Wacom Graphire2 Graphics Pad

Date: October 22nd, 2001

URL: http://www.wacom.com/graphire/index.cfm

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Rating: Excellent!

Review:

As a beginning dabbler in image editing, I kept finding myself with a need for a way to draw more accurately than I could with my Logitech trackball. While a standard mouse might have worked satisfactorily, I decided to try a Wacom Graphite2 tablet. The pad has a nominal 4″ x 6″ work area, covered by a piece of translucent plastic to make tracing easy. The work area corresponds exactly to the image on the monitor: Touch the upper right hand corner with the pen, and your cursor jumps to that spot. The pad senses the accessories about 1/2″ above the surface, this allowed me to put a standard mouse pad over the tablet to protect the surface and still use the tablet.

The Graphire2 comes with 2 control devices, a 3-button wheel mouse and a pen. Both are cordless and batteryless, receiving power from the tablet. Both items have extensive menus to control every aspect of their use, with programable buttons and sensitivity. It uses a USB interface for power and control.

The mouse is smallish, and seems to have very precise resolution. It has no ball, so nothin to clog the works. I found tracing lines even on the monitor to be much easier than with my trackball. It is fully functional, and could be used to replace a standard mouse.

But the thing about this Graphire2 that I loved best is the pen. It has three buttons, 2 by the tip and one at the end where the eraser would go. And in fact that’s exactly what it does: Turn the pen around, press down, and it starts erasing your digital image just like a pencil would. The other 2 buttons are menu-programable: I’ve set them as left-click and right-click. The drawing tip supports, according to the literature, 512 levels of pressure. I don’t have a way to objectively measure that, but pressing down lightly draws a very light thin line; bearing down heavily creates a dark broad line. By changing “tips” in a graphics editing program like Photoshop 6 or Paint Shop Pro 7, you can achieve varying effects. It’s an ideal tool for editing images.

It comes with a driver disk and a software disk containing 2 picture editing programs: Painter Classic, which I haven’t tried, and Photoshop 5 Limited Edition, which I found to be adequate but rather lackluster. Face it, if you need/want one of these tablets you probably already have a better editing program.

I wish I could report that installation was a breeze, but it was not. I tried for 1/2 hour to get it to install myself, then called Wacom tech support. I was on the phone with 2 techs, one a supervisor, for over an hour. They were both helpful and courteous, and even stayed half an hour past their quitting time. It was quite a struggle, but we did finally get it working in Windows 98SE after rebooting numerous times. It worked perfectly in Windows XP the first time I used it there, drivers for it are native to XP.

Notwithstanding my installation problems I’m quite pleased with the Graphire2, and would recommend it to anyone looking for a better way to edit images.

Submitted by: Trebuchet

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