Wacom’s new Bamboo tablets comes in three flavours: Pen, Touch and Pen & Touch. The latter combines pen control with a touch-sensitive surface, for a broader and more flexible range of creative possibilities and is focused very much on ‘everyday’ use, such as photo retouching or general desktop use.
The Bamboo Fun advances the appeal of the Pen & Touch with a larger active surface area and more software. It includes Corel Painter Essentials 4 in addition to Adobe PhotoShop Elements (this is supplied with the Pen & Touch), encouraging the user to unleash their artistic side, and draw and sketch with the pad as well.
The Bamboo Fun, with its 22.2 x 13.6 cm active surface area, is a medium sized tablet. In terms of its actual hardware, it’s the same as the standard Bamboo – a fingertip multi-touch sensor as well as the pen sensor, 1024 levels of pen sensitivity, four programmable buttons, and an eraser function on the reverse end of the pen.
The larger active area makes it a more suitable tablet for creating art from scratch. Corel Painter Essentials 4 is designed specifically for use with tablets, and can do some really amazing things as it simulates everything from a thick paintbrush to a delicate ink pen or even airbrush.
Wacom is also encouraging its community of tablet users to create ‘minis’ – small programs that allow the tablet to interact with other applications. A preloaded example is a mini that allows a tablet user to rotate and zoom their Google Earth view.
Since the Bamboo Fun is very similar to the Bamboo Pen & Touch in a hardware sense, setup is just as fast and easy. The drivers are loaded on the computer, the tablet connected via USB2.0, and away you go! Again, it’s possible to set the tablet as left- or right-handed, and there are various sensitivity options, too.
A note on drivers: as tablets are relatively complex devices, it’s worth checking the Wacom website when you buy your Bamboo to see if there’s an updated version of the driver. This will ensure the tablet works at its very best on your PC or Mac.
The larger active area on the Bamboo Fun really does make it an excellent artistic tool, and not just an alternative to a mouse. You get quite a lot of the functionality you’ll find on a professional tablet such as Wacom’s Intuos4, but at a fraction of the price.
While most of the functionality is the same as the standard Bamboo, the inclusion of Corel Painter Essentials 4 lets you do a lot more with the tablet. Of course this isn’t the only sketching and drawing application in the world – there are plenty of others, so hit up Google and see what you can find!
If you’ve no interest in freehand drawing, there’s not a huge advantage here over the regular Bamboo. But the extra space does make it a better fit with larger displays, so here’s hoping there’s room on your desktop!
In days gone by, Wacom just let the relative sizes of its tablets speak for themselves. The company just assumed higher-end users would want bigger tablets, and was probably right about that!
It’s good to see that the Bamboo Fun includes extra software to justify its larger size. But at the end of the day, it’s only your artistic aspirations that can determine if you need this bigger and more creatively flexible tablet over its still very capable little brother.