Bamboo Fun Pen Tablet

Article excerpt

Company: Wacom Technology Corp., 1311 SE Cardinal Court, Vancouver, WA98683. Phone: (360) 896-9833; Internet: www.wacom.com.

Price: The small Bamboo Fun Pen Tablet retails for $99, or $79 without the software DVD. The medium Bamboo Fun Pen Tablet is price at $199.

Minimum System Requirements: The Bamboo pen tablets work with computers running Windows 2000, XP, or Vista (32- or 64-bit) and Macintosh computers running Mac OS X 10.3.9 and above. The computer requirements include an Intel or PowerPC processor, a color display, powered USB port, and a CD/DVD drive. Adobe Acrobat Reader, a free software program, is needed to read the electronic user manual.

Description: A pen tablet is an input device used with a computer (a keyboard or a mouse is also an input device). The pen tablet includes a special electronic pen and a tablet (called a plate). The electronic pen functions on the tablet in a manner similar to a mouse. The Bamboo Fun Pen Tablet includes a pen and a special mouse that work on the active area of the tablet.

Specifications: The small Bamboo Fun Pen Tablet is very thin and lightweight with dimensions of 8.4" x 7.3" x 0.3" and an active area of 5.8" x 3.7". The medium Bamboo Fun Pen Tablet is 11.0" x 9.3" x 0.3" with an active area of 8.5" x 5.3".

For both pen tablets, the pressure sensitivity is 512 levels with a resolution of 2,540 lines per inch. The tablets feature four ExpressKeys and a finger-sensitive input touch ring. The units are available in black, silver, white, and blue.

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Warranty: One-year warranty for materials and workmanship with registration within 30 days of purchase and a receipt.

Reviewer Comments:

Installation: Installation was very easy. The tablet is plugged into the USB port and the software is installed from the accompanying CD-ROM and DVD. The installation process was standard and included answering the usual installation questions. Installation Rating: A

Features: According to the makers of the Bamboo Fun Pen Tablet, the device turns a computer into a canvas by allowing free expression with the touch of the pen tip to the tablet. The unit can be used to touch up digital photos, create artwork and paintings, and recognize handwriting.

The pen tablet also can be used for inputting freehand drawings, diagrams, and characters. Users can write notes by hand, mark up documents, sign their name, make sketches and doodles, handwrite email, prepare slide presentations, make collages of photos, and more.

The Bamboo Fun device works with any software. Many software applications have special features and tools designed for use with an electronic pen. The unit also works with the new handwriting recognition, inking, and pen features included in Windows Vista (all editions but Home Basic) and Apple operating systems (OS X).

The creators of the Animation-ish software program reviewed in this issue of MultiMedia & Internet @ Schools recommend using a drawing tablet (manufactured by Wacom, in particular) with their software. While working on the Animation-ish review, I thought it would be interesting to give a pen tablet a try. Even though I'm a doodler at best, I find drawing with a mouse to be awkward.

The first thing to say about the Bamboo Fun Pen Tablet is that it is an attractive, lightweight, amazingly thin device that is well thought out, well made, and fun to use. It comes with both a pen and a mouse. I immediately tried the pen with the Animation-ish software. With very little practice, my drawing improved quite a bit.

I also found out there is a good deal more to the Bamboo Fun Pen Tablet than I had realized. The Bamboo works through electromagnetic induction, a technology that allows battery-free and cordless input operation. The tablet gets the very small amount of energy it uses through the USB connection; the pen doesn't need batteries or other power to operate. …