Unsolicited Review: Intuos Draw / CTL-490DB (Blue) Part 3

Continued from Unsolicited Review: Intuos Draw CTL-490DB (Blue) Part 2

Design and dimensions - Intuos Draw (2016) vs Bamboo Pen and Touch (2011)

Five years is a long time in the electronics industry and Wacom has made great leaps in their tech. The Intuos Draw is an entry-level pen tablet that has a supported resolution of 2540, though it has the same pressure sensitivity of 1024 as my aged Bamboo Pen and Touch. I'm perfectly happy with the discontinued Pen and Touch when I'm working in CorelDraw X8, and with the Intuos Draw's 133 pps reading speed, I'm pretty sure I'll be even happier with the Intuos Draw.

The Bamboo Pen and Touch next to the entry-level Intuos Draw.

The Intuos Draw has an active area of 6.0 x 3.7 inches, no multi-touch support, and has only one size (small) compared to other models. In practice, the Intuos Draw more than matches the Bamboo Pen and Touch in terms of comfort, even for someone who isn't a digital artist or professional designer. The Intuos Draw has a smaller form factor due to the redesigned Express Keys and the absence of components required for the touch functionality. This leaves my worktable less cluttered than when using the Bamboo. As an itinerant worker, I also appreciate that the Intuos Draw is easier to pack and feels lighter than the larger Bamboo - when flying to a different country I always worried about how well the Bamboo would survive my packing.

The blue dots (white if you purchased the white version) are for aesthetics and visual aides that indicate the active area.

The Bamboo Pen and Touch's click buttons are somewhat flat, with a tactile feel and an audible click. The newer Intuos Draw's buttons are more rounded and have a more natural bumpy texture. The placement of the Bamboo's buttons felt awkward if you were working in a small worktable or with a laptop rather than a desktop. The Intuos Draw's buttons, on the other hand, are situated on two corners, and perhaps due to its smaller dimensions, makes it more accessible.

I never had much use for the big Express Keys on the Bamboo Pen and Touch, though I'm aware real digital artists get a lot of mileage out of them. For my part, I just use the big, flat buttons for disabling the touch functionality on the Bamboo, which I really didn't need with FrameMaker, InDesign, or even CorelDraw and Paint Shop Pro. The new options provided by the Wacom tablet utility, however, should benefit serious users who want to save time when working.

Linux has several applications that are designed to work with Wacom products. Krita is an excellent application for digital artists running a Linux distribution.

The Bamboo Pen and Touch's active area always felt too smooth for me, though critics of Wacom products have pointed out the surface wore out the nibs too fast. The Intuos Draw certainly feels better to the touch and the pen tips moved more naturally over the surface, compared with the slick as glass glide experience on the Bamboo Pen and Touch. The Intuos' Draw's active area is by no means bumpy, but the surface felt almost rubbery with a comfortable grip and resistance.

The pen that comes with the Intuos Draw is shorter and slightly more rounded than the older pen included with the Bamboo. Users accustomed to traditional pencils and technical pens will no doubt have no problems with the Intuos Draw's pen. However, if you're used to the Apple Pencil or Surface Pen, the length and weight might not be to your liking. The buttons on the pens are similar and as expected, the Intuos Draw doesn't have the eraser.

The Bamboo Pen is longer and has larger, more responsive click buttons, plus the eraser. The Surface Pen is more similar to a thin marker pen with buttons that push inward into the pen itself. The pen that comes with the Intuos Draw, although shorter and without an eraser, feels more balanced for people with delicate or smaller hands.

The Intuos Draw uses a detachable micro USB cable, a clear update in design from the Bamboo Pen and Touch's permanently connected cable. Although the Intuos Draw and similar products from Wacom has a micro USB connector, the design prevents users from using just any third-party micro USB cable. The included cable is designed to insert perfectly into the niche - micro USB cables for smartphones and tablets are too thick and wide to fit.

Note: You can purchase the wireless module and disconnect the micro USB cable completely if you want less clutter on your worktable. I can't confirm any latency or wireless conflict with the wireless chip however, since I'm happy using the wired cable.

The Intuos Draw, albeit not in the same product range as the Bamboo, looks attractive next to a Macbook Air or Surface Pro 4, with improved functionality to match. Despite still opting to use the Bamboo Pen and Touch (until it fails), I admit to being tempted to completely switching to the Intuos Draw based on my user experience.


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