Graphire 4 CTE-440
Wacom are the world leaders in graphics tablets and from those that we have tested it is easy to see why. The Graphire 4 is their cheapest model and is designed for beginners or users on a conservative budget. Unfortunately, the old adage that you get what you pay for rings true in this case and the Graphire 4 has some frustrating elements that may steer buyers toward some of Wacom's more expensive models.
- Attractive design, Eraser on pen, Easy installation
- Inconsistent tracking, Limited bundled software
This is a great tablet for kids and novice users who want to experience graphics tablets at an extremely low cost.
Price$ 149.00 (AUD)
The tablet is rather small, with a 118.41 square centimetre active writing area measuring 12.76cm x 9.28cm. The top of the strikingly designed tablet sports left and right click buttons, a scroll wheel and a cradle for the pen. Connecting via USB, the tablet is extremely easy to set up and only requires a single installation of the supplied drivers. The package also comes with bundled software including PhotoImpact 10, Corel Painter Essentials 2 and Personal PenPlus. Considering every other model released by Wacom comes with the ultra useful Photoshop Essentials 3.0, this bundle is a little disappointing at first glance, but is adequate for beginners.
The Pen is lightweight and has two buttons on it which are fully customisable, acting as left and right click by default. The front of the pen is the writing tip and the back is an eraser. This is a very nice feature of the pen as when you flip it, the tablet knows which end you are using and switches to the erase feature in the software you have open. The tablet supports 512 levels of pressure as apposed to the 1024 of the other models and this is evident via less pressure sensitive ink levels in programs like Adobe Photoshop. The pen is not completely accurate with a +/- 0.5mm buffer meaning that while it is great for drawing and signing contracts, it's not going to be sufficient for acute detail. A report rate of 100 points per second further detracts from the precision.
This translates to a slight delay in the actions of the pen, both in tracking on the screen and at the point of contact. It is only slight, and most users won't be too fussed by it, but it is the difference between being a precise graphics tool and being a novelty. Potential buyers should be aware that the Graphire 4 is an entry level model targeted at first time users or those who probably won't require pinpoint accuracy, such as kids. This isn't a professional tablet and was never meant to be, so it can be forgiven for its limitations. When you take into account the extremely low price of the tablet, it is actually quite a good buy as graphics tablets are usually notoriously expensive.
The Graphire 4 is designed for a broader range of users than the average graphic artist and it caters to that market adequately, bringing computer generated graphic art mainstream by compromising on features. The result is that there is nothing particularly exceptional about it other than its price tag.
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