by Caleb Goellner

5 Questions to Ask when Giving a Wacom Tablet

So you are thinking about getting someone a tablet for the holidays and there are plenty of options. To help make your Wacom gift giving easier, here are five helpful things to know when buying a tablet for someone.

1. What are they into?

First off it’s helpful to know what the lucky recipient is going to do with a tablet. Is this tablet for a budding artist, or the family photographer? Is the tablet intended for a hobbyist, student, or professional? Knowing the answers to these questions will get you started on your selection.

Artists who sketch or draw typically want a tablet with a surface big enough to make broad sweeping strokes on. Photographers often prefer a more subtle or smaller surface as they make more precise or finite enhancements.

Someone just starting out with drawing or photography in school or as a hobby would benefit from Wacom’s entry-level tablet line, Intuos. Those who want to invest more may prefer Wacom’s higher performance tablet line, Intuos Pro. Additionally, those intending to work with professional creative applications, such as Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom would be best suited with Wacom’s pen-on-screen Cintiq line or the standalone mobile solutions in the Cintiq Companion line.

2. Where will the tablet be used?
Where is the user going to actually use the tablet? Are they going to curl up in dorm room with their laptop? Will they take their tablet on the road with them? Tablets come in a variety of physical sizes and, in the case of the all-in-one Cintiq Companion, different hardware. If desk real estate is at a premium, a smaller tablet may be ideal. If function over form is of priority, a larger tablet may offer the ideal amount of surface area and performance. If you want to draw anywhere, go for the Cintiq Companion.

3. How much do you have to spend on a tablet?
Wacom’s family of Intuos pen tablets offers a variety of models for users of all levels and budgets. Intuos represents Wacom’s entry-level tablet line. It's a great choice for those getting started with digital drawing, sketching and photo editing projects. Intuos comes in two sizes (Small and Medium) and offers 1024 levels of pressure sensitivity.

Intuos Pro is the tool of choice for serious creative and professionals. It's offered in three different sizes (S, M, L) each offering 2048 levels of pressure sensitivity. The Cintiq line offers 13.3, 22, and 24" high-definition screen models, with 2048 levels of pressure sensitivity, each with different ExpressKey configurations and optional touchscreen functionality. Prices range from $999 - 2,600.

The Companion line includes the Android-powered Cintiq Companion Hybrid and the Windows 8-powered Cintiq Companion. The Companion Hybrid offers the same functionality as a traditional Cintiq that plugs into a Mac or PC, but offers a standalone experience on Android when taken on the go. The Companion imbues the 13.3" Cintiq experience with the full power of a Windows 8 PC, giving users a completely mobile work option.

4. Do you still need a mouse?

A pen can do everything that a mouse can do and more. A tablet is an input device that enables you to move the cursor around your screen. But that is where the similarities between a pen and mouse end. The greatest advantage of a Wacom tablet is its pressure-sensitive pen, which enables users to draw, paint and enhance photos intuitively.

Most Wacom pen tablets offer multi-touch input as an additional feature. Similar in function to a trackpad on a laptop, users can navigate their computer using a finger and finger gestures right on the tablet’s surface.

5. What’s the learning curve like?
While a pen can do everything that a mouse can do, they operate a little differently. Essentially your tablet’s active area, or surface, is in a 1-to-1 ratio with your screen or desktop. This makes locating and navigating your cursor much easier than mouse, which often has to cover a much larger surface area to deliver the same result.

More on the pen experience in the video below.

In the end, if these helpful tips have still left you with questions about which tablet is right for that lucky person in your life, check out the Wacom family of Intuos pen tablets.