Wacom Intuos Pen and Touch Tablet (CTH480) Review


The Wacom Intuos Pen and Touch Tablet may bring forth visions of an iPad-like device if you’re unfamiliar with what the Wacom company does. It’s known among artists and designers for manufacturing interactive drawing pads, so instead of consuming media, you’ll be creating it.

Artists that want to go beyond pencil and paper sketch pads, and begin their introduction to digital art, the Wacom Intuos PT is the perfect starter tablet that gives designers room to grow (and it travels well).



The Wacom Intuos PT will fit in with any Apple enthusiast’s wares. It’s silver and black colour scheme, and low-profile design pairs well with Apple’s simple and sleek aesthetic.

Wacom takes both form and function seriously in its design, giving the tablet some useful features (especially when you’re on the go). It feels light and solid in hand, and slid nicely into my backpack while traveling abroad or on my daily commute. It measures about 8.25 by 7-inches (7.5-inches if the pen is in its holder) with a 4 by 6-inch active area for using the included pen. During flights or train rides, one has limited table space to utilize—a tray can’t fit a laptop and a tablet. I found it quite comfortable on my travels to use the tablet in my lap with my computer on the tray. I was also able to put the Intuos PT directly on top of the keyboard. On a flight, I was able to draw with minimal key slips—only when I put excessive pressure on the tablet would I actuate a function. While the Intuos PT may not have been designed to function this way (and will vary from laptop to laptop), it was a helpful design feature.

The Intuos PT connects to your computer via a 3-foot 2-inch USB cable and draws power from your desktop or laptop. This cable was far too short to connect to my desktop, which sits far to the right of my desk. For an extra $59.96 you can make your tablet wireless with an estimated 10 hour battery life. The Intuos PT has three compartments along its underside for a battery and wireless USB transmitter to be installed. The third slot, in the middle of the tablet, holds three extra replacement nibs for your pen (you will wear out the plastic after extended use). My first nib has already been filed down a bit after 5 hours of use. Replacement nibs usually run between $5 to $10 depending on the kind of feel you want the pen to have—some have more flex or springs to give it a brush feel.

The middle slot also holds the blue Wacom tag that doubles as your pen holder. It can be exchanged for a black tag if you prefer. The extra tag is included in the packaging for the tablet.

The pen felt great in hand. I’m often guilty of getting calluses on my middle finger from holding pens and pencils too tight, but my finger remains callus-free. The soft, rubberized material along the pen felt great in hand and paired well with the tablet, which had the slightest bit of give—much like a real sketch pad. The tablet’s textured finish also gave it a sketchpad feel.

The Intuos PT has four customizable buttons, which can be configured to execute different functions in various programs, like a keystroke, set of keystrokes, or pre-programed function from the drop-down menu. This feature will be valuable to eliminate some repetitive tasks or cut time scrolling to tools you tend to switch between.

When pressed, the buttons have a nice tactile feel and gave off a satisfying “click” noise. The pen has three buttons that can be configured through Wacom’s software.




When you register your Wacom tablet, you’re taken to a download page where you’ll have the option to download all or none of the software. SketchBook Express is a free piece of drawing software that you may have played around with on an iPad tablet. It’s easy to use and has some great tools, but you’re ultimately limited on features that other, bigger names have to offer.

Adobe Photoshop Elements 11 is a great piece of image editing software with a sleek interface and plenty of tools to touch up or enhance your photographs. Wacom also bundles Nik Color Efex Pro 3, which is a plug-in for Photoshop, Lightroom, or Aperture that adds more filters for you to play around with on your photos.

Last, there’s ArtRage 3.5 Studio, which is an easy to learn drawing program that has some pretty neat features, like a digital pin-board for reference photos and different drawing and painting tools to choose from. The interface isn’t as intimidating as Photoshop—ArtRage has all the tools you could need, laid out in front of you like you would in your own art studio.




The Wacom Intuos Pen and Touch is a great introductory tablet for those looking to delve into the digital arts whether it’s sketching or photo editing. It’s also quite helpful as a simple navigation tool for those suffering from RSI. I found it to be a preferred way to navigate while browsing on my laptop when I was more permanently situated at a desk. It works well as a multi-touch track pad.

The tablet is compatible with Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Mac OS X 10.6.8 or later. There was no lag during my time with the tablet. Each stroke of my pen matched what appeared on screen. I can’t say if that will be reduced in Wi-Fi mode. For artists, I will say that pressure sensitivity matters when you’re shading and trying to create certain effects. The Intuos PT will accommodate most of your needs; the tablet can measure 1,024 levels of pressure for drawing and erasing. More expensive Wacom tablets, like the Wacom (PTH651) Intuos Medium Pro Pen and Touch provide 2,048 levels. Users will not experience the tilt sensitivity that you would on more advanced tablets. So, it does sacrifice some features more professional digital artists may be looking for in their next purchase.

Settings and menu options were easy to navigate and the software (mentioned above) gave the tablet a balanced selection.

Bottom Line

The Wacom Intuos Pen and Touch is a well-rounded tablet. It performs well and looks good doing it, too. The design programs included in the box tip the scales to make this bundle of hardware and software a strong choice for anyone who wants to play around with digital artistry without dropping a fortune on a design software suit and a professional drawing table. This tablet should not be considered an upgrade for anyone who already owns a Wacom tablet; the Intuos Pen and Touch should be thought of as a starter kit.

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Wacom Intuos Pen and Touch Tablet (CTH480)
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Natalie Shoemaker

Natalie found her passion for writing about tech when she started with PCMag. She has also written for Geek, GDGT and TechnologyTell.

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