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Monday, June 18, 2007

The Right Tool For The Job

Graphics tablets offer superior control for precise image adjustments

Wacom pen tablets take the concept of pen and tablet beyond a simple input device. Their solution is more of a dynamic desktop, featuring user-customizable controls and shortcuts. As an example, instead of moving a mouse to the menu bar in order to reduce or increase the size of a brush, the toggle switch on the stylus itself can be customized to do exactly the same thing. To adjust the opacity of the filter being applied to an image, simply increase or decrease the pressure of the pen's contact with the graphics tablet. Flip the pen over and you have an eraser tool that's also pressure-sensitive, allowing you to carefully refine your adjustments.

Wacom pen tablets range from the affordable Graphire3 models to the professional Intuos3 line to the Cintiq 21UX, a 21-inch interactive pen display, which combines a top-quality LCD monitor with the pen-sensitive technologies in its tablets. Available in a variety of sizes, each successive model of Wacom tablets is enhanced with more options for greater control and customization. The Graphire3 features up to 512 levels of pressure sensitivity, while Intuos3 models and the Cintiq 21UX boast 1,024 levels.

In addition to increased pressure sensitivity, Wacom Intuos3 tablets offer ExpressKeys and Touch Strips designed into the periphery of the tablet, which can be customized to access Photoshop controls that normally would require you to hunt for a menu item or keyboard shortcut. Providing this functionality directly on the tablet reduces your need to switch back to the keyboard and lets you work faster. These buttons even can be programmed to perform different tasks depending on which application you're using.

The Cintiq line takes the concept to a new level of control by allowing you to apply changes “directly” to the image. Move the stylus over the pressure-sensitive screen and apply filters, draw selections or dodge and burn with the greatest precision possible.

Prices for Wacom pen tablets start at $99—a small sum for the many benefits they offer in terms of speed and precision. Put your mouse and keyboard aside for e-mail and use the best tool for your imaging work.

The new Wacom Cintiq 21UX combines the brilliance of a 21-inch, high-resolution monitor with the touch sensitivity of a graphics tablet. With a screen resolution of 1600 x 1200, the TFT active-matrix LCD supports up to 16.7 million colors with a contrast ratio of 400:1, delivering crisp, bright and sharp images. The display can be rotated 180 degrees and adjusted between a 10- to 65-degree incline for your comfort, and provides an 85-degree viewing angle both vertically and horizontally.

The tablet functionality of the screen includes a 17x12.75-inch active work area, with a resolution of 5,080 lines per inch. Its design includes eight user-assignable ExpressKeys and two finger-sensitive Touch Strips. The cordless, battery-free stylus supports up to 1,024 pressure levels and a pen/tilt range of ±60 degrees. The Cintiq 21UX also includes an ICC profile, making it possible to create an accurate and fluid color-managed workflow. List Price: $2,999.

Contact: Wacom, (800) 922-9348, www.wacom.com.




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