With the dimensions of 8.3″ x 7.0″ x 0.4″ and a price tag of $99, the Wacom Intuos Manga represents a renewed push into the consumer digital artist space. Does it live up to the hype? What can you expect from a tablet that sells for under $100? I put the Intuos Manga to the test and my results with it will surprise you. Read on to find out why…
I’ve been using Wacom products for over 15 years now and have never had a single complaint with them. Their products are incredibly well built and, with care, can last a very long time. Over the years, I have upgraded my Wacom tablet whenever a new model has been released. In short: I’m a Wacom fan.
So when I was given the chance to review the Intuos Manga line, I jumped at the chance. I was curious to know how their consumer tablet compared to the professional Intuos models I’ve used in the past.
Historically, the Intuos line has always been marketed towards design professionals. With the Intuos Manga (formerly marketed as the Bamboo line), Wacom has consolidated their professional and consumer tablets under one brand moniker.
The Intuos Manga, which weighs less than a standard paperback book, comes with Mac and Windows drivers and connects via USB or wireless (for an additional $40). The Intuos Manga handles up to 1024 levels of pressure sensitivity, which is half the value of the professional Intuos line. The device also comes with built-in multi-touch capabilities, allowing the the Intuos Manga to serve as a trackpad for touch input. It is designed for both left and right hand use.
Wacom does an expert job with their packaging. In the past, I’ve compared the unboxing experience to that of unboxing an Apple product. That comparison still holds true with the Intuos Manga.
Upon opening the box, you are greeted with the Intuos Manga tablet (bundled inside a mesh fabric) and the stylus.
Upon removing the tablet, you’ll find a driver disc, instruction pamphlet and USB cord. The packaging is very similar to the Intuos5 Medium model.
The tablet itself has four built-in express keys (located in the black trim area) for common keyboard modifier keys (Shift, Command, Option, Control). The silver area is where stylus and touch input is received. Touch input can be turned off via the toggle switch located on the top right trim of the tablet. It can also be turned off via the Wacom driver utility software. Also on the top trim area is a compartment for installing the wireless module. The blue cloth ribbon trim on the top of the tablet can be changed out for the included black ribbon, for further customization.
The drawing surface of the Intuos Manga has the feel of high quality plastic. The overall unit is light and easy to grip.
As for the stylus, it is svelte and easy to grip. I prefer it to the more bulky Intuos5 stylus. Like its big brother, the Intuos Manga’s stylus is cordless and does not need a battery to operate. The nib can also be replaced once it inevitably wears down. How fast the nib wears down is dependent upon how hard you bear down on the tablet surface. (Don’t worry: Wacom bundles a few spare nibs in the box.)
Install the drivers from disc (or if you prefer, download the latest drivers from Wacom’s website) and BOOM! you’re ready to draw. Don’t have a drawing package? Don’t fret: Wacom includes serial keys for downloadable versions of Manga Studio Debut 4 and Anime Studio Debut 8.
Wacom’s utility installs itself in your System Preferences in Mac OS X. There are a myriad of options to choose from. Under the main tab (Tablet), you can toggle the ExpressKeys to one of several presets. This is incredibly convenient because it allows you to minimize your dependence on the keyboard for commonly used shortcuts.
Next up are pen settings, where various parameters including Tip feel, Erase pressure and even stylus buttons can be customized.
Mapping is by default to your main screen. If your setup includes multiple displays, you can choose which screen you’d like to use with your Intuos Manga tablet. I have mine set to work exclusively on my 24″ monitor, but it can easily be set to any or all of your displays.
The Touch Options and Standard Gestures both work well, but for my use case, I generally turn those settings off. I tend to use my tablet only for drawing and sometimes touch input can get in my way by picking up an accidental swipe or gesture.
Lastly, the Intuos Manga also supports an “on demand” radial menu, for even quicker access to commonly used shortcuts. In order for this setting to take, you must have an ExpressKey or Pen button set to “Radial Menu”. This also works, but I generally never use this setting either, because my keyboard is within easy reach. (I’m old school like that.)
I was somewhat hesitant to go back to a tablet, having been accustomed to drawing directly on the screen with my Yiynova Tablet monitor. But, nevertheless, I fired up Manga Studio Debut and was pleasantly surprised as to how responsive the Intuos Manga really is. The stylus glides across the surface comfortably. Mark making was smooth and there was zero lag. I initially felt that the smaller surface area of the Intuos Manga would bother me (coming from an Intuos5 medium tablet), but that really wasn’t the case.
Drawing with the Intuos Manga was a very pleasant experience, and not unlike using my Intuos5. In fact, I think I like the smaller form factor of the Intuos Manga a bit more than the Intuos5. And the extra 1024 levels of pressure sensitivity? I don’t miss it as much as I thought I would.
This product is targeted to consumers who are interested in dabbling in digital art. It easily fulfills that expectation and much, much more. In the past, I would have never even considered a tablet like the Intuos Manga, but thanks to some hands-on evaluation, I think the Intuos Manga would definitely get a second look. If you’re budget conscious, or want an easy (read: inexpensive) entry into digital art making, the Intuos Manga is a no-brainer.
In my usage, I didn’t run across any problems or flaws with the device. (And if I did, Wacom backs the device with a two year warranty.) The Intuos Manga works well as a drawing tool and as a trackpad. Keep in mind that using a drawing tablet like the Wacom Intuos Manga takes time and practice. If you’ve never used a digital tablet before, it takes some getting used to. Essentially you are looking at your screen while making marks on the tablet, which is somewhat of a disconnect from drawing traditionally. But it can be mastered over time. (With that said, I still prefer drawing directly on the screen.)
With the Intuos Manga, you are getting a well built tablet and an excellent stylus, plus most of the features of the Intuos5 at a fraction of the price. I’m seriously impressed. The Intuos Manga gets 5 out of 5 Bob Weiners.