This latest redesign of the Intuos line is a genuine leap forward, and a hugely worthwhile investment even if you currently own an earlier model.
Let's start with the technology. The pressure-sensitivity has doubled from the last generation, and it will now report a full 2,048 different levels. (Honestly, this alone isn't significant; 1,024 or even the 512 levels found in Wacom's cheap-as-chips Bamboo range is sufficient.)
The big news is that sensitivity has been boosted on the tablet itself. It now responds to an incredibly light touch (bring up the diagnostic mode and try to register a touch lighter than 5% – it's not easy) and it feels just beautiful in use.
The surface and the nibs have changed – the weighted pen holder cleverly conceals different nibs in the base – and for the first time Wacom might have got it just right. There's bite and grip, and if you slot in the more-hardwearing felt nib, it even sounds right!
Wacom has changed the ExpressKeys and Touch Strip from previous generations, and the result is stunning. The Strip is now the Touch Ring, which is less easy to knock by mistake than the Touch Strips of old, and you can press the centre button to toggle between four modes (zoom, brush size, rotate canvas, for example) that can be configured individually for each app.
The keys have got prettier. Each of the eight has an OLED display, which shows its current function, and updates to the modifiers, keystrokes and so on that you've defined for the active application. Or, you can create your own – though then they're limited to a text label.
An on-screen pop-up Radial Menu takes getting used to, but it will repay time spent configuring it, and we love the on-screen cheat-sheet and new Precision Mode that slows the cursor making it easier to hit the smaller interface elements.