Wacom Intuos5 touch Small Pen Tablet Review and Giveaway

Ads by Google

wacom   Wacom Intuos5 touch Small Pen Tablet Review and GiveawayPen tablets are an awesome invention. I don’t mean those tiny pads you use to sign electronic documents at the bank (although those are nice too). I mean the serious, professional models that artists use to create mind-blowing paintings and conjure Photoshop magic. They are pressure-sensitive, sense the angle at which you’re holding the pen, and are generally a huge step up from the mouse or trackpad when trying to create artwork using a computer.

Recently, I was fortunate enough to receive a Wacom Intuos5 touch Small pen tablet. This is my second Wacom tablet, after an ancient model originally bought around 4-5 years ago. The advances in tablet technology are very noticeable, and the included software feels refined and intuitive. Simply speaking, this is a new generation of tablets, and you can read all about it below.

We will be giving away a brand-new Wacom Intuos5 touch Small tablet to a lucky winner, so if you’d like to have a chance at winning it, just join the giveaway after the review.

Introduction

intuos54   Wacom Intuos5 touch Small Pen Tablet Review and Giveaway

The Wacom Intuos5 touch Small retails for $229 and has an active area of 157mm x 98mm (6.2” x 3.9”). It is one of three models in the Intuos5 series, the other two being the Medium ($349, 224mm x 140mm) and the Large ($469, 325mm x 203mm). All three Intuos5 models support an optional wireless accessory kit that allows them to be used without cables, but today I will be reviewing the base configuration without the wireless kit.

Ads by Google

In terms of products from other companies, I must say there are not many viable alternatives to Wacom. Genius offers a number of pen tablets, such as the MousePen i608x retailing for $70 and aimed at occasional users, and the G-Pen M712X for $170, aimed at professional artists and designers (the same market the Intuos5 is targeting). The pro model G-Pen has a resolution of 4,000 LPI (lines per inch), significantly less than the 5,080 LPI offered by the Intuos5. It also offers only 1024 levels of pressure sensitivity, while the Intuos5 supports 2048 levels of sensitivity. While specs often don’t tell the whole story, they do count for something – and the top-of-the-line model from Genius does not match the Intuos5 by the numbers. Then again, it also retails for $59 less than the Wacom and has a larger working area than the small Intuos5 model (304mm x 184mm).

What’s In The Box?

wacom3   Wacom Intuos5 touch Small Pen Tablet Review and Giveaway

The Intuos5 ships with a touch-sensitive pen and a pen stand which opens to reveal ten replacement nibs:

wacom5   Wacom Intuos5 touch Small Pen Tablet Review and Giveaway

Oh, and there’s also a USB cable: Mentioning it seems silly at first, but it’s actually very good: It is two meters long (meaning, super-long), and features a custom-made Mini USB connector on the tablet side. The cable exits the connector from the side, and the connector contains a little holder into which you can slot the cable, to reverse its direction. This image should make things clearer:

wacom7   Wacom Intuos5 touch Small Pen Tablet Review and Giveaway

The included pen stand feels sturdy, and should look lovely on most desks. The pen fits into it vertically, and can also lie across it in a molded groove as shown above.

Design

wacom11   Wacom Intuos5 touch Small Pen Tablet Review and Giveaway

In a word, the Intuos5 is gorgeous. The first thing I noticed is that the Intuos5 is completely blank: There isn’t a single label on the tablet’s face. Not a single button is visually marked, and even the Wacom logo is embossed. The tiny dots of color are actually indication LEDs. I find that brilliant: Since you will be touching the tablet all the time, any ink markings might wear off. Not using any labels ensures the tablet always looks at its best.

There are markings though, as you can see above: These are tactile bumps on key buttons. Like the primary work surface, the buttons are pressure-sensitive: Rest your finger lightly on a button, and a semi-transparent on-screen legend pops up. Apply a bit more pressure, and the button will activate. The on-screen legend is brilliant, because you don’t have to take your eyes off the screen to find the button you are looking for.

legend   Wacom Intuos5 touch Small Pen Tablet Review and Giveaway

Operation and Customization

The very first thing you should know about working with the Intuos5 is that it supports both pen and touch input, and that it is actually multi-touch. So if you think Apple’s Magic Trackpad is cool, you should really look at what the Intuos5 can do. It’s like a huge Magic Trackpad on steroids, with state-of-the-art pen support. It’s all customizable, too:

legend4   Wacom Intuos5 touch Small Pen Tablet Review and Giveaway

Pressing the Settings button on the tablet pops up a full-screen overlay showing all current settings at a glance, and allowing you to change anything you need. For example, to re-bind one of the action buttons, just move the mouse cursor over to it and tap (or click):

legend8   Wacom Intuos5 touch Small Pen Tablet Review and Giveaway

This will pop open the Wacom Tablet Properties dialog, which has a more sedate interface. This is where all the action happens:

legend12   Wacom Intuos5 touch Small Pen Tablet Review and Giveaway

This powerful dialog lets you change every aspect of the tablet’s behavior. You can freely remap buttons, assigning them with tablet-related actions or arbitrary keystrokes as you see fit. Not only that, but you can tweak and change the tablet’s settings for each individual app you use. For example, one app may use Tab to hide all toolbars, while another may use Escape. With the Wacom Tablet Properties dialog, you can have the same physical tablet button send two different keystrokes, depending on the application you are currently using.

Being left handed, one of the most important settings for me is the left-handed mode: This makes a big difference, because it lets you turn the tablet around so that the buttons are on the right side (for pressing with you right hand), and the work area is on the left, making drawing natural and avoiding accidental button presses. Another important feature of per-app settings is that you can limit the active area:

wacom   Wacom Intuos5 touch Small Pen Tablet Review and Giveaway

If you have a large desktop work area, being able to constrain the pen to just one window or even one part of the window can help you draw more accurately. Then again, if the tablet itself is too large for you (unlikely on the Small model), you can limit its active surface area.

Wacom didn’t skimp on the multi-touch gestures, and they are numerous:

legend1   Wacom Intuos5 touch Small Pen Tablet Review and Giveaway

The Standard Gestures tab shows the default gestures, with an animated display that rotates between the different gestures, demonstrating them with simple animations. It’s all here: Rotating, zooming, scrolling, and swiping with multiple fingers. The four-finger swipe is interesting: It triggers Windows’ built-in Alt-Tab dialog, letting you swipe between all active windows. It is easy to use because you don’t have to keep your fingers down: You can let go of the tablet, then swipe again to switch to the next app, and so on.

Living With the Wacom Intuos5

wacom13   Wacom Intuos5 touch Small Pen Tablet Review and Giveaway

The Intuos5 is a precision instrument. While theoretically portable, I wouldn’t just chuck it in a laptop bag with no protection. It doesn’t come with a case, but Wacom does offer a case for it at $25. Also, being a pen tablet, it makes some assumptions about the way you work: For example, you are really supposed to use it with a desk. If you work with a laptop on a bed, or have a custom workstation that doesn’t have a desk, you are not the user Wacom had in mind when they designed the tablet. I built a shelf just for the Intuos5, which you can see above. That makes it easy to store, but doesn’t help me when using it: I can use it by propping it on my lap, but when I need to work with my keyboard in parallel, things start getting awkward. Even the Small model has a sizable footprint, so expect to dedicate some desk space to the Intuos5.

Another thing to consider is the pen and holder combo: Both pen and holder are finely made, but are not military-grade robust. In other words, if you have cats (I have three), don’t expect to just leave the pen in its holder on your desk or shelf. A curious cat can easily overturn the holder, causing the pen to tumble out, perhaps to the floor. At $70 just for the pen, this is not an accessory you want to absent-mindedly run over with your chair.

At the end of the day, a pen tablet is just an accessory: It’s like a mouse, but much, much fancier. So, just like some applications work great with mice (Web browsers) and others don’t make such great use of them (word processors), the same is true for pen tablets: If you’re mainly creating vector graphics using CorelDRAW or Adobe Illustrator, you may not get so much mileage out of the Intuos5. But if you use something like Photoshop or Corel Painter to retouch photos, paint with natural media or do other raster work, a high-quality pen tablet makes a big difference even if you’re not a pro (and certainly when you are).

Should You Buy It?

If you have the money, my answer would be an unequivocal yes. I was very impressed with the Intuos5 as a device, in terms of hardware design, human engineering, and bundled customization software. That said, it will not make you an artist overnight, and you do need to set up your workspace so you can easily use it and make sure no harm comes to it. If you are serious about creating digital art, the Intuos5 can take you far.

How do I win the Wacom Intuos5 touch Small Pen Tablet?

It’s simple, just follow the instructions.

Step 1: Fill in the giveaway form

Please fill in the form with your real name and email address so that we can get in touch if you are chosen as a winner. Click here if you can’t view the form.

The giveaway code required to activate the form is available from our Facebook page, our Twitter stream and Google+ page.

giveawaycodes   Wacom Intuos5 touch Small Pen Tablet Review and Giveaway

The giveaway is over. Congratulations, Andy Monroe!

Step 2: Share!

You’re almost done. Now, all that’s left to do is to share the post!

Like it

Tweet it

+1 on Google

This giveaway begins now and ends Friday, June 15th. The winners will be selected at random and informed via email.

Spread the word to your friends and have fun!

Interested in sponsoring a giveaway? We’d love to hear from you. Get in touch with us via the form at the bottom of this page.

Ads by Google

The comments were closed because the article is more than 180 days old.

If you have any questions related to what's mentioned in the article or need help with any computer issue, ask it on MakeUseOf Answers—We and our community will be more than happy to help.

234 Comments -

Tom Bogan

I have a Bamboo and I like it because of the size. It is basically a mouse replacement, but for the money, and expense, I find it OK, but next time out I will go for the 5.

Jana

I’m looking to try and convince my boss to get me one of these for work. I think I’m more likely to be successful if it’s the cheaper (ie small) model. From one of your screenshots it looks like you have a dual screen set up. How do you find using the small with your dual screens?

Erez Zukerman

Oh, it’s not a problem at all. The tablet itself is sensitive enough, but if I really want to work on a single app, I can just open the tablet’s Options dialog and restrict its range of motion. This way, I basically “lock” it into a single window, or even a specific area within that window (say, just the drawing canvas).

Jana

Thanks, that’s really helpful. :)

kaushmc

wow….congratz….

Quebec Twosix

yes please …. this should make a wonderful tool to replace a mouse, whilst offering so much more … thank you

Mila Kun

Has there been any problem in selecting the winner? I was so excited about this…

Jackson Chung

Sorry all, Andy was selected as the winner and we’re just finalising the details and he’ll be enjoying his brand new Wacom tablet very soon!

Ronald Smith

You mean the Reverend? Congrats to him, but I hope he realizes that it’s a graphics tablet, for drawing, and not a tablet computer. Seems a lot of people entered and didn’t even bother to pay attention to the article or even look up the product online somewhere (like newegg/wacom.com), and thought it was a tablet computer instead. Hopefully it will prove to be a useful tool for his ministry (so long as it’s God-based, lol) :)

Ronald Smith

Wait, I’m confused now (not about the giveaway, lol). For some reason it appears I’d been entering using my Twitter account (I think?) but now it’s finally letting me do so using my Facebook account. This is so confusing and weird and I don’t like it… o.O

Ronald Smith

Well, now I’m not sure exactly. What’s causing the confusion, is that previously when I’d comment, it would show my user pic that’s on my Twitter account. The last comments ( the 2 directly above this one I’m currently typing) had shown up with my Facebook page’s user pic, but this is where it really gets weird. Today, they’re changed to the other user pic. Also, I think that my Twitter and Facebook accounts are both tied together on my account on here, because my profile info shows all of my posts, all the way back to my very first on this site, ever. I think I’ve figured it out, but boy howdy can that Disqus thing get confusing! lol

Tina

Ronald,

Did you log into MakeUseOf using your Facebook account instead of your Twitter account maybe?

Saikat Basu

The winner should have been selected. Just two days have gone by. Expect to see the announcement at the top of the page soon. Don’t worry :)

Cristina TorrĂŁo

Sorry, but the winner shouldn’t have been selected on June 15th? A month has already passed… not knowing is killing me!

Mila Kun

EXACTLY. I’d like to know, even if I wasn’t the lucky one :)

Tina

Well, apologies for the massive delay! The winner has now been selected, it is Andy Monroe.

Ronald Smith

One day we might see the result. Personally, after a whole extra month went by, I gave up looking every day and just decided I’ll keep the tab open and look once in awhile. Not really expecting to see anything any time soon either, to be honest. I also have all but completely given up even bothering to enter any of their other giveaways because this is at least #3 this year where nobody’s been announced as the winner, even months later.

Donna B

Was a winner announced? Thanks

Tina

Donna,

The winner has not been announced, yet. It should be soon and you will find the name in the top of this article.

emme

But has it been selected, at least? :/

DonnaB

Thanks! I thought the contest was over already! I will look

Emme

Has the winner been selected yet? thankss!

Tina

Should have! Will see whether we can post the name, yet.

Kim Paula Guess

I love to have this pen tablet. I never had one. Great that you have a lot of giveaways! There’s still a chance for me to join other giveaways! :)

Alex Shen

has the winner been announced yet?

Tina

Alex,

The winner will be announced shortly. The article will be updated accordingly. You will see an announcement box in the top area of the article.

zug

Hopefully not to late.

Load 10 more