Wacom has renewed its Intuos tablet lineup with two new models, including the paper edition in medium and large sizes, while still offering the old Intuos Pro model in small size. The new design seems like bringing some novelty, but in fact, innovation might not be always safe. Because as a long time user, my disappointment was the same like the time Apple started ignoring its core users' needs. I have been using Wacom tablets for more than eight years as a photographer and retoucher. My first Wacom tablet was an entry model Bamboo, and then I continued using Intuos tablets for my daily retouching work, and since then, they became an essential part of my professional photography life. As we all know, Wacom is the industry leader with no strong competitors and have been serving designers, photographers and digital artists with great products for years. When my old Intuos Pro started frazzling, I decided to upgrade to the newly introduced Wacom Intuos Pro Creative Pen Tablet and bought one last month. And to be honest, after one week, all I could feel was regret.
Wacom changed lots of things on the new model, for an in-depth review, check Alex Cooke's review of this model.
- New surface sheet
- New Wacom Pro Pen 2
- USB-C cable
- Slim design
- New button and touch ring design
- Smaller form factor
- New base material
- No wireless dongle, built-in Bluetooth feature
All these innovations seem handy at first glance, however, like Apple's innovations in its recent products, these are also immature and unnecessary in my opinion, here is why.
Due to my screen size and habits, I picked up the new Intuos Pro with Pro Pen in medium size. Its size is smaller than the previous version and almost the same size with the previous Intuos Pro Small. Wacom kept the tablet area larger on a smaller form factor, and this was the biggest innovation that caught my attention. In addition to this, the new tablet is now more robust with the aluminum base, which prevents squeaky noises that occur by time in old models. So, this was a big step up for Intuos Pro. However, the frame material is the same plastic that was used on the old model.
Besides the new material and the form factor, the tablet comes with a new surface sheet, which feels harder than the default Intuos Pro surface. As you may imagine, it is a nib eater. After a week of use, I had to change three nibs due to this sandpaper like surface. But wait, I have some good news and bad news. A mini surface sheet tester is included in the package, so you can decide what you'd like to use in the future; and the bad news is, if you want to change the horrible default surface sheet immediately, unfortunately, you cannot, as they are not available yet.
Another thing is the hard button placed on the edge of the tablet that activates the touch function. The tablet has eight customizable buttons, but to activate the touch feature, you have to pinch a tiny button on edge.
On the new model, the touch ring is now smaller, and it has never been hard before to use. I don't have fat fingers, but even for me, it was hard to use. Plus, when zooming in by rotating your finger around the touch ring, it occasionally zooms out. Probably due to a driver issue.
Wacom Pro Pen 2
Wacom sells this pen with a high price tag and presents it like the best pen in its product line. Actually, including this pen to the new tablet, made the kit worse. The design is no different than the standard Wacom Intuos 5 Pen, the only difference is the metal frame around the pen buttons, which prevents using existing rubber grips with this one. The nibs are different than the usual nibs that the previous models' pens come with, and only two types of nibs are included. One of the nibs is the standard nib that comes with nearly every Wacom tablet by default, and the other one is the felted nib, which simulates paper drawing. Personally, I couldn't stand that more than five minutes, due to the annoying noise that came from this horrible combination of surface sheet and nib. I switched back to the standard nib, which melts like cheese in the microwave.
Wacom also decided to change the pen stand design. They added weight to the base and changed the overall design from ink bottle shape to something weird like a pancake. It is low profile design, that looks like you stuck your pen into a cookie, and with a slight touch of your finger, the pen tips over easily. It is almost impossible to twist and open the stand, due to lack of friction and a gully. If you are lucky and vigorous enough to rotate and open the cap, it keeps clattering after closing. Also, say goodbye to the old nib changer metal piece, now you have to change your nibs by placing your pen into the hole at the bottom of the stand base. Wacom skipped telling which side should be used for this, so when trying to change the nib, nibs can be ejected like a rocket and so be prepared to lose the nibs.
Also, keep the pen stand out of reach of children, cause in some cases, it can be used as a weapon due to its shape and weight.
Installing and Compatibility
I use both Mac and Windows systems for work, and so far I had no issues with Wacom tablets regarding compatibility. Once installed, most Wacom tablets are just plug-and-play devices, which makes them great products, except this one. My new tablet didn't work on Windows, and I found no information about this on the Internet, including Wacom help forums. While thinking of returning it, I decided to give it a try on Mac, and the software suggested me to update the firmware. After updating the firmware on Mac, I finally made it work on Windows. However, there was a problem. After waking up the computer from sleep, the tablet keeps sleeping and waking it up; you have to unplug the cable and plug it in again. Or, you have to reset your PC. Also, another issue with the software is; it doesn't recognize your existing settings even if they are backed up at Wacom Cloud, so you have to adjust your settings overall.
Wacom released a driver update for this sleep-wake issue specifically; however, it didn't fix anything either.
I wrote about these annoying issues to Wacom warranty, and as usual, I had no response for months.
All in all, the new standard surface sheet, the new pen and its nibs, new zoom wheel, and even cumbersome and impractical pen stand with existing driver issues make this product impossible to use. My experience with this tablet reminded me of what Apple did to its main clients over the years; by neglecting their primary needs, updating the designs in ridiculous ways, and releasing immature products. This tablet may be a great product for a digital painter or anyone else, but as a full-time photographer and retoucher, to use this device efficiently, I realized that I have to change the surface sheet and the pen, which will probably cost more than $150. Like an Apple Macbook Pro user that has to buy dongles and converters to use his hard drives. Besides the hardware issues, the driver based problems are even more frustrating that makes this tablet impossible to use.
Wacom's main audience is digital artists, but there is also a paper edition of this tablet, which might suit their needs better I think. Also, Wacom should remember that photographers and retouchers are also their customers and their last innovation didn't excite.