By October 5, 2008

Wacom Bamboo Fun tablet review

The Wacom Bamboo Fun is one of Wacom’s entry level graphics tablets.

For those who don’t know what a graphics tablet is, think of it as a pen and pad that replace the mouse as a way of controlling your computer. (You can use a special mouse on these pads as well, but I’ve yet to meet anyone who actually uses them)


Wacom Bamboo Fun (in blue obviously!)


Some people just use it as a replacement for their mouse as it can help with RSI or just because they prefer the pen input over a mouse, but most people will use it in art packages for everything from photo retouching to painting their own Mona Lisa.


What’s in the box?

  • Bamboo Fun pen tablet
  • Bamboo Fun mouse
  • Bamboo Fun pen
  • Pen stand
  • USB cable
  • Quick start guide
  • Installation CD (includes tablet driver and electronic user manual)
  • Adobe Photoshop Elements 5.0 Win/4.0 Mac
  • Corel Painter Essentials 3.0
  • Package of 3 replacement pen nibs


Wacom Bamboo Fun Specification:

  • Tablet Size:
    Small: 8.4" W x 7.3" D x 0.3" H
    Medium: 11.0" W x 9.3" D x 0.3" H
  • Active Area
    Small: 5.8" W x 3.7" D
    Medium: 8.5" W x 5.3" D
  • Pressure Sensitivity
    512 Levels
  • Resolution
    2,540 Lines Per Inch
  • ExpressKeys
  • Finger-Sensitive Input
    Touch Ring
  • Color
    Available in Black,
    Silver, White and Blue

Quick tour

The setup of the Bamboo Fun couldn’t be any easier – it just plugs into a free USB socket and after the installation of the drivers you open up your favourite art package (or install the included applications) and start drawing your very own masterpiece.

At the top of the pad are ‘Express keys’ that you can customise in the drivers to do common shortcuts, and the big circular thing is the ‘Touch Ring’. This is used for things like zoom in and out, or scrolling – all very useful.

The thing that will take some people a little time to get used to is that the surface of the pad represents the whole of your monitor, so top left on the pad is the top left of the monitor and bottom right is bottom right. So unlike your mouse where you lift it and the cursor stays put, when you put the pen to the surface the cursor jumps straight there.

When you are just in normal applications or on the desktop then you can use the pen to single or double click just like you would with a mouse – the pen also has left and right click buttons built in.


This natural mapping and the use of a pen instead of a mouse make graphics tablets good for people who suffer from RSI as tablets provide a less physically stressful input method.

The pen is also pressure sensitive – in this case 512 levels of sensitivity – so in programs that support pressure information, they can translate the pressure that you applying and change the affects on the program. The simplest example of this is when you are in an art program and set it to use the pressure to set the transparency of the strokes – light pressure with the pen produce light marks, pressing harder with the pen produces heavier marks, very cool and very different to using a mouse.

Some other examples of things that the pressure can control include brush width and brush colour,  and these options differ from program to program, so I won’t even attempt to list all the possibilities here.

What this means is that using the pen is very much like using a normal pencil or paintbrush – with the big advantage that on a computer you can press UNDO 😀


Wacom Pen


The pen also has an ‘eraser’ on the other end, which is also pressure sensitive – so if you want to rub out part of your art then just flip the pen upside down, exactly as you would if you were using a pencil in the real world. Very useful for erasing mistakes or softening edges.

The eraser is really a second tip, so if you want to tell the program to use that end of the pen for something different then you can.

And it’s not just traditional painting programs that can use these tablets either, some of the 3d art packages also support the pressure information to allow things like sculpting.

For anyone who’s worried about the pen nib wearing down, don’t as you can replace the nibs very easily – there are even 3 included in the package.


Bamboo Fun Controls


The Review

I’m primarily a programmer, but every now and again I do things like photo retouching, website design, game art etc, and so a couple of years ago I decided to have a look at graphics tablets.

Without question the most respected name out there was Wacom – but I couldn’t really justify anything expensive and in the end I picked up a cheap tablet from another manufacturer. I use it occasionally and it’s functional at best, and I’ve always wondered what a real Wacom tablet would be like.

The Bamboo Fun is targeting people just like me in many respects – people who don’t want to spend lots of cash, but like the idea of having a graphics tablet as an input device for doing their doodles or photo retouching. As the name says, Bamboo Fun.

The pad is dead simple to install, and once I’d realised that Wacom pens don’t actually need batteries, I was good to go. (Wacom tablets use their own technology that is different to other manufacturers)

I opened up my trusty art package and away I doodled. I tested out the pressure sensitivity input in all it’s various guises and generally made a very pretty mess of the screen. The ExpressKeys are useful for commonly used tasks, as is the Touch Ring, but being placed at the top of the tablet isn’t ideal – I realise that it’s there as otherwise they’d have to put 2 sets on (for left and right handed people) but they are just a little awkward at the top.

After a bit of playing I realised that something didn’t quite feeling right with the pen interaction. I decided to try the included software instead, as that would obviously show the pen at it’s best.

So I installed Photoshop Elements and once I’d worked out how to use the program and enable the pressure sensitivity stuff, I was away and doodling again.

Again something wasn’t quite right. The sensitivity of the pen at the light pressure end of the scale was a little poor, so it went from near zero to mid pressure with very little change in actual pressure on the pen. I tried holding the pen differently and tinkering with driver settings, but I couldn’t get it quite where I wanted it to be.

In a general input sense the pen was accurate enough though, so for actual input, the tablet is fine. The size of the working area might frustrate some, but at the end of the day if you want a bigger area, you buy a bigger tablet.

On a personal note, the other slight niggle was the feeling of the nib on the surface of the tablet. It felt a little ‘scratchy’ to me – but this might be improved with a different type of nib.



  • draw directly into your PC, very cool
  • accuracy of the pen’s movement is something Wacom are well known for


  • it would be nice if the USB cable was a little longer
  • surface feels a little ‘scratchy’ in use – might be fixable with new nibs



As an input device to just replace a mouse the Bamboo Fun is fine. As a tablet for the occasional photo retouching or just messing around in art packages, kids will love it, then again it’s fine.

If you are looking to do lots of artwork and need delicate control from the pen, then I’d try another of the Wacom pads instead.


Review by: Iain

Posted in: Reviews

About the Author:

More than 20 years in the IT industry. Blogging with a passion and thirst for new technology since 2005.
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