Take four tablets...

12th March 2004 at 00:00
Wacom seems to have a graphics tablet for every level: from the most basic to interactive pen displays for professional digital retouching and drawing.

We looked at the latest products: the entry-level Volito (Windows PC only); and the more sophisticated Graphire3 range (Graphire Classic, Studio (pictured) and Studio XL), all for both Mac and PC.

The quality of these products shows that pen graphics-tablet technology is steadily improving, as are the prices. The Graphire has increased resolution to 2,000 dots per inch (dpi), and the Volito pen is 1,000 dpi.

The tablets are slimmer, making a more comfortable angle for the wrist, and have a frame for tracing photographs and drawings. The pens have programmable switches, an eraser to add versatility and 512 variations of pressure. The area of the tablet is exactly matched to that of the screen so there is no need to lift the pen off the tablet to reach the furthest corners of the monitor.

The most crucial factor determining ease of use is the size of the tablet itself. The bigger the tablet area, the more comfortable it is to move the cursor around the screen. I found only the Graphire Studio XL roomy enough.

Getting accustomed to using a pen and tablet after years with a mouse is not a quick process. It takes time to get used to the different weight and greater flexibility of a pen. For some tasks like word processing the greater stability of the mouse is more suitable. And to cover this, Wacom has included wireless mice in its Volito and Graphire packages.

The pen tablet is most suitable for digital imaging applications where the variations in pen pressure and looser feel make a difference in speed and accuracy.

Basically, the pen and tablet are the future of graphics. The closer the approximation to the physical movements of hand and penbrushpencil across paper, the more effective and rapid the computer is as a working tool.

Steve Place is the art editor of TES Online

Philips HDD-100

Capacity: 15Gb

Dimensions: 61mm x 104mm x 20mm

Weight: 167g

Battery life: 10 hours

Connectivity: USB 2.0

Audio format support: MP3, WMA

Platform: PC

Price: pound;299

Available from: High street stores

Pros: Light, cheap and with good battery life. Looks good and you can record on to it Cons: PC only. Reportedly has a habit of locking up. And screen can be a little slow to update. Expensive

Apple iPod

Capacity: 10Gb, 20Gb, 40Gb Dimensions: 61mm x 104mm x 15.8mm (18.5mm on 40Gb model)

Weight: 158g (176g on 40Gb model)

Battery life: 8 hours claimed

Connectivity: FireWire 400 and USB 2.0 through dock connector

Audio format support: MP3 (32 to 320 Kbps), MP3 VBR, Audible, WAV

Platform: Mac and PC

Cost: from pound;249

Available from: High street stores

Pros: It's the market leader, it looks great and Apple has integrated it well into its computers. Can record directly on to the unit

Cons: Low battery life, expensive

Creative Zen NX

Capacity: 30Gb, 40Gb, 60Gb

Dimensions: 112mm x 75mm x 22mm

Weight: 226g with battery

Battery life: Up to 14 hrs

Connectivity: USB 2.0

Audio format support: MP3 (up to 320kbps), MP3, VBR, WAV, WMA

Platform: PC only

Prices: from pound;249

Available from: High street stores

Pros: Good battery life and plays a wide range of formats. Good sound with EAX on, otherwise not so good

Cons: Tricky controls and small screen. Cannot record directly

X-Clef HD-500

Capacity: 20Gb, 40Gb

Dimensions: 130mm x 79mm x 22mm

Weight: 255g

Battery life: Up to 12 hrs

Connectivity: USB 2.01.1 supported

Audio format support: MP3, WMA

Platform: Mac and PC

Price: from pound;199

Available from: www.advancedmp3players.co.uk

Pros: Easy to use. Good battery life. Can record directly on to unit with or without external mic. Mac and PC compatible. Great sound Cons: Larger than iPod and you don't get any of the clever transfer software (if you need it)

Volito

Price: pound;42 approx

A6 size

Software: Procreate Painter Classic

ArcSoft Photoimpression; ArcSoft Funhouse; JustWrite Office; Penflow for Word; Whiplash by Codeface

Fitness for purpose ***

Ease of use ***

Features ***

Quality ****

Value for money *****

Graphire Classic

Price: pound;69.99

A6 size

Software: Procreate Painter Classic

Fitness for purpose ****

Ease of use ***

Features ***

Quality ****

Value for money *****

Graphire Studio

Price: pound;99

A6 size

Software: Adobe Photoshop Elements 2.0; PenPalette; Pinnacle Studio 8 SE; ACDSee

Fitness for purpose ****

Ease of use ***

Features ****

Quality ****

Value for money *****

Graphire Studio XL

Price: pound;179.99

A5 size

Software: Adobe Photoshop Elements 2.0; PenPalette; Pinnacle Studio 8 SE; ACDSee

Fitness for purpose *****

Ease of use ****

Features ****

Quality ****

Value for money *****

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number

Comments

The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now