WACOM is no doubt the champion when it comes to high end tablet devices and when you hear someone mention the Graphire series you know you’re in for a treat. The Graphire series of tablets available from WACOM are serious enough for professional graphic artists who use them on a day to day basis thus need to not only promise but also deliver the performance expected from a high end pen tablet.
“Founded in 1983, Wacom has established itself as the leader in the world market for pen tablets and a pioneer in the development of the pen as a computer input device. This success has evolved from a more fundamental and original vision in Wacom to make our computing environment more natural, so the power of computer technology can be used more flexibly, and for a wider variety of applications. In short, to create harmony between the user and his technical environment.”
As usual, WACOM likes to throw in additional software to enhance as well as enrich the user experience. The Graphire4 Studio comes packed with nik Color Efex Pro 2.0 which is a plug-in for Adobe Photoshop, Photoshop Elements (2 CDs in our package in different languages), the driver and tablet software, a quick start guide, the nik Color Efex Pro 2.0 quick reference guide and finally the tablet and pen. Unfortunately you don’t get a cool pen holder with this package. That’s a shame really as it usually provides quicker access to your pen than just having to clip it into the body of the tablet itself. You’ll see what we mean if you care to take a look at our previous pen tablet review the Graphire3.
- Dimensions (W x D x H): 208 x 203.8 x 17.8mm
- Active area: 127.6 x 92.8mm
- Cable length: 1.5m
- Weight: 500g approx
- Resolution: 2000dpi
- Accuracy: +/- 0.5mm
- Pressure levels: 512
- Maximum reading height: 5mm
- Interface: USB
- ExpressKeys: 2
- Tablet ExpressKeys Stroke: 1mm approx
- Dimensions (L x D): 137.8mm x 12.0mm
- Weight: 12g approx
- Side switch: 2
- Pressure levels: 512
As stated earlier no Graphire pen holder with the Graphire4 Studio at the same time as there being no mouse but putting that aside let’s take a look at what it has to offer. Compared to the Graphire3. WACOM has introduced what’s known as ExpressKeys as well as a scroll wheel on the tablet.
The ExpressKeys certainly make life much easier. They can be customized to perform certain actions or even assigned keystrokes. We managed to set one of them to Ctrl+Alt+Z being the “step backwardsEoption in Photoshop which really proved useful. The scroll wheel can be used to zoom or pan the image your working on or for documents you can just scroll. You can see the in picture above the slot made for the pen. The ExpressKeys press very nicely and are quite responsive as well as the scroll wheel which feels very smooth during operation yet you can feel each click as you scroll too.
As usual the top panel is removable via the clips located on the underside of the tablet. This can be used for situations where you wish to trace an image for example.
The overall design of the tablet hasn’t changed drastically from the G4’s predecessor however it is more sleek and certainly more appealing. The silver finish of this particular device makes the tablet look more professional. The same can be said about the pen too which contains 2 side buttons which are also customizable as they always have been.
Adding to the pleasing design this new series presents, a new way to showcase that status light has been thought of and it’s floating right in that translucent plastic. The LED changes from blue to green once the pen is active on the tablet. This new floating light certainly looks fantastic.
Using the device doesn’t really present many problems however we do feel the cable length is a little cheap here. 1.5meters isn’t really what we would see as adequate. Picture yourself with a very large monitor that you perhaps work on a lot. You just can’t sit up close to it if you plan to creating or editing images. It would have been nice to sit further back or be able to place the tablet on different workstation setups. The pen is very responsive and extremely accurate when in use and the rubber grip is great but the side buttons aren’t all that easy to click in an instance thus we prefer the DuoSwitch style as on the Graphire3 pen.
You see above the new tab within the pen tablet options allows you to configure those ExpressKeys mentioned earlier. You can see here we’ve set the first key to a modifier and a keystroke which we named “undo photoshop” for the second key. It might not be the best of names but hey, it’s simple enough. You also get to choose how many lines the wheel should scroll when in use.
The nik Color Efex plug-in for Adobe Photoshop is indeed very handy with many predefined filters available for quick access. You can also create your own. This should speed up the touching up of your photographs no doubt.
Well it had us satisfied to say the least. If you’re looking for a graphics tablet that provides access quick access to common commands, touch up family photos or just sketch to your heart’s content then this is the perfect purchase. Having said that it’s a very solid performing tablet and pulls no punches in its performance. Well suited for the advanced and prosumers who will find this device a wonderful companion to their workspace. It’s a good starting point for newcomers who haven’t yet experienced such an input device but also good because it will give you the room to expand on when you become more technical. Overall this is a fantastic product that delivers just as all WACOM tablets do. It’s excellent!
- Overall design and appearance
- Performance is on par with the more serious solutions
- Excellent software bundle
- ExpressKeys are a given
- Same goes for the scroll wheel
- Short cable length
- More than two clips need undoing to release front panel, was easier with the Graphire3
- Pen side buttons don’t feel all that great and are a little awkward to access compared to, yet again the Graphire3
- No pen holder included in this bundle