Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Wacom Intuos vs HP Digital Sketch

HP Digital Sketch
Wacom Intuos

Recently a co-worker heard that Hewlett-Packard had a new wireless Digital Sketch that they were willing to let us try.  After about an hour of messing around, I was unable to get it to connect to my Dell laptop.  I had my student try it for about another 2 hours.  Then I found another student who did get it to work, after about another 2 hours.  I didn't really understand how he got it to work.  So, I was then excited to try it out.  This was the result:

After all that effort, this was it?  I have nice handwriting, so it should have looked a lot better than this. I was a bit irritated.

I also have a Wacom Bamboo Pen and I worked with a graphic designer who had a high end Wacom monitor, so I've learned that Wacom creates excellent tablets. I decided to look for their wireless option, which is the Intuos.  First, I tried it on my Dell laptop. I saw the images on the box that said I should install the software and then connect the Intuos to the computer with the cord (image provided), so I did that.
I love instructions like these but in the case of the Intuos, more info was needed.

I was a little confused when it didn't work after installation, so I decided to actually read the instructions and found that I needed to remove a tag from the battery compartment and turn it on, so I did that and it worked just fine.  The pen tools in Word 2010 were excellent.  Here is a sample of my writing:

The text at the top is a result of handwriting recognition, a handy little tool included with the Wacom software. I write in a combination of cursive and print and was surprised that when I wrote just like I normally do, the program deciphered it perfectly.

Unfortunately the Dell did not have Bluetooth to try it wirelessly, so I will look into ordering a dongle and decided try it on the Mac in the mean time. Installation was super easy, especially since I had just done it, but I had to figure out the Bluetooth part now.  I think the last time I used Bluetooth for anything was about 4 years ago on a Windows machine.  Regardless, I quickly found the Bluetooth area under System Preferences, turned it on, and saw that there was a discoverable mouse but I didn't see the tablet.  Again I was forced to read instructions.  Turns out the mouse I was seeing actually was the Intuos.  For some reason, it comes up as a mouse called PTK-540WL. So it paired just fine and I was able to use it on the other side of my office.  Unfortunately Word 2011 for Mac does not have pen tools (yes, really!), so I tried it on a site called Scriblink and it worked well.

Here are the criteria upon which I judged these tablets:
  • Legibility of handwriting: clearly Wacom wins
  • Ease of installation: Wacom again
  • Price: Well, the HP is $209 and the Wacom is $329, but this is a situation where you get what you pay for and I still vote Wacom.  $329 is not bad. 
  • Does it work on a Mac?  Of course the HP does not.  Wacom it is!  
One other thing: If someone already has an iPad2 and wants to annotate the web, presentations, just draw, etc. in a face-to-face setting with a projector (which is the intended use of the HP and a possible use of the Intuos), I'd recommend looking into the available apps for that rather than buying a tablet like these.  Doceri is one I just learned about today.  I have not yet personally explored it but hope to do so soon.

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