In this Wacom Intuos Pro Small Tablet review I will try to support my claim from previous Wacom Pen and Touch tablet reviews, that the Wacom Intuos Pro Small tablet is a real contender as an alternative that can support your work at all skill levels or as the perfect ergonomic mouse alternative.
I have argued that despite the higher price and larger size, the smallest version of the Intuos Pro tablet series is priced close enough to the entry level Intuos Pen and Touch series, to deserve your full attention if you are considering a Wacom Intuos Pen and Touch tablet.
I have also questioned the existence of the Wacom Intuos Medium sized Pen and Touch tablet since the price difference of that and the Intuos Pro Small tablet is even smaller.
My repeated mentioning of the Wacom Intuos Pro Small tablet has sparked my curiosity and I think the time has come to see whether my suggestion is valid or not.
You may also like my recent review of the 2019 Wacom Intuos Pro Small PTH-460
What this tablet will do for you
Whether you are looking for your first drawing tablet or of you are planning to upgrade an older Bamboo or Pen and Touch tablet, the Wacom Intuos Pro Small tablet will let you work like professional artists at a reasonable price.
Main Features of the Wacom Intuos Pro Small, PTH-451
The Wacom Intuos Pro Small offers an impressive collection of features:
- WIFI included
- Multi touch functionality
- Very high tablet resolution
- Pressure sensitivity
- Tilt recognition
- Customizable pen and tablet buttons
- Abundant driver and customization options
What’s in the box
- Wacom Intuos Pro tablet
- Wi-Fi receiver and dongle
- Wacom Grip Pen/stylus (Standard on Intuos Pro and Cintiq)
- Pen stand (Contains extra and different nibs and removal tool)
- USB cable (2mt, 6.6ft.)
- Quick start guide
- Driver cd (Please consider getting the latest version online)
Wacom Intuos Pro Small impressions
All parts are hard plastic but the frame on the front has a rubbery, silky texture that lets your hand move freely without much friction. Time will show how this texture works in warm weather which can sometimes be an issue with drawing tablets in general.
Four rubber feet ensure a good grip on the desk.
Tablet size and portability
Even though the Intuos Pro Small tablet will fit snugly into most laptop shoulder or backpacks, this tablet is by no means as portable or convenient as the smaller sibling, the Intuos Pen and Touch small tablet. As you can see in the unboxing video, it is significantly larger and weighs more than twice as much. Yet still only 660 gr.
The active area is marked by four lights in each corner. This area can be resized and re-positioned if you prefer smaller hand moves to cover your screen area.
My main beef with the smaller Pen and Touch tablets is the narrow frame surrounding the active tablet area. Unless you scale down the active area to make room for your hand you are constantly moving you hand on and off the tablet.
With the Intuos Pro Small tablet you have ample room on the tablet itself for your hand to rest comfortably on the frame while you are working. Even at full resolution you will never need to move your hand off the tablet frame.
The tablet offers 7 customizable buttons as well as a touch wheel that can also be used for different purposes.
The six buttons rectangular buttons can be used for whatever function you see fit. A couple of practical uses, that are also part of the default setup, are; Touch on/off and general settings.
Another practical use that comes to mind is the mouse click settings for when you use the tablet as a touch device. For example, assigning the right mouse click function to a tablet button would be quite useful.
The touch wheel can have 4 designated functions assigned. You can step through these by repeated clicks of the round button in the center of the wheel. The active assignment is indicated by four small white/blue lights placed in the four corners. (See image)
My preferred use is the rotate function which presents an intuitive way to rotate images and drawings in graphical applications.
As the photo below shows, the tablet has three compartments that can be accessed by removing the panel on the back of the tablet.
From image left:
- Wireless transmitter
- Storage compartment for the wireless receiver
- Battery compartment
Wacom grip pen
The grip pen is the pen type that comes with all the Wacom Intuos Pro and Wacom Cintiq products. It is as good as it gets even though you have a number of other types of pens that you can purchase separately to use with this tablet.
This pen offers a perfect grip due to the rubberized grip area and a good pen thickness. Other kinds of rubber grips are available for this pen as well.
The pen is equipped with an eraser tip in the other end. However, I never use this eraser and in fact I have no recollection of ever using it while working. But it works well if you would appreciate such a feature.
While the rubber grip offers a good grip, it is also kind of a dust and dirt magnet. However, the pen can be taken apart and the rubber part can be cleaned separately.
- The rubber grip can be exchanged for other kinds of grips
- The default black ring can be exchanged for one of the colored ones if you wish to distinguish your pen from that of colleagues working near you.
Just like any other Wacom pen, this pen operates without batteries and is therefore very light and maintenance free.
The pen stand keeps your desk tidy and away from dust and dirt when you are not using it. At the same time it is a container that holds 10 extra nibs and a nib replacement tool.
Extra nib overview:
- 5 standard
- 3 felt
- 1 flex
- 1 stroke
After using the touch feature on the Pen and Touch tablet for a while I have come to really appreciate this option from an ergonomic point of view.
It is extremely relaxing to let go of the mouse or Wacom pen now and then and simply use your fingers to navigate the web or other tasks that doesn´t demand a high level of precision. If RSI prevention is important to you, I can truly recommend adding a touch device to your daily workflow.
The touch feature on the Intuos Pro Small tablet works extremely well without the slightest tendency to lag. It even handles small movements well for more precise selection purposes.
Touch can be turned on and off by assigning the function to one of the customizable buttons. By default this is already assigned to the top button (with left side orientation).
Not surprisingly, the touch feature on the Intuos Pro Small tablet outperforms the Pen and Touch tablets that I have tested on Office Orbiter.
The pinch zoom does not work well with all tested programs, but when it does, it works well so I think it is safe to conclude that the software programming influences this feature on a case by case basis. For instance, it works brilliantly with web browsers, Microsoft Office products and high end graphical programs.
Two finger scroll
The equivalent to the mouse wheel is holding down two fingers while moving them up and down. This is incredibly comfortable for surfing the web or scrolling through long documents.
Works well with tested software where this is an option.
You can choose to connect the tablet via USB cable or WIFI.
The included WIFI expansion pack will surely be the choice for most users and the battery is supposedly good for 15 hours. So you are good to go for a day or two on the road or in your office without strings. The battery can be recharged with the USB connection and you can keep working during the recharge.
The WIFI works without a hitch and I was able to use it well within a range of 3 meters/9 ft. after which the connection gets iffy. This may vary depending on your surroundings, but this enables you to use the tablet for presentations or with your home entertainment system.
The wireless module connects inside the tablet by replacing the placeholder piece and the wireless transmitter goes into a USB port on your computer. When the receiver is not in use you can keep it in a very convenient storage compartment within the tablet itself.
Power on/off and sleep mode
The wireless feature can be turned off on the wireless receiver on the side of the tablet and it enters sleep mode after a period of time that you can set between 1-20 minutes. The battery level indicator can be set to display in your OS status bar.
The USB cable is quite long (2 mt. / 6.5 ft.) and will be sufficient for most users without an extension cable. If you have a height adjustable sit and stand desk it does get a little tight and you may need an extension cable in that scenario.
The cable is not as soft as some cables but is of much higher quality than the short, thin and stiff cables that come with the Intuos Pen and Touch tablets.
The connection for the tablet is a convenient 90 degree connector that sits in a rather deep socket. I have noticed some complaints that the connector fits too tightly and is hard to connect, but this issue seems to have been resolved.
If anything the fit is now too loose and the USB connector is a bit wobbly. I suspect I will either modify the cable for a tighter fit or replace it altogether with a tighter fitting one in order to protect the USB socket. However, the Wi-Fi is so convenient that I will probably only ever use the USB for recharging the battery.
The tablet has only one USB connection and the orientation of the 90 degree connector is less convenient for lefthanders. So if you are indeed a left hander who prefers the USB connectivity to wireless, then you will probably need a USB cable with the 90 degree connector pointing in the other direction.
Intuos Pro small for drawing and painting
The Intuos Pro line of tablets has been the tablet of choice for professional digital artists for many years and drawing and painting is what this product was made for.
The high resolution and pressure sensitivity gives this tablet that extra amount of precision that gives it an extra level of quality compared to cheaper drawing tablets.
This is a battle tested tablet range that is widely used by computer graphics artists, architects and engineers. Personally, I have used the Intuos Pro series as a mouse replacement and for occasional drawing and painting tasks with great success for more than a decade.
Resolution and pressure sensitivity
The Intuos Pro Small tablet comes with all bells and whistles when it comes to pen/tablet interaction. It offers:
- Very high resolution – 5080 lpi
- Pressure sensitivity 2048
- Tilt sensitivity which actually senses the angle of the pen in relation to the active tablet area.
With the Wacom Intuos 4 Pro tablet, Wacom introduced a new tablet surface philosophy by creating a surface texture that is supposed to simulate the sensation you get from drawing on real paper by creating more friction between pen and tablet
This feature has the side effect that the pen nibs are worn down faster than before the friction feature was introduced.
However, this is more of an observation than a complaint since the nibs have a long life span and this pen comes with a generous selection of extra and different pen nibs.
(How high the pen can go before pen contact is lost).
Even though the distance tolerance is rarely mentioned in reviews and not even used for marketing by Wacom, to me this is one of the more important specifications.
The Intuos Pro Small tablet offers a distance tolerance of approximately 20 mm / 0.78 inches. This may not sound like much, but is in fact more than enough for you to work fast and undisturbed by loss of pen contact.
If you are new to using a tablet you may rightly wonder what could be so important about that because the actual pen contact seems to be the point of the tablet.
The reason is that putting pen to tablet is the equivalent of clicking the left mouse button and the pointer movement happens by lifting the pen from the tablet during the move from a to b on the screen. With a small distance tolerance, the pen is more likely to loose contact to the tablet than with a larger distance tolerance.
This becomes a real issue once you get used to using a tablet and speed up your workflow. At that point you start to move the pen more quickly and it is terribly annoying and unproductive if you need to think about how high you can lift the pen from the tablet all the time.
The driver and customization options are abundant and you can customize every aspect of this Wacom tablet. Everything works well out of the box but the amount of options takes some experimentation if you want to fine tune your settings.
A screen overlay user interface can be activated with a click of one of the designated settings button and offers convenient shortcuts to the different sections of the driver.
The package contains a driver CD, but since these enclosed drivers are usually outdated, I recommend getting the latest driver from the Wacom support section or to simply to let your operating system find the right one depending on your OS generation.
Shortly after I went through my career change into the world of computer graphics, I quickly experienced RSI problems because of the sudden change to full time computer work.
I decided to try out a drawing tablet and bought the Wacom Intuos 2 Pro Medium sized tablet despite the steep entry level price tag. This was in 2002 and I have never looked back. I still own this tablet and it served me extremely well for 10 years until it was retired in favor of the Intuos Pro 4 Medium tablet which offered 16:9 aspect ratio to match my widescreen monitor.
In regards to the use of the pen tablet as a mouse replacement, it is particularly suitable for tasks where you use a pointing device for longer periods of time. For scenarios where you constantly switch between keyboard and pointing device, grabbing the pen all the time will probably quickly get on your nerves.
But! This is where a drawing tablet with touch capability comes in handy. You simply let go of the keyboard or mouse and throw your hand onto the tablet without having to grab any device.
Adding a touch device has been the best ergonomic pointing device addition for me since I started using a Wacom tablet. I find a high quality drawing tablet with touch functionality to be a perfect ergonomic mouse alternative. Having a device like that at your fingertips is simply brilliant and highly recommended.
The Wacom Intuos Pro Small tablet is a full step up in class from its smaller siblings from the Wacom Intuos Pen and Touch product range and you get so much more in regards to options and overall quality.
Surely this tablet left a mark on my bank account, but all is forgotten when you plug in this drawing tablet and start working. I highly recommend the Wacom Intuos Pro Small tablet as an entry level to professional level drawing tablet as well as an ergonomic mouse replacement.
- Top notch overall quality impression
- Marvelous mouse replacement
- Impeccable touch function
- Wireless expansion pack included
- Good pen/tablet contact resistance
- Great desk space / quality compromise
- Good price/performance relationship
- Not exactly cheap
- Orientation of the USB cable is impractical when the tablet is used by lefthanders.
- Despite the deep USB socket the USB connector is a bit wobbly
- Can´t think of anything else. I just love this Wacom tablet!
The Wacom Intuos Pro Small tablet is a professional grade product that simply oozes quality. It offers unmatched value as an ergonomic mouse replacement as well as ample room to grow for the aspiring artist.
This tablet can easily follow you into a full career as a digital artist and it will serve you well for years to come.