The Bamboo Fun is Wacom’s attempt at a consumer graphics tablet, with half the sensitivity and resolution of its high-end Intuos range, but many of its qualities. Aimed at the entry-level user, with a matching price, it’s designed for everyday use. It relies on USB for both data and power, and its styling betrays its living-room PC aspirations, as does its widescreen aspect ratio.
There’s a useful iPod-style scroll wheel for zooming into documents – a welcome addition for the price – plus four customisable function buttons. These extra buttons and the sturdy build quality immediately give it an edge over cheaper tablets.
Installation is a simple affair and, although the Bamboo software doesn’t have the multitude of options present in the more expensiveWacom models, there are plenty of settings to adjust. Of note to graphics professionals is the lack of tilt sensitivity (as found in the Intuos range), which allows the tablet to recognise differently shaped pen nibs – such as the airbrush – and respond accordingly. Despite this, the Bamboo inspires confidence in use and is surprisingly assured.
The surface is tactile to touch with the pen, which itself is comfortable to hold. It isn’t as stylish or as well made as the more expensive models, but it doesn’t feel cheap, nor does it need a battery like other entry-level brands.
The software bundle is equally excellent. Befitting its artistic leanings, the Bamboo Fun comes with Adobe Photoshop Elements 5 and ArtRage 2. If you take into account that Elements 5, bought separately, would cost nearly as much as the A6 version of the tablet itself ($150), it’s an incredible deal. The tablet can also harness the note-taking facilities of Vista – yet another useful tool.
So the question remains: can it replace your regular mouse? There’s a moderate learning curve and it’s good to spend time setting up the tablet with the useful software help on hand, but it quickly starts to feel natural.
And, when it comes to digital photos and the need to tweak them, the Bamboo’s extra sensitivity gives you more control than a mouse ever could and soon becomes irreplaceable.
This Review appeared in the February 2008 issue of PC & Tech Authority Magazine