Wacom Intuos5 Review

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

The Wacom Intuos5 comes with a pen that can be used to draw with one end or erase with the other. On the barrel of the pen are two buttons that works the same as mouse buttons for left or right clicks. The included pen stand doubles as a holder for 10 extra nibs that come with the pen, simulating different types of pens, from hard tip to soft felt type pens for various types of drawing. Given that the pen has 2048 sensitivity levels, it makes sense that a different type of nib would make a difference in how the pen responds to your touch.

The major new feature in the Intuos5 is touch support (Figure 4). The less expensive Bamboo Touch tablets have a limited set of touch functionality in them, but the Intuos5 brings the entire compliment of gesture support to the tablet. I tested with a Mac running Lion, and every OS level gesture, including Mission Control, Desktop swipe, zoom, Luanchpad, etc are supported. I checked with Doug Little at Wacom and confirmed that all gestures on Windows, including the upcoming Windows 8, are fully supported as well.

Wacom Intuos 5 Figure 4

In addition to the standard gestures included with the OS, you can create your own gestures, making this a complete replacement for a trackpad on your system (Figure 5)

Wacom Intuos 5 Figure 5

Not everyone is a gesture sort of person though, and Wacom recognizes this, letting you turn touch off with a button press if you like.

As I get older, I find that my memory isn't as good as it used to be (ask my wife!). So, I really appreciate the option to have onscreen help pop up with the touch of a button when needed. This help appears as overlays on the screen wherever I am, so I don't need to leave my current application or task (Figure 6). I can also see just the settings for the current ExpressKeys (Figure 7).

Wacom Intuos 5 Figure 6

Wacom Intuos 5 Figure 7

The other change in the Intuos5 is the removal of Bluetooth support in favor of a wireless USB option. This $39 add on plugs into ports on the side of the tablet with a rechargeable battery (about 9 hours on the medium tablet according to the Wacom website), and a small dongle on your computer. I'd prefer the Bluetooth option as it's one less thing to carry around and doesn't use up a valuable USB port on my laptop, but if you need wireless, this is your only option now.


The Wacom Intuos5 line is available in several sizes, from small, with an active area of 6.2”x3.9” up to large with a 12.8”x8” active area. For photography, I find the medium to be the ideal size to work with. This gives me an 8.8”x5.5” active area. Bundled with the Intuos5 are links to download Photoshop Elements 10, Anime Studio Debut, SketchBook Express, Nik Color Efex Pro 4 Select Edition, and a 90 day trial of Corel Painter 12. At $349, the medium Intuos5 is a considerable investment, but they last forever, and you'll find yourself getting more done in less time than you ever thought possible. With the addition of touch functionality, the Wacom Intuos5 tablets are even better value than before, useful at any time you're in front of the computer - not just in graphic editing.

4.5 stars

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

Entry Tags

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

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Your Comments

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