by Caleb Schmerge
There are a lot of times when you just can’t beat the ease and feel of using a pen and paper. However, in today’s tech centered world, it just isn’t always feasible. There are Tablet PC’s, but they don’t fit the bill for everyone. That is where the new Wacom Bamboo pen-tablet comes in. With this new tablet from Wacom you can add an easy and fun to use pen based interface to your USB-enabled computer. But, how good is it?
Unboxing the Bamboo. (view large image)
The Wacom Bamboo tablet is excellent. This lightweight, professional looking tablet provides an excellent experience, well worth its price. Keeping it short and simple – it works and feels like a dream. Skip this review and go order yours now! For those of you that already have ordered – here is what you can expect.
For a professional using this tablet looks can be important, but even for casual users (such as myself, a college student) it’s nice to see a device that looks sophisticated. The all black interface, with blue back-lit buttons is sleek. It’s very thin, and just has a polished look. My previous tablet looked like it was in the trenches in WWI after only a little bit of use. The paint was coming off and it was very scratched. However, this tablet is excellent so far. I am confident it will stay that way, as well.
(view large image)
Most devices on the market need to be portable. For me, portability is a must as I carry this device to classes everyday and don’t have room for much with all my books. This thing is very thin (just over a quarter inch thick) and has a reasonable footprint for its writing size (the footprint will vary based on the model you get).
Side view of the Bamboo, very thin and portable. (view large image)
Also, the USB cord is detachable, which means that this thing can fit almost anywhere. I have a laptop sleeve, and throw it in the front pocket on my sleeve. It adds almost no weight to the sleeve, allowing my laptop to be portable. Then, throw the USB cord and Pen in my backpack and I’m off to wherever.
One thing I will note here is my concern over the pen. My previous tablet had a way to store the pen with the tablet. In the three years that I had it, I never once lost the pen. However, I am very afraid that with this model I will lose the pen. It has a pen stand for use while at my desk, but 80% of my usage is on the go, so I need a way to keep track of it. It would be nice to have had some means of storage.
Let’s face it, no input device, no matter how nice it looks, is any good if it isn’t comfortable to use. The Wacom Bamboo tablet wins hands down in this category. I have on many occasions gotten up from my computer and had cramped hands from the keyboard and mouse. However, the pen based input makes this much less of a problem.
Writing and using the mouse as a pen for navigation or any other aspect of computing (graphic design, 3D work, anything really) is very comfortable. In fact, in many cases I prefer the pen to a mouse. Once you get the hang of the tablet (doesn’t take too long) you can be as or more proficient with the pen as with a mouse.
Bamboo with pen. (view large image)
The actual writing on the tablet is also great. The stylus feels like a real pen-on-paper. This sounds trivial, but the feel is excellent. It makes writing much nicer than just having plastic rubbing plastic. I absolutely love the feel of writing on this tablet.
This tablet has four buttons on the tablet, two buttons on the stylus, and a zoom/scroll ring. The controls are pretty good. The buttons on the tablet are large, and fell good. You won’t press them on accident either. By default the top two buttons are Forward/Backward, and the bottom two are customizable. This helps to allow you to make them more productive for your work style. I don’t use them much, but when I do, they save me a lot of time.
The buttons on the stylus are nice. They are on a rocker, so you can’t press them both. They stick out a bit, so it might affect the grip of the pen for some people. However, I find them to be just right. You can feel where they are, so you don’t press them on accident. They don’t require much force, which makes them very comfortable to use. This is a welcome change from my previous tablet where I was constantly pressing the buttons on accident.
Buttons and Scroll ring.(view large image)
The Zoom/Scroll ring is acceptable. The scroll portion seems to be touchy. I sometimes press on it and nothing happens, then suddenly I am at the end of my document. Other times, I press down and I get a nice smooth scroll down the page. I suspect that this is partially a problem on my end. The zoom portion is excellent. I spin my finger around it and it does exactly what I want. The ability to zoom seems trivial, but I like this addition to the tablet over just the ability to scroll.
This tablet just works right. I am quite pleased with the response on the tablet. My previous tablet would often times connect strokes from the pen, which I didn’t want. This tablet seems to have fixed this problem. Every time I put the pen to it, I get the results that I want and expect.
The pressure sensitivity is good. I like that just touching the surface doesn’t quite count as a click. A slight bit of pressure and you are off and going. The ability to vary my writing and drawing just as I would with a real pen makes this tablet just that much better to use.
Bamboo pen in its included stand. (view large image)
The eraser is also a nice part of this tablet. If you make a mistake, just flip the stylus over and erase away. The eraser is a bit questionable. It requires a good bit of pressure to work, and it sometimes doesn’t seem to recognize that you are trying to erase. I have always been able to get it to work on a second try, though.
The surface is excellent to write on. The pen is comfortable. The tablet works. I couldn’t be more pleased. My previous experience was never this good. I am 100% pleased with the Bamboo. The bottom line is that it’s comfortable and works.
This tablet is a keeper. The only thing I don’t like about it is size, which is subjective. I would like a bigger tablet. If I had to come up with two complaints, they would have to be trivial. The first would be my concern over losing the pen. I suppose if I was more responsible, this wouldn’t be a problem. The second would be that I wish the USB connector was a 90 degree connector. This would suit my use better, but since I can use a different USB cord, this isn’t a big deal at all.
I can’t stress how much fun I have had and how well this tablet has worked. Everything is just right when it comes to operation. Go and order one now if you are even considering it. I use mine for up to several hours a day for notes in classes, and I wouldn’t consider anything else (except for a larger Bamboo). The price is excellent considering the quality and use.
- Excellent Writing Surface
- Tablet is responsive and works right
- The buttons and Zoom/Scroll wheel make a large difference in usage
- This tablet looks great, yet is still lightweight, portable and sturdy
- No “storage” option for pen
- USB connector could be angled
- There is nothing to complain about
Pricing and Availability
For more information or if you want to get your hands on one of these fun little tablets check out Wacom’s website. Prices start at $79.00 for the small Bamboo.