Wacom Volito review and test

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Wacom Volito

A mouse is a clumsy tool for accurate line tracing of images, and for rotoscoping of video footage. Wacom has an inexpensive alternative - a sub-£40 graphics tablet - but how much easier does it make such jobs?

Although rotoscoping frames of video or painting over/around photographic images for video sequences can give very rewarding results, it can be extremely time consuming. Any tool that makes these tasks easier is welcome. Here, we take a look at a graphics tablet from Wacom, the Volito, that sells for under £40 yet includes a wireless pen and a wireless mouse - both of which work without batteries.

Setting up the tablet on our Windows XP test system was relatively painless. The one-page instruction leaflet tells the user to insert the supplied CD and plug the tablet into an available USB port. Drivers are installed from the CD, and the tablet becomes active - signalled by an orange LED just beneath the pen holder coming on. A slight disappointment was that, on subsequent start-ups, the tablet sometimes wasn't recognised, and so the USB lead had to be unplugged from the PC and plugged in again so that the system saw the tablet. We had the same problem with a Wacom Cintiq touch-screen monitor that we also took a look at, but this could be sorted out by turning the monitor off and on again, without having to squirm around the back of the PC.

The supplied pen isn't intended to completely replace a mouse - and that's why a mouse is included in the package. The two work very differently. The pen treats the active area of the pad as a small-scale equivalent of the screen - the cursor moves where the pen touches. In contrast, the mouse works like any other mouse and doesn't send the cursor back to the same position when a movement is repeated. Unlike a conventional mouse, though, it only works when on the pad. In fact, it tends to operate when in close proximity to the pad as well, which can be off-putting.

There are some minor gripes with the usability of the Volito tablet, but these are relatively easy to get used to - apart from having to unplug and replug the tablet to get it recognised on start-up, which does need sorting out. The tablet makes a number of jobs far more enjoyable and cuts down hugely on the time taken to complete repetitive drawing tasks. It also adds an extra dimension to what can be done with a PC - making possible operations that just aren't practical with a mouse. It isn't a replacement for a mouse (and the included mouse is awkward compared to a conventional one) but, at £40, the Volito is an excellent investment and a lot of fun.

Hugo Frazer

Read the full review in July 2003's Computer Video magazine.


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Wacom Volito

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