Choosing the Best Graphics Tablet
How do I choose a pen tablet?
Choosing a graphic tablet can be easy, then again it could be hard. Pen tablets are user input devices that allow users to draw and write by hand (instead of using a mouse or keys for example.) Different tablets have difference features and are intended for different workloads. The workload isn't the only way of judging a tablet, there are others such as space limitations, cost, and user ability. While all these are important almost all tablets can achieve the same end result except on-screen editing (these are often very expensive and can be hard for someone not used to using a tablets tools.) Understanding how a tablet works and reviewing the most common is a good way to choosing a graphics tablet.
Using a Cintiq Tablet
How does a Graphic Pen Tablet work?
If you never used one before it will take a little playing around to get used to. A pen tablet consists of a plastic mat that holds the active area, programmable buttons, software, and a USB interface port to connect to a computer.
Active Area: The active area is the part of the tablet you draw/write on. This is a pressure sensitive area that allows for dynamic results (a line starting think then going thin for example.) Basically, depending on the size of your tablet it will scale your computer screen to the size of the pad. (So if you put the pen to the center of the tablet, it will put the mouse curser to the center of your screen if it is calibrated correctly.) It is important to keep this area from being hit, as it might lose sensitivity.
Programable Buttons: On all tablets there is a control center that does tasks like opening up a program and scrolling up/down or zooming in/out. Also more advanced graphic tablets have more specialized buttons for use of switch tools quickly without using keyboard shortcuts or clicking.
Software: All pen tablets come with a software bundle to use them (unless you buy used). The most important part of this bundle is the cd that comes with the tablet, you will need this for the drivers. If you lose the driver CD the best thing you can do is check the manufacture website to download the drivers.
USB Port: This simply is the cable that runs from the tablet to the computer allowing what you do to appear on screen (it also supplies *MOST* tablets with power).
Wacom Bamboo Graphics Tablet
Most Common Graphics Tablet: Wacom Bamboo
This little black tablet is basically the starting point of most people. The price is cheap, the size is compact so it can be moved easily or used with laptops, and it achieves everything that needs to be done easily. It has a wide sensitivity and is in general a durable tablet. I personally have one of these and it works great for anything, drawing, painting, graphic design, and illustration. I even used to use this table for first person shooter videogames, it allows you to click where u want to shoot without scrolling the crosshairs. This tablet is what I recommend for light uses and small tasks of design firms in the graphics industry. While you can do masterful illustrations on this, it would take a bit more time and patience.
Wacom Cintiq 21UX
Cintiq 21UX Graphic Tablet Trailer
The Most Advanced Tablet: Cintiq 21UX
This graphic pen tablet is the Ferrari of tablets. The Cintiq 21UX allows you to draw directly on the screen. This is for the top designers, animated movie makers, and illustrators. Sure, anyone can use it and love it, but you need a large wallet or need to save up for a long time. Most people who arent in the graphics field and want one of these shouldn't expect to make the money back with it (which is the main reason only top pro's use it.) Of course if you will settle for a smaller screen with almost as many features it has a little brother, the Cintiq 12WX.
Intos4 Professional Graphic Tablets
There are other options from Wacom, the Bamboo series consists of 6 different tablets allowing hand touch, pen/mouse only, and a combo of the two. From experience I suggest getting the Bamboo that has a pen, if you want the touch get the pen and touch combo.
The Intos4 series tablets are what most agency and small operations do. The size and abilities allow them to get the task done and give extra features to illustrators the bamboo doesn't. Mostly its tablet size, allowing more detail with less zooming.
All the information for the Intos4 can be found here: Intos Pro Graphic Pen Tablet
Lastly, why are only Wacom Tablets Reviewed here?
There is an answer for this that isn't just a hate of other tablets or market competition. After talking to many graphic designers, testing myself, and seeing the lifespan of the tablets only Wacom is a trusting name. While some designers swear by there other brands, most had bad experiences and switched to Wacom tablets. If you want true value for what you buy, want it to last a long time, and want it to work accurately then I strongly recommend a Wacom.