||This article may require copy editing for grammar, style, cohesion, tone, or spelling. (February 2014)|
|This article is outdated. (September 2012)|
|Industry||Computer input devices and software|
|Founded||July 12, 1983|
|Headquarters||2-510-1 Toyonodai Otonemachi, Kazo, Saitama, Japan|
|Products||Bamboo, Intuos, Cintiq, PenPartner, Volito, Graphire (needs verification)|
The American headquarters are located in Vancouver, Washington, and those for EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) in Krefeld, Germany. Wacom is a Japanese portmanteau: Wa for "harmony" or "circle", and Komu for "computer". Wacom tablets are notable for their use of a patented cordless, battery-free, and pressure-sensitive stylus or digital pen. In addition to manufacturing and selling tablets as separate products, Wacom also provides graphical input technology for some tablet computers, which it calls "Penabled Technology".
|Year||Japan||Rest of the World|
|This section needs additional citations for verification. (October 2011)|
Wacom produces several lines of tablets, three of which are marketed worldwide. Most tablets are sold with a bundle of software such as Corel Painter Essentials and Photoshop Elements, which take advantage of the features of the tablet. Each is sold with a digital pen that is compatible with that model; digital pens generally do not work with tablets of a different product line or generation. Some of these pens feature additional buttons on the shaft or an "eraser" at the other end. Some tablet models include a puck (mouse) based on the same technology. Software drivers for recent versions of Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows are included with most models. All current models of external tablet connect to computers via USB or Bluetooth.
It is worth noting that recently Wacom changed the name of their Bamboo tablets to Intuos and their Intuos5 tablets to Intuos Pro.
The Bamboo line is aimed at home users. Current models† feature 1024 levels of pressure sensitivity and a resolution of 2540 lines per inch (1000 lines/cm). Most of the models have a 5.8 × 3.6 in (14.7 × 9.2 cm) active surface area, while the larger CTH-670 model ("Create"/"Fun Medium") has a usable surface area of 8.5 in × 5.4 in (22 cm × 14 cm). The Bamboo One (CTF-430; no longer produced; sold only in Europe) had a 5 × 3.6 in (128 × 93 mm) active surface area. It used the same eraser-less pen as the other models but, unlike other models, featured no control buttons.
Bamboo tablets feature a battery-free pen (powered by the same EMR (Electromagnetic resonance) technology as the Intuos line), which can be used alongside finger swipes (in some models), with ± 0.02 in (± 0.5 mm) accuracy. The "Pen & Touch" model includes an option to switch orientation for left- or right-handed users.
In the Americas, there are four models currently† available: Bamboo Create, Bamboo Capture, Bamboo Splash and Bamboo Connect. In addition to stylus-based input, "Create" and "Capture" models feature multi-touch functionality, with support for one- and two-finger gestures for such operations as scrolling and zooming. The "Create" model includes an eraser-equipped stylus, and additional bundled graphics software (Adobe Photoshop Elements, Corel Painter Essentials, and Nik Color Efex Pro). The "Connect" and "Splash" models have the same hardware but different software. The former includes Autodesk Sketchbook Express, while the latter includes the aforementioned product and ArtRage Studio.
Wacom's Wireless Accessory Kit is a USB dongle and adapter which will allow select bamboo tablet models to connect to a computer wirelessly. This kit is only compatible with certain currently available models. It will NOT work with the current Bamboo Splash, Bamboo Connect or Bamboo Pen models. This kit is also not compatible with older models, as the USB connection cable was hardwired to the tablet. The newer models feature a removable USB cable.
|Tablet model number||Name||In production†||Multi-touch||No. control buttons||Physical dimensions||Active surface area||Aspect ratio||Color(s)||Bundled software|
|CTH-670||Create||Fun M Pen & Touch||Yes||Yes||4||352 × 209 × 11||13.8 × 8.2 × 0.4||216 × 137||8.5 in × 5.4||16:10||Silver with black highlights/buttons|
|CTH-470||Capture||Fun S Pen & Touch||Yes||Yes||278 × 176 × 11||10.9 × 6.9 × 0.4||147 × 92 (pen input)
125 × 85 (touch input)
|5.8 × 3.6 (pen input)
4.9 × 3.3 (touch input)
|N/A||Pen & Touch||Yes||Yes||Black with lime-green highlights||N/A||
|CTL-471||Splash||N/A||Yes||No||0||147 × 92||5.8 × 3.6||
|MTE-450||Bamboo||No||No||4 + navigational touchpad||200 x 186||7.8 x 7.3||147.6 × 92.3||5.8 × 3.6||Charcoal/black||?|
|CTF-430||?||One||No||No||0||195 × 195 × 10||7.7 × 7.7 × 0.4||128 × 93||5 × 3.6||4:3||Silver/grey||N/A||
Intuos is marketed to professional graphic artists, and features the highest specifications of any Wacom device. The latest version, Intuos5 touch, is available in multiple sizes and proportions, and it includes 60 degrees of tilt sensitivity (50 degrees in small model) and 2048 levels of pressure due to Electromagnetic resonance (EMR) technology in the Wacom pen. The Intuos5 touch also has touch controls on the drawing surface, allowing the user to manipulate the canvas with multi-touch gestures. The Intuos line offers 2000 lines per cm (5080 lines per inch) resolution and comes in the following sizes (active area):
- Small: 157.5 mm × 98.4 mm; 6.2 in × 3.9 in
- Medium: 223.5 mm × 139.7 mm; 8.8 in × 5.5 in
- Large: 325.1 mm × 203.2 mm; 12.8 in × 8.0 in
Each Intuos5 model can also be made wireless using the same Wireless Accessory Kit mentioned above.
Additionally, a larger version of the previous generation of Intuos, the Intuos4 Extra Large (XL) is still manufactured and marketed to artists who need a larger working area than the Intuos5 Large provides. The Intuos4 XL has a 462 mm × 304.8 mm; (18.2 in × 12.0 in) working area, and offers the same levels of pressure and tilt sensitivity as the Intuos5 line. However, the Intuos4 lacks touch-based input, instead requiring the use of either a stylus or a compatible mouse.
The Cintiq is a tablet/screen hybrid, a graphics tablet that incorporates an LCD into the digitizing tablet itself, allowing the user to draw directly "on" the display surface. The tablets are available in several sizes.
A 21-inch 1600×1200 resolution tablet, the 21UX, has been available for several years at various price points. As of November 2007, both a 12-inch and a 20-inch widescreen model were released, the 12WX and the 20WSX, respectively. All three models use Intuos3 pens with 1024 levels of pressure sensitivity.
In 2010, the 21UX saw a major design revision and a price drop. It has a higher pen resolution and 2048 pressure levels due to Wacom's integration of the Intuos4's technology. The 21UX's sensitivity is much greater than most tablet computers and portable computers offering similar functionality on built-in screens. In addition, the 21UX includes an integrated stand that allows the user to tilt and rotate the unit as he or she prefers.
On September 13, 2011, Wacom announced its newest and largest Cintiq, the 24HD (DTK-2400). It contains a 24-inch 1920×1200 resolution LCD with 92% coverage of the Adobe RGB color gamut (versus 72% in the 21UX). The pen technology, like the 21UX, is identical to the Intuos4 in terms of resolution per inch and sensitivity. This model includes an integrated adjustable-tilt stand that allows the 24HD to hang off the edge of the table and closer to the user.
The Cintiq Companion is essentially a mobile version of the Cintiq 13HD model, combining the tablet/screen hybrid with an Android tablet (Cintiq Companion Hybrid) or a Windows 8 tablet PC (Cintiq Companion). Although not as costly as the high-end Cintiq tablet (namely Cintiq 24HD Touch), the Cintiq Companion is priced a fair margin over their Cintiq 13HD counterparts, as they are stand-alone tablet computers, as opposed to pressure sensitive display devices.
Each Cintiq Companion model features 2048 levels of pressure with multi-touch control, a stand that allows the user to tilt the unit, and weighs between 3 and 4 lbs. An optional Bluetooth keyboard can be purchased separately.
Besides the operating system, the main difference between the Android and the PC model is the storage, with the former at 16/32GB, while the latter uses a 256/512GB SSD.
Inkling, announced on August 30, 2011, is a new device that enables artists to draw sketches on paper that can then be converted into digital images. Inkling consists of a receiver, which artists insert any kind of paper into, and a special pen which uses real ink. As artists draw on paper, they are able to add new layers by tapping a button on the receiver. When the artist have finished their sketches, they can connect the receiver into a USB port, where the sketches are imported into Sketch Manager and can be exported to Photoshop, Illustrator or Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, as well as various image formats. As of 2013, the device is priced US$99/€74.
Wacom has additional products which it markets in various parts of the world. The "Graphire Wireless" is a 6 in × 8 in (15 cm × 20 cm) version of Wacom's discontinued Graphire line (largely replaced by the Bamboo) which communicates with the computer via Bluetooth rather than a USB cable. It remains available in the Americas. The Graphire digital pen is interchangeable with the original Bamboo model's digital pen but not later Bamboos. In Europe, Wacom offers the "Colorelli", a tablet and software package marketed as a creative outlet for children; "JustWrite Office" a basic tablet for capturing written input in office applications; the "PL Series", similar in function to the Cintiq but with more modest specifications suited for office use; and the "Signature Tablet", a monochrome display/tablet for capturing signatures.
Previous products from Wacom included the ArtZ, ArtZ II, ArtPad, ArtPad II, Digitizer, Digitizer II, Favo, UltraPad, Graphire through Graphire4, Intuos through Intuos3, 15-, 17- and 18-inch Cintiqs, Volito, and PenPartner. Early models used RS-232 and Apple serial connectors, with a conversion to USB in later models.
Several Wacom models, including the Intuos4 and Bamboo, have been criticized for the drawing surface's roughness, which rapidly wears down nibs and can result in uneven wear patterns, leaving slick and non-slick areas. However, being made of nothing more than plastic, nibs can be replaced by a short length of nylon 'wire' (approx 0.065 inches or 1.7mm diameter) like that found in grass trimmer or 'weed-eater' refills, suitably straightened out by hand and smoothed (rounded off) at one end with abrasive paper. Additionally, a shallow glass can be used as a cover over the drawing surface, though it may induce a—usually modest—parallax error when tracing.
The Intuos4 surface sheet was revised in October 2010 to reduce nib wear. Wacom Europe sells a bundle that includes the revised surface sheet and replacement nibs at a reduced price for installation in existing Intuos4 tablets.
ThinkyHead Software publishes the free TabletMagic driver package. TabletMagic is a driver for discontinued serial-port Wacom tablets for use on modern Apple Macintosh computers under the Mac OS X operating system. A USB-to-serial port adapter is required. (OS X open source drivers for many such adapters are available from Source Forge.) Not all original functions of the tablet are supported by TabletMagic, but most basic functions are retained.
Wacom tablets use a (expired) patented electromagnetic resonance technology. Since the tablet provides power to the pen through resonant inductive coupling, no battery or cord is required for the pointing device. As a result, there are no batteries inside the pen (or the accompanying puck), which makes them slimmer.
Under the tablet's surface (or LCD in the case of the Cintiq) is a printed circuit board with a grid of multiple send/receive coils and a magnetic reflector attached behind the grid array. In send mode, the tablet generates a close-coupled electromagnetic field (also known as a B-field) at a frequency of 531 kHz. This close-coupled field stimulates oscillation in the pen's coil/capacitor (LC) circuit when brought into range of the B-field. Any excess resonant electromagnetic energy is reflected back to the tablet. In receive mode, the energy of the resonant circuit’s oscillations in the pen is detected by the tablet's grid. This information is analyzed by the computer to determine the pen's position, by interpolation and Fourier analysis of the signal intensity. In addition, the pen communicates information such as pen tip pressure, side-switch status, tip vs. eraser orientation, and the ID number of the tool (to differentiate between different pens, mice, etc.). For example, applying more or less pressure to the tip of the pen changes the value of the pen's timing circuit capacitor. This signal change can be communicated in an analog or digital method. An analog implementation would modulate the phase angle of the resonant frequency, and a digital method is communicated to a modulator which distributes the information digitally to the tablet. The tablet forwards this and other relevant tool information in packets, up to 200 times per second, to the computer.
Because the tablet uses a form of electromagnetic resonance technology, both to "communicate" with the pen and—in newer cordless- and battery-free pen models—to charge it as well, there is an accompanied electromagnetic field radiation. Although this radiation falls in the intermediate frequency range (531 kHz according to Wacom's patent; see above), and is well below those emitted, for example, by mobile phones, some users are concerned about the possible health side effects of the extended exposure to such radiation.
Even though there have been no conclusive research on the long-term health effects of the exposure to such low-frequency radiation, and even though Wacom has not released concrete numbers about their products (beside that 531 kHz figure in the expired patent), Wacom denies any negative effects whenever the question is raised on their forums.
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