I recently got back my Wacom Intuos Pro tablet after it died about 6 months ago. We were in the middle of getting our house ready for sale in order to move to Utah so getting it fixed got put on the back burner. However, since getting it back, I now remember how great it was to have it so I decided this was a good time to do a review on it. This is my first attempt at a review so please bear with me if it’s not what you’re used to.
Probably the best thing about using a tablet is having the pressure sensitive pen. I highly recommend getting a tablet, even if it’s not this one, just for that one reason. I had forgotten how much better using any type of adjustment brush is when you have a tablet. Rather than having to keep changing the opacity of your brush, you can just leave it at 100% and use the pressure to determine the opacity. For me it makes a huge difference in how well my adjustments blend in. Things like dodging and burning just seem to blend in better when you can do them a little at a time. Even though I can drop down the opacity and use a mouse, I seem to do a better job with the pen. I know many times I’ll press pretty hard in the middle of where I’m using an adjustment brush and then ease up as I get to where I want to start to blend the adjustment in. I find it way easier to do that with pressure than manually changing the opacity. Plus it just feels more natural using a pen compared a mouse. I know having my tablet back made a big difference in my SLC Supermoon image. I know using the pen is what made blending the moon layer into the main image look as good as it does.
So now that you know how I feel about using a tablet, why exactly did I choose the Wacom Intuos Pro? For starters, I don’t see any other real competitor to Wacom so picking a brand was a no brainer. Plus I had already used 2 different Wacom tablets in the past and was quite happy with them. The big difference in the Intuos Pro and the other tablets I’ve used is the fact that the Intuos Pro has 8 programmable buttons and a programmable touch ring on the left side to make this very customizable. For me this is very helpful since my keyboard is on a drawer under my desktop and accessing it periodically to press a few keys is awkward. If you have room on your desktop for both a tablet and KB, this customizability may not be as important to you.
The tablet has a variety of preset settings you can choose from to program the buttons and touch ring, or you can record keystrokes. They way I have my buttons setup is as follows from the top to bottom: Preview on/off, Undo, Redo, Shift key, ALT key, CTRL key, Zoom In and Zoom out. The ring toggles through up to 4 different controls, but I’m only using 2 right now. Pressing the button in the center of the ring toggles through the controls. Currently I have the touch ring programmed to adjust the brush size and feather amount. I find this so much more convenient than using the KB shortcuts due to the location of my KB. With this setup I don’t have to touch my KB unless I have to type some text. If you use less than the 4 available controls on the touch ring as I’m doing, you can disable the non-used controls so it only toggles between the ones you’re using.
I do want to point out that the 2 main programs I use are Lightroom and ON1’s Perfect Photo Suite. I rarely use Photoshop anymore. The reason I want to mention that is that I haven’t been able to get the Preview, Undo and Redo to work in PS like it does in LR & PPS. In LR & PPS the Preview on/off works exactly like you’d think by toggling the preview on and off. In PS it doesn’t do anything. In LR & PPS, the Undo & Redo both work as you’d expect by allowing as many undos and then redos as you have available. In PS the Undo only toggles between one undo and one redo. The Redo doesn’t do anything. That’s probably due the lack of my PS knowledge in setting it up. I’m sure there’s a way to get those working properly, but I wanted to make sure I mentioned it.
The Intuos Pro comes in 3 sizes, small, medium and large. I have the medium which is large enough to give you plenty of resolution for working on small areas, but not so big that you couldn’t travel with it. You can check out Wacom’s website for more specific details. It also comes with a wireless kit which consists of a battery, USB transmitter and USB receiver. The battery is charged with the included USB cable which is also how you connect the tablet to your computer if you don’t want to go wireless. I haven’t paid that much attention to how long the battery lasts and that would of course depend on how much you use the tablet. It does have a setting to turn off the tablet after a specific period of time if it’s not in use. I got it back about 2 weeks ago and it’s still at 70% for me. The last feature is that it can also work as a touch screen. I personally don’t use that and have it disabled. If the touch screen is enabled, it automatically disables when the pen gets close to the tablet so you’re not using it both ways at the same time.
So I think I’ve covered the pros which for me is basically the pressure sensitive pen and the customizability. That brings me to the cons.
Fortunately for this tablet I have only two. One is the price. The small is $250, the medium is $350 and the large is $500. Yes they are expensive. For me the customizability makes it worth the price. Plus I bought it nearly two years ago so the sticker shock has worn off. The other con is the issue with Windows 8. When I first bought it I was using Windows 7 with no problems. Between it dying and getting it fixed, I’ve moved to Windows 8. The issue, and it seems pretty common, is that often the driver won’t load when your computer boots up. I’ve read reports of people rebooting multiple times to get the tablet driver to load. I first found a better workaround and then one even better one than that.
What you need to do is create a shortcut that stops and restarts the driver. You do that by right-clicking on your desktop and choosing New/Shortcut.
In the box type the line below exactly as you see it and click on Next:
C:\Windows\System32\cmd.exe /c “sc stop “WTabletServicePro” & sc start “WTabletServicePro””
It needs to end with both quotation marks. Unfortunately the line is too long to see all at once in the dialog box.
Then give your shortcut a name and click on Finish.
Now anytime you get the error message that the tablet driver didn’t load, click OK on the error message and double-click the shortcut you just made. This has worked 100% for me so far.
My conclusion is that this is still a great tablet and worth the money and extra step of restarting the driver. Having said that, I think it’s extremely bad that Wacom hasn’t fixed this since, as far as I can tell, it’s been happening since Windows 8 came out. I did try it on the one computer I have that’s running Windows 10, and the the tablet worked perfectly for the brief period that I tested it. Keep in mind that is just one computer, but so far I haven’t found any reports of this issue with Windows 10. I also haven’t been willing to put Windows 10 on my main computer yet to see if that solves the issue.
I hope this helps if you’re considering a tablet, even if it’s not this one. If you have any questions please leave a comment.