Close to a year after launching its excellent graphics tablet, the Intuos4 series, Wacom released an updated version with Bluetooth wireless connectivity. Available only in the medium-size version for about $50 more than its USB-only twin, the Intuos4 Wireless becomes a great option for artists and illustrators on the go--or even sedentary ones with an aversion to wires.
The Wireless model runs off a replaceable lithium ion battery that charges via the USB connection. You have to charge it before going wireless, and it needs to be physically connected to install the driver. After that, Bluetooth setup is fairly typical: you switch the tablet on and press a button to initiate the "I'm here!" broadcast and wait for your system to discover the tablet, which is essentially treated as a mouse.
Among its power-saving measures, the tablet will go to sleep after 30 minutes of disuse. If desired, the driver places an icon in your systems status area that provides percentage of battery life left. It doesn't give you a percentage charged when connected via USB, though. Wacom rates the tablet's battery life at up to 18 hours, though that's not with continuous usage. I couldn't decide whether the USB charging is a plus or a minus; though it's very convenient, you can't charge a spare while you're working. And if you get sloppy with your battery hygiene, you can kill the battery altogether. Per the manual: "If the battery charge is low and the battery remains in the tablet for a long period of time (a week or longer) with the power switch in the on position, the small trickle of current used by the tablet is likely to discharge the battery so far that an internal protection circuit within the battery is activated. If this occurs you will no longer be able to charge the battery." Replacement batteries will cost somewhere between $39 and $49.
However, I did have detection issues. I had to run the Bluetooth Setup Assistant to connect every time on my MacBook Pro (OS X 10.5.8), even after pairing, and had to run install on a Windows notebook (Windows Vista Business 64-bit) a couple of times. In all other respects, the tablet is identical to the medium wired version I reviewed last year. It operates just as smoothly, without a lot of the glitches and hesitation I experienced the last time I tried Bluetooth mice and keyboards. The rest of this review repeats what I said in my original review, save for an update to the conclusion.