Those crazy funsters at Wacom have just released a new pen tablet -- but rather than aiming it at graphic artists, they've pitched it regular Joes, like you. It's called the Bamboo and it's designed as an alternative input device to your mouse and in many cases your keyboard.
The idea is that you use the stylus and digitiser pad to move your cursor around. A tap or double tap serves as a click or double click, and there are a couple of shortcut buttons on the stylus itself that act as mouse buttons. The digitiser pad has a few shortcut buttons of its own, plus an iPod Click Wheel-style zoom thingy, which is nice.
It's not immediately intuitive, though. An ordinary mouse uses relative positioning: when the mouse reaches the edge of the mouse pad, the on-screen cursor needn't be at the edge of your monitor screen as well. The Bamboo uses absolute positioning, whereby the tablet's surface area represents the surface area of the screen. If you place the stylus at the top left of the tablet, that's where the cursor appears onscreen. Place it in the centre, and it'll pop up there.
It takes a while to get used to, but we managed to use the thing for a whole day and while we're not fully convinced, it didn't make us-- which is a good sign. We like the ability to sign our name in proper handwriting on a PC, and it helped ease the pain of our RSI somewhat.
If you've got a spare £70, pop over to your friendly neighbourhood PC retailer and scoop one up. -Rory Reid