Wacom has updated its Graphire tablet with the launch of Graphire2, the second generation of its popular consumer mouse and pen set. Graphire2 consists of a battery-free cordless mouse, a pressure-sensitive pen, and a graphics tablet about the size of a conventional mouse mat that connects to the Mac via USB. Unlike the original Graphire, it’s only available in a steel-blue colour.
As with the original Graphire, the tablet boasts a resolution of 1,000dpi, using electromagnetic resonance based on radio waves to identify the tool’s position on the tablet’s surface. It also has a useful, but compact, active area of 127.6-x-92.8mm, which was fine for my needs.
Some of the greatest improvements in Graphire2 are to be found in the software driver, now at version 4.6. This controls mouse speed – but in this version, Wacom has introduced controls for acceleration that get you around the desktop faster than ever. Each device can be configured separately for different applications, so I was able to get the necessary control as I whacked the Web and ran effects in Adobe Photoshop. Once the controls are customized, they change to match whichever application is open.
The three-button mouse has been given a redesign; it’s now more attractive to look at, as well as comfortable to use than its predecessor. It’s also slightly heavier, which makes it more controllable than before.
The pen is also easier to grip, and feels slightly more robust and controllable than its predecessor. The side-mounted button, however, is a trap for clumsy fingers. As the owner of a full set of ten thumbs, I’d recommend the pen for use within certain applications, but not necessarily as a basic desktop navigation tool. More dextrous colleagues may disagree. The tablet ships with a detachable pen-stand, which I found a little flimsy, and eventually stopped using.
The tablet has a lift-up transparent cover – under which photos can be placed for tracing. This cover has been improved. The original version was a little too smooth, so you could end up losing mouse control. Graphire2 offers a rougher surface, so control is much better than before.
This is an excellent alternative to an old-style puck mouse. The tablet sits on a 2.5-metre USB cable – so it has better reach than Apple’s optical Pro Mouse. It’s not just a mouse either; the pen works very well for creative graphics applications and games – hardcore gamers will benefit from its precise control, though I tend to use the mouse more frequently.