Wacom Intuos4 Review

April 23, 2009 | Jon Canfield | Accessory Reviews | |


Graphics tablets are popular options for digital image editing and other graphics work where a mouse just doesn't give you the degree of control that you'd like, or need. Wacom is arguably the most popular brand of tablet available with a wide following among serious photographers and artists. They have several different lines of tablets, from the enthusiast level Bamboo series, up to the active display Cintiq line that lets you draw right on the monitor. The most popular line though are the Intuos series of tablets, and that's where Wacom has dominated the market for the serious graphic artist and digital photographer.

While the Intuos3 line of tablets has been a very popular and well-regarded device, Wacom hasn't stopped enhancing their products. The newest release, the Intuos 4 brings a number of well designed upgrades and improvements in the ease of use. The Intuos4 is available in several different sizes suitable for a variety of uses – small, medium, large, x-large. The sizes correspond to the previous tablets though, but should be a little easier to decide on which one to use. For graphic artists, and those that do a lot of painting, a large or x-large tablet is a good choice. For photography, I find that the medium tablet, with an active area of about 6"x9" is ideal and a good compromise between size and comfort.

Ease of Use

If you've used the Intuos 3, the first thing you'll notice is the Touch Strip and ExpressKey buttons on each side of the tablet that have been replaced by a single row of buttons and a Touch Ring (Figure 2).  There's an advantage to this new layout. You'll no longer find yourself accidentally hitting the Touch Strip (which I did frequently). While this might seem like a drawback for left handed users, Wacom has addressed this by making the tablet reversible. There are two USB ports on the tablet, one for right hand, the other for left hand orientation. To use the tablet for the opposite hand, simply turn it 180 degrees and set the control panel to left or right to match the orientation.

The eight buttons have been pre-programmed with common functions – Help, Display Toggle (For users with multiple displays), Shift, Command/Control, Option/Alt, and the Hand tool (space bar). The Touch Ring scrolls windows in most applications, and in Photoshop defaults to zooming the display. At the center of the Touch Ring is a toggle button to change the wheel to one of the four available functions. All of the buttons have an OLED next to them that shows the currently selected function for that button. When the tablet is flipped over for the other hand, the text is rotated as well, so it's always in the correct orientation for the user.

Intuos4 Figure 2

Along with the changes to the tablet controls, Wacom has doubled the sensitivity of the pen from 1024 levels to 2048.  A brand new pen is supplied with the tabletThe new tip sensor requires only one gram of pressure to start working, making extremely fine points or lines possible. The end result is that the pen has a more natural feel. Wacom includes replacement tips, or nibs, for the pen in standard, felt, stroke, and flex responses for a wide range of uses. In a nice touch, the pen holder (Figure 3) is now the container for the nibs, making them much less likely to be lost (which I have always been very good at doing).

Intuos4 Figure 3

Entry Tags

wacom, tablet, graphics tablet, intuos, graphics, pen tablet, intuos4

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Your Comments

14 Comments | Newest Oldest First | Post a Comment

#1 Elja Trum

Interesting tablet!
Sounds like a good replacement for my Graphire4. Now if only that one would break down.. ;)

11:13 pm - Thursday, April 23, 2009

#2 pete

Also worth noting in a review such as this is that wacom is pulling an adobe on buyers.
Meaning, european customers get screwed. The european version does not have all the software that you mention, yet, we get to pay the full price eitherway.

7:51 am - Friday, April 24, 2009

#3 www.laserpics.co.uk

Wacom tablets have speeded up our work tremendously, looking forward to using this one :)

12:44 pm - Tuesday, April 28, 2009

#4 Ron

oh, I *love* my Wacom. I’ve got an Intuos 3 and a Bamboo fun to carry around with me. No, I’m not a graphic designer. I’m a video editor and casual photographer and I use the pen instead of a mouse. It’s so much faster and more natural. Couldn’t live without it now.

My Intuos 3 is just fine. But I want one of these!

5:36 pm - Tuesday, April 28, 2009

#5 Janettanon

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6:42 am - Saturday, June 13, 2009

#6 Kins

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9:19 am - Sunday, June 21, 2009

#7 provigil


3:38 pm - Sunday, July 12, 2009

#8 Renat Zarbailov

If you ever wanted to see Wacom Intuos4 drawing tablet in action, now you have a chance.
This is a usability Video review of Wacom Intuos4 (Medium) digital drawing tablet. This is not your typical product review of its features and capabilities. Conducted over a month and a half period, this usability review portrays real user tests that tell you the truth about what they felt about this drawing tool.
Watch it here: http://bit.ly/3EdxOJ

Be sure to leave some comments about whether you as an artist will adopt the digital workflow using a digital drawing tablet.


1:01 am - Wednesday, October 28, 2009

#9 balumung

I’m torn between the intuos 4 or the Cintiq 12wx
In your opinion which one should I buy ???

2:53 pm - Thursday, December 3, 2009

#10 Fashion Photography

Interested in getting one of these…. it should speed up the re-touching process!

7:57 pm - Friday, November 5, 2010

#11 nai

I find the medium intuos4 to be perfect for graphics work as I draw in a small radius, it all depends on how you draw.

2:43 am - Thursday, November 11, 2010

#12 A Good Wacom Drawing Tablet Review

Thank you for such a good review of this product as it helped me decide to purchase one. The only caution I would throw out would be to carefully take into consideration your workspace area. Even a medium tablet takes up quite a bit of room; I wish I had gone with the small tablet.

4:14 pm - Monday, March 14, 2011

#13 Wacom 4 Drawing Tablet Review

Sorry if this is a double post, but I needed to let people know that they should really take into account the size of their workspace area. I bought a medium tablet and was surprised at how large it was; I was tempted to trade it back in for a small but decided to keep it in the end.

4:25 pm - Monday, March 14, 2011

#14 noel

im planning to buy intuos4, just wanna ask..besides drawing and painting on this tablet,what else does this tablet do?can this help me on my graphic skills, like making vector art in illustrator or making realistic 3d text art and posters?cause i cant find tutorials besides drawing and painting.

5:21 pm - Wednesday, July 13, 2011