Wacom Intuos5 Review

March 27, 2012 | Jon Canfield | Accessory Reviews | |


I've been a long time user of Wacom graphic tablets as part of my editing workflow. Making selections, painting a mask, and many other operations are not only more intuitive with a pen, but you have much finer control than you do with a mouse or a trackpad. Until now, the Intuos4 Bluetooth tablet has been what I considered to be as close to perfect as you could get. Used either left or right handed, I can have it plugged in via USB or use with Bluetooth when traveling or when I need to be a bit further from the computer, as when I'm teaching a workshop. When Wacom announced the Intuos5, I was curious as to what could possibly be improved upon from the current model, so I was anxious to take a look. The Wacom Intuos5 comes in four models: Small ($229.95 / £199.99), Medium ($349.95 / £329.99), pen-only Medium (£269.99) and Large ($469.95 / £429.99). Each Intuos5 can be extended with the Wacom Wireless Accessory Kit priced at $39.99 / £34.99.

Wacom Intuos 5 Figure 1

The first obvious change is in the packaging (Figure 1). While this isn't anything that is going to affect the way you use the Wacom Intuos 5, it's refreshing to see that the packaging for the tablet is much more eco-friendly than previous versions with less bulk and plastics involved. The tablet itself is wrapped in a cellophane covering that doubles as a guide to the functions of the tablet, something I found useful as a person that tends to ignore getting started booklets as cheating.

Wacom Intuos 5 Figure 2

Setting up the Wacom Intuos5 tablet involves plugging it in via the supplied USB cable and running the installer program. At this point you'll be asked whether to install as left or right handed (you can change this later if you like) (Figure 2). Once setup is complete, all the customization features are available in the Control Panel (Windows) or System Preferences (Mac) (Figure 3).

Wacom Intuos 5 Figure 3

Ease of Use

The new Wacom Intuos5 tablet has a much different feel from previous versions. Gone is the smooth glossy finish around the active area of the tablet, replaced with a rubberized surface that is much more comfortable to grip. The buttons themselves are recessed, making them easy to find by feel, and each has a different pattern to help identify which button you're on without looking down.

Around the touch ring are 4 lights to indicate which of the four modes you're in - the defaults here are autoscroll/zoom, rotate, cycle layers, and brush size, but they can be set to anything you like, either globally, or by application.

Entry Tags

review, test, wi-fi, wireless, tablet, wacom, graphics tablet, intuos, graphics, pen tablet, intuos 5, wfi, intuos5

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12 Comments | Newest Oldest First | Post a Comment

#1 steve carouso

I currently have the intuos4 wich i use everyday and i love it. Cant wait to try the new vesion.

8:06 pm - Tuesday, March 27, 2012

#2 Alex @ Wedding and Equine Photographer Yorkshire

Never really had a proper play with one of these tablets, are they easy to use and worth the money? Does it actually speed up photo editing? If so what kind of size is the best to get? The range is mind boggling!?

1:24 pm - Wednesday, March 28, 2012

#3 Alex

Hey, I’ve never really had the opportunity to have a proper play with one of these. With regards to using them with photoshop for photo editing, mostly weddings and equine portraits… Do they really help speed up the process ? If they are worth the money which most people seem to say which size is the best? The range is so mind boggling!

1:26 pm - Wednesday, March 28, 2012

#4 rob

Alex, you may want to read the Conclusion part of this article. It answers all your questions. I agree wholly with the opinion contained in the Conclusion and can’t wait to try out this new version of Intuos.

10:46 pm - Thursday, March 29, 2012

#5 Michael

I really love all of the Intuos models I have used over the years. My one disappointment, however, was the quality of the Bluetooth wireless connectivity. I know some people who have had no trouble at all with it, and others, like me, for whom it never worked reliable (despite debugging and even a replacement tablet by a VERY supportive and helpful Wacom customer service rep. I like the idea that I can purchase wireless now as a separate option.

I have always used the medium tablet, but I have more desk space now. Maybe I´ll go for the larger size this time.

4:42 pm - Monday, April 9, 2012

#6 Robert Meppelink

Jon, thanks for the thorough and useful review. Alex, I have the Intuos3, with the Intuos5 on order to be received next week. I can assure you that you will wonder how you did without it, especially when doing selections, and when using the healing brush and clone stamp tools. I think that the doubled levels of sensitivity in the Intuos5 will be very favorably noticeable compared to the Intuos3.

1:55 am - Thursday, April 12, 2012

#7 Stacey

I am wondering what size to get. I do photography and want to paint on it.  My question about the medium size, is how big can you blow up a painting while keeping the integrity of it.
That is the only reason, I am considering a bigger version.
Along with the fact that it might provide for more freedom of movement when painting.  Does anyone have experience with this?  Thanks.

1:38 am - Saturday, June 9, 2012

#8 Ken


Check out this information from Ben Long (photographer/instructor) as he discusses version 4.

I think that it may answer your question regarding your size choice.

1:18 pm - Sunday, July 29, 2012

#9 Ken

oops, for got the link….here it is:


1:21 pm - Sunday, July 29, 2012

#11 jim Lynch

could someone get into more detail on how this works with Nik plug-ins suite.
many thanks,

5:39 pm - Thursday, June 13, 2013

#12 eml

About the Intuos5. I purchased one of these when I purchased a new laptop. It didn’t connect wirelessly from the get-go. So I returned it. The AppleStore swapped it out right there. Got home and now unit #2 won’t connect. Now back to the apple store again. At the AppleStore they did diagnosis on the new laptop and it was fine, so they swapped out a 3rd model. 2 days later, intermit signal loss again. I called Wacom, and they tell me to wiggle the wireless dongle. That was there advice on a 250$ pice of equipment. Wiggle it. When that scientific advice failed to work they took a week to send me a replacement wireless kit. Now the replacement kit still has the same problem. I have bin with Wacom a user since ‘94. this is the worst thing they have ever made. As well as horrible customer service. I recommend avoiding at all costs.

8:15 pm - Saturday, April 26, 2014