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What brand of tablets, other than Wacom, should I include?

Trust 0.1294363256785 12.9% [ 62 ]
Aiptek 0.081419624217119 8.1% [ 39 ]
Digipro/UC Logic 0.091858037578288 9.2% [ 44 ]
Genius 0.32985386221294 33.0% [ 158 ]
Calcomp 0.039665970772443 4.0% [ 19 ]
Other (Please Specify) 0.32776617954071 32.8% [ 157 ]
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The Official Tablet Discussion Thread!

In a nutshell, a tablet is a pen version of a mouse. You slide your pen across a plastic surface, which is picked up by your computer, and it moves the mouse. Basically, it's like emulating using pen and paper, since tablets even pick up how hard or light you push.

This thread is for people who are interested in purchasing a tablet, want to talk about certain brands of tablets (new or old), or people who are troubleshooting. If you want to discuss tablets, then you've come to the right place. As well as that, you'll find a list of compiled tablet reviews in later posts. Please check them out, because there is a lot of information you can get from reading them.

"A graphics tablet (or digitizing tablet, graphics pad, drawing tablet) is a computer input device that allows one to hand-draw images and graphics, similar to the way one draws images with a pencil and paper. These tablets may also be used to capture data of handwritten signatures.

A graphics tablet (also called pen pad) consists of a flat surface upon which the user may "draw" an image using an attached stylus, a pen-like drawing apparatus. The image generally does not appear on the tablet itself but, rather, is displayed on the computer monitor.

Some tablets are intended as a general replacement for a mouse as the primary pointing and navigation device for desktop computers."

READ THE FAQ BEFORE POSTING, YOUR QUESTION COULD BE IN THERE!

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Popular Tablets

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Wacom Graphire BT
$249.00

"The Graphire pen tablet gives you the control you need to quickly and easily edit your digital photos. Draw, paint, and create fun artwork for scrapbooks, craft projects, and slide shows. Mark up documents, sign your name, sketch quick diagrams, and use handwriting to compose emails. Get the control of the Graphire and join million of satisfied Wacom tablet users.

With your purchase of any Graphire tablet, you'll get valuable art and photo editing software, including Adobe® Photoshop® Elements 3 to help you edit photos, Nik® Color Efex Pro™ 2 GE to help you selectively add creative color effects and filters to any photo, and Corel® Painter™ Essentials 2 to help you create unique artwork from your digital photos.

Graphire works great with any software your mouse does, and it runs on both PCs and Macs. Also, you can use a Graphire pen to unleash new functionality designed for pen tablets within Windows Vista™ like personal note taking, email signing, handwriting recognition, handwritten emails, and pen flick navigation."

Basically, the Graphire is the predecessor of the Bamboo. It's like an older model, except they changed its name. In fact, this is almost proved by the fact that Wacom no longer shows it on its website, when you look for tablets.

However, it's not bad. You get 512 levels of sensitivity and a large area to work on. But, it's likely that the price will lower, as Wacom completely rids itself of the Graphire line.

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Wacom Bamboo Fun
$99.00 for a Small, $199.00 for a Medium

“Bamboo is a new category of pen tablets that help everyday people convey their ideas more clearly. With the natural feel of pen-on-paper, Bamboo and Bamboo Fun plug into your computer and make it quick and easy for you to get your point across.

Whether you're preparing a slide presentation or making a unique collage of your favorite photos, Wacom's newest line of pen tablets gives you more control with patented pen technology that puts the ability to personalize your work right in your hands."

The Bamboo Fun is an extremely popular tablet, due to it’s low price and useful features. This tablet is preferred by many professionals and basically anyone on a budget. It has anything you would need to create decent art, including Photoshop Elements and Corel Painter Essentials.

Honestly, if you ask about tablets, the very first thing people will mention is the Bamboo. This is basically because so many people start with this. But, really, if you have the money, it's not necessary. If you are unafraid of wasting your money, then try a tablet with more features. Just because you are a beginner does not mean that you are bound to this choice, however it is a good option for people with a tight budget or who are afraid they won't like using a tablet.

Along with the Bamboo Fun, there is the regular Bamboo (Which has all the features of a bamboo, but a different design and no programs, the Bamboo Touch (A touch only tablet with no stylus), the Bamboo Craft (Smaller than the Fun), and the Bamboo Pen (Has lower pressure sensitivity and only comes with Corel Painter Essentials). As of late, the Bamboo line has also had an increase of pressure sensitivity, from 512 to 1024, making it on par with the Intuos3. So, beware when buying an older Bamboo.


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Wacom Intuos
$229 - $789
"Intuos4 redefines the Intuos pen tablet experience, thanks to a new design and new features inspired by members of our professional creative community.

The shape and surface alike have been completely re-engineered to enable ergonomic, consistent strokes, even over long periods of time. Available in four different wide-format sizes, S, M, L, XL, you can pick the perfect size to fit your specific working style and workflow needs.

Go with the flow. Workflow, that is. An all new professional tablet, Intuos4 takes into consideration the many aspects of a professional's workflow, software integration points, and equal demand for both performance and comfort.

Innovation in every detail. That's Intuos4. Whether it's the new Wacom Tip Sensor that lets you capture every nuance of a stroke, the new precision mode, or the added levels of pressure sensitivity to dynamically adjust exposure, brush size, line weight, and opacity, Intuos4 promises to exceed your every expectation."


Intuos is a very professional tablet, used by many to create high quality art. With more levels of sensitivity than you’ll ever need, this tablet has everything for you to create masterpieces. It comes with Photoshop Elements 7, Autodesk Sketchbook Express 2010, and Corel Painter Sketchpad. The Intuos has 2048 levels of pressure sensitivity, double what the Bamboo line has. It also includes more express keys, tilt sensitivity, and various pens. (Like the airbrush and ink pen)

All in all, this is an excellent tablet that won't disappoint.

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Wacom Cintiq
$999 - $2,599

"The combination of a color LCD and industry-leading pen input capabilities allows photographers, designers, animators and other creative professionals to work naturally and intuitively, while working directly on the surface of the large-format 21.3" screen.

The new Cintiq 21UX detects 2048 levels of pressure, which gives you even more control over pressure-sensitive pen effects, such as line weight, opacity, and exposure. With Wacom's new Tip Sensor, the pen now features a lower activation force that captures even the most subtle nuances of pressure.

The ambidextrous design of the second generation Cintiq 21UX features a pair of rear-mounted Touch Strips, along with accompanying Touch Strip Toggle Buttons. In this manner, you'll gain instant control of up to four application-specific functions on each Touch Strip, such as brush size, zooming, scrolling and canvas rotation. Sixteen ExpressKeys™ (eight on either side of the display) boost productivity by providing quick access to keyboard shortcuts and modifier keys.

Wacom is committed to developing technology to meet the needs of specific professions and industries that benefit from working with a pen directly on screen."

If you get a Cintiq, you're probably serious about art. These are not meant for beginners or people with doubts. While looking down at the screen seems tempting, it is not worth it. The Cintiq is a huge responsibility and it is a big step, even, from the Intuos to that.

Cintiq is a very, very old line. One that has only gotten better with age. It is well worth the price, for those who have a love for tablets and art.

If you're interested in the Cintiq, also try looking for Tablet PCs.
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Frequently Asked Questions

Questions List
Is <Insert Tablet Here> good? - Q000
What’s the difference between a tablet and a mouse? - Q111
What does drawing with a tablet feel like? - Q222
Is it hard to draw with a tablet? - Q333
How do I get better at using my tablet? - Q444
When I draw with a tablet, the lines are really shaky. How can I fix this? - Q555
Does a certain tablet affect the quality of the artwork? - Q666
Is one tablet easier to use than the other? - Q777
Should I get a larger tablet? - Q888
Do I need a special tablet because of my monitor size? - Q999
What is the "active area" of a tablet? - Q100
I hear you look straight down at the screen with a Cintiq. Is it better/easier than other tablets? - Q110
What's a Tablet PC? - Q120
What are some good programs to use with my tablet? - Q130
What is a 'nib'? - Q140
What is a tablet driver? - Q150
Are there any special add ons or requirements that I need, in order to use a tablet? - Q160
Are tablets Mac/Laptop - compatible? - Q170
What tablet should I get? - Q180
I’m poor and can’t afford a tablet! - Q190

Press CTRL + F and type in the key name (ie Q111) to go to that question.


Is <Insert Tablet Here> good?Q000
It probably is.

Odds are, the tablet you chose is one that many people use. Take a look at the reviews before asking what people think of it, because, odds are, many have already stated their opinion on that tablet.

What’s the difference between a tablet and a mouse?Q111
If you’ve ever tried to draw with a mouse before, the answer is pretty obvious. It’s extremely hard, for most people, unless you’re using the pen tool. (Even then, it’s still tough.)

Basically, the goal of a tablet is to simulate drawing traditionally. A tablet is very similar to using a pencil, making it much easier than using a mouse. A mouse is pretty much nothing at all like a pencil, which makes it harder for people.

What does drawing with a tablet feel like?Q222
This is basically using a tablet in a nutshell. You move the stylus (Which looks like a pen, and pretty much is.) over the tablet and it moves the cursor. When you press down on the tablet, it’s like clicking.

There are also two modes within this. There’s the mouse mode, where it moves just like a mouse. Then, there is pen mode, where it the tablet is more like the screen. For example, if you move your stylus to the top left corner of the tablet, the cursor will move there, as well, no matter where it was before.

Is it hard to draw with a tablet?Q333
In the beginning, it is kind of hard. Most people have issues drawing a straight line. The learning curve is pretty steep, but practice will fix it.

This varies from person to person, but most people will get used to it after a week or two. After you get used to it, then drawing is pretty easy.

How do I get better at using my tablet?Q444
Just keep using it. That's all there is to it. Use your tablet for anything and everything. Get familiar with it. A tablet is just like any other piece of art equipment. You need to keep at it to get better.

When I draw with a tablet, the lines are really shaky. How can I fix this?Q555
If you're new to using a tablet, it's natural and you just need to keep practicing.

If you've been using your tablet for a while now, then you need to work with a bigger canvas. Then scale it down. Make sure to zoom in, as well. Using shorter strokes can also help, but you don't need to force yourself to, if you draw differently.

Does a certain tablet affect the quality of the artwork?Q666
No, it does not! You can get the same drawing by using the Bamboo Fun that you can with the Intuos. You just have to be able to draw the picture in the first place.

Is one tablet easier to use than the other?Q777
Tablets are more or less the same thing. So, not really. All in all, a monkey could operate a tablet, it's just like a mouse. They all have the same concept with a stylus on a surface, so you're not going to have a better time, regardless. There isn't any confusing trick to using it, you just pick up the pen and get working.

Only things like battery life (if any), lifespan, and pressure sensitivity are going to matter. Those are just some examples. Those are more focused on the quality of the product, not the actually ease of use.

Should I get a larger tablet?Q888
For most people, the answer is no. However, if you draw with your whole arm, then you need a larger one. If you draw with your wrist, then you will be fine with a smaller one.

Do I need a special tablet because of my monitor size?Q999
A tablet is like a mouse. It just moves along the screen. Regardless of the size of the tablet, it will work on the monitor. If you move your stylus to the corner of your tablet, the cursor will appear in the corner of the screen. However, if you're still worried, you can adjust the size of the active area of your tablet so that it will be in the same shape as your screen.

What is the "active area" of a tablet?Q100
It's exactly what it sounds like. It is the area that the stylus will work in. You can shrink it to whatever size you like. This will help if you have a big tablet but want to work in a small space.

I hear you look straight down at the screen with a Cintiq. Is it better/easier than other tablets?Q110
Most people will tell you that it is not better. Just because you’re looking down does not make it any better than the Intous or Bamboo. To be honest, the Cintiq is way more expensive and actually way older than some of the other tablets. You’re probably better off getting the Intuos, if you’ve got money to burn.

What's a Tablet PC?Q120
A tablet PC is basically a computer that allows you to touch the screen, instead of using a mouse. Basically, imagine a Nintendo DS and Laptop combined into one.

What are some good programs to use with my tablet?Q130
Most people prefer Photoshop. It’s a good program that most people use. If you’ve gotten a Wacom brand tablet (Excluding a couple, like the normal Bamboo), then it should have come with Photoshop Elements free, too.

Some other programs are Open Canvas, Manga Studio, Deleter Comicworks, Pixia, Corel Painter, Artrage, Project Dogwaffle, and Art Weaver. You can find more information about art programs here. Be warned that Gimp is not compatible with a Bamboo Fun, though.

What is a 'nib'?Q140
A nib is the plastic part on the tip of your stylus.

As time goes on, the nib will wear out. When it gets aggravating to use (There's no actually time limit), then use tweezers to remove it and replace it with a new one. If you run out of replacement nibs, you can generally find more on the website that you bought your tablet on.

What is a tablet driver?Q150
A driver is the software that controls the tablet, you could say. Basically, all you need to know is that it must be installed to keep your tablet working. The most up-to-date drivers can normally be found on the company's website. (The Wacom one is here.)

Are there any special add ons or requirements that I need, in order to use a tablet?Q160
A tablet is just like a mouse. It doesn't take much at all to run. If you have a USB port available, then you will be able to use it. It takes up minimal space and doesn't require much to run, so you should be fine.

Are tablets Mac/Laptop - compatible?Q170
Read question fifteen. (That's the one above this one.) A tablet can run with ANY computer, NO MATTER WHAT, as long as it has an available USB port .

What tablet should I get?Q180
This one is asked so often that it needs to be said..

Read the thread. Not only is there a list of good Wacom tablets, but there's even a list of reviews that you can refer to. As well as TONS of information on other tablets that you can find by browsing the pages.

I’m poor and can’t afford a tablet!Q190
Sucks for you?

I just thought I’d include that due to the number of people who feel the need to say they are jealous of people with tablets. If you’re really serious about art, then you should be ready to shell out some cash for it.


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Pro's and Cons

Please keep in mind, while reading this, that it is mostly directed toward Wacom tablets. Other brands of tablets may be different, so please be aware of this.

First, the good things about tablet. As stated in the FAQ, it is much easier to use a tablet for drawing than a mouse. Open up the digital art program of your choice and try to draw something with your mouse without the line tool. If you tried to do the same thing with a tablet, you'd notice that it's not as hard to control. In fact, it should be as easier as picking up a pencil and drawing on a piece of paper.

Another great thing about tablets is durability. Most people will agree that you get your money's worth when buying a tablet. They last years without breaking and mostly work like brand-new.

Tablets also look very sleek and are generally nice to look at. While this doesn't effect performance, it's still nice to look at a cool looking tablet than a big, ugly hunk of plastic.

A bad thing about a tablet is the price. Most tablets are no less than $80, which is still pretty expensive. More professional ones cost even more than that. So, if you don't have the money, you'll really have to save up to get one.

Tablets often get scratched, as well. While this may not always hinder your art, it may be distracting. So, make sure to treat your tablet right to get as little scratches and dents as possible. It can't really be helped, but abusing your tablet will make it worse.

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Here's some things. This is my set up and everything is to the models I do own!:

Family : Actual Owned Model
Price:
Pen Replacement Price:
<---Don't need if already posted especially for Wacoms.
Levels:
Usage:
<---Meant to be for levels of experience as in level usage but eh... go by and by as you will...
Pros:
Cons:


~*~


FYI: The only member of the Wacom family not listed is the Cintiq. I don't own one... yet. My review for this model: DO NOT BUY IT UNLESS YOU NEED IT!!! THIS IS FOR EXTREMELY SERIOUS USERS SUCH AS TEXTURE ARTISTS, ANIMATORS, CARTOONISTS/MANGA-KAS, ARCHITECTS AT A PROFESSIONAL OR TO BE PROFESSIONAL LEVEL!!! Seriously, the lowest price is the 12WX at $1K USD which is the mobile yet smaller one while the original one is at $2.5K USD. Greatest piece of machinery from I've heard from users, but the price tag is not a joke...

~*~


Wacom Intous3 : Intous3 Professional 6X8
Price: $329 USD
Pen Replacement Price: About $50 USD for Classic, $70 USD for the Grip (the type that the tablet comes with), $50 - $100 USD for the other models including AirBrush
Levels: 1024
Usage: For the more advance users and people on a closer to or at professional level. This is more towards more serious tablet users. For hobbyist, it's okay, but be ready to pay that good amount of money.
Pros: Very smooth plastic/rubber surface to work on that doesn't get scratched easily. Has 4 customizable buttons and a touch strip to move up/down or in/out on each side.
Cons: Weak cable protector. Over time if you move the cable about too much in the where the cable enters the tablet, the protector can open and the copper threading will start splitting; this will effect power to your tablet and may shock you if you touch it when it's connected. (I don't joke, I've been shocked quite a few times because of this. ) So take care of your cable! Also bad in very moist and hot areas for a long period of time, after a long period time the plastic can start to come off. (Fact: I live in Florida so I know full well, mine started to come off after a year or two in a corner so I just placed a bit of duct tape to keep it down. It works though. User Image ) Take care of it!

~*~


Wacom Graphire4 : Graphire4 4X5
Price: $80 - $100 USD Depending on your store (I got mine for about $80 at Best Buy.)
Pen Replacement Price: $29 USD
Levels: 512
Usage: Beginners, hobbyist to advance users.
Pros: Has a great protector that covers the top of your tablet and also a grip where you can place in your pen! Also you're able to remove the shield so you can put in pictures in there. Has a very strong plastic and carbon fiber cable protector so it'll be very well protected from being spitted.
Cons: Only has two buttons and a scroll. The type of scroll it has is a cylinder you have to roll to and fro. The shield can get scratched easily. And major scratches in the active area can effect your work or annoyance to a degree.

~*~


Wacom Bamboo Fun : Bamboo Fun Small
Price: $100 USD ( $80 USD for regular, do not get. Model is meant for the most basic users who only want to write not draw. Easy way to tell most of the time, Fun is silver, Regular is black.)
Pen Replacement Price: $30 USD
Levels: 512
Usage: Beginners, hobbyist to advance users.
Pros: Nice design. 4 customizable buttons and a very unique round touch scroll that the light can tell you if there's enough power, if it's in stand by or in usage. Thin as the Intous3, if not a bit more thinner. Dear god the cable can be detached! Yes it can be detached. The cable is quite common to find so if you need a longer extension or replacement you don't need to send it off to the state of Washington, you can go to the nearest Radio Shack, Best Buy, Tiger Direct, or any computer supply electronic store that sells USB cables. Note: One regular USB port and the other is the smaller version you can find on for digital cameras.
Cons: Same as the Graphire4. Surface can be scratched and major ones can hinder your work and annoyance. Take care of it. I abuse mine in my bag. User Image

~*~


That's it for now. I hope it helps anyone. I'll give a full review for the Cintiq the day I get it one day. heart

BTW, you've forgot the Graphire in the Wacom family, The family is now know as GraphireBT instead as the former Graphire4.
Using Espiritual's template, I'll give some feedback on my Tablet PC, since I'm one of the (relatively few) users of one of those around here...

Lenovo X60 T Penabled Tablet PC (upgraded)
Price: $2300 (no that's not a typo; standard it runs around $1800. Mine's had improvements made to processor, ram, battery and HD)
Levels: The exact number has been a bit of a mystery to me, but it should be and feels like 512 (same as my Graphire)
Usage: For people who take a lot of notes by hand, want to draw on-screen, want extreme portability, and have a very large budget for the thing.
Pros: The screen is basically a lower-sensitivity version of the Cintiq; so the tablet is built into the system and you actually draw on-screen. No need for extra parts. The pen stores inside the system, too, making it harder to use. It's fantastically portable, since I don't need to carry an extra tablet and have enough space for both. And because the screen is designed to be touched, it's actually cleanable and you don't have to worry about poking it and damaging the LCD components (there's a hard shield over the top).
Cons: The hinge on the screen (to allow it to flip) is a little touchy, and when the computer is in "slate mode," I can't access the keyboard for shortcuts. The sensitivity on the pen (particularly the eraser end) is a bit spongy. I haven't been able to fully calibrate the monitor, unfortunately, so it runs a little dark. IT IS VERY EXPENSIVE. And unless you're lucky enough to be able to get one with XP Tablet, you'll be stuck with Vista currently (I paid $20 extra to have XP installed on mine, since I bought it right at the launch of Vista).

A few caveats in general on Tablet PCs, too:

*Not all are pressure sensitive. If you're finding one that's "really cheap," it may not be pressure sensitive. Currently the only ones that can be guaranteed to be pressure sensitive (and therefore good for art) are the Penabled ones with components made by Wacom.

*They're fragile in general. They all have a single hinged joint in the center of the monitor instead of hinges all along the edges like a normal laptop. You need to be very kind to it, so if you're rough with your equipment, even if you have the money, don't buy one. It'll break.

If you've got the money for one, though, it's not a bad setup. I do like it. smile
Hopefully I can post now... (If not, just tell me.)

I own a graphire4 4x5, the blue version. I have to say, it's my baby. I've had it for over a year and a half now, and it still works amazingly. Though, I do have to agree with Espiritual: the casing does scratch. But I guess the scratches mine has taken are shallow, because it hasn't affected my art at all.

It does take a bit to get used to, but I swear, it's worth it.
It's a great tablet for any user to start with, and I would completely recommend it.
(Well, now I'd guess the Bamboo, but if you can't quite get a bamboo, try and find a Graphire.)
User Image

I'll be glad to add in mine as well. smile

Model: 9x12 Wacom Intous
Price: $400-450
Levels: 1,024
Usage: Great for professional grade digital work.
Pros: Wacom makes an excellent product, its precise and works well. The large size is good for artists who need an exaggerated or large stroke size. The quick key options are handy and can be customized for whatever options you need.
Cons: Cost. Any tablet 9x12 or larger is going to be bulky and is not going to be something everyone is going to want to get. You really have to think about desk space and how you will use it because it is so large. Its hard to set it to one side and use it without a lot of desk space.

I can sit comfortably on the couch with the tablet in my lap and it works wonderfully. I wasn't nearly as comfortable working at my desk. I couldn't set the tablet to my left or right because of space so I'd tilt it in front of my keyboard, but it just seemed to be in the way.
Model: Graphire3 4x5
Price: replaced by the Graphire4, and now Bamboo, but could probably be bought cheap off ebay.
Levels: 512
Usage: Great for beginners.
Pros: Over the 4+ years I've had my tablet (can't believe I've had it that long ._. ) I have never once had a problem with it. The cable is completely undamaged and the pen is still working perfectly.
Cons: The plastic face of the tablet scratches easily. Mine has lost its lustre from so many small scratches (still works fine, despite that). And while the tablet is great for beginners, the size begins to become a problem once you're comfortable with using a tablet. If I had the money I would prefer a 6x8 tablet over 4x5, so as to get more natural strokes on it.
Model: Cintiq 20WSX
Price: Not cheap at $1999.
Levels: 1,024
Usage: Amazing for those people who just can't get comfortable with the displacement between drawing on a regular tablet and looking at the screen.
Pros: This tablet makes drawing feel incredibly natural. I've been using a regular tablet to draw for eight or nine years and never got the hang of it completely... I could color in scanned artwork, but could never really draw right on the computer. Now I can. And it doubles as another monitor, so while you can have your zoomed-in drawing on the Cintiq, you can have a full-view of the image on your monitor at the same time. It angles from almost completely flat to a 65 degree incline and can be rotated 180 degrees in either direction.
Cons: This sucker is huge and heavy. Not even the largest Cintiq available, it takes up 21.6" x 14.5" of your desk space. It's also not your regular easy install, plug and play tablet. It took me over a week to get everything set up and plugged in with all of the drivers and monitors configured correctly, especially since I'd previously had two computers hooked up to one monitor. In the end, hooking both computers up to both monitors proved impossible and I had to ditch one. And, at 20lbs, it's not moving far once you've got it hooked up. Oh, and the price is extortionate... but you do get what you pay for, in this case.
Well, you can scratch my previous post. About an hour after posting my tablet started its death throes (figures, eh?). But 4+ years of working fine isn't too bad. Now it's just a matter of getting money and deciding if I'm serious enough to warrant getting an Intous or if I should spring for one of the larger Bamboos instead. (if only I had money for the Cintiq xd )
I have a question. Ive been debating with myself on getting a tablet for over 2 years now, and now I have a job, so I can get one. But I don't have photoshop, or open canvas, but GIMP. Does the normal Wacom Bamboo work on GIMP, or do neither of them?
Yup, that it does. Though I recommend getting the Bamboo Fun instead of regular Bamboo, since the Fun comes with Photoshop Elements 5 and Corel Painter Essentials. The regular Bamboo has no bundled software, and is geared more toward people who want to write with a tablet, whereas the Fun is geared toward artists 3nodding

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