Sunday, September 20, 2009

Wacom Bamboo Touch Tablet Review

Based on a post last Thursday by a user who was able to find the new Wacom Bamboo Touch Tablet (Model: CTT-460) at his local Best Buy, I took a chance and visited my local store. There was no sign of it with the other Wacom tablets, but I asked a friendly salesperson who looked it up on the computer, and said they seemed to have one in stock. He went to the storeroom, but came out and said it was on the "new items" end-cap, which, in my store, was kind of out of the way. In any case, the one was there, and I scored! (I guess I might have given him the only hug he will get all day!) It is not yet on the Wacom site or the Best Buy site, but it is really out!

The Wacom Bamboo Touch Tablet is a USB tablet that can act as a mouse, a multitouch trackpad, and a small drawing tablet. I installed it on both a Macintosh (Snow Leopard on an iMac) and a Windows machine (Toshiba laptop with Vista Home Basic).

The Bamboo touch is 8" x 5.5" in size and the input area is 5.5" x 3.25", with the four "ExpressKey" buttons located outside of the input area. These ExpressKeys are configurable for various functions as most input device buttons are.

You simply start the software install, pick right- or left-hand orientation, and then plug in the Bamboo Touch to complete the installation. It shows up, after the install, in the System Preferences and Control Panel panes as "Bamboo" and you can set the pointer speed, double-tap speed, etc.

There is a nice tutorial on the CD which illustrates and explains all the multi-touch features. The full user guide is also downloaded to your computer in PDF format.

Here are a few screenshots from the manual, illustrating the capabilities of the Bamboo. (Click on the thumbnail to enlarge it.

How well does it work?

Let me start out by saying I am not a mouse user-- I use a trackball on my desktops and the built-in trackpad on the laptops. I also do not take advantage of all the whiz-bang features of the MacbookPro multitouch trackpad on a regular basis.

However, I did put the Wacom Bamboo Touch Tablet through its paces on both the Apple and the Windows machines, and all of the multitouch features worked great! I also opened Adobe Photoshop and used the Bamboo touch both as a mouse and as a drawing tool. I could navigate and "fingerpaint" with no problem, but I would still choose to use my Wacom Graphire for serious drawing. My finger is not half as steady as my hand with a drawing pen is.

I am going to replace my trackball on my iMac at work with the Wacom Bamboo Touch Tablet, locate it in front of the keyboard, and use it as my mouse. As well as adhering to the sound ergonomic principle of having the input device as close as possible to the middle of your body, so there is no stretching going on, I now also will have the multitouch features available on the Mac and Windows side of my desktop! I plan to take advantage of those swiping, panning, rotating, and the other whiz-bang features!