Review: Graphire Bluetooth

Freedom to work and move with fine control (August 25th, 2005)

MacNN Rating:


Product Manufacturer: Wacom Technology

Price: MSRP $249.95 US

The Good

  • Clutter free operation. Built solidly.

The Bad

  • Dull mouse. Price premium over non Bluetooth version.

Over the years the mouse has grown from a one buttoned plastic box to an ergonomic, multi-buttoned, optical masterpiece. Yet, for some applications it still isn't the best tool. Among creative professionals tablets are very popular because they offer greater control for fine editing.

Wacom is the leader in the tablet field with a diversified product range from the prosumer Graphire, the professional Intuos, and the awe inspiring Cintiq which combines LCD and tablet technology, so that you can work directly on screen. Wacom also offers a Bluetooth version of the Graphire tablet. The USB Graphire comes in 4x5 and 6x8 tablets, but the Bluetooth Graphire only comes in 6x8. This is the minimum size one needs to work in a comfortable way on most screens.

In the Box

The Graphire Bluetooth ships with a battery-free mouse, pen and stand, a driver CD, plus Adobe Photoshop Elements 2, Corel Painter Essentials and nik Colo Efex Pro. The mouse and pen are wireless and offer many levels of pressure sensitivity. Since the tablet isn't USB-powered, it needs a (rather clunky) charger to keep the juice flowing. The rechargeable battery lasts long (up to 25 hours), and you can work while it charges.

Installation is a little bit more involved then most hardware. First, the tablet's driver needs to be installed and then, as with any Bluetooth device, it needs to be coupled to the computer. The manual is designed well, so the install is easy.

Using the Graphire

The 3-button mouse with scroll wheel is okay, but won't win any awards, as it feels a little dull and inert. A five-button version comes with the Intuos, but sadly Intuos accessories are not compatible with the Graphire. Additionally, the tablet has two programmable buttons, not available on with the regular Graphire.

The pen is comfortable to use, though it may take some time to get used to using it. After a week or two of intense use you'll probably never want to go back to using a mouse. The pressure sensitive pen is just so much better in applications like Photoshop, Illustrator and any other brush-based application. You can set the pressure level to change the shape, the size, or the opacity of a brush and with 512 levels, that's a lot of fine control. With the mouse your brush is either on or off. The pen pressure level is what makes tablets so special and you can get better results faster.

Great for Mobility

The addition of bluetooth is a great idea for clutter freaks and mobile users. The product works well up to 30 feet away from your computer, and the tablet is built tough. It fits nicely in most laptop bags, plus the pen stores neatly in a slot in the tablet so it doesn't get lost or crushed in the bag while on the road.

Edited by Ilene Hoffman, Reviews Editor

by Maarten Delanghe


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