G-Pen M712 Review

Until recently any Mac user looking for a decent sized widescreen-capable graphics tablet has had little choice other than Wacom. The introduction of Mac-compatible drivers on a range of new tablets from Genius at last offers an alternative. The G-Pen M712 is an impressively roomy 12 x 7in tablet at a price that shouldn’t break the bank. The tablet can switch between standard and widescreen active areas and is compatible with a range of graphics software. It also offers some interactivity with Office type documents, with the capability to add handwritten notes to digital drafts and emails.

Potentially a bargain then, but the G-Pen M712 lacks the seemingly indestructible build and stylish good looks of Wacom’s premium-priced Intuos3 and Cintiq range. Predominately black with silver-grey hot keys, macro keys and rolling pad for either hand, the tablet’s half dozen function-determined LED displays glow blue when powered by the USB lead. Annoyingly, the left-hand-side LED flickers constantly on and off to show the tablet is working correctly. English instructions take up just three pages of the 70-plus pages in the user’s manual, so it’s difficult to see how you could ever turn this off without resorting to a dab of black nail varnish. Beyond this distraction the addition of 34 macro keys around the active area is more visual clutter.

The bundled cordless pen is a little chunky, requiring room for an AAA battery, which is somewhat fiddly to fit, although, as Genius suggests, this shouldn’t need changing often. Oddly an eraser end is not included so the pen can’t be conveniently flipped for quick corrections. A high accuracy of 4000 LPI and 1024-levels of pressure sensitivity sound impressive and the pen, in these large hands at least, felt fine and with some fine tuning proved responsive. Accessed from your Mac’s dock the Pen Pad settings allow for some user configuration, although the overhaul functionality is let down by the unpredictable and somewhat buggy Mac drivers that occasionally stalled and stuttered, under Leopard at least.

OUR VERDICT

Size and value for money are key plusses here, let down by some less than responsive drivers and a look that screams showy PC overkill rather than classy Mac understatement. Disappointments aside, the Genius G-Pen M712 still shows potential, especially if the buggy software shortcomings are quickly rectified.

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