Graphire Mouse and Pen

In the past, graphics tablets have been the domain of serious illustrators and architects. Now, Wacom – long-time leader in this field – has brought out a tablet for the rest of us. The Graphire is available only in old iMac colours, before the new range was introduced by Steve Jobs at Macworld Expo in New York (see page 70). The Graphire tablet includes a pen and a cordless mouse – it’s the USB tablet that’s connected to the Mac. The mouse has two buttons and a scrolling wheel. I’ve been using a similar – but cord-tethered – mouse for over a year now. After getting over the initial revulsion of the Windows-like approach of the two buttons and a scrolling wheel, I quickly became addicted. Wacom’s mouse boasts a 1,000dpi resolution, and any ball-driven mouse will seem dull and inaccurate once you’ve used the Wacom mouse. The adds another dimension to your work, especially if you can draw. Even the novice can have fun, messing about with natural-media tools that take advantage of the pressure-sensitive nib. In the hands of anybody with artistic flair it’s an impressive tool. Even though the active area of the tablet is only 128-x-92mm, there’s ample space for drawing and painting. Unless you’re tracing over an original image, bigger A4 tablets are unwieldy to use. If you think about the area that you use for your mouse it isn’t anything near A4 size. The pen took some time to get to grips with. There is a rocking switch that can be programmed with short cuts. I’m not sure if my cack-handedness was responsible, but I had trouble getting to the switch. It was too far up the barrel of the pen. Another minor gripe I have is that the detachable pen-stand doesn’t hold the pen firmly enough; the slightest nudge had the pen rolling off the back of the desk.

OUR VERDICT

I have some quibbles with the set, but nothing that would stop me buying it. Although £85 is more than you would normally expect to pay for a mouse, you do get much more for your money. I use the mouse ten times more often than the pen, but it’s still good to have the pointer available. There are rumours that Apple has a handwriting-recognition application in the pipeline, which presumably would use a tablet. Perhaps one day this could even replace a keyboard.

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