Cliff Smith checks out this graphics tablet.

wacomPrice: A6 £130, A5 £200, A4 £310
* Type:Graphics tablet
* Dimensions:A6 238.5 x 217 x 13mm, A5 345 x 261.5 x 13mm, A4 439.5 x 340 x 14mm
* Weight: A6 600g, A5 1000g, A4 1800g
* System: Windows/Mac
* Contacts:

If you do a lot of graphics work with programs such as Photoshop or Illustrator,
sooner or later you?ll come to the conclusion that even the best mouse
in the world is simply too clumsy and limited a tool for high-quality work.
This is why most graphics professionals opt for pen and tablet systems. They afford much more precise control, and with functions such as pressure sensitivity, allow greater creativity. The Intuos 3 system is designed for professionals, with the big A4 Oversize and A3 tablets costing over £500, but the prices of the smaller A6, A5 and A4 Standard tablets put them within reach of the home user while offering the same advanced functions as the larger devices. The Intuos 3 features a line resolution of 5080 lpi,and pen resolution of 0.25mm, with pen pressure and tilt sensitivity, and a new range of function buttons that can be programmed by the user. The idea is to program your common commands or Photoshop shortcuts to keep away from the keyboard and improve productivity. The supporting software allows tilt and pressure to be adjusted to suit the user and application, and the buttons on the mouse can also be configured. The bed of the tablet is transparent and can be lifted up so that photographs and illustrations can be put underneath for tracing. A range of input devices is available including a two-button mouse with scroll wheel, a standard pen and an airbrush complete with finger wheel offering 1024 digital ink levels. The standard pen can be customised with a range of tips and buttonless sleeve, and has an eraser on the reverse end.

Beautifully designed and superbly functional, Wacom?s Intuos 3 tablet and pen is a pleasure to use, and can make a real difference to the quality of your graphics work. If your mouse is becoming your worst enemy it?s just what you need.

PROS: Easy to use, versatile, effective
CONS: Not cheap, takes some getting used to

Features 18
Ease of use 16
Performance 19
Design 19
Value 17