Anyone that’s done even minor amounts of skin retouching will tell you that using a mouse is a great way to get RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury). Ultimately a Pen and Tablet is a much better way. Generally the barrier to entry is price. Wacom are the king of this brand, with the Intuos Touch hitting almost €500.
That’s not an ideal starting price, but there are other options, and from the same company too. Wacom have a starter series called the ‘Bamboo’ range. I became familiar with them from their older Bamboo Fun. With a mix of speaking arrangements made, I felt that I really needed something for travel, rather than dealing with the frustration of using a trackpad on my older Macbook Pro.
The best option for price and size was the Bamboo Pen, which cost €65 from my local Mac store Galmac. The tablet is reasonably large, but the working area is smaller. The pen can be stored with it too, sliding into a luminous green cloth retainer on the side-perfect for travel. The USB cable is a slightly more obscure variety, so needs looking after though.
In use the Bamboo Pen feels right and is comfortable to use. Bearing in mind that I was doing 4 different talks at Focus on Imaging each day, and setting up and breaking down in 2 minutes, it performed flawlessly. It doesn’t weigh much either, so it doesn’t impact on travel weight, always a concern with low cost airlines.
The sensitivity is not as high as an Intuos, but is still more than enough to get going. You can overcome this a little by zooming in more though. Going from mouse/trackpad to tablet use takes practice. It’s key that you set the tablet to tablet mode in preferences or it can be a struggle to learn properly. In tablet mode the working area represents the whole screen (or multi screen) area. Moving to a point on the tablet corresponds to that part of the screen.
The Bamboo Pen comes with the ‘Bamboo Dock’ app, which has widgets to help you practice using the pen and getting proficient with it. Personally I rarely use a mouse these day and prefer the pen and tablet for everything. Would I recommend the Pen as a starter or travel product? Yes, without hesitation.