by offering $200 towards a tablet! Being a bit shy of that generousity, I opted for the Bamboo Capture anyway... Made more sense than getting the old model for the same price, thought the Bamboo Fun/Create would take up too much desk and travel space, and this being my first tablet I didn't think getting the small Intuos4 would provide $100 tangible difference.
Had a lot of fun playing around with it last night, already it makes a lot of sense to use (just gotta remember, I won't run out of tracking "room" in relation to the screen, so don't nav like a mouse). However, with 6 programmable buttons... I can't figure out what I'd want to assign to a button besides eraser, because I've already spent a few years memorizing Adobe keyboard shortcuts.
If you COULD figure out how to reassign 5 of your shortcut keys to any situation, what shortcuts would benefit you most?

PS I might figure out how to make the express-keys hot swappable & share with you anyway, because I like a challenge :D

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 23, 2011 7:51:44 AM PDT
neoREgen says:
Good to hear. :)

I didn't make different key command sets once I found out that I couldn't switch between them easily, so I've really only been utilizing that functionality for Illustrator.

In Illustrator I currently have it set to:
left pen button - pen tool
right pen button - direct selection tool
tablet buttons- free transform, circle, square, and shift

I use two fingers to pan/scroll/zoom.

This is my first attempt though.
Shapes like circle are proving pretty handy because waiting a couple of seconds to access the alternative shapes in the toolbar is kind of tedious and I haven't memorized their shortcuts.
I still find myself at the keyboard with my left hand most of the time though. Especially because I need Alt/Option so often, I rarely use Shift on my tablet. I'm thinking I could use the Direct Selection tool somewhere in my set. There's a lot to be said about not having to leave your position in the artwork to click another tool. It makes some processes feel so much more fluid.

I looked for advice on how to set up efficient key commands when I got it and didn't really find any...
I'm certainly not the guru of this yet as I've only had the functionality for 13 days myself. :)

Photoshop has a variety of drastically different uses... so I might be tempted to have multiple sets just for it depending on the project.
For a painterly use I'd be tempted to try:
left pen button - Brush
right pen button - Smudge
tablet buttons- Step Back, Color switch (or Burn tool?), Eyedropper, New Layer

I have no idea what professional concept artists might use, though I know their tablets have sliders that can be used for brush size/hardness, etc. My initial idea seems a bit surface-level, but my primary goal in figuring out tablet configurations is to have as much of the process as possible take place without you having to jump back to the keyboard.

Let me know if you come across any particularly good key setups. :)

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 26, 2011 8:23:41 AM PDT
E. Manns says:
Well, I played around with the software setup a bit... I still haven't made much use of the buttons, but here's my setup (thought you'd be interested):

left/lower pen button - right click
upper pen button - wacom's Pop Up menu
tablet buttons - undo (most used function, hahah), right click, bamboo dock, expose (F9, mac only)

I put the "menu" like commands on the pen, since they're easy to dismiss if I press the button by accident.

I ended up not looking into a programming angle to switch button layouts, because I can just pop extra keystroke commands (yeah, putting my hotkey commands to use!) into the pop-up menu. Since keystrokes like a and p are direct select and pen tools respectively are the same across different Adobe applications, I don't have to change preferences. Plus, it's easy to add new shortcuts as I think of them.

Now, all I have to do is overcome my old enemy: finger cramps. I bet this is from the way I've always held a pen (feels weird doing nothing with digits, so I end up putting my first three fingers along the top, rest on pinky and thumb), but that has nothing to do with Wacom...

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 27, 2011 5:23:16 AM PDT
neoREgen says:
Doesn't Expose initiate with a four finger command in Snow Leopard?
I just used a hot corner to bring it (Mission Control/equivalent) up instead of putting the button on the tablet.

I used to get hand cramps often when drawing. For some reason they don't happen to me with the tablet.

Hmmm... I may have to look into this menu option. Sounds clever.

Posted on Jan 7, 2012 10:25:34 AM PST
other than those programs can it work on other programs or on websites? this would really help

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 7, 2012 11:19:24 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 7, 2012 11:20:23 PM PST
neoREgen says:
The Wacom tablet acts similarly to how your mouse works, so yes- it works in Everything.

By works, I mean that you can navigate the pointer arrow wherever you want on the screen, and you can scroll in anything.
There are times in which this basic functionality will be quite strange, but they're quite rare. (For example, if you tried to use it instead of a mouse while playing Portal or a first-person shooter, you'd find it nearly impossible to aim correctly due to the differences in objective vs relative positioning).

If you're asking if the multi-finger gestures work exactly as the apple multitouch trackpad does in other applications, I can't say. My computer only supports scrolling via its trackpad, so I don't have a machine to test the default multitouch gestures on. I know of the gestures mentioned in the review because they've been promoted by Apple during keynotes and I've used them in stores.

If this doesn't answer your question well enough, feel free to let me know what you found lacking and I'll give it another shot. :)

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 8, 2012 11:06:26 AM PST
E. Manns says:
I use my pen tablet 100% of the time on my computer... using my web browser, iTunes, Photoshop, InDesign, Flash-based web games... I've even improved my Starcraft gaming :)
Of note though, I haven't played any fps games like Call of Duty on my computer in years, because I do that on my Xbox. I think a game like Myst would be so fun :)

Posted on Nov 20, 2013 8:34:53 PM PST
Hi there,
Does the picture actually appear on the tablet itself or on the computer screen (or both)?
Also, is it "plug & play"? As I don't want to have to install anything,

Thanks! :-)
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