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Hands on ... Wacom Bamboo Pad

What is it?

A touchpad that links with your computer wirelessly or via USB.

How will it change my life? In the early days of computing everything was dull: there were no graphical interfaces of any kind and images could only be generated via clever formations of text manipulated on screen.

All that changed with the invention of the mouse - suddenly there were windows with buttons to click and a world of possibilities. It's difficult now to comprehend a world without the mouse and even with the birth of touchscreen technology it continues to be the main interaction device with modern computer systems.

Its limitations are few but one major flaw which has plagued it throughout the years is the clunky nature and imprecision when performing delicate tasks such as image manipulation or handwriting. The Bamboo Pad promises to be a game changer with the characteristics of both a graphical stylus pad for artistic endeavours and the finesse synonymous with touchscreens.

The pad comes in two variations: a USB option and the more expensive wireless pad. I tested the latter and found it extremely intuitive. There were times when I completely forgot about the mouse even to the detriment of some tasks when two hands were needed instead of one such as simple copying and pasting.

Working with the stylus was just as pleasing, particularly when touching up images of any kind. It's much more satisfying seeing a holiday snap brightened up by your own hands rather than the filter offerings of apps such as Instagram.

Good points? The first impression of any product is always made during the setup or installation, as having to persevere and tinker with awkward software drivers is an area best avoided. Fortunately the pad was literally plug and play: no dramas or hair pulling moments. You insert the USB dongle, turn on the device and start working.

The operation feels natural both with the stylus and without due to the super-responsive pad surface that doesn't jump or jerk like other pads when moving between different programs.

Bad points? The only negative is the fact Wacom has missed the opportunity to bypass traditional AAA batteries and embrace a rechargeable solution.

Best for … Those looking for a more sensitive touchscreen experience. The ergonomic design means the Bamboo Pad is also an excellent option for those who find it difficult to hold and manoeuvre a standard mouse, such as pensioners or those with ailments that can affect grip like arthritis.

Avoid if … You can't let go of Linux, DOS commands or the 1980s.

Score: 9/10. The Bamboo Pad would be a brilliant addition to any graphic designer's toolbox, plus its gesture technology will be useful for anyone tired of old input devices.

l Wacom Bamboo Pad, £41.99 USB, £59.99 wireless (wacom.com)

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