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Beginner Graphic Tablets
A Comparison of Graphics Tablets
Looking for a beginner graphics tablet like I was? I'm comparing two major beginner graphics tablets on the market: the Wacom Bamboo Capture vs the Genius Easypen M406. Both are selling right now for $99. The Wacom line seems to be the most established of the two, while Genius is self marketed as being for the beginner who doesn't want to spend a lot of money. Since these two tablets cost the same, saving money is not a factor in this decision. So let's see which tablet gets us the most bang for the buck.
What's In The Box
With the Bamboo Capture, you get a 7 x 11" tablet, one tablet pen and a detachable USB cord. With the Genius Easypen, you get an 8 x 9" tablet, one tablet pen and an optical mouse. Right off the bat, my first impression upon unboxing these two tablets is that the Bamboo is of a higher quality and generally more aesthetic.
The Graphics Tablet
The Genius fit more conveniently next to my laptop, being squarer and 2" less wide than the Bamboo (and with it's cord coming out at the back instead of the side). Whereas the Bamboo is a better fit if I'm placing it in front of my keyboard. Both have roughly the same sized working area (the area in which the pen is active and corresponds to your screen). The Bamboo's area is a bit less than 4 x 6", while the Genius is a bit larger than 4 x 6". To the Genius' advantage, the working area is clearly delineated from the surrounding surface, making it easier to place my pen immediately in the right area. As you can see on the Bamboo, the working area is only marked off by fine crop-mark type markings and there's an inch to an inch and a half of additional surface (which is identical to the working area) on each side. Not a big deal, as you'll see in the demonstration, but worth noting.
There are four programmable buttons on the Bamboo and four programmable buttons on the Genius. Yes the Genius buttons are programmable - I could not find this info on my site search before buying it and it even looks like the buttons are set according to the icons on the tablet, but they are re-programmable. The Genius has an apparent advantage over the Bamboo it that it has an additional control - a scroll wheel. This lets you scroll, zoom, change brush size and volume. It seems like a convenient addition but it also feels very cheap - the wheel doesn't turn smoothly - it's pretty much plastic scraping over plastic. Now here's the big advantage on the Bamboo side: it has multi-touch functions so you can use it as a laptop touchpad. Out-of-the box, it is programmed with the familiar apple gestures such as pinching (and reverse pinching) to zoom, rotating (a function not available on the Genius), and two finger scrolling. So most of the functions of the Genius multi-scroll wheel are covered. What's missing is volume control (which I could care less about) and brush size control. If you are using Photoshop, brush size is changed equivalently by using the "[" and "]" buttons.
Connecting the Tablet
Both tablets use a USB connection to your computer. The Bamboo has a detachable standard USB-to-microB cable whereas the Genius USB cable is permanently attached to the tablet. The Bamboo has additional connections which allow for a $39 option to connect wirelessly.
The Bamboo pen just looks and feels better. It's more solid and better balanced in comparison to the Genius pen which seems hollow at the top and bottom heavy. The Bamboo pen doesn't rattle like the Genius pen when you shake it. The tip even seems more sturdy. They both work with pressure sensitive tips which can be programmed to influence the width of your brush or the opaqueness of the stroke.
Something which only the Genius includes is a mouse. It's a nice small optical mouse with an optical scroll button. But I have no need for another mouse and I imagine most people would already have a mouse as well.
Everything considered, it's an easy decision for me. The Bamboo's higher quality of construction is readily apparent, it has more useful functionality and it looks nicer. I'm keeping the Bamboo Capture and returning the Genius. I hope this review was of some help to you. If you have your own observations about these two tablets or a similar tablet, please leave a comment and let us know.
Where Can You Buy These Graphics Tablets?
I bought both the Wacom Bamboo Capture and the Genius Easypen M406 from Best Buy, each for $99. But the Bamboo Capture can be purchased online here:
If I had the money, I would get one of these Cintiqs which allows you to draw on the screen. This, of course, would be the most like natural drawing.
Drop a note and let me know if there's anything you would like to know about these graphic tablets or graphic tablets in general. Advice, suggestions and feedback are also welcome!