Wacom Intuos Pro S review

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It can be tough being a digital artist when you have little desk space, that is, if you even have a desk at all. Equipment can be large, and shuffling around your keyboard and mouse to find a comfortable position is a pain. Thankfully, Wacom has a solution to this very problem.

The Intuos Pro S does a great job of balancing professional, consistent performance with compact packaging. And, with the added benefit of Bluetooth capabilities, worrying about maneuvering a pesky cord becomes irrelevant. Drawing or editing becomes possible from that tiny open spot on your desk or while you’re sitting on the couch, catching up on your favorite shows. 

The Intuos Pro S is priced at $250 and ships with the Wacom Pro Pen 2, as well as a nice, sturdy pen stand that doubles as storage for the additional ten nibs. 

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Wacom also has two $20 bundles that include either a carrying case for the Intuos Pro S, or a storage case for the Pro Pen 2. For some reason, there’s no bundle with both.

To some people, the selling point of the Intuos Pro S is its compact size. Measuring 10.6 x 6.7 x 0.3 inches and weighing an even 1 pound, the Intuos Pro S is perfect for traveling or working in a limited space. The smooth, plastic surface is all black with small white marks indicating the border of the working area of the tablet. 

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Along the slate’s left side, you’ll find six programmable ExpressKeys broken up into two sets of three. There’s a touch ring set between the ExpressKeys with a light that indicates power with four customization options: rotate, zoom, scroll or auto zoom/scroll. You’ll find a switch to turn the touch function on and off along the top-left edge of the slate, with a USB-C port located on the right.

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The slate’s rear panel is made of more smooth black plastic with the exception of the company name printed in silver in the center. There are two long, wide rubber strips acting as feet along the sides that keep the tablet from sliding around while you’re working.

As is standard in most drawing tablets, the only port on the Intuos Pro S is a single USB-C port that connects the device to your computer. It also doubles as a charging port.

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

It was a breeze getting the Intuos Pro S set up and ready to work. All you have to do is install the Wacom Desktop Center, then plug the device into the computer. The Wacom Desktop Center then handles all driver downloads and updates automatically, so you never have to worry about whether you downloaded the right drivers or if they’re up-to-date.

Overall, I was impressed by how smooth this tablet functioned despite its compact size. I drew a self-portrait and noticed virtually no lag between my strokes on the tablet and the reflection of those strokes in Photoshop. I never once had to worry about a line catching up. The ExpressKeys helped heighten the experience of drawing. I could program my most-used undo, color pick, and rotate functions, which meant I rarely had to reach up to use a shortcut on my keyboard.

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

There were a number of complaints from people online about a “scratchy” texture when drawing on this tablet. This is an odd complaint to me considering how smooth the tablet’s surface was in my testing. After using for a while, I found I agreed with them, although I think the issue is caused by the pen nib rather than the tablet’s surface. After drawing for several hours, the scratchy feeling seemed to fade, but if you’re bothered by it, Wacom ships a few felt-tipped nibs that seem to eliminate the problem.

Multi-touch functions are also supported, but I found that when drawing without an art glove, there was little palm rejection, so my canvas would constantly move or zoom in and out. To mitigate the issue, I turned the feature off.

The Wacom Pro Pen 2, the stylus bundled with the Intuos Pro S, is a beautiful, functional, piece of equipment. Wacom has a history of producing styluses that do incredible jobs of simulating the feeling of drawing on paper, and the Pro Pen 2 is certainly no exception to this.  Made out of latex-free silicone rubber, the grip of the pen is soft, but not slippery. The pen is lightweight and comfortable to hold and has two programmable switches along the side for easy access. 

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With 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity and 50 degrees of tilt recognition, one would expect the flow of each brush to be smooth and in control. Smooth, it was. Controlled? It was not. This may partially be due to the size of the active area of the Intuos Pro S versus the size of my display, but my strokes always seemed to be out of control; at times it felt like it took no pressure at all to get to the thickest brushstroke, while other times I had to apply so much pressure in order to get the stroke to that thick stage. 

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

It took a lot of tinkering with the pressure curves in the tablet properties to get a comfortable tip feeling, but just when I got it figured out, it always felt like it would change and I’d need to adjust again. 

To use the Intuos Pro S to the fullest of its capabilities, you must install the Wacom Desktop Center, which in turn installs the tablet’s drivers for you. You can use this software to check your device’s battery percentage, change settings, backup settings, update drivers and even access support and the Wacom store. Registering your device through this software will also give you access to a complimentary 2-month subscription to Adobe After Effects and Adobe Premiere.

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The Intuos Pro has a 2-year limited warranty for the US, Canada, Latin America, and Europe, and a 1-year limited warranty for Japan, China, and Asia Pacific.

Bottom line

In the past, Wacom’s Intuos line of products has been aimed towards professional artists, and the Intuos Pro S is no exception. For $250, you get a compact tablet that allows you to work just about anywhere. Plus, it has Bluetooth capabilities which makes it ideal for mobile artists. The small slate offers customizable buttons, easy-to-use software and a lightweight, comfortable stylus with 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity.

The small working space can be a turn off to some, especially at this price, while the rough drawing texture is a downside for others. The latter wears off in time, but if you have a bit more space in your working area then you could always hop up a size to the Intuos Pro M for $330, or the Intuos Pro L for $400.

Conversely, you could get an XP Pen Deco Mini 7, which is the same size and offers the same levels of pressure sensitivity, for only $50. That is, if you’re prepared to deal with drivers that may not be as reliable as Wacom’s tried and true ones.



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About the Author: Chris Jenny

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