Review: Wacom Bamboo Brings The Tablet To PC With Apps, Multi-Touch & Pen Control

Written by Matthew Lentini     20/09/2011 | 07:15 | Category name i.e.ACCESSORIES

Wacom's latest graphics tablet is a user- (and even kid-friendly), fun and functional device with enough value-add software to make you turn your PC into a tablet.

Wacom has taken its decades of experience in making graphics tablets, taken it out of design industry hands and thrown the technology into the hands of the average consumer with the Bamboo Pen & Touch.

With the wide proliferation of tablets and touchscreen phones before them on the back of tech giants like Apple, the idea of pinch zoom and multi-finger swiping is ubiquitous enough for anyone to jump in and play with the Bamboo. Wacom has taken those outside of this loop of ubiquity into consideration though, and an interactive tutorial that blends audio, text and demonstrated examples quickly kick-starts users into using the product.

What you've got is a wide but flat and light tablet that plugs straight into a PC via USB, measuring up to 248 x 176 x 8.5 mm. In the middle of the slate sits a touch-sensitive pad that supports multiple-finger touch for all manner of gesture controls like swiping across pages, navigating web pages, zooming into pictures and the like. There's also a battery-free stylus for pen control. This pen houses a pressure sensitive nib, a dual-button at the fingertip and an 'eraser' backing.

The unit is a quality build that's light and plastic yet feels rigid and strong. The four 'ExpressKeys,' programmable buttons that double-up on functions like clicking, right-clicking and quick-launching apps, are fitted firmly into the tablet, separated in the middle by a context-sensitive LED. Around the edges sits a generally superfluous dark grey border, and icing the aesthetic cake is a red 'Wacom' tag that hangs off the edge. It cuts into the sleek, polished black-on-black veneer but stylishly so.

The touchpad sits at a 16:10 format that replicates your computer screen. By this I mean that if you were to touch any corner of the touchpad, the on-screen cursor would immediately pop up on the respective corner of your monitor. And the touchpad is very sensitive, making it perfect for drawing applications, though the touchpad size could have been increased to make it easier, especially since there's so much room on the device given to blank, grey space.

The clever tech senses when the pen is near the surface, and hovering the pen over the pad still moves the cursor. While the pen is near, finger touch control is deactivated, but once away your fingers can go back to work. Incorporated into the software of the device is multi-touch gesture support for swiping through images, across web pages, back and forth through web history, rotating images, etc. It incorporates into existing operating system touch software like Windows 7 controls. For example, swiping multiple fingers upward on Windows 7 computers brings up the 3D window-select panels of Windows Explorer.

The real value-add comes from the extensive list of software that comes bundled with the device, including Adobe's photo editing software, Photoshop Elements 9. There's also the Bamboo Dock which sits on your desktop like a typical widget and holds around 25 preloaded apps, from Flash-like games to utilities, all customised for the Bamboo tablet. More can be downloaded through the Dock or through the attached website, with future apps being developed. For tablet users or anyone with an Android device or iPhone, the layout will be very familiar and welcoming.

There's also the Ink-Squared Deluxe software that creates a canvas on your desktop. On either a blank canvas or overlaying a transparent layer onto the computer screen, users can draw or take notes on what they see on the screen and save screengrabs. Whether it be drawing a route on Google Maps or circling pictures and links, it's up to the user in finding the value of this feature depending on what they use it for.

It wouldn't be practical to use this tablet as a complete mouse replacement, though it does have some very practical applications. And even if you're using it for fun, there are plenty of thrown in additives to make it worth to buy, whether you're teaching your children to write or you're looking to get creative on an affordable graphics tablet.

Top Ranked Reviews

  • Review: LG G Pad 10.1 Tablet Has Nifty Features But Is Mid-Range

    Review: LG G Pad 10.1 Tablet Has Nifty Features But Is Mid-Range

    LG's latest tablet, the G Pad 10.1, delivers a range of new features in a mid-range package that brings a solid brand name and experience to those willing to spend a little more than rock bottom prices for a much better tablet experience.
    Product Rating 3

  • Review: HTC's One Mini 2, A Great Android Smartphone

    Review: HTC's One Mini 2, A Great Android Smartphone

    With smartphones going extra big, it's great to see a powerful, premium-styled smartphone in a smaller configuration from a top brand name that's smooth and comfortable in your hand.
    Product Rating 4

  • Review: Marley's Liberate XLBT Bluetooth Headset

    Review: Marley's Liberate XLBT Bluetooth Headset

    The House of Marley has produced a quality on-ear Bluetooth headset with controls with included optional connection cord, taking the best of the wired Liberate XL headset and making it better!
    Product Rating 4

  • Review: Marley Liberate BT Bluetooth Speaker With Mic

    Review: Marley Liberate BT Bluetooth Speaker With Mic

    A new portable Bluetooth speaker with 8 hours of rechargeable battery life, stylish "industrial" design, Bob Marley branding and a hidden mic for handsfree calls has arrived to stir things up a bit.
    Product Rating 4

  • Review: Fitbit Flex Wearable Fitness Tracker

    Review: Fitbit Flex Wearable Fitness Tracker

    Testing Fitbit's wrist-band wearable fitness tracker over the past couple of weeks has been an interesting experiment that sees me wanting to continue the tracking and reaching the daily 10,000 steps goal - but I wish it also told the time.
    Product Rating 4

Pros & Cons


Mac and Windows support integrates into existing touch controls; comes with a good range of software including Adobe Photoshop Elements; has its own apps


No wireless version; impractical to use as a complete replacement to mouse; touch-space is small compared to size of whole unit