Wacom Intuos5 Touch
Touch and pen interface; ExpressKeys HUD is useful and unintrusive; all tablet sizes feature wireless option; new design
No Bluetooth model
Small $265; Medium $400; Large $550
The Intuos’ design has been subtly rethought and polished in a delightfully sleek way. The entire bezel of the tablet is coated in a matte grey rubber. The smooth plastic of the drawing area has received an extra few centimetres of buffer, for those who like to sketch freely without worrying about smashing their pen nib along the edge of the bezel. The active area is now highlighted with glowing corner marks.
Fans of the larger Intuos4 may initially miss the LED labels, but Wacom has replaced them with a new software overlay: the Heads-Up Display (HUD). After installing the driver, just lightly rest your finger on one of the ExpressKeys to bring up the HUD, which immediately lets you know which button is which.
By default, one of the ExpressKeys links to an additional preferences overlay, which details the configuration for the Intuos5 Touch pen’s buttons and provides links to the preference panes for the pen, ExpressKeys and touch interface. The pen looks identical to the Intuos4 and the pressure sensitivity levels are the same (2,048).
Where things differ is that, like the recently updated Bamboo models, the Intuos5 Touch supports gestures and finger input; you can treat it like a giant Magic Trackpad. All of the big system gestures are there: you can swipe through Spaces, two-finger scroll in Lion or pull up Mission Control. Zooming in and out is also supported, though it’s through Wacom’s plug-in and not the system software – it’s a little slow at times and not as responsive as a trackpad.
Customisation is our favourite part of Wacom’s touch implementation. You can assign commands to three-, four- and five-finger gestures, including opening or running a program, Photoshop or Painter shortcuts or a key command.
Wacom has separated pen and touch interaction: you can’t draw and zoom, which cuts down on accidental palm input while attempting to polish up some linework. There’s also an ExpressKey command to enable or disable touch, if you find it interfering with your work.
Macworld Australia’s buying advice
The Intuos5 feels like Wacom’s first major attempt to recreate the experience of working with canvas. It’s possible to gesture when necessary, draw when not and work more gracefully without keyboards and extra accessories. We can’t wait to see how Wacom takes this technology forward.