The Bottom Line
Designed with professional artists, designers, animators, cartographers, and photographers in mind, the Wacom Intuos3 graphics tablet is available in six different sizes and configurations. In addition to satisfying different working styles, some of the tablets are designed to complement other hardware, such as a widescreen display, a large display, or multiple displays.
With a battery-free, cordless pen that offers 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity, a programmable mouse, and programmable Express Keys and Touch Strips, you won’t find better than the Wacom Intuos3 (unless it’s one of the Wacom Cintiqs).
- Top-notch tools that feel much like their non-digital counterparts.
- 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity for drawing and erasing.
- Programmable mouse, pen, and Express Keys.
- Programmable Touch Strips provide quick access to many actions.
- Compatible with more than 100 software applications.
- Expensive for casual use.
- Odd software bundle for the target market.
- Five-button mouse can take getting used to.
- Larger footprint than you might expect.
- Wired tablet keeps you tethered to your computer.
- Mac and Windows compatible
- Available in six different sizes
- 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity
- Programmable pen
- Additional pens available
- Five-button programmable mouse
- Lens Cursor programmable mouse available
- USB compatible
Guide Review - Wacom Intuos3 Professional Graphics Tablet
Wacom didn’t invent the graphics tablet, but there’s no question that the company perfected it. If you need a graphics tablet, you’ll never go wrong with a Wacom; it’s mainly a matter of choosing the right one for your needs and budget.
The Wacom Intuos3 may have been specifically designed for professionals, but you don’t have to be a pro to appreciate its elegant design, intuitive interface, responsiveness, and multiple customization options. The pen supports 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity at both ends (the business end and the eraser end). You can easily fine-tune a brushstroke, from hair-thin to a broad swash, as well as correct a tiny mistake with the lightest of touches. Each point on the tablet translates to a matching point on the screen, for precise results. I found the pen to be comfortable to use, although it took a few days to even start getting a real feel for the kinds of movements and pressures that would translate to the onscreen results I had in mind.
Two sets of ExpressKeys, one on the left and one on the right, can be programmed using pull-down menus to perform your favorite functions or keystrokes. You can even program them to perform different functions in different applications. Two Touch Strips, located on the active area side of the ExpressKeys, can also be programmed to perform specific scroll, zoom, or keystroke actions. Like ExpressKeys, the Touch Strips can be programmed to perform different tasks in different applications.
Considering the target market for the Wacom Intuos3 family of tablets, it’s a little surprising that they’re bundled with Adobe Photoshop Elements 4 (the current version is 6), Corel Painter Essentials, and Nik Color Efex Pro 2. None of these programs are likely to be at the top of the list of most professionals. Personally, I’d gladly skip the bundled software for a lower tablet price.