Wacom Bamboo Fun Pen and Touch Review

4.5
July 30, 2010 | Jon Canfield | Accessory Reviews |

Introduction

The new Wacom Bamboo Fun Pen and Touch is an inexpensive introduction to the world of graphics tablets, with clever multi-touch technology that even its bigger brother, the Intuos4, doesn't offer. Jon Canfield finds out if the Bamboo Fun Pen and Touch is the perfect tablet for beginners and more experienced photographers alike.

Not everyone can afford, or even make full use of an expensive graphics tablet. The $300 and up price tag on a professional level tablet is a major stumbling block for many. In my online teaching at http://www.ppsop.com I frequently have students asking if they should get a tablet, but tend to shy away when hearing how much they cost.

So, when Wacom asked if I was interested in trying a new tablet that sells for about $200, I was eager to see how it worked. The Bamboo Fun Pen and Touch has an 8.5x5.4 active area for pen use, with a smaller 7.5x5.1 inch active area when used in touch mode.

A smaller version, the Bamboo Pen & Touch (note the missing “Fun” from the name) is available for $99. This model has a 5.8x3.6 active area in pen mode and might be a better choice for traveling or those just trying to decide if a tablet is for them.

Ease of Use

If you use a laptop, chances are you're already familiar with multi-touch. On the MacBook as an example, two fingers will scroll, and you can zoom in or out with a pinching motion. The Wacom Bamboo Fun Pen and Touch works exactly the same way, but with a much larger working area. When you're ready for precision work, the pen mode will give you the accuracy that makes using a pen so attractive for editing work.

Wacom Bamboo Fun Pen and Touch

The more expensive Intuos 4 gives you 2048 levels of sensitivity while the Bamboo is half that at 1024, but in general use, this is plenty for just about anything you might need.

Along the side of the tablet are four touch buttons. The tablet can be configured for left or right hand users in the control panel application, so lefties won't have to adapt to working in an uncomfortable position. Opposite of the buttons is a loop to hold the included pen.

Wacom Bamboo Fun Pen and Touch

The pen is comfortable, although not quite as nice to hold as the pen found on the Intuos line (the pens are not interchangeable), and doesn't have the option to use different tips like the Intuos pen. It has the expected toggle switch on the barrel, and by flipping the pen over you can erase.

As usual, Wacom has a nice software bundle, including Photoshop Elements, Corel Painter Essentials, and a selection of filters from the Nik Color Efex Pro product. There are also offers for a free Shutterfly photo album, and an online store from Café Press.

Toggling between touch and pen modes is a simple press of the top button on the tablet. You'll see onscreen confirmation of touch mode on or off. The buttons can all be customized to a number of different functions, and you can set one to a pop-up menu to run a program or enter keystrokes if you like. Touch gestures let you pinch to zoom in or out, swipe your fingers to navigate in a browser, as well as scrolling, clicking, and right clicking. And, with the rotate gesture, you can rotate on screen objects in applications that support it (like Painter or Photoshop).

Wacom Bamboo Fun Pen and Touch

Wacom Bamboo Fun Pen and Touch

Wacom Bamboo Fun Pen and Touch

In pen mode, you can set where the tablet is active – across the full monitor or just a portion of it, and if you have multiple displays, whether to span across all screens. You can also configure the tablet to only use a portion of the tablet area if you prefer to work with a smaller size. I prefer to leave the tablet set to use the full area with the tablet mapping out to match the screen.

If you're just getting started with a graphics tablet, the built-in tutorial will be helpful.

The Wacom Bamboo Fun Pen and Touch is compatible with Window XP SP2 or later, and Mac OS X 10.4.8 or higher and requires a powered USB port.

Conclusion

The Bamboo line is a great introduction to pen and tablet use for those on a budget or with more casual needs. The ability to switch between a touch interface and pen use is very nice and something I wish I had on the Intuos 4 tablet. Once you've made the adjustment to editing with a pen you'll never want to go back to using a mouse – selections and masking are much more accurate and natural feeling, and the mouse will feel like a brick in comparison. For travel, I'd go with the smaller Bamboo Pen and Touch, but otherwise the Bamboo Fun is a better size for image editing. As usual, the software bundle is good, and while many will already have Photoshop or Elements, Painter is likely to be a new application and a great introduction to painting on your computer. If you're at all serious about image editing, once you've used a tablet you'll be hooked.

4.5 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 4.5
Features 4.5
Ease-of-use 4.5
Value for money 5

Entry Tags

touch, tablet, wacom, pen, graphics, mouse, fun, Wacom Bamboo Fun Pen and Touch Review, bamboo

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Your Comments

7 Comments | Newest Oldest First | Post a Comment

#1 David V.

Other reviews I’ve read have mentioned that the “touch” mode is not very responsive (unlike, e.g., the typical touch pad on a portable computer).

Any comments on that?

8:52 am - Sunday, August 1, 2010

#2 snedger

I spent oodles of time researching a device to help my gf with her shoulder injury.
This device is simply superb.
Handwriting recognition in office 2007 “write anywhere” is unbelievably accurate.
The art software was great fun and showed how accurate the pen was. Using it for photo editing would be great.
Takes minutes to get used to using this as a mouse replacement - either via pen or finger. I meant to try testing it as a gaming device for the Total War game series - but couldn’t borrow it for long enough.
Just watch out if you have Vista Home Basic - a lot of functionality won’t work on it - this leaves me with two times Vista regrets 1) Ultimate what a freakin’ rip off and 2) Home Basic - thanks for expert summary saying that is all I would need :)
Cheers

6:21 pm - Tuesday, August 3, 2010

#3 snedger

BTW my previous swipe at “expert comment” was not at all directed toward the excellent PBlog.

6:59 pm - Tuesday, August 3, 2010

#4 james

Good review. I have got the wacom bamboo fun and find it very useful for my work (uni).

Thanks!

11:01 am - Thursday, August 19, 2010

#5 wacom bamboo

great review i love this product

11:02 am - Tuesday, September 28, 2010

#6 Elver

Thank you so much for this review! I had been umming and ah-ing over it for aaaages! I found a used small fun pen + touch on the wacom site and couldn’t decide, but this review has helped massively. Wacom Bamboo Fun S Pen and Touch arriving in the next week! SO excited.

Thanks again PhotographyBLOG

4:42 pm - Thursday, April 14, 2011

#7 Wacom

As a Wacom Reseller, I’d just like to say that this is one of the most in depth reviews I have seen in a long time.

Love all the graphics and images.

Extremely well written. Well done.

1:54 pm - Wednesday, January 25, 2012