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.
For your mapping reminder, Wacom gives a heads-up display (HUD) when you pause your fingers over the ExpressKeys. This is a fine system, although it always pops up on the left side of your primary display; I'd prefer it to appear on whichever monitor has current focus.
The ExpressKeys default to Touch on/off; Shift, Alt, Ctrl, or their Mac equivalents; pan/scroll; display toggle, for jumping the cursor between two displays; Precision Mode, which shrinks the screen-to-tablet mapping to a smaller area, primarily for working in Photoshop's pixel-level editing mode; and Radial Menu. The Radial menu is a programmable onscreen menu for single-function operations, which comes preset for operations like cut, copy, and paste, forward/back, tab, save, and tablet properties. The four Touch Dial presets are auto scroll/zoom, cycle layers, brush size, and canvas rotation.