Wacom's new Intuos5 is more of an evolution of its mid-level tablet rather than a complete reinvention.
Visually it looks almost identical to it's predecessor, although it now boasts a matte black finish, instead of the shiny plastic of the Intuos4.
The drawing area is larger with a non-active border, marked with white LED corner markers. This gives a much better experience when drawing or sketching as you are no longer met with a hard edge when your pen meets the end of the work area.
The familiar OLED Express Keys from the Intuos4 have been replaced with new touch-sensitive buttons and a touch ring that activate a new heads-up display to show you the shortcuts they relate to. This means you no longer have to look at the tablet when looking for a shortcut.
One element that hasn't changed, is the stylus, which has the same grip pen Intuos users will be familiar with from previous models and now works across all models on the Wacom range. (As do all other Wacom peripherals, which is a great way to reward loyal customers).
The 2,048 levels of pressure are still unbeaten by its competitors and the feeling in the hand is excellent; it's good they didn't change something that was already so great.
Along with these minor changes, is a major upgrade in the form of gestures. Already a feature on the beginner Bamboo tablet, the Intuos5 offers up to 16 point multi-touch gestures for collaborative working - although how you would use all those points we aren't quite sure!
As well as using your Mac's default gestures in Lion you can also set up your own custom gestures based on any existing key command. These can then be assigned to specific apps, as can the Express Keys functions, to create the ultimate shortcuts.
To further assist your keyboard-free working you can purchase a wireless kit for £34.99, which will work across the whole Wacom range. However, in the case of the larger tablets it's something of a must-have as you can sit back and work as if using a sketchbook or canvas on your lap, rather than a tablet; you will soon forget the restrictions of being sat at a desk.
With the small model coming in at more than twice the price of the entry-level Bamboo, buying an Intuos5 Touch is not so much a purchase as an investment. However if you are serious about image editing or digital drawing then it's extra functionality and durability means that it will be an invaluable addition to your desktop.