Wacom announces Intuos5 graphics tablets, we go hands-on! (video)

Wacom announces Intuos5 pen tablets, we go hands-on!

It's a couple of months since we spotted paperwork for a mysterious "PTK-450" device at the FCC and now Wacom has finally revealed the gadget that goes with the label. The Intuos5 tablet is available to purchase immediately in Small (4 x 6 inches), Medium (6 x 8) and Large (13 x 8) sizes, priced at £200, £330 and £430 respectively. We're still waiting on confirmation of US pricing, but it'll no doubt be less than what a straight currency conversion suggests (i.e. somewhere below $320, $525 and $680). There's actually a fourth variant to add to the trio, but it's not an XL -- Wacom is hoping to up-sell you to a Cintiq 21UX or Cintiq 24HD if you want something bigger. Instead, the fourth tablet is a version of the Medium that comes without touch sensitivity, bringing the price down to £270 if you're able to live with pen-only input. Opting for this particular model will remove one of the biggest upgrades in this three-year product cycle: the ability of the Intuos5 to sense up to 16 finger-touches simultaneously, rather than just the nib of the pen. But there have been other revisions since the Intuos4 aside from touch, and you only have to read on to discover what those are.

Update: There was a problem with the embedded video -- sorry folks. It's working properly now, along with more gallery pics below.

Update: Just got word on US pricing. $230, $350 and $470 for the touch sensitive models. $300 for the Medium without touch. Also coming to the US is a pen-only version of the Small tablet -- we're not sure how much that'll cost (and Wacom's site seems to be down right now), but it'll be the cheapest upgrade of the bunch.

Wacom has kept a firm grip on backwards compatibility, keeping the same 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity and allowing Intuos4 and Cintiq pens to work fine with the Intuos5. To make things simple, however, touch sensitivity is disabled when the pen comes close to the tablet, such that input is either by pen or by touch but never both at the same time.

When inputting with touch, the hardware is capable of registering 16 separate points, but Wacom's software currently only recognizes up to five-finger gestures. These gestures can be assigned to keyboard functions from the Intuos settings pane, which means you won't be dependent on Adobe or anyone else implementing multi-touch directly into their programs -- and indeed, we hear that multi-touch probably isn't coming to Photoshop any time soon. Nevertheless, when the big photo and graphics titles eventually find clever things to do with ten fingers and six toes, the Intuos5 will be good and ready.

It's not clear where the OLEDs have gone from the Intuos4, but hopefully it's somewhere nice. In their stead, Wacom has shifted almost every aspect of the tablet's ability to display information to an on-screen "HUD," which is designed to prevent you from ever having to look away from the screen, even for a split second, regardless of what that workspace safety adviser told you.

The way the HUD works is pretty intuitive. The buttons on the tablet are capacitive, and when you touch them lightly the HUD pops up on the screen and highlights the function you're about to press. When you're happy that you're doing the right thing, you press down fully to click the underlying physical button on the tablet and hence make your selection. This is especially useful for the radial menu, which can have numerous functions and sub-menus assigned to different o'clocks. The HUD appears in the last position of your cursor and should stop you losing track of what you've assigned where.

In addition to the HUD, there are four LEDs beside the wheel to indicate toggle functions, as well as four LEDs to mark out the working area of the tablet. This working area has been brought in further from the edges of the tablet, compared to the Intuos4, in an effort to stop pens snagging on the border of the panel in the midst of a stroke -- an issue that we're told cropped up during Wacom's feedback sessions.

The Intuos5 tablets are all compatible with Wacom's wireless adapter, priced at £35. This kit comes with a small RF transmitter that plugs into a slot in the tablet and a receiver which connects to your computer. There's also a lithium ion battery that goes into another slot on the underside of the tablet and provides 18, 11 and six hours of use on the Small, Medium and Large tablets.

One last major difference: the glossy finish of the Intuos4 has been replaced with a matte rubber coating that feels nicer to touch and also more hard-wearing -- but as to whether it lives up to that promise, it's too early to say.

Show full PR text

Dive into digital content creation with Wacom's redefined Intuos5

Multi-touch interaction, wireless connectivity and heads-up display now included for a truly immersive experience

Wacom® today announces Intuos®5, the next generation lineup of tablets for professional photographers, designers and artists who wish to take their digital content creation to the next level. Superior new features include multi-touch gesture support for intuitive input, an Express View display to facilitate an efficient workflow and wireless capabilities for convenience and comfort. Combined with Wacom's renowned pen pressure and tilt sensitive pen, the state-of-the-art Intuos5 inspires creativity through an immersive experience.

With its ergonomic, ambidextrous design and bold new look, the slim-profile Intuos5 allows creative professionals to work in complete comfort. The professional matte-black, soft-touch finish and illuminated accents reflect a modern and durable design. To meet the workflow and workspace needs of Wacom's diverse professional customer base, four Intuos5 models are being introduced. Three Intuos5 touch models, featuring both pen and multi-touch in sizes small, medium and large and one pen-only Intuos5 tablet in medium.

The Human Touch

The addition of multi-touch to the Intuos5 provides a complementary input method to the pen that is natural to use in the creative process. One of the distinct benefits of multi-touch is its support of gestures to zoom, scroll, pan and rotate digital content, all while remaining focused on the creative process. Not only is the Intuos5 able to recognise standard Windows and Mac gestures, but customisable gestures can be created in supporting applications to make navigational input easier and stress free. For example, a customised gesture could be created to open a commonly used feature within Adobe® Photoshop®.

"The multi-touch interface in the Intuos5 is Wacom's most elegant implementation of gesture support to date," says Guido Möller, product manager professional brands of Wacom Europe. "Switching from pen to touch or to gesture based navigation is a liberating experience, allowing one to reduce repetitive motion and interact more naturally with the computer."

Stay focused

Wacom continues to build customisable non-dominant hand controls into its professional tablets to help users streamline their workflow and be more productive. On the Intuos5, these include customisable ExpressKeys (six on small size and eight on both medium and large sizes) and one Touch Ring, with four-function toggle. These features allow users to place commonly used shortcuts and modifiers right at their fingertips, decreasing dependency on the computer keyboard while increasing productivity. The ambidextrous design allows right-handed and left-handed users to simply rotate the tablet 180 degrees for easy access to the ExpressKeys and Touch Ring.

To help users remember their application-specific ExpressKey settings without being distracted by the input device, Intuos5 comes equipped with Express View, a new Heads-Up Display (HUD) feature that displays the current settings on the computer screen. Lightly resting a finger on any of the keys reveals the settings on-screen and fades within a few seconds so as not to disrupt the creative process. "Express View modernises the user interface and is instrumental in helping improve workflow and boost productivity", said Möller. "It allows users to remain focused on their work and concentrate on the creative process while providing all the benefits of a faster workflow."

The Intuos5 Grip Pen

For creative professionals, the Intuos5 Grip Pen remains the heart and soul of the tablet experience. The Intuos5 pen registers 2048 levels of pen pressure and up to 60 degrees of pen tilt, allowing the pen to emulate the same feel, response and effects derived from working with traditional tools such as paint brushes, markers and pens. In addition, Intuos5 features Wacom's proprietary Tip Sensor technology, which means that pressure-sensitive effects can start with an incredibly light touch. The Wacom pen expands the creative effects that can be achieved within software applications that support pressure and/or tilt sensitivity such as Adobe® Photoshop®, Adobe® Illustrator®, Corel® Painter™, Autodesk® Sketchbook® Pro and many more. The Grip Pen also features a pressure-sensitive eraser and two side switches that can be customised for commands such as double-click and right-click.

Optional Wireless Connectivity

With the Intuos5, Wacom broadens its offering for wireless connectivity. Now, all sizes of Intuos5 can be converted to a wireless tablet by installing the Wireless Accessory kit, sold separately on Wacom's e-store. The kit includes a rechargeable battery that charges through USB, a RF module that plugs into the tablet and a receiver that plugs into a USB port on the computer.

Pricing and availability

The Intuos5, available today, comes in four models: Intuos5 touch Small (£199.99), Medium (£329.99), Large (£429.99) and Intuos5 pen-only Medium (£269.99). Each Intuos5 can be extended with the Wacom Wireless Accessory Kit priced at £34.99. All prices are including VAT.

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