Okay so I don’t have a personal gripe with Genius Pen and Touch tablet. I bought it over 3 years ago, and I have been an artist since childhood. My main tools of trade are paper and pencil; this is how vanilla artists started. 7 years ago, I signed up at DeviantART; though I have not been an active user there, I still like to draw something when I am not blogging.
Yep, that’s my old Genius Tablet right there!
Coming to the Genius Pen and Touch tablet issue, it is not my first encounter with the company’s products. I have their scanner too. My old man’s friend brought it from the U.K. when I was in college years. It was a gift and I must add; it was a horrible gift. Seriously Genius, why do you make crappy products?
For a review, this entire post is going to sound negative against Genius. However, I don’t owe squat to anyone; not unless I have been contacted by the company and have been given their products as a sample. Even in those cases, I still maintain an unbiased tone for my readers because they need to know the real deal with any product that’s they’re considering buying.
Genius Pen and Touch tablet Issues, Issues and More Issues:
3 years in, the tablet has cost me more than I expected. Since I am buying things in an Asian market, the dollar rate affects my buying power. However, I bought it and continued to create nice pieces of art as much as one can possibly go for.
My gripe against Genius is not on a personal level (mentioning again). I know, after reading this review, Genius will most likely contact me and apologize for bad user experience and offer something in return. Help would be appreciated, but at the moment, the tablet is sitting in a trash can at the end of a guest room in my house. I don’t think I will be taking it out and repacking it.
- Pen Detection Issue:
The pen detection issue is an irritating thing to encounter. The pen has a mind of its own. Sometimes the not-so-genius tablet detects it successfully, and there are moments when I literally had to spend 15 minutes tapping all over the tablet for the pen to get detected.
My art pieces – Courtesy of Genius Co.
When I finally succeeded in getting the tablet detected, the touch sensor icon would simply vanish. Users who have encountered this issue need to keep their hand steady on the Genius graphic tablet all the time. I know I did, and it was a very painful situation. I mean artists try to dry their art work in pieces.
In my case, once I had started working on a project, I’d have to finish it because I feared next time I won’t be “lucky” to have a successful pen input detection going on.
- Pen Pressure Sensitivity? Are you kidding me?
Here’s a good one; Genius Pen and Touch tablet comes with its own calibration software. I was very much interested in using the pen’s touch feature because it serves the purpose during lineart and inking projects. Well, it turns out that I had to ink all my drawings in CS4 through the Pen tool because Genius tablet was not so pressure sensitive.
I know that even for Wacom tablets, you need to have proper brush presets and Pressure Sensitivity enabled through the Brush menu. I tried Shape presets, scatter mode and other features where Pressure sensitivity could be enabled and then went on with Genius’s perky features. Nope, it did not work.
The pressure sensitivity was not uniform. I think it was because of the minimal number of pressure sensitive levels that the tablet had. If I exerted too much pressure, the line would be thick, and if I reduced the pressure, the lineart would either go too thin or almost invisible.
However, if I tried calibrating the Genius tablet’s pen pressure through the company’s software, it would appear to work fine. Why? They provide users with a separate interface menu. It is like a box where you move your pen around and calibrate its movement, macro functions and pressure sensitivity for “optimum” performance.
- Stutter Issues after 3 years as of last night:
Finally, last night (i.e. on November 25, 2013) I was driven to my wit’s end. I have a multiple PC and laptop setup at my place. My brother was using Wacom Bamboo tablet, which is awesome by the way despite of its old model, and I was using Genius tablet. It turns out that after installing the tablet drivers on my Laptop (using Windows 7 64 Bit, 6 Gb RAM, iCore3 series processor, Dell series), the pen started acting weird.
Massacre time with Genius Pen Tablet
I was like, “Okay, that’s completely “normal” because I have been dealing with these issues for several years now.” This new stutter issue was completely took me off guard. The mouse cursor/ pen cursor started jumping all over the screen. It would stutter and hover about a small area and as a result my painting was a complete mess. The lineart resulted in a line and dotted mess.
I had enough. I got up and made and effort to break the tablet. Lucky for Genius, the build quality was so awesome that I was unable to go through with my intentions. I literally stood up, one foot, on the tablet and tried to rip apart its USB cable. I failed. I think they paid extra dollars to the assembly line guys to make these tablets iron clad.
Behold! The final resting place of my Genius Pen and Touch tablet.
Why Bamboo Fun tablet is so much better?
Today, I had my last day with the Wacom Bamboo Fun tablet. It was a lender unit and I have to return it to my friend. I wish he had just gifted it to me because he’s using Intuos 5 and it completely makes sense to gift your old stuff to your best friends. Seriously, my friend whose name I’d-not-like-to-mention-here due-to-privacy-concerns, if you are reading this, can’t you just gift it to me? For old times’ sake?
The last few moments with Bamboo before my friend drove away with it. You can see it on his car seat
Anyhow, moving on with my Wacom Bamboo Fun tablet assessment, there are a few things that I’d like to add. All of the stuff concerning this new tablet seemed like a great improvement to me. Maybe it was because of the fact that I was using a crappy tablet before, and didn’t know that Wacom had so much potential.
Latest edition Bamboo launch trailer | Vimeo Vids
Also, I know that the original Bamboo Fun series comes from an old product line. Wacom remodeled it and is not marketing it under a different name. The unit I had is the one that is part of the classic Bamboo Fun tablet series. It works as advertised and is a solid buy for anyone who cannot afford an expensive professional tablet.
Also, if I had the Wacom Bamboo Fun tablet for a little longer period of time, it would have been my go-to tablet. If you have not used any of the Wacom products, here is a very detailed insight on what Bamboo is particularly all about:
Drawing with Wacom Bamboo Fun is Indeed “Fun”:
I have used both Corel Painter and Adobe Photoshop for my drawing projects. Both software have their pros and cons. Painter seems like something easy to get used to because it has a “homely” feeling. Photoshop, on the other hand, is more professional and does not carry that strong inviting feeling towards new users.
The bottom line is that both software are good from their respective point of view. When I doodle in Corel, or in Photoshop, Bamboo’s touch function never fails to inspire me. I mean I am drawn to draw more and more until I have exhausted the crap out of my grip.
This is a very old Bamboo tablet and its nib has no worn out. My friend has used it for a long time; I suspect he never replaced the original nib. Even though at the time when he gave me the entire package, I did not use Bamboo’s extra nibs. I never needed to.
Getting Touchy Feely with Bamboo’s Touch Function:
The touch function on the Bamboo Fun tablet works in multiple ways. You enable it by pressing the top left key (if you configured it as a right handed artist) on the left panel. You will also see a “Touch Enabled” message on the screen after pressing the button.
So if you enabled this option, the entire tablet surface will become sensitive to your touch, the human touch. You can then slide your fingers to move the mouse pointer across your desktop.
- You can double tap to open programs.
- You can pinch to zoom in. In addition, there are rotate and zoom functions that work separately when you are either in Photoshop or in Corel Painter.
Bamboo tablet’s “tap to click” touch feature is cool. But I do not suggest it to be enabled all the time. If your finger accidentally falls on an area of the tablet where you did not intend to, the mouse pointer will move there. Also the actual buttons on the side of Bamboo are not too clickly; I’d have appreciated if they made them a little more resistant.
- Bamboo Fun tablet Size, Weight and Ergonomics:
I used the medium sized Wacom Bamboo tablet to review. On a personal level, I’d have loved the large size Wacom tablet, ranging from any of their product lines. The reason I don’t have any of the company’s tablets is because I am not able to afford them right now. Period. Wacom is expensive for self made artists and entrepreneurs, but as compared to their competitors, they make up for the pricing factor through high quality results.
For daily use, a smaller sized Cintiq, Bamboo or any other Wacom tablet is suitable. The first reason is that you’re gonna want to carry the tablet with you from one place to another. I mean if you are not working in your art studio or home office, setting up an expensive tablet can be a huge risk. You can damage it while placing the device and it can also get stolen or etc.
Also, you won’t have a lot of room on your portable desk for the larger sized Wacom tablets under normal circumstances. Moving on to ergonomics and weight factor, again, the Bamboo has a lightweight profile. The Genius Pen Pressure tablet, which is exactly the same size of Wacom Bamboo, felt heavier. They have a glass covering on the tablet’s surface, and two Radio style buttons (which look like nipples!).
So I’d say, Bamboo’s design factor and usability is way better. On the negative side, the tablet lacks strong points when it is about the connection port. The cable itself can bend at the edges where the connection point is and it can eventually crack at some point. It is not heavily reinforced – that’s what I am trying to say here.
The sum of all fears?
Fear? No, as long as you are a first time tablet buyer who can’t afford to spend much, go for Wacom. Also, you cannot get a tablet within the price range and the number of features that you are probably aiming for. “Dear Wacom Bamboo Fun tablet, I will miss you…”
Note to Genius:
I installed your latest drivers. Also switched to Windows Vista and Windows XP profiles from the interface’s drop down menu, and did everything as recommended (for years), but it had little or no effect on improving the tablet’s performance. I sure as hell won’t be buying your company’s products again.
Also, the scanner sucks too. It is an entirely different story.
Word from Wacom:
Bamboo Fun lets you get hands-on with your creative projects, giving you the benefits of Multi-Touch along with the comfort and precision of Wacom’s ergonomically-designed pen. With Multi-Touch, you can navigate, scroll, and work with simple gestures in an area larger than on mobile devices or laptop trackpads.