Like Kensington, Wacom is one of those brand names that most Mac users just happen
to know. The reason is simple: they have been around the
Macintosh world for years and years producing top-notch accessories
and gear for Apple's computers. It should come as no surprise
then that when I found myself in an Apple store looking for
a tablet, the store had several models from Wacom on hand
to choose from.
As mentioned on the updated home page, we needed
a tablet to do our review of Autodesk's
SketchBook Pro 2.
But during that review we realized that the tablet was now
Inkwell technology available to us, and so
we tested out that technology with the tablet as well.
Introducing the Graphire4 640
This review applies specifically to the Wacom
Graphire4 640 model
tablet. The 640 is actually the model number and refers to
our choice of 6x8 unit. Wacom makes several lines of digital
tablets to choose from,
well as TabletPC's that run Microsoft
Windows XP Tablet Edition. The Graphire4 line
includes three units: a 4x5 unit (referring to the area of
the tablet where the pen operates), a 6x8 unit (our test
unit) and a 6x8 Bluetooth unit -- a wireless unit.
The active area of our 6x8 unit was actually
5.94-in. x 8.22-in. and was a reasonable size for the drawing
work we did in testing the unit (see
our review of Autodesk SketchBook Pro 2). This unit retails
for $199.95 USD, while the 4x5 unit starts at just $99.00
All units come with a digitizing
pen with programmable buttons, a pen holder that you can
place anywhere on your work surface, the tablet itself, and
a wireless mouse that works with the tablet surface. (see
photo above). Additionally, Graphire4 tablets come
with bundled software. This included a copy of Adobe Photoshop
Elements 3, Corel Painter Essentials, EverNote Plus 1, JustWrite
Office 4.1 and nik Color Efex Pro 2. All of this software
works on Mac OS X (some on Mac OS 9) except EverNote and
Wacom's tablets are beautifully designed and
fit right in with Apple's award-winning industrial designed
computers. With Graphire4 you have three color choices to
work with: silver, white and metallic blue.
The Graphire4 pen with eraser has 512 levels
of pressure sensitivity for natural brush control. It uses
patented cordless, battery-free technology so it feels like
a pen and operates naturally in your hand. The eraser at
the end of the pen uses a rounded section of plastic that
operates with pressure sensitivity as well, while you erase.
is also battery-free and cordless with a padded bottom so
it slides well on the plastic tablet surface. It includes
a scroll-wheel for navigation (up/down) and it doesn't have
a ball to gum up.
Of all the hardware pieces the pen is the nicest
to use. It had a nice feel and grip texture.One thing I liked
about the pen was the eraser sensitivity while drawing.
Easy Set Up
Wacom's software installed without a
hitch and the USB-based tablet worked on both the jacks on
the Apple keyboard and on the computer. Not every USB device
does that, as many of you already know.
- Wacom Pen Tablet Preferences
Once the Wacom software was installed a Pen Tablet preference
panel is added to the System Preferences. Additionally, you
can now configure Apple's
Inkwell handwriting recognition
software via it's preference panel. The Graphire4 tablet
itself had just three items to configure, including what
to do with the two built-in ExpressKeys and the obvious functions
of the wheel control between them (see
image 01 above).
The pen preferences (see image 02) allow
you to set fine-tune settings on things like eraser feel
(soft to firm) and double-click
distance, among others. You can also choose to use click
sounds -- which in all honestly get tiring after awhile or
- Establishing Custom Color Palette
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