06th Sep2014

‘Wacom Bamboo Pad’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Bamboo-Pad-Mac

As a designer I often have to use tablets in my creative pursuits and I’ve experienced all manner of different makes and models – in fact I use one on a semi-regular basis for my day job. So when I was offered the opportunity to review Wacom’s new Bamboo Pad I jumped at the chance, after all Wacom are, at least in my experience, at the forefront of drawing tablet technology…

Unlike the traditional drawing tablets the company have previously released, Wacom’s Bamboo Pad  – both Mac (OSX 10.7 or later) and PC-friendly (Windows 7 or 8)  – looks and feels a lot like Apple’s innovative track pad, complete with touch-sensitive surface and gesture controls; only this pad also comes with an integrated stylus and added functionality for drawing and sketching.

There are two versions of the Bamboo Pad available, USB or RF – which is the version we were sent for review. Yes, instead of utilising Bluetooth technology, Wacom opted to use a powered RF dongle to allow communication between the device and your PC and/or Mac. It’s an odd choice but not one that is too surprising, we’ve experienced a number of multi-platform devices that us RF communication to guarantee compatibility – from mini keyboards to wireless mice – and the ease in which you can be up and running with the pad should only assure users that RF was the right choice (although Mac users will need to download and install the Wacom Preference Pane to take full advantage of gestures).

If you’ve used Apple’s track pad or any touch sensitive device for that matter, you instantly be at home with the Bamboo Pad‘s gestures – thankfully the pad’s Touch Options can be tweaked and played with ad infinitum till you achieve the right control that suits you. Plus the pad just feels bloody good to touch; and the fact you can tweak the control’s so that even the slightest of touches will offer up some kind of response makes using the pad a delight. And it works in the opposite manner too – heavy-handed users can “dull” the sensitivity to compensate for over-gesturing! Advertised as both Mac and PC compatible – given Apple’s penchant for gestures this aspect of the pad works considerably better on a Mac.

But the Bamboo Pad is not just a gesture-input device. There’s also the built-in stylus to contend with. A stylus which is pressure-sensitive – up to 512 levels of pressure in fact – so you can simulate different pen and brush strokes in paint apps such as Photoshop. Which is ideal for those starting out working with digital art but for those already versed in such, Wacom’s higher spec devices would definitely be more heartily recommended.

As anyone with experience will tell you, using a touch device or drawing tablet as a replacement for a mouse takes some getting use to. But by combining all-too-familiar gesture commands with a more basic stylus Wacom have, with the Bamboo Pad, created what is a perfect entry-level replacement for those looking to ditch the mouse.

The Wacom Bamboo Pad is available in 4 colour ways (metallic gray & black, pearl white & blue, pearl white & green, pearl white & purple) now.

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