I tried replacing my mouse with a Wacom tablet, and it almost stuck


Wacom tablets are normally associated with digital artists and illustrators. I am neither of those, but when Wacom sent me their new Intuos Pro M, I decided to give it a go anyway. I figured many artists used drawing tablets and their primary mousing device, so I wanted to see if it could replace my trusty Logitech G900 on the desktop.

Almost.

While I’ve rarely used drawing tablets, I’m no stranger to the stylus; I’ve been using tablet PCs since Vista. After I built myself a desktop in December, I missed the freedom and flexibility that came with the stylus I use on my Surface Book. I may not have had any artistic talent, but I use the stylus daily for annotating images, books, and articles.

It’s also handy for my photography and Photoshop work; edges that are tedious to navigate with a mouse are casual traces with a stylus. Mice and trackpads are still better for web scrolling or most gaming, but the stylus has become an invaluable part of my toolset.

Using the Intuos Pro M, however, took a little getting used to. While I can see exactly where I’m drawing on a pen-enabled touchscreen, you have to follow a cursor and mentally map out your monitor onto the Intuos’ drawing surface.

After a few days it almost became  second nature. While it’s not quite as easy as drawing right onto a screen – Wacom has the Cintiq line for that – it was surprisingly close. It’s certainly miles ahead of trying to draw with a mouse, as expected.

That said, the tablet does come with a neat trick. I tested the Intuos Pro Paper Edition, which comes with a special pen that allows you to record anything you write on regular paper. Unfortunately, I’m not talented enough for that to be useful to me, but it’s a neat tool for artists who like to start their work with pen and paper.

The star of the show is the new Pro Pen 2. It has an insane 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity and 60 degrees of tilt recognition. The texture on the drawing surface is remarkably close to pencil on paper, and you can change out the nibs and even the tablet surface to your liking. As is Wacom’s pedigree, the pen is virtually lag-less.

Truth be told, the pen is probably overkill for my uses, but that didn’t mean I didn’t like using it anyway.

More surprising was how much I almost preferred it to my mouse for basic navigation. After the initial adjustment period, navigating with the Wacom was just… faster. The precision of the pen meant that I could switch between tabs and apps basically as fast as my hand allowed, with fewer accidental clicks.