Wacom Intuous Pro

Wacom Intuous Pro

This is my third Wacom product review. A while back I reviewed the Graphire drawing tablet, then the Wacom CintiQ 21UX. If you remember my Graphire review – it wasn’t exactly glowing. It was the first drawing tablet I ever used and it never really geled with me. Getting it to work on multiple monitors was a chore, and I can’t really imagine my life without multiple monitors. In addition to that, it never really felt “right.” After trying to use it for awhile, I abandoned it, only to come back to it later and abandon it again.

My work breifly gave me access to a Wacom Cintiq 21UX, which was amazing. I picked one up used, but it was missing the stand. It’s set up pretty cumbersome at my house now, so I don’t use it as frequently as I should. Because it’s hard to get into position, it’s hard to integrate into a daily workflow. After getting a promotion in my job, I no longer had access to the Contiq but my new job gave me a Wacom Intuous pro. Long story short, I dreaded using it from my experience with the Graphire, but after a few projects I really got into it.

First, it solved the multimonitor problem easily for me! I was able to map one of the on-stylus buttons to be “switch monitor.” When I press it, the mouse moves from one screen to the other, without stretching the aspect ratio of the tablet across both screens. Now I can move between screens instantly, and work efficiently in both! This was a huge selling point for me.

Next, the pen-tips and the drawing surface are vastly improved. The plastic surface of the graphire, combined with the hard-plastic pen-tip was a nightmare. It felt like drawing with a coffee stirrer on a block of ice. The graphires stylus would slip everywhere and that made drawing in a paint program really unpleasant. The surface on the Intuous Pro, combined with the stylus pen-tip, is perfect. It feels more like drawing on paper. It’s really important to have a little bit of friction on the tablet, because when we draw on paper, half of the pen control is pressure and resistance across the surface of the paper.

Now that widescreens are common, it makes sense for our drawing tablets to have a wide aspect ratio. The intuous pro has this as well, so there’s plenty of room to work.

Wacom (The company) Sucks

So I do like my Intuous pro. In fact, I eventually bought one for work at home when I needed to do some zBrush work in a pinch and my stupid graphire stopped working. But there are some things I really don’t like about the company Wacom.

First, they over charge. Yes, I’m sure they’re engineers need to get paid for all their R&D, but let’s face it – Wacom has a monopoly on the industry (just like TI graphing calculators) and they charge like such. There are competitor tablets out there than are like 1/5th the price, but because of Wacoms monopoly it’s hard to trust them. Most software will support the Wacom drivers out of the box. I’m too scared to buy a non-wacom tablet because I don’t want the hassle of hacking drivers to work in my favorite programs. Further, Many of the competitors require batteries for their pen – which is a no-no for me. It just sucks that Wacom charges so damn much.

Next, they create artificial software restrictions. The Intuous regular (non-pro) is actually much more affordable. But the driver has some limitations. Remember how I said I solved the multiple monitor problem by mapping “switch screens” to a button on the stylus? Despite using the same driver, and despite having the same buttons, you cannot map “switch screens” on the Intuous. You have to spend $200 more to buy the Intuous Pro to have the ability to switch screens on a button press. Ultimately I can’t work without multiple monitors, so I had to buy the Pro. But it is RIDICULOUS that such a driver limitation exists. I guess they got what I wanted – I upgraded. But I am very pissed about it, and will talk shit about them because of it.

Finally, they’re support is being lazy. At home I have Adobe Creative Suite CS5, but at work I have CS6 and CC. If I try to use my Wacom with Photoshop CC, there is a huge amount of lag. Usually the first stoke works well, but every subsequent stroke has 1-2 second delay and is basically unusable. Even if I switch back to the mouse (which doesn’t have delay) Photoshop CC will run slow in general with the Wacom driver. This doesn’t happen in CS6 or CS5. Sounds like a Photoshop problem then, right? Adobe looked into it, gave up and blamed it on Wacom. Wacom looked into it, gave up, and blamed it on Adobe. Now we have this stale-mate where the glitch happens to a large portion of users and nobody’s doing anything to fix it. I googled and found a bunch of unsolved threads on the problem.

Now it’s not strictly Wacom’s fault, so I am pissed at Adobe too. But I feel like these two industry giants really need to work together to fix this – it’s hurting both of them. Further, even if Adobe refuses to acknowledge it as their problem – as far as I’m aware CC works fine with other tablets. Wacom should be able to hack together a fix, even if it means putting a checkbox in the driver for “Special Adobe Products Mode.” Or something.

Final Thoughts

It’s expensive, but much improved over Wacoms old offerings. The multiple monitor support, and the better texture on the surface make it the first graphics tablet I’ve truely enjoyed using.

March 30, 2015 at 4:02 am | Technology Reviews

 

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