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Mouse alternative … the graphics tablet

Filed under: computer/data,tools — 2013-10-30 by Richard L. Hess — Last Edit 2013-10-30 by Richard L. Hess

When I made a 30th anniversary photo book to give my wife, I nearly killed my mouse hand working in Lightroom. Also, a mouse is a difficult way to do fine adjustments of the cursor.

I started looking for alternatives and purchased a Perixx Peritab-302 to try the concept (it was not very expensive). After a month or more with it, I was frustrated with the reliability–it just didn’t seem to work as well as I would have hoped and it did not have touch. So, I purchased at a deep discount a Wacom Intuos CTH-480 pen and touch tablet. Wow! What a difference. The pen is much easier to use, the driver software has many more options and touch is great for some things.

I find that I use touch for common things like email, Facebook, and the like, and when I want finer control, then I use the pen. I have yet to explore the application-specific switch settings, but that might be interesting for Samplitude and iZotope RX3 which are the two mainstays of my audio work and perhaps also Lightroom which I am using the most for photography.

Rule number one, I think, is do NOT purchase a tablet that requires a battery in the pen.

Rule number two might be purchase a TOUCH and PEN tablet, not simply a pen tablet as that exchanges one sort of muscle-cramping activity for another.

I tried going back to the mouse and while I still could, I was frustrated with it on many levels, including speed and comfort.

If you are doing a lot of pen work, it might be useful to turn touch off. There is a hidden switch on the right rear of the Intuos tablet that does that. You’d expect it to be in the driver, but it is an actual hardware switch on the touch pad. It took me a minute to realize that and, since it comes with touch off, I thought touch was broken.

I disabled Microsoft Flick which auto-installed with the tablet, as I found the built-in touch actions were more intuitive after using an Android phone for two years. However, after a few more hours of use, I went to “Standard” scrolling instead of “Natural.” Standard scrolling works like the scroll bar, while Natural moves in the same direction as the screen. 20 years of Windows makes the Natural feel un-natural, so I switched it.

The “Radial Menu” may have some limited application — I’ll see if it is useful for certain applications. It provides a pie chart with eight wedges. Touch a wedge to invoke a command (which is programmable to some level).

While digging deep in the Wacom website is difficult, the product is less-difficult to use.

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