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Old 16th Mar 2012, 03:36 PM   #1
Rigel
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Default Hardware Review - Wacom Bamboo Capture

Hey everyone, just bought myself a new Wacom drawing tablet, the Bamboo Capture.

First of all, for comparison, here is the old Graphire tablet.



This tablet came to me by way of a donation from a nice guy who wanted me to have the chance to test drive a tablet before spending money on one. You know who you are and I thank you. This old tablet was a dream come true for editing in Lightwave; the pen made moving points around much easier than the mouse ever did. And as for drawing textures, who can compare drawing with a mouse to drawing with a pen?

Now here is the new Bamboo Capture:



First of all, the physical size is larger as it has some programmable keys on the end, plus a storage compartment for the optional wireless unit and the battery compartment if you get the wireless. So it takes up a little more desk space than the older one did. No problem, I use a double pedestal office manager's desk built in 1930 and it has a huge desk top.

Feel wise, it feels no different than using the older tablet, other than this one is not marked up and wearing out so it is smoother and doesn't make grating noises in a few spots. But it has some new features that take it a step beyond the old tablet.

First up, this puppy is touch sensitive. That's right, you can now operate your entire desktop by running your fingers over the active area of your tablet. I've been playing around on my desktop and in some applications, including web browser, and once you get used to the gestures it works very well indeed. How long to get used to the gestures? Oh, about five minutes. The tablet includes a video tutorial walking you through the use of gestures and pen.

Both Mac OS X and Windows 7 have built in support for handwriting recognition and both have a similar program linked to that. On the Mac it's called Ink. This tablet takes advantage of those OS features in this way; you activate the handwriting recognition in your OS, then you can use the tablet to hand write notes in just about any application, scribble diagrams on images etc. The handwriting recognition part of the OS then kicks in and translates your handwriting into text within the document. I've tried it in my word processor and it's brilliant! I can edit a document by placing my cursor where I need it then hand write a quick change and it gets inserted. Brilliant stuff.

The four buttons on the tablet can be programmed for various things. By default the first one turns the touch feature on and off (very useful for leaving it lying on the desk and you don't want someone to accidentally touch the tablet and cause Bad Things to happen to your system). The second one opens the Wacom Dock (more on that in a moment), the third is right-click and the fourth is left-click. Other choices include a pop-up Wacom menu (which in itself is fully configurable), various other clicks (including fourth and fifth for you five button mouse users), switching applications and opening the tablet preferences. The two buttons on the pen are also configurable.

It has full support for multiple monitors as well. It can either divide the active area into two parts (if you have two monitors) or you can set it up to switch from one monitor to the other on a gesture so you have the use of the entire active area per monitor.

It comes with some extra nibs for the pen (they do wear down after a time) and a neat little tool to pull the old nib out (something that can be a p.i.t.a. with your fingernails).

The Wacom dock is a utility that runs in the background, if you wish. First of all, it gives access to the tutorial showing you how to do the gestures and use the pen. It also allows you to download and install various free applications and games all designed to work with the tablet. You can also add existing applications to it as a sort of quick launch system. So you could have all of your graphic apps attached to the tablet dock for quick and easy access.

There's a few other goodies included with this tablet. First up you get Photoshop Elements 8, full version. After all, tablets are great tools for editing photos, if you have a decent photo editor, so Wacom gives you one. You also get Nik Colour Effects Pro 3.0, which installs some photo effects into PSE 8. You also get Sketch Book Express, the somewhat limited, free version of that program. I didn't need that myself as I have Sketch Book Pro already.

But wait, there's more! (Yeah, I know, that sounds like an infomercial, but it's true!) You also get a free gift you can use at a web based business called Shutterfly; a free 8" x 8" photo book made using your own photos. This is a $29.99 value, you pay shipping and you get a beautiful hard cover, 20 page book with up to 80 of your photos in it.

Then there's the one year free premium store at CafePress. I've only taken a brief look at that but it seems to be a place where you can upload your original designs then people can buy them applied to coffee mugs, t-shirts, glasses etc. Each person operating a "store" gets a sales commission for every item sold with their graphics on it. There is some kind of annual membership fee for the store and Wacom covers that for the first year so you can try it out.

Wonderful folks at the Wacom company I say. I can also tell you, based on my experience with the old Wacom tablet I have, that their hardware is solid, reliable, very easy to set up and very easy to work with.

The final note, the icing on the cake as it were, is the price. I bought this at my local Staples store for $99.95 (plus tax it came to $112). That's the tablet, with 3 free programs, a free $30 book and a free on-line store (costs up to $60 per year) for $112. A very damn good deal.

So if you're still thinking of buying your first tablet, this is an excellent choice. It gives you everything you need to hit the ground running and with the touch sensitive surface people who use smart phones and iPads will find it a familiar device to use.
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Old 16th Mar 2012, 04:03 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rigel View Post
Hey everyone, just bought myself a new Wacom drawing tablet, the Bamboo Capture.

First of all, for comparison, here is the old Graphire tablet.



This tablet came to me by way of a donation from a nice guy who wanted me to have the chance to test drive a tablet before spending money on one. You know who you are and I thank you. This old tablet was a dream come true for editing in Lightwave; the pen made moving points around much easier than the mouse ever did. And as for drawing textures, who can compare drawing with a mouse to drawing with a pen?
This is what I have...
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Old 16th Mar 2012, 10:26 PM   #3
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Oh yeah? It's a good little tablet. I've gotten a lot of use out of mine.
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Old 17th Mar 2012, 11:12 AM   #4
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I got myself a bamboo cth-460 about 6 months ago, but I never got around to learning it... (Peers at the rear of the desk where its getting a bit dusty...)
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