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Wacom Graphire 4 CTE-640
- Bundled software is excellent, Easy to use, Simple and effective design
- Might be a little small, Lacks the precision required for professional users
A great introduction to the world of graphics tablets, the Graphire 4 from Wacom is an easy to use, inexpensive, yet still fully functional tablet.
Price$ 289.00 (AUD)
The bigger brother of the Wacom Graphire 4 CTE-440, the CTE-640 is essentially a 6x8" (A5) version of the smaller, 4x5" tablet, but comes with a few other interesting additions, as well. While the Graphire 4 range doesn't quite compare to the professional levels of performance boasted by Wacom's Intuos range, it does provide an inexpensive yet powerful option for those looking for a graphics tablet.
The tablet itself is a pleasant white, with a matching stylus and a 150cm USB cable attached to the top left corner. Measuring about 280mm x 260mm, with an active area of about 210mm x 150mm, and a height of 18mm, the tablet is a very manageable size, and quite lightweight. Two customisable buttons flank a scroll wheel at the top of the tablet, while four switches on the back allow the plastic cover to be removed, so photos or other images can be slipped underneath and traced. The stylus has a rubber grip upon which rest another two buttons, as well two separate tips (one is eraser by default, but this can be changed, depending on the software being used).
The software that comes bundled with this tablet is one of its biggest drawcards, and one of the major differences between it and the CTE-440. While both come with PenPlus and Corel Painter Essentials 2, the CTE-640 also comes with Ulead Photo Explorer 8 and Adobe Photoshop Elements 3.0. Photoshop Elements was especially good, and we were able to have a lot of fun playing with photos, and doing things that would have been a lot harder if just using a mouse.
Essentially though, that's what this tablet is, it's just a mouse. It takes a bit of getting used to, especially for users who have become accustomed to using mice over the years, but with some practice it can become an effective input for more than simple graphics work. What really distinguishes the two inputs, however, is the tablet's application in certain software, and its added dimension of input - pressure. While a mouse controls a cursor purely in two dimensional space, the tablet can, to a certain degree, detect a third dimension. Utilising a thin, electromagnetic field, the tablet can detect up to 512 levels of pressure, allowing users (with the included software) to control things such as thickness or solidity of brush strokes. More advanced tablets can even detect the angle at which the stylus is resting, and modify the image accordingly.
During our testing and usage of the tablet, we noticed very few problems at all. Response and detail were both very good, considering the tablet's price range; certainly not at a professional level, but enough to create a thoroughly enjoyable experience for the average user. The large hands of our reviewers meant that we did feel that it might have still been a little on the small side, but after using the 4x5" CTE-440 it felt like we had a football field worth of space.
The Graphire 4 range has so far been both simple and enjoyable to use, providing a fun and easy alternative to a mouse for both creating and editing digital art. The precision and response times don't quite match the more professional models out there, but amateur and beginner users will find themselves delighted with everything the CTE-640 has to offer.
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