Tech-Savvy Hands on Review: Wacom Intuos Draw


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New to the Tech-Savvy Lab is the Wacom Intuos Draw. Jason and I have used the older Bamboo Draw tablets in the past and we are excited to see how this new line stacks up. After our award winning unboxing, it is time to dive deeper into the product:

The Hardware:

The Intous Draw ($79.95 MSRP) is an entry level product within the whole Intuos line of pen tablets. It comes with a pen tablet that has an active draw area of about 6 x 4 inches. The pen tablet is made out of plastic but feels solid. It does not contain a battery so it feels like this would hold up well in a classroom. The front face of the tablet has a black surface that offers resistance to the included pen. This is helpful to give the tactic feedback necessary when you are drawing or writing. Four buttons are arranged at the top of the pen tablet that are customizable with the software you are using. In our tests, we found these buttons to be a tremendous time saver. The buttons give a satisfying click when pressed and feel like they will hold up over an extended use, but as all teachers know nothing puts a button to the test like a classroom full of students.

In addition to the the pen tablet is the Intuos pen. The pen feels good in the hand and is comfortable to write with for both left and right handed people. The pen has a reading speed of 133 points per second which in practice keeps up with you as you move around the pen tablet. Additionally, the pen has two customizable buttons to add additional usability as you work. The tip of the pen has what Intous refers to as a “nib”. The nib has a little give which is helpful as the pen tablet does respond to the amount of pressure placed upon the tablet to determine the pen stroke thickness. The nibs do break down over time, but thankfully the Intous Draw comes with three replacements.

The last piece of included hardware is the USB cord. Out of the box the Intous Draw is a hardwired device only. The Draw is capable of being wireless with the addition of the wireless accessory kit (covered below).

The Software:

The software driver (which makes the computer recognize the device) is currently supported on Windows (7, 8, and 10) and Mac (MacOS 10.8.5 or later) computers. Obviously missing from this list is support for Chrome OS so those of you with extensive Chromebook deployments keep this in mind.

The Intous Draw bundles ArtRage Lite with the device. I was pleasantly surprised at this software. ArtRage Lite has a stand alone price of $24.90 which really makes this bundle feel like a value add. Out of the box the Draw’s buttons allow you to erase and undo which make learning the software less frustrating. You have the ability to draw with pens, crayons, paints, etc. ArtRage Lite supports layers for more advanced art creation. The addition of stencils help even the most novice artist feel like they have created something worthy to display. Even though this is a “lite” product, I found it had the power to stand on its own without making a software upgrade feel necessary for everyday art creation. This demonstration video helps illustrate how capable ArtRage Lite is in practice:

The Intous Draw also bundles a 30 day membership to Lynda.com which gives you access to thousands of videos ranging from how-to videos with Wacom products to Becoming a programmer. Lynda.com requires a credit card to register for this 30 day trial so remember to set a calendar alert at the end of your 30 days to re-evaluate the service

The Accessories:

As mentioned earlier, the Intous Draw does have wireless capabilities, but they are not available out of the box. The wireless accessory kit retails for $39.95 and comes with a wireless module, receiver, and rechargeable battery. Wacom obviously decided to make wireless functionality optional to keep the price point down. My initial thought was “it is 2017, everything should be wireless” and while $39.95 is steep, the USB cord was long enough that I didn’t really miss the lack of wireless.  Additional Nibs (5 pack $4.95) and a carry case ($19.95) are also available through the Wacom store.

In the Classroom:

The Intous Draw would be a great addition to a K-12 classroom with a few considerations. The first is if you have a modern PC or Mac that you are using as a student station. This is a great way to add digital creativity to your classroom. From students illustrating stories, to producing stickers, to even designing and creating t-shirts, the combination of the Intous Draw and Art Rage Lite would be great! (If you are wondering about how to produce stickers or create t-shirts look for my upcoming posts!).

Another consideration for primary teachers is the additional scaffolding required to make this work with the K-3 crowd. In my tests in a 3rd grade classroom, it was very apparent that there was a disconnect for students in drawing on a static pen tablet and having the image appear on the screen. Student’s said that “it is much harder to draw” and “I didn’t like it”. When students were asked to first use pencil and paper to draw an outline, then have the teacher take a picture and send it to the computer so students could add color with ArtRage Lite the feedback was, “this is awesome!” and “I am having so much fun”. With extended use, I am sure younger students would become more adapt to drawing from scratch, but I would advise the extra scaffolding initially.

In the middle school classroom, students were quick to take to the device and software. The particular test class had some students who had art backgrounds so they quickly made use of the different type of pens, brushes, and effects. What really stood out to the group was the buttons on the pen tablet and using pressure with the pen. Many students noted how much it felt like they were using a paint brush even though they were using a digital device.

Our Verdict:

 

Interested in trying a Wacom Pen Tablet for yourself? Are you attending NCCE 2017? You are in luck! Wacom has an experience center located close to the Oregon Convention Center. Here is a field trip opportunity while you attend the conference. Be sure to let them know that NCCE sent you!

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