I'm not going to bark on about how great it is. Other people have done that for me.
Instead i thought i'd answer a question i wanted to know before i bought it, ie how does it compare to the pricier sibling, the Intuos 3 range.
While i don't actually own a Wacom Intuos 3 i've used one extensively during freelance work for a couple of companies in london. I needed one simply to carry on the work from home without pilfering one of theirs. I sure there are stats somewhere to prove me wrong but this is my opinion.
Apart from the obvious price difference (around £90 for the A5 Intuos) one reason i considered the bamboo is because of it's size. The area surrounding the Intuos' touch pad is rather large and tends to dominate your entire desk area. Some people may prefer this, it gives your wrists somewhere to rest which i could imagine would be preferable for extended use. But for someone like me who uses it briefly the size of the bamboo is just about perfect, especially given that it has exactly the same touch pad size (A5). Plus it fits snuggly next to my monitor when not in use.
So what are the comprimises? Well, out of the box, there is a very slight lack of quality compared to the Intuos. It's difficult to put my finger on but i guess it would be a combination of several small factors. The bamboo feels vaguely light weight (i don't think i'm the only one who sub-consciously equates quality with weight) and lacks the silky smooth laminate finish, the pen lacks the firm rubber and the weight of the Intuos' and, when pen is touched to pad, the bamboo feels a little like a "scrape" compared to the Intuos' "wipe". I think it's safe to say, however, that compared to the cheaper alternative out there, the bamboo still oozes quality hence why i gave it 4 out of 5. Remember, i'm only doing a subjective comparison of the two pads.
Common to the Intuos, the bamboo has 4 main assignable buttons plus a "touch ring" commonly assigned to zooming and scrolling. The Intuos actually has 4 buttons per side allowing for both left and right hand use, but i believe these buttons can all be assigned differenct keystrokes/functions actually rendering the Intuos with 8 assignable buttons. You're unlikely to reach over your drawing hand to use them when the keyboard is right in front of you, but having the buttons down the side felt more logical to me as you generally sit with your hands side by side.
The software for both pads share many similar functions like "tip firmness", "double-click speed" etc but i believe the Intuos' software is more flexible allowing the button functions to change depending on the application being used plus button assignment options are more extensive. Given that i rarely, if ever, used these functions i really don't miss them.
So far so good, but how's the Bamboo in use?
Well the first thing i noticed was the different feel. Mentioned earlier, the bamboo feels a little rough when moving the pen over the pad. This may be because it's brand new and it's not a particularly big issue, but worth a mention. I started by loading up a blank white page in photoshop and just scribbling. To my horror, the bamboo jolted sideways at one point leaving a perfectly horizontal notch in my otherwise smooth line. On further investigation i realised that this was due to a the computer simply catching up with itself. The problem has not occured since.
In motion I'm pleased to report that the Bamboo exhibits all the directional sensitivity of the Intuos with, as far as i could tell, three differences:
The first being the distance in which you can move the pen away from the pad while still controlling the mouse pointer. I may be wrong and there may be figures to disprove me but i reckon the Bamboo pen maintains control of the mouse up to about 9-10mm off the touch pad. I can't be sure, but it felt like a noticeably shorter distance than that of the Intuos. All this really means is that, when you're moving your pointer around the screen using the pen, if your pen reaches a certain distance away from the pad your mouse pointer stops dead onscreen. It takes a little getting used to but, again, it's no major problem.
The second difference i noticed was the minimum pressure that the pen would "draw" with. To test this i set up a blank photoshop document with a brush that increased in size the more pressure that was used. With the Intuos, by merely touching the pad with the pen a line would be drawn, albeit a very thin one. The Bamboo pen can be touched to the pad lightly without any line being drawn until a small amount of pressure is applied, at which point the brush in photoshop seems to "kick in" at a given size. This leads me to believe that the Bamboo cannot go below a given pressure threshold rendering it's pressure guage less sensitive than the Intuos'. I don't believe the Bamboo pen was designed to be dragged over the pad to simply move the mouse around as the pressure needed to actually start drawing is too slight.
The third difference doesn't affect me but i presume it's quite important to certain artists and that is the Bamboo's lack of tilt. The intuoso measures the angle of the pen on the pad to increase tactility.
Anyway, like i said, this is purely a comparison with the Intuos. If any of the above sounds like it'd bother you or you need a tablet to use on a daily basis then go for the Intuos. Otherwise the Bamboo is a perfectly good alternative for personal and, in most cases, professional use. I noticed another review insinuated that the software is slightly complex but the Bamboo works fine once the drivers are installed and there's no need to go in and tweak the settings unless you want to change the default button functions etc.