by Mike McNamee Published 01/06/2011
In the same way that vacuum cleaners came to be known generically as 'Hoovers', our industry tends to refer to graphics tablets as 'Wacoms'. This situation has suddenly become more complex with the arrival of Hanvon on the market place. Bearing an uncanny resemblance to the Wacoms, the Hanvons have appeared after a long period of litigation in the US courts that seemed to start in 2008. Hanvon's patent attorneys argued, successfully as far as we can tell (from the 35-page verdict handed down from the courts as a turgid piece of legalise!), that the patents were invalid and have thus been able to bring out their own version of the graphics pen and tablet. Hanvon are no strangers to the to the field as they have been active in Handwriting Recognition, Biometric Recognition and OCR Technologies since 1985 - graphics tablets are thus a natural extension of this interest.
Colour Confidence took over the UK distribution of Hanvon tablets in January 2008 and the range covers six ArtMaster III sizes (13x8- inches down to 6x4inches), along with other products such as the interactive LCD screen SenTip.
We tested the ArtMaster III 9x6-inch unit which is sold by Colour Confidence at a competitive £229.16 ex VAT. The tablet is cordless (when working on its battery), as is the pen. It boasts 2,048 levels for pressure and a spatial accuracy of ±0.1mm. The tablet also has push-button facilities for the common modifier buttons (Ctrl, Alt, Shift and Space) along with a touch ring. The touch ring allows the user to zoom, scroll, change or vary brush size and rotate the canvas.
Testing devices such as this is always tricky and certainly near impossible to put numbers against! You have to do real work, over a period of time to get a true feel for how it reacts to real images and real retouching tasks. Even so, for those unfamiliar with graphics tablets the initial usage can be a revelation - nothing comes close to a graphics pen and tablet when it comes to soft masking, painting and retouch work!
Outside of imaging the pens also have other uses as the systems come equipped with five sets of software for the following:
· PenWrite - Easily convert your handwriting into text in any text editor such as Microsoft Word (multi-language recognised)
· PenSign - Create easy handwriting signatures for document or letter sign-offs
· PenMail - Handwriting functionality for Outlook Express or Windows Mail, allowing you to send handwritten copy electronically
· PenMark - Mark and annotate any on-screen document
· WhiteBoard - Create an electronic whiteboard, then save project, present and demonstrate!
Such facilities are invaluable in industry (for meetings) and schools; they are also excellent if you are working on an art director's brief and trying to highlight modifications by circling areas and hand-writing notes on a page - this can then be emailed or be part of a video conference.
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