When I first encountered the new Intuos4 tablet from Wacom, I was immediately blown away by its new design. The new ambidextrous layout has all of the controls on one side of the tablet, making it easier to use all the features. This is possible with the detachable USB cord and dual ports, which allows you to turn the tablet 180˚ for left- or right-handed use. Another stellar new feature is the LED labels for the ExpressKeys. Previous models had ExpressKeys but it was impossible to remember what they were programmed to do. With the new LEDs, you can see exactly what’s programmed, and it even changes when you switch between applications.

Another new feature is the Touch Ring. Like the ExpressKeys, the Touch Ring can be programmed to zoom and scroll, change your brush size in Photoshop, or as a scrubber wheel if you edit video. The real beauty of a device like this is that it’s completely customizable. (One feature I’d like to see added is the ability to save ExpressKey and Touch Ring settings as a preset to use on multiple computers or share with other users.)wacom-intuos4

The Grip Pen has been updated with new Tip Sensor technology that allows near-zero grams of starting pressure and delivers 2,048 levels of pressure (double the 1,024 levels of the previous generation), giving you smoother, more precise strokes. The new weighted pen stand doubles as a twist-off storage compartment for replacement nibs and a nib-removal tool. The tablet also comes with a newly redesigned wireless, battery-free mouse that’s much more precise than previous models. This new line of tablets comes in small, medium, large, and extra large sizes, though the small version doesn’t have the LED displays.

The new features make this tablet one of the best technology updates I’ve seen in a while. Veteran users and curious newbies will feel the same once they try it for themselves.

—Corey Barker

Company: Wacom
Price: Small: $229; medium: $349; large: $469; extra large: $789
Web: www.wacom.com
Rating: 5
Hot: LED ExpressKeys; Touch Ring; ambidextrous design; twice the pressure sensitivity
Not: –