Thursday, January 26, 2012

CES 2012: MashButtons goes design happy with the Bamboo Create

It seems we are finally getting close to wrapping up our coverage from this year's Consumer Electronics Show and may have unintentionally left the best for last. Wacom has provided us with a review unit of the Bamboo Create and the available wireless accessory for the tablet. I have been using design products for the past two years for freelance graphic design work and have been rather curious as to whether a tablet would make a difference in the quality of work along with time spent on projects. The Bamboo Create is similar in regards to features to its smaller siblings, the Capture and the Connect, but where is differs is in the real estate with twice the workspace and some great introductory software, i.e. Photoshop Elements and Corel Painter Essentials.

For reference, I am using the Bamboo Create on this year's Macbook Pro connected to a 25 inch monitor and found the response to be great. The tablet also doubles as a trackpad when not being used for graphic design work supporting multi touch features so you can have the tablet in the workspace without having to rely on a mouse as well. I am in the lower majority being a south paw, but I found you can change the orientation depending on whether you are a lefty or righty. There is also a pen holder to help make sure it does not get misplaced...while we are talking about the pen, I had no problems with functionality and though I am quite heavy handed, the tablet surface did not have any etch marks or indents after numerous hours of photo editing and drawing with both the provided software and Photoshop CS5. Being able to use the pen for drawing, cropping, and erasing small errors was new to me and took a good two to three hours without feeling foreign and it is easy to locate your cursor as all you need to do is hold the pen about a quarter inch from the tablet's surface. There is a button that I did not get along with on the pen that can be mapped along with the four buttons on the tablet, that I had to turn off as with the way I used the pen the button kept accidentally getting pressed by my thumb.

Out of the box, the Create is not wireless and uses a micro USB to connect to your PC or Mac. This is fine and well for users who do not move their workstations, but when it comes to working on the go and making changes for clients or at school, it does get tiresome moving and setting up workstations. This is where the wireless option comes incredibly handy, as the accessory is moderately priced at $39.00, works on the Capture and Create models only, and lasts up to 15 hours with a 3 to 6 hour charge. The kit works amazingly and can be used while being charged but make portability much easier along with not being limited by a cord as to the positioning of the tablet when in use and using a micro wireless dongle. Unfortunately, the wireless option does not come packaged with the tablets, as much as I wish it would, but this is definitely a must have for users with portable workstations or multiple devices as this works for both the PC and Mac.

All in all, this is my designing go-to device now over my wireless mouse or iPad with stylus. Though this is my first tablet and after comparing prices and included software, Wacom pulled no punches bringing the Bamboo tablets to the marketplace for both beginner and intermediate designers. Aside from the little nuances such as the easily pressed button on the pen and an inconveniently short micro USB cable, I could not come up with any other issues. Hell, when using the pen, you can even rest your palm on the surface and not get any false detection on the display. I must say that if you are in the market to purchase a tablet and are novice designers looking to step your game up, I highly suggest the Bamboo Create and Capture products and be sure to add the wireless option and kiss your mouse goodbye.

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