Wacom Bamboo Capture CTH-470M Review
The Wacom Bamboo Capture CTH-470M is a small format pen and touch tablet specifically designed for the digital photo enthusiast. The pressure sensitive pen gives you precise control for your digital photo editing creativity. Four ExpressKeys give you quick shortcuts to your most frequently used commands. Included in the box is a full version of Photoshop Elements and Nik Color Filters to help you get started quickly. Use the pen combined with Multi-finger touch gestures to work efficiently and with precise control.
The Bamboo Capture is part of a new series of artist-focused pen-input tablets, which includes two other models, the Bamboo Connect and the Bamboo Create. Each model is geared toward a different form of productivity. The Bamboo Create is a traditional artists' tablet for drawing and sketching. The Bamboo Connect, meanwhile, is more for business users, allowing them to mark up documents and make notes.
Wacom bills the Bamboo Capture as a photo-editing tool. Although the Capture is basically the same hardware product as the Connect, it includes Adobe Photoshop Elements.
The Bamboo Capture and its Bamboo siblings work not just as stylus-based tablets, but also as mice. You can also use the Bamboo Capture to manipulate your work with your fingers via multi-touch gestures, much like you would on an Apple iPad. But this graphics tablet isn't all business; it also will provide endless hours of fun and creative satisfaction to digital artists.
The design of the Bamboo Capture is sleek. The tablet comes with an ergonomic pen, an attached penholder and also 2 programmable switches. This device works for right- handed as well as left-handed users. The tablet’s measurements are 0.4″ x 10.9″ x 6.9″. The Bamboo Capture weighs around 2 pounds.
On the left side of the tablet, you'll find four large, square buttons, called Express Keys. They are programmable, though in default mode they perform left and right clicks, as well as two other functions. One of those is Touch Toggle, which switches the Bamboo tablet between its pen and mouse functions. The other default button setting launches the Bamboo Dock, the program’s main menu. It contains apps, tools, settings menus, and the access to the button customization.
You can tell whether the tablet’s ready for action when a thin blue light next to the buttons illuminates. It lights up blue (when in pen-and-fingers mode) or white (in pen-only mode) whenever you are drawing or scrolling. The Bamboo provides no physical, tactile feedback (like an audible click) as you use it, though.
Aside from the tablet, you'll also find a driver CD (for Windows and Mac users), as well as a Windows-only application CD, a small stand for the stylus and a standard USB cable for connection and power.
While the Bamboo Capture does work under Mac OS X, it's designed with Windows Vista in mind; the application suite provided is Windows-only, and there's a series of navigation and shortcut commands available under Vista.
The Bamboo Capture detects the pen well before it touches the tablet itself - the included tutorial suggests it's around 3mm from the surface of the tablet. As such, you can use it for mousing by waggling it around like a magic wand.
Given the Bamboo Capture's stated purpose is to enable pen-based computing, it was assessed on two fronts. Firstly, for people who will buy a tablet so that they can doodle. The Bamboo worked quite well for the amateur doodles, and was a great hit with a younger crowd who couldn't easily manage a mouse for drawing. One concern with using it as a strict drawing tablet is that the scribing area is quite small, which can make accurate lengthy pen strokes a little tricky.
Then there's the navigation aspect; the idea that the Bamboo will replace your normal computing tasks that would otherwise fall to mousing and keyboard shortcuts.
It took some time to get used to the fact that the Bamboo's tiny input area represents the entire display screen in an absolute sense. As such, you don't have to scroll to a given area -- you can just lift and point, and the cursor will appear there. The navigation buttons - both on the Bamboo and the pen itself -- do add functionality to the user experience, and you can solidly see it being a boon for those with mobility issues who may not be able to use a mouse or keyboard.
The touch ring is nicely responsive, but it's ultimately not that different to using the same kind of navigation aids built into the touchpads of many laptop PCs. Learning to effectively use the Bamboo takes quite a bit of time, and it's time that you'll be well aware could be spent navigating just as quickly in the regular mouse way. The 3mm reception gap also makes some small selection jobs quite tricky.
Overall, the Wacom Bamboo Capture CTH-470M is a smartly designed, fun-to-use tablet that will please doodlers and photo-imaging pros alike. The software bundle alone is worth much of the price.
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