This news isn’t specific to Apple (s aapl), but it definitely affects Apple users. As a longtime Mac user and amateur digital artist, I’ve also owned many a Wacom tablet over the years. Most recently, I graduated to a Cintiq 12WX, but the Graphire was my primary workhorse for many years. The Bamboo is the successor to that mantle.
Now, the Bamboo line is getting a much-needed update, and part of that update includes multi-touch gesture support. That’s right, the staunchly stylus-oriented Wacom is releasing touch-enabled devices, available today.
Gradually, Wacom has introduced customizable buttons, scrolls, rockers, and touch strips to make them easier to use without the aid of a keyboard and mouse. And they’ve made great strides. My 12WX has 10 customizable keys and two touch-sensitive scroll strips, all of which result in a much less clumsy drawing experience than I ever had using any of my Graphire tablets. Still, it can’t help but feel somewhat awkward and counter-intuitive.
The new multi-touch controls so closely resemble those already in use on Macs with trackpads that experienced Mac laptop users will likely feel right at home with them. Judging by the promo video, in fact, having a Bamboo with touch could actually completely eliminate the need of using a mouse at all, which represents a massive technical leap for the tablet maker.
Pinch to zoom and spread to expand, two-finger swipe left and right to scroll or move backwards and forwards, two-finger swipe up and down to scroll, and two-finger rotation are all included as usable gestures, and more besides.
The new Bamboo line now includes five distinct products, including one that doesn’t support touch at all, so if you’re thinking about getting one, think carefully about what you want out of the device. Since I already have a drawing tablet, I’m thinking about picking up the Bamboo Touch ($69), which doesn’t allow pen input at all and basically just brings multi-touch to your desktop. Could come in handy for browsing through large photo libraries, for example.
For the same price, you can get the Bamboo Pen, which doesn’t allow finger input at all. Maybe good for digital artists who only need the very basics, or for business people who only use it to digitally sign documents, but I don’t see this one being a hot seller.
The Bamboo ($99), Bamboo Fun ($199), and Bamboo Craft ($129) all offer both pen and multi-touch input. Price differences account for size, mostly, since every device includes the same ExpressKeys and pressure levels sensitivity. If you manage to get your hands on one of these, let us know how the multi-touch experience stacks up. Check out the following video for more info.