Adesso CyberTablet 6400

You've heard the saying, "you can't judge a book by its cover," right? Well, I was hoping that maxim was true when I received the Adesso CyberTablet 6400, the company's new graphics tablet. The affordable price of $70 led me to believe I would be missing out on a few higher-end features, but that's to be expected. I began to worry though when I glanced at the box and a few disturbing things caught my eye.

For starters, the box lists a dozen or so features on the front and back. Unfortunately, over half of the features listed are duplicates (USB connection is listed as a feature three times). Between the Web site and the box, I couldn't tell the size of the active drawing area because they list three different sizes. More disturbing though is the claim that the mouse comes with a scroll-wheel, which it clearly does not.

Installation of the software was a disappointment from beginning to end. First off, the Mac driver that ships with the tablet won't even install on any of my Macs running OS X 10.5.8, though a visit to the Web site did yield a newer driver version, which did work. Because none of the extra software that ships with the tablet runs on the Mac, I had to hope that the driver software offered everything I might need in the way of customization. Again I was let down. No configuration options for the mouse were present, and the slim offering of tablet configuration was a let down. There is no ability to map the size and shape of the tablet to the monitor. The configuration software is quirky, too--it auto-launches at startup and the only way to quit the app is to use the Dock icon's contextual menu.

The CyberTablet 6400 offers 12 programmable Function Keys across the top of the tablet. The idea is great, but the buttons are so small that I find them to be useless. The problem carried over to the mouse as well. I found it to be awkwardly small and I quickly tossed it aside. I already have a great mouse, so the mouse was not a selling point for me anyway.

So with all that said, you might think I tossed the whole thing in the bin. Not so. Once I came to grips with the lack of configuration options in the software, I found the tablet itself to be quite nice. The 6x4 inch tablet fits nicely on the desk next to my keyboard, and since it's powered by the USB connection, only a single cord running out the back of the thin tablet breaks the pleasant appearance. The top of the tablet features an area to hold the pen in place when not in use. It's light, but doesn't slide around on my desk. And to my surprise, I was able to use OS X's Ink (handwriting recognition) technology with the tablet.

The tablet itself performed quite well in every application I used it in, which included all the Adobe Creative Suite apps, Apple's iWork apps, and Web browsers. The configurable pen buttons worked perfectly and I found the pen itself to be quite comfortable, even with the AAA battery requirement. Though it lacks the "tilt" ability of higher-end tablets, I found it to be fantastic for retouching photos and general app use. I experienced no skipping or stuttering of the cursor at all.

Macworld's buying advice

Adesso's CyberTablet 6400 is a consumer-level graphics tablet. As such, it lacks some of the higher-end features of the pro-level tablets from Wacom Intuous line, such as higher resolution tracking, the previously mentioned tilt capability, and more configuration options. But if you've never used a tablet before and want to see what they're like, or you're looking for a tablet for light-duty photo retouching and illustration, or simply need a more natural input device for the sake of comfort; the Adesso CyberTablet 6400 is a pretty good deal, after all.

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