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Thread: Understanding Intuos 2 versus 3 versus 4 tablets

  1. #1
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    Understanding Intuos 2 versus 3 versus 4 tablets

    So,
    I'm curious about getting a big tablet-- a 12 x 18-- so I can work, essentially in 100% all the time, do big ergonomic strokes, see the whole image while doing detail, etc. Research has led me to believe there isn't really much functional difference between the Intuos 2, 3, and 4. Is this true?

    As far as I can currently tell,
    -Intuos 2 and 3 both have 1024 levels of pressure
    -Intuos 2, 3, and 4 all have the tilt function
    -Intuos 3 has more "lines" per inch so that it's supposed to be more accurate, even though pressure levels are the same
    -Intuos 3 has the physical buttons and the slider, though some don't like them
    -Intuos 4 has 2050-ish levels of pressure sensitivity and the rotating wheel, though most say the extra levels are overkill

    I currently work on a Wacom penabled Lenovo tablet (x200t) with 512 levels of pressure. It's awesome in many ways-- I can draw on the screen, viewing angles are good, colors bright and vivid, etc. However, the screen is about 7" x 11", which is pretty small. The computer is a 1.86 ghz core2duo, but it's a laptop, so it's a little underpowered. In general, it runs Artrage pretty good though-- clearly even better now that it supports multithreading!! Still, the idea that I could run Artrage through a desktop, view it on my widescreen 21" monitor, and have a nice big 12" x 18" drawing space sounds pretty nice. I've also been thinking about doing a mod and putting a 12 x 18 Intuos under a monitor screen and making myself a homemade Cintiq-- for which I need some sort of Intuos, as I don't currently work with one!!

    So, obviously, price is some sort of issue for these big 12 x 18 Intuos models. I can get the Intuos 2 on ebay for about 200-250$. The Intuos 3's run about 450-500$. The Intuos 4's run 550-750$. I don't really see the value in the newer models though. They all seem like they're doing the same thing. The extra pressure levels don't seem to matter, particularly in terms of actual drawing experience and final product... making the buttons the only major difference, besides drawing surface...??? I mean, I don't even mind the 512 levels of pressure on my tablet pc-- it seems great (though I've never tasted the sinful fruits of a higher levels of pressure!!! mwah-haha!!)

    As I've never used any of these, I would REALLY love to hear from people who have, so I can assess if I really even need something snappier than a nice big Intuos 2. Are there problems with these older models? What do newer models offer that older models don't have. Are they all actually tilt sensitive? etc

    Thanks everyone!

  2. #2
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    I've worked on all 3 models and all have been a joy to work with. Normally I'd never steer people towards out of date tech but this is a product that is built to last and as wacom still support new drivers for older models, not one you're likely to suffer compatability issues with.

    Personally I like the intuos 4 the least mainly because of the surface redesign which with heavy usage chews through the pen nibs really fast. A pen nib with solid usage (at least 8 hours per day) would last me a year on the 2 or 3 but lucky to get 3 months on the 4. Replacement nibs are cheap however, I just resent them building in the obsolescence. The 6d art pen is a much better design on the intuos 4 than the intuos 3, not many applications support this device though.

    With the prices you quote from ebay I would suggest that the intuos 3 seems pricey I believe mine was around $500-$600 brand new when I purchased it (warranty included).

    Some things to keep in mind:-
    the pen technology itself has been improved with each new tablet version. Having said that though, I really liked the thinner digitizer of the intuos 2, it felt more like using a real world pen or pencil, i find the larger (more chunky) digitizers of the intuos 3,4 and cintiqs a little more uncomfortable in my hand despite wacoms ergonomic claims. A bit like a normal biro compared to using one of those 4 colours in one biros.

    the 12x18 is a huge tablet so you'll need dedicated desk space and if you've been drawing from the wrist/lower arm on a tablet pc and you're not used to drawing from the shoulder like in a figure drawing or painting class you'll probably have to suffer from some arm aches and pains for a while.

    also if you're used to the drawing on screen experience of a tablet pc or cintiq type device you'll have to adjust to your hand being in one place on the tablet and your eyes being elsewhere on the monitor watching the cursor... if you can try out an intuos before you buy its a good idea as some people really don't like the experience of looking at the monitor and not where their hand is drawing. If you can get used to it, its really great to not have your hand obscuring your view as you work.

    My 2 cents worth anyway
    "I paint because I love to cut mats" (Arthur Alexander)

  3. #3
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    I also do real media watercolors, so larger arm movements isn't necessarily the problem, it's more of what I'm looking for. Although, yes, on the tablet pc, there's as propensity to veer to detail and small strokes. I do pen and ink work as well, and it's perfect for that sort of work.

    Re: the Intuos 2-- with the same # of levels of pressure, and the tilt function (which I think it has, right?), I don't see the real difference between it and the Intuos 3. Side buttons? A different surface to draw on?

    Re: the Intuos 4, I see the clear difference, atleast specs-wise.

    Honestly, I've been pondering building a DIY cintiq, and so have been looking for a nice, BIG Intuos that has reasonably better specs than my tablet pc that's cheaper-- something like 1024 levels of pressure sensitivity, tilt reponsiveness, etc. It seems like the Intuos does that. If so, then I was really wondering what the practical benefits were for the newer models.

    I know it must sound like I'm already convinced to buy an Intuos 2, but mostly I'm concerned that I don't know much about the products. So I'm happy to be dissuaded, if there's good reason to be.

  4. #4
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    The pressure sensitivity of the devices may differ but this is more a marketing plug for wacom to sell newer tablets on. Attached is a greyscale of 256 levels of grey... now try to adapt your hand pressure so that you are pushing from black to white applying more pressure with each greyscale step. Even a surgeon would have trouble with this.

    What is worth worrying about is the lines per inch (lpi) measurement of the underlying mesh of the tablet surface itself. Here the intuos 3 and 4 both have a co-ordinate resolution of 5080 lpi, whereas the intuos 2 has 2540 lpi. So the intuos 3 and 4 are actually closer in spec than the 2 to 3 or 2 to 4.

    The pen accuracy for both the 3 and 4 measures +/-0.25 mm, so no difference there either.

    You can download the manuals for each intuos tablet you're looking at here:-
    http://www.wacom.com.au/download/manuals/

    I also found some bench tests for the intuos 2 and 3 tablet lines here:-
    http://www.wacompentablets.com/revie...12x18_grip.php

    With regard to a DIY cintiq there was a forum user who posted info on one he built here:-
    http://www2.ambientdesign.com/forums...ghlight=cintiq

    I'm skeptical as to how well the DIY cintiqs perform without the ability to calibrate them. Still if its that or a mouse ....

    The first cintiqs suffered from very obvious EM interference at the edges of the screen. I myself have the latest 21UX which offered vast improvement in this regard to earlier models but still has some EM interference at the edges of the screen.
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Juz View Post
    I'm skeptical as to how well the DIY cintiqs perform without the ability to calibrate them. Still if its that or a mouse ....

    The first cintiqs suffered from very obvious EM interference at the edges of the screen. I myself have the latest 21UX which offered vast improvement in this regard to earlier models but still has some EM interference at the edges of the screen.
    Calibrating one can easily be done with the normal Wacom driver functions, if you get a bit used to it.

    Actually, the big problem in assembling a DIY Cintiq is the EM interference.

    It, really, boils down to the choice of the monitor for a given tablet, the right monitor and it works like a charm.

    The wrong one, and no power on Earth will got it working.

    There is an entire community dedicated to DiY Cintiqs, known as "Bongofish".

    If someone wants to try that road, the ideal thing is look into it, find one "successful" build (one that shows no EMI) you like, and follow its specs.

    The best bang for the bucks, apparently, is using Intuos 3s (the difference in specs with 4 and 5 in real use is unnoticeable) with Led-backlit IPS monitors, and I say this having built two of the things, one over an Intuos4 L and one over an Intuos2 12x18.



    The Intuos 3 A3 is really 12"x19", so it covers completely a 22" 16:10 or a 21.5" 16:9 screen, and the 5080 LPI are really a meaningful improvement (the 2048 pressure levels, from the Intuos4 onward, not really) over the Intuos 2's 2540.

    Also, Wacom - as of this writing of mines - has started dropping old tablets from their drivers, so the Intuos 2 - at the moment - are limited at Windows up to Windows 7.

    So going for the newer ones has its meaning.

    On the other hand, if you do not need tilt, the various YiYnova and Huion tablet-monitors function pretty fine (they need some time to set up but, at half the price of a similarly sized Cintiq - or less - one can bear it).


    P.S. if you search in youtube my nick, I posted some videos of my DIY at work.

  6. #6
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    I want to applaud Steve B for his ingenuity. I have longed for a Cintique from the moment I first saw one and seeing your DIY model makes think, very briefly, that maybe I could do that. But while I have managed to replace hard drives and do other computer hardware upgrades, something like what you did is miles beyond my skill set.

    Having said that I would like to respond to some comments made about the "obscene cost" of Wacom's Cintique. Is the price of these products too high? Maybe. Probably. But to suggest Wacom should be able to provide one at a fraction of the current cost because someone had the knowledge to cobble together existing parts he did not have to design, test, and manufacture, using existing software he did not have to write, is a gross over simplification. I take nothing away from Steve B and am truly impressed by what he has done. That doesn't change the fact that the cost of any product factors in the expense incurred in taking that product from an idea on paper to an actual marketable reality. The only reason Steve B is able to produce his DIY model is because someone else already paid all those expenses for him.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Juz View Post
    The pressure sensitivity of the devices may differ but this is more a marketing plug for wacom to sell newer tablets on. Attached is a greyscale of 256 levels of grey... now try to adapt your hand pressure so that you are pushing from black to white applying more pressure with each greyscale step. Even a surgeon would have trouble with this.
    I upgraded from a Bamboo Fun Pen and Touch to an Intuos Pro Medium and double the pressure levels + tilt recognition makes a massive difference, there's now a whole lot more range I can get just in sketching. Dunno if that's placebo or how I've set it up, but the extra levels seem noticeable to me.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by jmac View Post
    I want to applaud Steve B for his ingenuity. I have longed for a Cintique from the moment I first saw one and seeing your DIY model makes think, very briefly, that maybe I could do that. But while I have managed to replace hard drives and do other computer hardware upgrades, something like what you did is miles beyond my skill set.

    Having said that I would like to respond to some comments made about the "obscene cost" of Wacom's Cintique. Is the price of these products too high? Maybe. Probably. But to suggest Wacom should be able to provide one at a fraction of the current cost because someone had the knowledge to cobble together existing parts he did not have to design, test, and manufacture, using existing software he did not have to write, is a gross over simplification. I take nothing away from Steve B and am truly impressed by what he has done. That doesn't change the fact that the cost of any product factors in the expense incurred in taking that product from an idea on paper to an actual marketable reality. The only reason Steve B is able to produce his DIY model is because someone else already paid all those expenses for him.
    Hmmm... who exactly paid those expenses for him?

    A Cintiq IS the electronic of an Intuos with, on top, a LCD screen (or, viceversa, the Intuos is an oversized Cintiq sensor, optimized for cheaper production by routing the antennas loops differently, using a huge border area instead of a multilayer).

    When he bought the Intuos, he paid for the Wacom part of the R&D.

    When he bought the Screen, he paid for the screen part.

    Or are these produced without the costs of R&D factored in the selling price?

    Then he had luck in the LCD choice, when the people in Wacom can just ask the specs of the screen they want to use and trim the tablet working frequences to avoid cross-talking.

    Talking about driver... the Linux driver is slightly better of the Windows driver, if you make a DIY tablet-monitor... almost no GUI interface, but you can get all to work on simple keystrokes, using scripts, xsetwacom and other such stuff. Alas, it limits one to GIMP and Krita, but there are worse fates in life.

    In reality, the fact that someone even considers building a DIY means that something is fishy.

    Usually, well industrialised products comes way cheaper than the sum of their components, as bought on the civilian market.

    Wacom builds stuff well AND it has used its de-facto monopoly on the professional market to milk the Cintiqs for what they could be worth.

    But, as the patents on the fundamentals concepts behind electromagnetic digitizers are expiring (it's hard to build a car if someone else patented the wheel),
    some good alternatives have started to pop.

    I wouldn't go for the Monoprice 19", for 400$ (poor lcd and quality control issues), but an YiYnova MSP22U+v3 (1000$, not cheap either - still half the Wacom) seems to be pretty be good, if you do not need tilt sensitivity.

    Of course, I use a 300$ 22" DIY for the time being, so I can just sit and wait.

  9. #9
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    I bought my first Wacom, the little 4x5" Intuos 2, in 2004. It was a serial one and had to have a usb converter to use it with my desktop. Those were the days

    My large Intuos 3, bought years later, is a 6x8" and plugs into my laptop. I rarely use my XP desktop now, have a large monitor, everything plugged in. I very rarely change nibs and tablet works perfectly. Couldn't do without it, although the 4x5" isn't as cramped as some may think. It's all relative. They are a godsend for sore wrists and now I'm studying at college, I'm even more grateful because I do ache with mouse work as I get older. Hence I'm the only one in a large class that brings my pen tablet. Much jealousy abounds

    Interesting info re the Intuos 4 and the nibs, Juz.

  10. #10
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    Hi Hildee,
    I should update as Wacom have done lots of work to improve the nib life-span since back when the intuos 4's first came out. I believe it was improved as early as the 2nd generation of intuos 4's but don't quote me on that as it's been 4 years.
    This thread seems to have been resurrected so the 2014 posts onward will be the more up to date information
    Last edited by Juz; 05-17-2015 at 06:53 PM.
    "I paint because I love to cut mats" (Arthur Alexander)

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