Wacom Graphire2 tablet helps artists at reasonable cost...

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September 10, 2001

Wacom Graphire2 tablet helps artists at reasonable cost

Many graphics professionals have discovered the thrill of using a stylus and tablet to draw rather than fumbling with the ubiquitous mouse. But tablets such as the $300 Wacom Intuos are a tad too expensive for more casual artists.

Wacom, in turn, offers the Graphire2 ($100), the second of its consumer-oriented drawing tablets. Wacom has redesigned the look of the original Graphire and provided better drivers for smoother functioning.

The tablet, which is available in bronze, steel blue or ruby, plugs into your computer's USB port and has a cordless stylus and mouse that recognize 512 levels of pressure. Both Corel Painter Classic and Adobe Photoshop LE, which are bundled with the tablet, support pressure-sensitive options in their drawing and painting tools. Depending upon how hard you press the stylus onto the tablet, you can change the way you paint, draw or airbrush on photographs and other images.

You can use your Graphire2 to enter handwritten text into Microsoft Office XP, which has a handwriting-recognition option. Office XP also has a digital-inking capability in several programs. So if you want to mark up a typewritten document or draw on it, you can. The tablet will perform similar tasks in Adobe Acrobat 5. You'll need to perform a simple installation that's explained at the Wacom Web site.

Graphire2 requires a Mac running OS 8.5 or later or a PC running Windows 98 or a later edition.

Information: 800-922-9348 or www.wacom.com

Canon D2400U scanner reads slides, negatives

Canon's D2400U scanner will please photography buffs and others who don't mind paying a little more for a quality flatbed scanner that reads negatives and slides.

Big and bulky like the more serious scanners (think Hewlett-Packard's ScanJet 7400c), the D2400U offers scans up to 2,400 by 4,800 dots per inch and, at least for Macs, will read 48-bit color. (The scanner reads 48-bit color but reduces output to 24-bit color for Windows-based PCs.)

The D2400U ($500) hooks up to your computer's USB port easily enough, and software installation is quick. Included in the scanner's software bundle are Adobe Photoshop LE, ArcSoft Photobase and ScanSoft OmniPage Pro for optical character recognition.

Scanning negatives and slides was quick and painless. The film-and-transparency adapter is built into the scanner's lid so that all you have to do is remove a light-stopping pad from the lid that covers the backlight and push the film-scan button.

On the downside, the D2400U felt slower than the HP 7400c. And the D2400U's platen is only letter size; it can't scan a legal-size document with one pass of the lamp as the HP scanner can. The D2400U also doesn't have the neat buttons on the front like the 7400c that scanned, copied or e-mailed photos with one button punch.

Nevertheless, the D2400U scans are detailed and colorful. Information: 800-385-2155 or www.usa.canon.com.

- Kevin Washington

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