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It's been two years since Wacom introduced the substantially redesigned Intuos4. In the interim, the company has chosen to concentrate on refining the design and adding more market-friendly features rather than upping the operational sensitivity or retooling the accessories. That's not really a negative: the tablet retains the same excellent pressure/tilt-sensitivity performance as its predecessor and uses the same generation of pens and mouse. What's new is the support for multitouch and gestures and a design with better integration of wireless operation.
The Intuos5 comes in three sizes: small ($229), medium ($349), and large ($469). Wacom won't be releasing an Extra Large model in this series, instead keeping the Intuos4 model available for those with big-tablet needs.
If possible, the design is even more austere than before. Wacom has replaced the glossy sidebar with its clearly delineated ExpressKeys and Touch Ring and replaced it with a rubberized bezel all around and membrane controls. Also gone are the context-sensitive LED labels that reminded you how the controls mapped. Instead there's a faint LED light indicating that the tablet's powered on and four crop marks showing the active tablet area. On the right side (oriented for a righty) are a Mini-USB connector and a couple of covered recesses for the optional wireless dongle and battery. (It uses RF, not Bluetooth.) Like its predecessor, the tablet works identically whether you're right- or left-handed.