What is a tablet?
A tablet is a type of pointing device, just like a mouse. It comes with an electronic pen that operates only on top of the tablet. In simplistic terms, you can think of this as a pen-shaped mouse moving over a special mouse pad. Since the pen is cordless and battery-free, operation can be carried out freely and intuitively. What can you do with a tablet?
With a tablet, not only can you create illustrations and web graphics and banners, but you can also edit digital photos, write handwritten emails, create animations, and even write directly onto business documents (in the format of Word/Excel/PowerPoint etc.). A tablet can replace a normal mouse completely. Can you draw illustrations with just a tablet?
To do this, you must also have software for drawing or photo editing. Almost all WACOM tablets come with powerful software of this type to help you start being creative from day one. What is the difference between a tablet and an ordinary mouse?
WACOM tablets have pens that are cordless, ball-free and battery-free, so no need to clean your pen, and no frustrating, unwanted cord! Also, while a mouse operates using relative coordinates, a tablet operates using absolute coordinates, making PC operation more intuitive. For example, with absolute coordinates, when you place your pen on the bottom left corner of the tablet surface, the cursor on the screen will move to the bottom left corner of the computer screen. No matter where the cursor is on the screen, once the pen is moved to the bottom left corner of the tablet, the cursor on the screen will move directly to the same place. Can a tablet be used together with a normal mouse?
Whether it's a mouse that come with your PC or another input device such as a trackball, WACOM tablets can be used together with these devices at any time. Why do you have different tablet sizes? What's the difference?
Whether the tablet size is big or small, you can do the same basic things with it: drawing, controlling the cursor on the screen, etc. The difference comes with the accuracy with which you, as a human, can move the cursor. Under normal settings, the tablet's active area corresponds 1 to 1 to the monitor screen. So, when the tablet size is small, a small pen displacement on the tablet will be large on the screen. In order to make small and accurate movements on the screen, your hand will have to make incredibly small and extremely accurate movements on the tablet. The tablet will be able to cope with these small movements, but you will not. Therefore, if you need to work very precisely on the screen, you need a bigger tablet. What can I do with a tablet?
Besides being a replacement for a mouse, tablets can be used in various applications. Here are a few examples:
- Photo Editing. With a tablet, it's much easier to edit and correct digital/scanned photos.
- Freehand drawing on the computer. With a mouse, this is a very crude affair, but a tablet makes it a breeze.
- CAD and 3D modelling.
- Handwriting recognition.
All of the above can be done easily with a tablet; with a mouse, they can be time-consuming, frustrating or near-impossible! How do WACOM Tablets Work?
WACOM Tablets take advantage of the electro-magnetic resonance technology developed by WACOM Co. Ltd. Japan, in which radio waves are sent to the stylus and returned for pen pressure and position analysis. It's the pen, not the tablet, that determines which position and what pen pressure is registered. You can therefore rest your hand on the tablet, and even put a sheet of paper or photograph on the tablet surface and trace it. For more information see: How do WACOM tablets work? Where can I find handwriting recognition software?
For Windows XP users, Paragraph PenOffice
and Paragraph Calligrapher
are available. Both software packages support most common European languages.
Microsoft Office (Office XP and later) also has built-in handwriting recognition. If it is not installed by default, you should use add/remove to install this function.
Windows Vista and Windows 7 come with built-in handwriting recognition (except for the Home Basic edition). Mac OS 10.2 or higher has handwriting recognition software, called Inkwell, built into the operating system. How do I know whether other software supports WACOM tablets or not?
WACOM tablets work in ALL applications, behaving just like a normal mouse. And with the tablet driver installed, WACOM tablets can work in absolute positioning mode. However, other more advanced tablet functions, such as the eraser, pressure-sensitivity, tilt and tool ID functions, require built-in support by the application, so, for example, the pen only reacts to pressure in software that supports pressure-sensitivity. A lot of software does support at least some of these advanced functions; you should consult the software documentation or the manufacturer for details. What does "Absolute Positioning" mean?
Traditional input devices like a standard PC mouse offer only relative positioning: Moving the mouse in a certain direction will move the cursor on the screen in the corresponding direction, but there's no relation between the position of the mouse on your desk and the position of the cursor on the screen. WACOM tablets operate with absolute positioning: The entire active area of your tablet represents the entire screen. Place the pen in the lower left-hand corner of your tablet and the cursor will move to the lower left-hand corner of your screen. What does "Active Area" mean?
The Active Area is the drawing area of the tablet where your pens, mice and cursors are detected. For example, if you have an A4 tablet, the active area is A4 size. WACOM produces six different sizes of tablets, with an active area ranging from A7 up to A3. What is "Pen Pressure"?
This feature of the WACOM pens and erasers senses the amount of pressure being applied. This is used to create natural-looking pen, brush, and eraser strokes in applications that support pressure-sensitivity. Even more, with 512 pressure levels in a Graphire and 1,024 pressure levels in an Intuos, you can precisely control opacity, colour, exposure, or line width while creating smooth curves and gradual transitions. Different applications take advantage of pressure sensitivity in many ways, depending on the application's capabilities. What is an "Eraser"?
Most WACOM input devices have an eraser attached at the back end. Depending on the setting in the WACOM Control Panel and the utilized application, you can erase in the same way as you would with a pencil eraser head - and it's even pressure sensitive. Different applications take advantage of the eraser in many ways, depending on the application's capabilities. What are "Tool Buttons"?
All buttons and switches of any WACOM pen or mouse can be configured individually with your favourite short cuts. This special feature allows for individual programming of really any task, command or shortcut in any computer software. This way you can speed up any application by having your most frequently used commands or shortcuts virtually at your fingertips. What is a "Tool-ID"?
Tool ID is an intelligent system that allows additional Intuos input devices to be personalized to the software of your choice. Every Intuos input device has a unique electronic identifier so even multiple users can each have their own tools personalized to work the way they prefer on a shared system. If you are working with two identical pens, the tablet will recognize each one as a separate tool. This is particularly useful if you have customized each pen differently. In applications which support the Tool-ID feature, the brush or pen will change automatically just by changing the input device. This feature is not available in Graphire3 and Cintiq/PL series. What are "Application-specific settings"?
WACOM tools and tablets can have their settings specifically customized for individual applications, the control panel enabling you to program them to behave differently in different applications. Your application-specific settings are in effect whenever you use the application, because the driver detects the active application automatically. Also see "Tool buttons". (This feature is not available for Graphire3.) What's the difference between an LCD Tablet and a Touch Screen?
Performing touch-screen type operations on an LCD Tablet is done by using a pen, instead of touching the screen with your finger. Compared to a Touch Screen, it is much easier to use a detailed user interface with a pen and LCD tablet. Even if the buttons are small and the user interface is complicated, with a pen you will not need to worry about pressing two adjacent buttons at the same time, or pressing another button with your palm by accident. Also, LCD tablets last longer because the sensors are placed beneath a protective screen, and above all, they are much brighter and easier to look at.