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I received my new Wacom Intuos 4 tablet last week and have gotten a good enough feel for it to write an in-depth review. With that said, let get to the review!

Overview

The Wacom Intuos4 is the follow up to the very popular Intuos3 professional tablet released a few years ago. The Intuos4 brings a plethora of updates as well as total changes to the Intuos line of tablets. My first tablet was the popular and inexpensive Bamboo 4×6 tablet from Wacom and the new Intuos4 is an amazing step up for creative applications. The Intuos4 is available in 4 different sizes: Small, Medium, Large, and Extra-Large. Rather than using a bunch of different dimensions in a bunch of different countries, Wacom opted to just make a simple sizing system which is definitely a welcome change. I chose the medium size for my day to day use because if offers the full array of new features as well as an accommodating design for smaller work areas. While it is only a few square inches larger working area than the Bamboo, it is noticeably more fluid to work with day to day.

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Tablet Design & Controls

The Intuos4 also has some amazing new controls built into it. There are still 8 programmable keys and are now located on a single side of the tablet. What has changed about these 8 keys is that there are now 2 LED light panels next to each set of 4 keys. These displays show exactly which function is assigned to that particular key. The displays are also fully dynamic to what application you are currently running allowing you to have custom controls for just about any application you have on your system via your computer control panel.

Wacom has replaced the Intuos3 touch-strips with an all new touch ring on the new Intuos4. It is almost the same size as a standard iPod click wheel and has a center button that can switch between 4 different customizable functions of the ring. The new touch ring is very smooth and responsive and is much more useable than the Intuos3 touch strips.

One of the greatest new features of this tablet is the fact that is it’s new ambidextrous design. There are 2 spots on the side of the tablet for you to plug it in depending on if you are a righty or lefty. The LED panels also flip when you set it up as a left handed tablet and have all of the controls on the right rather than the left.

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The Pen

The new Intuos4 pen is what makes this tablet an absolute joy to work with, especially in Photoshop and Illustrator. The pen now has 2048 levels of pressure sensitivity which is DOUBLE that of it’s predecessor. There is also a new “precision mode” which allows the tablet to pick up as little as 1 gram of pressure when you touch the tip to the surface of the tablet area. This was something I noticed right away and barely had to touch the tablet for the click to register. These features allow for ultimate creative control in applications that take advantage of pressure sensitivity. There are still 2 buttons on the side of the pen that are programmable as well as a pressure sensitive eraser on the top of the pen. As for how the pen feels to work with, I could not be happier. It is just as comfortable as the Intuos3 pen except it looks very sleek!

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Something that has never been a big deal with any tablet has been it’s pen stand. I’m pleased to say that that has completely changed with the pen stand included with the Intuos4. The new stand now doubles as a holder for the extra nibs (tips) that are included. Just unscrew the top and there are 10 spots for various nibs as well as a nib extractor tool that comes in handy. Wacom includes 5 standard pen nibs, 3 felt nibs, 1 stroke nib to simulate a brush, and 1 flex nib. My personal favorite right now is the soft flex nib. It feel like I am using a very expensive ball point pen.

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The Mouse

The Intuos series mice have been a mixed bag up until now. The new mouse is very comfortable and has a total of 5 buttons as well as a scroll wheel. It can only be used on top of the tablet surface but can be very useful depending on your preference.

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Conclusion

Overall, the Intuos4 is a major update to an already popular line of tablets from Wacom. They have updated just about every aspect of the Intuos line and have made this device very close to the ultimate creative tool. Some think that they have to be a creative professional to even own a tablet but with Wacom’s complete lineup, a tablet can be used from writing a paper to creating you next great piece of art! The only complaint I have about the new Intuos 4 is that while it is a very sleek looking device, it does show dust quite easily, but that is a small price to pay for this new masterpiece from Wacom. I am proud to have it as an addition for my computer setup. Check out Wacom’s website for a complete lineup of all of their devices as well as more specifications on the Intuos4.

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I came across this tiny USB drive by EagleTec. While this is a really neat little device, it is so insanely small that when I saw it I thought that we are becoming obsessed with having the smallest, lightest, thinnest thing out there. My question is…. is this really necessary? Sure, small is good but there is going to come a point where these things CAN’T get any smaller. For example, look at the typical laptop or the one in the picture below, a USB port is roughly 4 or 5 millimeters in height, which means we can’t make a system any smaller than that port. The only way to make anything paper thin is to eliminate the ports all together which means we will have to have wireless firewire, USB, and power adaptors. I will make a comfortable assumption that any of the afore mentioned wireless technologies are coming in the near future. Another fact is that all these tiny things are going to get lost sooner or later. Maybe I’m being cynical, but I am perfectly happy with a .5″ laptop or .25″ iPod. Now if we can make these tiny things hold my entire computer’s contents, then that will be something to really be excited about! When it comes to nano-technology, that is really interesting. When it comes to consumer devices, I think we do without all this paper thin stuff.

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This is a great gift idea for anyone you may know that is a designer or a photographer. The Adobe pillows offer up many programs that are in the Adobe Creative Suite and are reasonably priced. Even if you want to buy them for yourself, they are a great way of expressing your creativity. Check out more info at http://www.mysuitestuff.com/shop.html.

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This is the first truly portable espresso machine, named the “Twist”. The design is really neat and it gives the ability to get that jolt of caffeine wherever you are. This is an ingenious idea. Even if you aren’t a coffee fan one is still in amazement of such a device. The company who makes it is called mypressi. Check out the site for more info.

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As the week in user interface design comes to a close, I want to focus on all these technologies as a whole. There is no telling exactly what things will be like in the future, but we can come close. One company that has had a┬áconsistent┬ápositive vision of how we interact in the future is Microsoft. The company created a video of what things might be like in 2010, and they hit it almost exactly. Therefore I think it is only fitting to show where they think we will be in 2019 in respect to interactive technologies. These are both amazing videos that depict a very functional and useful future that goes back to the basics of what we do as human beings… interaction. In the video depicting 2019, it shows us that we will go back to basic interaction in the most influential, technological and exiting ways. People will be able to communicate on a global level as we never thought possible. Enjoy the videos and heres to the future!