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Wacom Graphire 4 Graphics Tablet

12/01/05

  03:18:26 am, by Nimble   , 1290 words  
Categories: Reviews, Toys

Wacom Graphire 4 Graphics Tablet

Link: http://www.wacom.com/graphire/4x5.cfm

Okay, it's a piece of hardware, but in many ways, it is totally a toy. Running around Christmas shopping, it can be utterly tempting to give yourself a Christmas present. Well, I succumbed :)

I picked up a Wacom Graphire[4] Graphics Tablet. I've always been frustrated with the ever-present mouse when it comes to doodling and the like on computers. I just can't get mice to work for painting.

So what do you get?

The package contains a few things. You get a pretty 4x5" tablet which lights up with a blue LED in the upper right when it's on. It plugs into a USB port. You get a tablet pen with a nib, eraser and two buttons on it, and a nice-looking mouse. The mouse is a little unusual. No laser, no batteries; it works on the same principle as the pen does. It only works on top of the tablet, but it's pretty nice (though the default speed of the mouse cursor is close to the speed of sound).

There's a little and very handy pen holder for standing the pen upright when you need to put it down temporarily. There's a pen-sized spot on the tablet itself to store the pen longer-term. When you touch the pen down, the blue LED turns green.

There are two programmable buttons up on the top of the tablet. The pen doesn't have a "scroll wheel", but the tablet itself does, and it works fairly well.

It's a little bizarre to have worked with a mouse for so long, to then be faced with a device that uses absolute coordinates. You put the pen on a spot, it's on the corresponding spot on the screen. With a little practice, you could probably pick a spot on the screen out by feel.

By default, the pen will move your cursor if you get within about a half an inch of the surface. When you touch the surface, it clicks. It can be a little strange, because you end up hovering a lot outside of paint programs. You can change this behaviour if you want to make the buttons click, but I find the buttons a little distracting to click. The bigger button on the pen is a right click by default, and the small upper one is a double-click.

It comes with a few bits of software, a couple of which I have played around with. The stripped down CorelPaint isn't worth it. EverNote is interesting, but I'm not sure what to do with it (It lets you take notes, grab web snippets, etc. It's neat, but do you need it?) The Photoshop Essentials is.

When you launch Photoshop Essentials, you might panic at the lack of functionality. However, it's because you're in "Quick Fix" mode. Switch over to standard editing mode at the upper right, and you've got pretty much everything you need.

I had a cool little sketch prepared, but I hosed it, unfortunately (I have to save my work before doing enough bad things to run into the undo limit). It's great painting with different pressures, flipping the pen upside-down and erasing (though I had black as a background the first time I tried, and "erased" black).

So you'll have to suffer with my utterly crappy two-minute Nimblebrain logo update instead...

Dumb Nimblebrain Logo

It will take some getting used to, this thing. I don't know if it will become a standard mouse replacement, or only used for doodling, but for the meantime, it's fun.

Recommended for those who like to doodle, or draw red markings all over other peoples' documents.

...okay, this isn't as good as yesterday's doodle, but here's a quick sketch...

A Little Doodle

(TO DO: images missing from the rebuilding of the blog - the images are probably on the laptop, since that's where I tried hooking up the tablet first)

Comments:

# My, what a splendid frontal lobe you have there. The brachium of the superior colliculus looks slightly out of place though. :)

Comment by ElTwo [Visitor] — 12/01/05 @ 02:14

He always stares to one side, so he has no need of a superior colliculus.

*laugh* I must say, I have an eyebrow raised here. I'm going to pretend that you didn't gain that knowledge by cutting up people hanging around too late in the Co-op for the meat department...

*whistles idly*

Comment by nimble [Member] — 12/01/05 @ 10:26

You didn't get the widescreen version of the tablet? Apparently it's very popular amongst artists these days.

More seriously, there's a Nimblebrain logo? All I can find is a really, really tiny icon on the front page. It looks as if it ought to be used to replace the page marker but all I get is the standard Firefox one so I suppose not.

As for L2 -- he's sneaky. Says little, volunteers less, and then comes out with something that a) points out he's been listening, carefully, for a while; and b) is rather more informed than he ever lets on...

Comment by Adam [Visitor] — 12/01/05 @ 11:43

Oh crikes, *laugh* actually, I've been trying to get used to the tablet as a mouse, and really, the pen area feels huge. That, and the bigger graphics tablets are more than double the price ;)

Yeah, that's the 'logo'. If I feel less lazy some day, I'll replace it with a shrunken version of the doodle :)

Ah, L2 in a nutshell? I'm just keeping him away from the big cutlery from now on, just to be safe :)

One additional thing with the tablet. I recommend a Firefox add-on called "Grab and Drag" (https://addons.mozilla.org/extensions/moreinfo.php?id=1250&application=firefox). It lets you plop your pen down in the browser and drag the page around, sort of like the 'hand' tool in Adobe Acrobat. Great for web browsing lazy-style with just the pen.

Comment by nimble [Member] — 12/02/05 @ 00:21

I think keeping L2 away from pointy objects is a good idea simply as a matter of course.

Comment by Adam [Visitor] — 12/02/05 @ 10:27

Well, after a shopper asks where something is for the n-th time when it's right next to them, one kind of gets the urge to open things up and see why things aren't working quite right in there. :) I'm sure nobody has anything to worry about with me and pointy objects though.

I've always tried to follow the idea that it's better to say nothing and be thought ignorant, than to speak and have it confirmed. Most of the time anyway...

Comment by ElTwo [Visitor] — 12/04/05 @ 01:42

That I could see. Dilbert cartoons seem to indicate that you should be able to open the top of the head by twisting the ears (where you can deactivate the moral compass). Ah well. I've heard, regardless, that you in general cannot tell by looking at it that there's anything particularly wrong inside in most cases. Probably something like it being hard to figure out what's wrong with software by staring at the installation CD.

*laugh* Saying nothing is not a whole lot of fun. Saying something, being wrong once in a while, and learning how to admit the other person was wro... I mean, learning how to admit fault, that's much more interesting, although strangely still not enough to get your own talk show. Hm!

I must say I have a lot of fun being highly opinionated and pretty open-minded. Damn, everybody knows I'm ignorant this way, though ;)

Well, if it takes being online to let the L2Meister spill the beans, then by all means!

Comment by nimble [Member] — 12/04/05 @ 03:00

[noodle diagnosis]
Well, perhaps some judicious prodding would coax it back online. Short of a lobotomy of course. :)

[speaking up]
I didn't mean to imply that everyone should follow that philosopy. It's just one that I picked up for myself along the way.

Comment by ElTwo [Visitor] — 12/05/05 @ 20:03

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