Graphic tablets are something that don’t get a lot of attention because you really have to be an artist in order to appreciate them. I am not an artist, but I still enjoy using tablets because they offer a unique way to interface with a computer, and I love things that are unique.
- 9” x 5.5” and 7.25” x 5.5” switchable working area for wide/4:3 screens
- Creative rolling pad for scrolling in four directions, zooming in/out, volume up/down and brush width
- 4000 LPI high accuracy and sensitivity for a highly reactive cursor
- 1024-level pressure sensitivity for all shapes and thickness control
- Vista plug and play; handwriting recognition compatible
- Pen flicks, digital inking in Office and snapping functions for convenient operation
The G-Pen M609X is a dual-mode multimedia tablet. The two modes switch the drawing area of the tablet. If you have a widescreen monitor use the 16:9 working area, otherwise you use the 4:3 working area for non widescreen monitors.
The tablet features two rolling pads for scrolling, zooming, adjusting the volume, and even adjusting the brush width.
One of the most important features of a graphics tablet like the M609X is accuracy. This is accomplished with a highly accurate and sensitive pad. The M609X features a 4000 LPI (Lines Per Inch) pad, and as far as I can tell that is right up with the best (5,080 LPI seems to be the highest).
Pressure sensitivity is also very important for drawing. This allows the artist to change the thickness of the stroke just by pressing harder. This adds a level of realism, because if you were drawing with a pencil or brush and you pressed harder you would get a thicker stroke. The M609X has 1024 levels of pressure sensitivity, compared with 2048 from higher end tablets.
This tablet is compatible with Windows Vista and 7 out of the box. This means that drivers are not needed. However, you will need to load some software if you want to take advantage of the hot keys and some of the buttons.
The tablet also supports the use of pen flicks. These are small gestures that can be used in some programs to activate certain commands. For example, if you flick the pen down, the screen will scroll down. If you flick to the right the screen will move forward one page.
The tablet has a fairly simple design. Across the top are a few buttons and two rolling pads. As I mentioned above, the rolling pads can perform several different functions. The function of the pads is selected by pressing one of the buttons. Starting on the left the buttons are scroll, zoom, volume, and brush width. As each button is pressed the rolling pads take on the associated function.
Below the buttons is the actual drawing tablet. It is fairly plain and there are only two things I want to point out. First and most obvious are the 26 shortcut keys that are around the edge of the tablet. Using the key management software that comes with the tablet, it is possible to assign different actions to each key. The only problem is that it may be difficult to remember what each key does because there is no obvious way to label them. If you remember back a couple months to my review of the G-Pen-F509 you will recall that it came with several templates that could slide under the cover and be used to label each hot key. Unfortunately, the M609X does not come with any templates, and it would be impossible to create your own because the underside of the cover, under the hot keys, is painted black. The only thing you could do is tape something on top of each shortcut key.
The next thing to notice about the tablet are the vertical lines that are on each side. These indicate the drawing area for 4:3 and 16:9 screens. There is a button at the top, the last on the right, that switches between the two modes. Make sure the mode you select matches your screen so you can get the best results.
G-Pen M609X is bundled with PhotoImpact 12SE (Windows only). PhotoImpact is a great program for creating your own pictures, editing photos, or just about anything else having to do with drawing.
The pen that comes with the M609X has its own abilities. The pen uses a AAA battery to power its self, and the battery fits nicely inside the body. The pen has buttons on the side that can be customized by using the same key management software that customizes the shortcuts keys on the tablet. The tip is even replaceable for when it inevitably wears out, and Genius even includes two extra tips.
You really have to be an artist to fully test and appreciate a drawing tablet like this one and as I mentioned above I am not an artist. So instead of showing you all the great pictures I have drawn I am going to talk ease of use and some of the things I found difficult.
One of the hardest things for me to get used to is the 1:1 mapping of the tablet to the screen. This means if you want the mouse to go to the top of the screen you move the pen to the top of the tablet. I am used to using a touchpad where you have to swipe your finger multiple times to move the mouse across the screen.
It is also difficult to get used to not looking at the tablet while drawing. The screen is where all the drawing takes place and I had to learn to look at the screen while drawing on the tablet. This also means that when you lift the pen off the tablet it may be difficult to find your place again. For this reason Genius made it so you don’t actually have to touch the tablet to get the mouse to move. By hovering the pen over the tablet the mouse will move to where you want it, without drawing anything on the screen.
Despite those two issues, I was able to get used to everything, and I became fairly proficient with the tablet. No matter what I tried the G-Pen M609X always responded quickly and accurately.
The part I liked the most is the textured feel of the cover. It actually feels like drawing on paper. This helps to provide not only a great feel, but also a little friction that keeps the pen from slipping away while drawing.
Support and Warranty
The warranty on the G-Pen M609X is a rather small 1 year. This isn’t nearly enough considering how much use the drawing area is likely to receive. I would prefer a 2-3 year warranty. However, that would probably cause an increase in the price, and currently the price is low enough that if the tablet breaks after a year or two it would be too difficult to buy another one.
Support comes in the form of phone and email. I could not find a forum or other online way of getting help. It would be smart for Genius to setup a forum where users could help each other and the answers to questions could easily be found.
Overall the G-Pen M609X is a good tablet. There are better, but not for this low of a price. The M609X has an MSRP of $149 which in my opinion is a decent price for a tablet with these features. The G-Pen M609X strikes a good balance between quality and price. If Genius could include some way of labeling the shortcut keys, it would go a long way to improving their usability.
At the time of this review the G-Pen M609X is difficult to find and I was unable to find a website that sells it. However, I did find a few websites that sell the G-Pen M609 (previous version) and it runs about $99. If the M609X ends up near the same price then it will be a really good deal.
If you are looking for a mid-range tablet for drawing, then the G-Pen M609X is a good option.
|JusTech'n editors' rating|