Wacom rebrands pen tablets, launches a whopping eight new models


posted Friday, September 6, 2013 at 12:30 PM EDT

Pen tablet maker Wacom has just overhauled most of its lineup, launching four completely redesigned, consumer-friendly tablets, as well as four new models aimed at professional use. Gone is the overly-cute Bamboo branding of the company's earlier consumer tablets, with the whole lineup now consolidated under the Intuos label. To differentiate the professional-grade products, these now ship with the Intuos Pro badge.

The new consumer lineup consists of the Wacom Intuos Pen CTL480, Intuos Pen & Touch Small CTH480, Intuous Manga CTH480S2, and Intuos Pen & Touch Medium CTH680. Pro-grade models include the Intuos Pro Small PTH451, Intuos Pro Medium PTH651, Intuos Pro Special Edition PTH-651/S, and Intuos Pro Large PTH851

Wacom's overhauled Intuos pen tablet family. At left is the Intuos Pro series; at right is the Intuos consumer line, which replaces the earlier Bamboo series.

Out of the box, all four consumer Intuos models use a wired computer connection, but each can be upgraded for wireless use with a US$40 wireless accessory kit. The kit includes a small USB wireless receiver, a wireless module for the pen tablet, and a rechargeable battery which is charged in the tablet when connected via USB. The Intuos Pro models, meanwhile, feature built-in wireless connectivity. Surprisingly, though the consumer models offer much better battery life than do their larger, heavier Intuos Pro siblings. Wireless-upgraded Intuos models will yield 26 or 48 hours of wireless battery life, depending on tablet size. The Intuos Pro line offers just 17 hours for the smallest model, and 16 hours in the medium or large models.

The tablets differ significantly in other respects, as well. There are two sizes at the consumer level, and three at the professional level. The smaller of the two consumer sizes has an active area of 6.0 x 3.7 inches, and is used in the Pen, Pen & Touch, and Manga models. It offers a little less real-estate than does the Intuos Pro Small, which has an active area of 6.2 x 3.9 inches. There's one larger model for consumers, the Intuos Medium, and its active area is again smaller than the medium-sized Intuos Pro models. (The margin is similar, too: 8.5 x 5.3 inches for Intuos Medium, while Intuos Pro Medium and Pro Special Edition offer 8.5 x 5.5 inches.)

The Wacom Intuos Pro Large is the biggest pen tablet in the new Intuos line.

Finally, the largest size is only available in the pro line, with the Intuos Pro Large providing a whopping 12.8 x 8.0 inches of active area, more than 4.6 times the area of the smallest consumer model. But then, the weight difference is even greater, with the largest Pro model weighing six times as much as the smallest consumer model.

Unlike their Bamboo-branded predecessors, Wacom now includes four customizable ExpressKeys in all four consumer Intuos models. All four also provide Radial Menu support, and all but the Intuos Pen Small tablet are touch sensitive. For the Intuos Pro line, the Small model has six customizable ExpressKeys, while the larger models have eight apiece, and all models include multi-touch and Radial Menu support. The Pro models also add Wacom's Multi-function Touch Ring control, which is absent from the consumer line.

The Wacom Intuos Pen & Touch small is the same size as the Intuos Pen, but adds touch sensitivity, an eraser function, and a greater choice of software.

Another important difference between the consumer and pro-grade pen tablets can be found in their bundled pens. The standard Intuos line's pens can detect 1024 pressure levels and have an accuracy of 0.5mm, for a resolution of 2540 lines per inch. They lack a tilt sensor, and in the case of the Intuos Pen CTL480, there's also no eraser function.

The Intuos Pro tablets feature a more accurate, sensitive pen with a +/- 50-degree tilt sensor. These models can detect 2048 pressure levels, and are accurate to 0.25mm, for a resolution of 5080 lpi. (In other words, they're twice as sensitive, and twice as accurate.) They also have an ever-so-slightly higher maximum report rate of 200 points per second, versus 197 points per second in the consumer Intuos models. And of course, all the Pro models feature the eraser function.

The Intuos Pro tablets have a Touch Ring control that's absent in the consumer Intuos line.

The remaining differences are largely in the software bundle, and in one case, cosmetic. Intuos Pen owners can download Autodesk Sketchbook Express or ArtRage Studio 2.6, while the Pen & Touch Small and Medium add Adobe Photoshop Elements 11 and Nik Color Efex Pro WE3 to the list. The Medium tablet also adds Corel Painter Lite as an option.  The Intuos Manga comes bundled with Manga Studio Debut 4 and Anime Studio Debut 8. For the Pro-series tablets, you can download Photoshop Elements 11, Sketchbook Express, Anime Studio Debut 8, a 30-day trial of Corel Painter 13, or Nik Color Efex Pro 4 Select Edition. The Special Edition is identical to the Pro Medium, but comes in a two-tone black-and-silver design, rather than the standard all-black version.

Pricing for the consumer line is set at $80 for the Intuos Pen, US$100 for the Intuos Pen & Touch Small or Manga, and US$200 for the Pen & Touch Medium. For the Pro series, you'll pay US$250 for the Small model, US$350 for the Medium model, US$380 for the Special Edition, and US$500 for the Large model. All eight pen tablets are available immediately.

The Intuos Pro Special Edition is identical to the Intuos Pro Medium in all but color.