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on 5 October 2012
This review is for Wacom Bamboo Pen CTL-470, I feel qualified to make this review as I have been using Wacom tablets professionally since 1998.
Why not use a mouse? - Simply you can't control a mouse in the same way, a pen is far more natural and accurate for drawing, painting and spraying digitally. The tablets take advantage of varying pen pressure you apply to it, something you could never do with a mouse. It takes a week or two to get used to it if coming from a mouse only user.

My previous tablet is the ET-405-U (A6 size, blue model with pen and mouse) this has 512 of pressure sensitivity, still works fine but a little tired after nearly 10 years of use.

This Bamboo Pen, comes nicely packaged, more aesthetically pleasing, has the same pen area as my old one (A6), and has twice the pressure sensitivity. I generally find there is no advantage in the larger more expensive tablets, the larger tablets mean that you'll need larger distance strokes, and some artists I worked with in the past had said they found it easier to work with a small tablet, with less repetitive strain, and better accuracy. Generally avoid the "touch" versions, while I've not personally used them, I've heard a lot of poor reviews; they don't provide any useful advantage. The pen only are the ones to go for, otherwise just plug in a mouse. For those mega serious digital artists the ultimate Wacom would be one of the Cintiq 22-24" HD range, where by you work directly on screen, which works as both monitor and tablet. However the little Bamboo is a great entry level tablet, and works in the same way as your mouse.

The stylus (pen) is a nice diameter, the button much the same as my old version and works in the same fashion; 2 click operations controllable from the preferences.

The thickness of the Bamboo tablet is much the same as my old one at about 10mm from the surface, and has a reasonable beveled edge to make it comfortable to use.

Works fine with both mac and windows.

Issues:
1) The first obvious thing is that this tablet is much wider than the old one, the USB end with logo and blue LED (as shown in the product image) widens the tablet by 60mm. And seems a bit of waste of space.
Not having much desk space I find this intrudes onto you keyboard, especially as the USB cable is quite stiff, and not very flexible. So I'd imagine in most cases people would need to set the preferences in a Left-handed mode, this will allow you to rotate the tablet so that the USB end faces away to the right. BTW you can only use the tablet in a landscape position (unless you like going UP/DOWN instead of LEFT/RIGHT!).

2) I did find the default pressure sensitivity too sensitive, especially when using it to navigate in windows/Finder, items tended to be dragged slightly rather than just clicked/double clicked. This needed the pen firmness set to maximum. However using Photoshop or Manga Studio, or Painter, the pressure sensitivity needed a much softer setting. And unlike the previous software there doesn't seem to be an option to store settings for the application you are using, which now means more fiddling when switching between applications. There are only 7 preset levels of firmness in the preferences panel, and I did find these step too much or too little, I'd like to see a finer percentage control.

3) This maybe my preference, but I don't like the Bamboo's tablet surface. I find it too resistive, much like cartridge paper (almost a crunchy feel'n!). Like drawing traditionally, the resistance of the paper tends to fight with your stroke sometimes causing a less than straight line to be drawn. I'm sure if you never used a tablet to draw before, and coming from traditional mediums that you'll like the tablets resistance initially. Personally, I find more accuracy can be performed with a smoother surface (see point 4). Why mimic traditional flaws, when it could be made to better aid the artist.

4) The tablet surfaces do tend to wear out over time, and so do the nibs. Thankfully Wacom provide some spare nibs (mine came with 3 spares and a ring tool to remove them, which I expect to last the lifetime of the tablet - depending on how heavy handed you are). My preference to solve the issue with the tablet surface is to stick smooth plastic sheet to the surface using double-sided sticky tape - sounds crude, but it works. You can buy surface protectors (i.e. sticky film for tablet touchscreens), but never used them myself. I find some smooth document binder partitions and cut them out to fit, which I find cheap and does the job of providing a much smoother surface to work with, if sacrificing the aesthetics slightly.

Any Illustrators out there I strongly recommend getting Manga Studio Pro EX, you can illustrate very traditional result, and the app also helps to correct strokes, whereas Photoshop's strokes can be a little shaky, and needs more patience.

Overall
I can't say that Wacom have terribly improved their small tablets over past 14 years. However, despite the Bamboos short comings, it still and essential tool for a digital artist and does the job that you couldn't do with a mouse. And for around £50 it's the best value out of Wacom's product range.
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on 3 January 2012
I've been using a Wacom Intuos pen/tablet on my desktop computer for several years now, and no longer use a mouse at all, for anything. When I bought a Macbook, I really missed my tablet; the Macbook trackpad is OK, but nothing like as precise and (to me) intuitive as the pen and tablet, and no way could I go back to a clumsy and awkward mouse. So after some research, I decided to give the Wacom Bamboo Pen tablet a try. Installation was very easy indeed - plug it in, run the installation disk, and from then on, it just works. I have customised the settings a little, e.g. to set the button on the pen to a right mouse hover click, and it is worth investigating the different settings to find the arrangement that best suits you. Compared to my Intuos tablet, the Bamboo is only a little less precise, a little less pressure sensitive, and I'm quite satisfied with its performance. It does have a scratchier feel when drawing/writing - personally I prefer the smoother feel of the Intuos tablet, but that might be personal preference. The Bamboo tablet sits on my lap when I'm using the laptop, and the pen tucks away neatly in a little loop at the side of the pad when not in use; the tablet is small enough to be portable and not too cumbersome, while still allowing you to navigate accurately.

If you're new to a tablet/pen, it takes a little getting used to. The tablet maps to the screen, so if you point to the top right of the tablet, the pointer goes to the top right of the screen - unlike a mouse. It's worth investing that time getting used to it if you're doing any sort of work that requires precision - including drawing, handwriting, editing images in e.g. Photoshop, or even some games where you need to aim accurately. You can write with this pen in a drawing package, and what appears on the screen looks like your handwriting (very difficult to achieve with a mouse). The only thing I really miss, and occasionally go back to the trackpad for, is easy scrolling. I don't know about Windows, but on a Mac, you can still use the mouse/trackpad while the tablet is connected, just switch between them as you prefer.
The tablet comes with an art package and utilities, but I haven't investigated this as I use Photoshop.

Overall I'd recommend this tablet for general use, drawing, image editing like touching up photos, games etc.; if you're into heavy professional Photoshop work or serious artwork, then I think you'll want a larger tablet with more functionality like the Wacom Intuos range.
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on 5 March 2012
I've used Wacom tablets in the past and this one has some welcome extras e.g. handwriting and highlighting in Office Applications - excellent. The tablet does all that I expected.
The length of the USB cable though is a gripe. It's almost certain that you will need a USB extension if you are using other than a laptop.
The one serious flaw in the description of the tablet is that the suggested Wireless Accessory Kit is definitely not compatible with this particular tablet. I've been on to Wacom about this and after first insisting that the kit would work with any Wacom Tablet they conceded that no, it didn't for this model. Perhaps Amazon need to include this in the description?
So, if you are defintely looking for wireless connectivity, don't go for this model!
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on 4 June 2012
This is one of those things that I wasn't sure wether it was worth spending 50pounds on, and I was slightly apprehensive as I was unsure as to when I would use it, but thank god I went with it,

what a fantastic way to spend 50pounds, it is superb.

There is a bit of a nack, but that comes very quickly perhaps around 10-20 mins of fiddling around with it will have you being able to use it really fluently.

It is superbly designed, it looks great - the pen has really useful buttony things whereby you can easily move around your picture (and another 'right click' which changes brushes on photoshop)
So by learning how to magnify/zoom out with quickbutton-shortcut things (so for example by holding the 'left click' on the pen and pressing ctrl/alt will zoom in) you will be wizzing around your painting.

The size is not an issue at all, you don't notice because when you are zooming in/out it doesnt make any difference - Do not be put off by the size at all, it is just not an issue at all.

Its an excellent form of producing art - its like painting but with drawingpencils/pens, fabulous.

Has improved my real painting as well, I have noticed I transfered some skills so its not a totally different thing all together,

You can easily put photos on a different layer then work over them so you can get really accurate drawings very quickly if necessary as well.

So it has totally changed my portfolio for the better, added a new dimension to my work - I can create nice graphics for all sorts of things, make little posters and stuff that look quite proffesh

Awesome, buy it now! If you like art, don't think, just buy!
wahey!
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on 21 February 2012
I was reeled in by the price as I didn't realise Wacom products went as cheap as this. Being a student, I can't afford to go splashing out on an Intuos or Cintiq as much as I'm sure they would be great to use. And, if they truly are that much better than the Bamboo, then they must be spectacular. The pad maps to the screen meaning navigating it is completely seemless, and the pen is wonderfully sensitive. I honestly did not expect such a good product for such a low price. It is so intuitive to use that in the short time I've had it my workflow has increased and improved dramatically. It's no surprise that I've already seen three more pop up in the studio.
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on 18 November 2011
I had a bit of a tight budget and didn't want to spend more than fifty pounds on a tablet. My first tablet was second hand and getting old, so any new one would have been an improvement. I decided to go with Wacom in the end, as they are pretty popular, and fifty pounds seemed like a good price for a Wacom tablet. I took a bit of a risk, purchasing a tablet without looking at many reviews. It came quickly and it was very easy to set up. It's nice to use, although because the programme is uses has games on it, I wonder if the quality of it might not be as I expect. Saying that, I've been using it all day, painting on Photoshop, and I haven't found any faults with it yet.
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on 12 February 2012
I've worked with tablets at pervious employments and they've always been large tablets making life much easier when working with photographic software. So, when I had to buy one for myself I needed to be able to afford it but use it too. I spent a while researching and reading various good and bad reviews written for this tablet so I had hoped I'd made the right choice and I did.

Although it's not as nice and comfortable as using the larger tablets it does the job. I have to work from home as a freelancer and couldn't afford the A3 tablets that I was used to working with but I have to say my life has become so much easier drawing wise and certainly the jobs that I have to do have somewhat sped up. I don't take so long doing amendments to images or creating images with the pen as I did with the mouse. I feel like I actually have a brush or pen in my hand. Hopefully in time I'll be able to afford the A3 tablet and a better pen but until then I'm happy with what I have. It's perfect for someone who is just starting out as a freelancer.
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on 12 January 2013
I received my bamboo 6 days ago; I've never owned a tablet before, and read thousands of conflicting reviews of different brands of tablets. Despite all the confusion this tablet was best value for money so I finally took the plunge. This is what I think:

- DELIVERY: I got my tablet so quickly I was surprised, and it arrived in excellent condition.

- WHAT YOU GET: [a] tablet, [b] stylus pen, [c] 3 spare nibs plus nib extractor, [d] installation cd and quick install manual, [e] usb cable and [e] ArtRage 2.5 software upon installation.

- INSTALLATION: the cd does not start installation automatically, u have to dbl-click it, which then installs the driver and starts the tutorial and also gives u a package of games and apps, most of which u have to install, a handful are installed when u install the driver. For me, the installation was problem free and quick, but Illustrator would not work with it until I saw the warning from the tablet saying it needed to upgrade; then it worked fine.

- TABLET: the actual size of the tablet is fine unless you are used to working really big. The one issue I have is that a lot of usable space has been wasted where you have the blue light and logo. All of that could've been used to increase the drawing space. I find when I scroll with the pen all the way to the bottom of my screen, my palm hangs off the edge of the tablet while the rest of my hand is still on there (uncomfortable). Its a shame you cant use it lengthways instead of just widthways.

- LEFT HAND vs. RIGHT HAND: I am a lefty and using the tablet has not been an issue for me, because I use it in right hand mode. That works better for me because I have it on my left side, and that is where the usb port is on my laptop.

- STYLUS: some ppl commented that its too light but honestly u don't even feel it after u've used it a few times. It works fine, though sometimes when I'm drawing it makes scratchy sounds wh/ I find annoying. While it works fine in Adobe Illustrator, for some reason in Photoshop even though I have adjusted the brush to pen pressure the software wont let me draw calligraphic lines. So its best to check with all your software before you decide to keep it. Its great that it comes with 3 extra nibs, I'm hoping they last me a long time.

- USB CABLE: I don't have an issue with its length, it works great for me. I hate long wires dangling everywhere, and I cant understand how far ppl must be holding their tablet from their laptops to find the length of the wire annoying.

- ARTRAGE: I'd never even heard of this software before I got the tablet, but actually its a really enjoyable and easy to learn painting program, which in my opinion produces more life-like paintings than Photoshop. Unfortunately it is version 2.5, not the fully upgraded Artrage Studio Pro, but its so reasonably priced that I'm really tempted to buy it. Drawing in Illustrator and then importing those sketches into Artrage is a great way to produce some beautiful paintings quickly. I have no idea what one would do with those paintings, but its good fun anyway.

- NO TOUCH FEATURE: in the more expensive version of Bamboo, you get to use finger touch to scroll, and when I first started using the tablet I thought I'd find it so annoying to keep moving between my scroll pad on the laptop and the tablet. But actually you can do most scrolling with the stylus, and when u do want to use the scroll pad (I never use a mouse) if u put ur stylus down, you can still continue to use it. Considering u have to keep going to ur laptop to type anyway, its not that big a deal, and now I'm used to it in just a week, so I hardly notice.

- VALUE FOR MONEY: the Bamboo Pen & Touch is £20 more in price, and u get the same size of tablet; the only add-ons are the touch feature (not important for me) and the upgraded version of ArtRage (tempting if u r serious about using it); as for the buttons on it, I'd find them annoying n they'd get in my way. I think that if u r on a budget, and if u don't need a massive space to draw, this Bamboo Pen only is a great tablet and works really well; you can do the same thing on this one that u'd do on any other, i.e. DRAW. All in all excellent value for money.

My reason for not giving it a full 5 stars is because of the waste of space on the tablet, and the software which I feel should've been the latest one. Honestly - 4.5 stars.
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on 3 January 2012
This tablet is pure awesome. So cheap for what it is.

I am using it with my MacBook Pro 2009, with photoshop, illustrator and to use as the mouse every now and again (now cant live without!)

The actual design of the tablet is really cool, looks very professional but also funky.

Was extremely simple to set up and get going with, I would highly recommend this if you are just starting out with graphic design, or want to take your design to the next level.
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on 10 May 2012
Ordered this to replace my wacom bamboo 2ng Gen Pen and touch. I had my pen and touch for about a year,until the wires came loose and it stopped working. So Im glad to know that this came with a micro usb cable (Should it happen again, I would only have to replace the cable, which is easy as its a popular cable often used for modern phones).All in all its pretty similiar to the 2ng gen. The main reason I chose this was because in my pen and touch, I found myself only really using the pen, so it's be a cheaper deal. Pen is easy to use. One thing that surprised me was the green under-surface, but that doesnt bother me at all. At £38 I'd say its a steal. Its an excellent Tablet for beginners as well as professional use. As an artist, the pressure sensitivity is lovely for a tablet of this price. If you want a wacom, go for it! Fast delivery service, came 3 days early~
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