When it comes to graphics tablets Wacom is alone at the top. Its range of tablets covers every professional use imaginable. Thankfully this lack of competition hasn’t stopped Wacom innovating, and its latest pro tablet offering – the Intuos3 – offers enhancements galore.

The graphics tablet is a mature technology; existing models boast 1,024 levels of stylus pressure-sensitivity, tilt sensors up to 60 degrees, and a variety of pens.

The focus of the Intuos3 range is useability; these new models are massively improved thanks to a number of small but significant enhancements.

The older models offered a series of virtual buttons along the top of the tablet. In theory these could be set as hot keys to access functions. In practice, Wacom discovered that hardly anybody ever used them, so it went back to the drawing board. Now the buttons are not virtual but real – there are four, plus a touch strip for zooming.

On the A4 model these controls are present on both sides of the tablet, making life easy for left-handers like me. The programmable buttons have presets for the most popular applications such as Photoshop and Painter (Painter Essentials 2 is included with the tablet). The buttons toggle between tools such as the Eyedropper, the hand tool, and other oft-used functions. The touch strip is a sensor that by default zooms the image on which you are working. This is another useability enhancement that keeps you away from the keyboard.

The fact that the most common keyboard commands are accessible from the tablet means it can now be rested on a knee without constantly needing to reach across to the keyboard – a real boon.

The innovation doesn’t stop here, though. The tablet’s resolution has been doubled, now offering 5,080 lines per inch, and an accuracy up to 0.25mm.
The package includes a pen and a mouse, both of which have been revamped. The pen comes with two interchangeable nibs – a stroke nib and a felt nib. The mouse now has five buttons, including the clickable scroll-wheel.

One minor niggle with the old Intuos was the unstable pen stand. The new stand is not only more stable, but is designed to accommodate the pen tool horizontally, too – minimizing the chances of knocking it.


To say the Intuos3 is quantum leap in graphics - tablet technology would be overstating it, but it does represent significant strides in terms of useability. Wacom has done its homework in identifying areas that needed improving. The result is that natural-media art is now more accessible to beginners, and there is a strong case for Intuos2 users to upgrade. While the price is still relatively high, at least now you get a lot more for your money. If you use Painter or Photoshop regularly, the Intuos3 will prove to be a real boon for your creativity.

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