A couple of months ago, Wacom introduced a new version of the popular tablet Intuos 4, which was called “Intuos 5”, not really an original name, if you ask me.
Here’s a LINK to the review on the Wacom Intuos 4.
The answers to “What‘s a tablet and why would you want to use it?” were already given in the previous review (see link above), but remember that it is important to know that a tablet is so much more than just a product to draw for designers.
The new tablet has a nice matt black design. The previous version had also a matt black coating for the largest part, but still a brilliant black coating for the buttons. The disadvantage of the brilliant part is that it gets dirty so quickly and quite frankly, I don’t like dirty products. This problem is now solved since the whole product is matt black.
Both upper- en lower side of the tablet are rounded, which feels nicely when using the product.
The Intuos 5 can be use by left- and right-handed users. Standard it’s set up for right-handed users, but you can change it easily by turning the tablet 180°. The text orientation of the buttons will be changed in the settings menu.
The tablet has 8 “Expresskey” buttons. In the previous version, each button had its own led display with the name of the function behind it. In the current version these led displays are gone. Personally, I don’t think this is a good move from Wacom because you need to work like you did with the Intuos 3 by remembering the functions. Wacom explains that you only need to touch one of the keys and all functions will be displayed on your screen. But honestly, even after working a couple of weeks with this new tablet, I still can’t get used to it. A very good thing however is the “Touch ring” in the middle, which has 4 layers to zoom or circle through the different layers in Photoshop. You can configure all of this within a few minutes.
The Wacom Intuos 5 is available in 3 sizes: S, M and L. Probably because all displays are developed as wide screens, these tablets are all adapted to the wide-screen. The easiest way to work is when your screen and tablet are related; like both wide-screens.
The S-version is really small. If you buy this version of the tablet, you’ll get an active area of about 10x15cm. If you want a small tablet to be ultra-mobile for on the road or to use to give presentations, it could be a great tablet, I would recommend to consider one size larger.
The M-version (which I used for the test) will certainly be the most sold version. The active field is 22,5x14cm. It is still small if you work with large screens, but due to it’s limited external size (38x25cm), it’s easy to take on the road. If you work with a screen smaller than 22” or you want to take it with you on the road, the M-version is really ideal.
The Intuos 5 is only a couple of mm’s larger than an Apple Macbook Pro 15”. If you still have a small place left in your laptop bag, this tablet could join you easily!
If you have a larger screen, I woud recommend the L-version. This version has an active field of 32,5x22cm. If you reflect this active area on >24” screens or dual screens, it is working really nice (my personal opinion).
If you hate the USB cable on your Wacom tablet, you can buy a “Wireless Accessory Kit” from Wacom. I’ll talk later about this product.
Grip Pen and holder:
Wacom didn’t modify its grip pen; the pen can detect 2048 pressure levels and this works just fine. The switch knob at the side of the pen is still there, with the same function as the Expresskeys, so you can change the functions in the software menu. With the pen and holder many pen points come standard: 5 standard black pen nibs, 1 flex nib, 1 stroke nib and 3 hard felt nib. You can use has such a wide range of points. All pen points can be stored in the penholder. The design is designed to store many other pen points. Now you’ll be sure not to lose them anymore. Very useful and in the package, you’ll also find an extra rubber to have more grip on the pen.
The grip pen works wireless and even without a battery. Wacom calls this technology “Electromagnetic resonation technology”, radio waves will be sent to determine the position. Wacom invented this technology.
Wireless Accessory Kit:
This kit fits in a tiny box and even this box is almost empty. You’ll find 3 products inside: a battery, a USB transmitter and a USB receiver. The battery needs to be installed in the tablet by removing a small cover and the same for the USB transmitter. The USB receiver can be plugged into one of the USB ports of your pc. The receiver is so small that you can leave it into your laptop without disturbing. The installation took only 2 minutes and is really easy.
Using the tablet:
I do work on an Apple computer, so all indications or locations will be valid for Apple-users. Windows or Linux users can find a manual and support on the support site from Wacom.
The installation of the tablet only takes a few minutes. In the package, you’ll find a cd with the manual in your language and a driver for the tablet, but personally I do prefer to install the driver from the Wacom site in order to be sure that I always dispose of the latest driver available.
After the installation of the software, you can go to the system preferences and click on the Wacom icon. You’ll find the possibilities here to adjust all settings in this screen. If you change the setting for one of the Expresskeys, you can scroll over one of the keys with your finger and your setting will be displayed on the screen. In the previous version, the setting would be displayed on a led display next to the key, but – as said earlier – this function has disappeared. You’ll need to remember the functions or learn to scroll over the keys.
A new function in the Wacom tablet is “Touch”. This function is something that Apple-users already know for a long time. You can move the cursor with just your fingers. Next to this option, you can set up different functions for 1-2-3-4 fingers at the same time. This is THE value of this version of the Wacom tablet. I’m quite used to work with the pen, but after a couple of days working with this tablet, I only used the pen for the graphical work in Lightroom, Photoshop or Illustrator and for all the other work, I simply used my fingers. Simple, but great!
For the wireless kit, you need to install all 3 pieces and also connect the USB-cable. The connections will be made automatically and the battery will be charged (can take up to 6 hours!). When the battery is charged (led will display green), you can remove the cable and work wireless. This works fine, but it did took me long to empty the battery, about 20 hours … If you have the discipline to charge the battery overnight, you could use this tablet wireless.
As said earlier in this review, the Intuos 5 has been released in 3 formats: S, M and L. The smallest version S will cost you around 225 Euro, but personally I do think it is too small. The larger version M will be sold at 370 Euro. This will be the top-seller. You can buy the M-version also without Touch-function, but then you would lose the best function of this tablet. If you want the largest version L, you’ll pay about 480 Euro. The Wireless Accessory Kit will be sold at 40 Euro.
With the new Intuos 5, Wacom has delivered a nice piece of equipment for the professional user and I can really recommend the purchase. The touch gesture works fast and didn’t stop one time. The ergonomic scape of the tablet is almost perfect and even esthetically; the tablet is a piece of art. Users, who do like to work wireless, can even buy the “Wireless Accessory Kit” for a small price, but for me the connection didn’t work.