I got a Wacom tablet this spring to help stave off carpel tunnel on my mousing wrist. I was expecting to use it only for drawing site maps, where the continual mousing all day drawing was becoming a strain. I have yet to draw much with it but I find that I’m using it more for day to day software, including the database software we use that has the crappiest interface I have seen on business software for sale. I SHOULD be able to do anything I want with a keyboard, but I am forced to use the mouse, for all those missing keyboard shortcuts. Once I start using the mouse, I tend to finish what I’m doing using the mouse. As of late, I’ve gotten very good at quickly heading the right hand over to the mouse, clicky-draggy on the one or two items I need to get with the mouse, then go back to the keyboard.
I am finding myself using the Wacom tablet instead of the mouse more often – I’m not quite as fast with the tablet in most cases, but the time difference is narrowing with use. The thing with the Wacom unit is that it’s position sensitive, so your “pen” is always going to the same spot on the tablet if you are mousing to the same spot on the screen. That is good. That is also bad if you have to drag something across the the screen as the mouse is set more sensitive with less movement required to move X units on the screen, plus acceleration lessens movement even more as you just *quickly* drag something to move it a larger distance on the screen. I doubt I’m going to totally put the mouse away, but I find even with Excel spreadsheets the tablet is not too bad.
The pen on the Wacom tablet is very light compared to a mouse. A tap with the pen is the equivalent to a click with the mouse, and I have the pen side switch set to right click and double click, since I find I can’t ‘double-tap’ the pen that well at this point. I find going back to the mouse feels like a brick after using the pen for a bit, a very controllable brick, but still a brick. I actually am having to develop a new light touch to use this thing, which is very good for my wrist, I hope. At least, it feels better which is the important thing.
I sometimes flip between the mouse and the tablet to give my hand a break, at the expense of speed. I need to read up on changing the area used by the pad. When I’m using unit, I actually want a *smaller* area to draw on if I’m only using it to navigate around the screen, I drag my arm what feels like a meter to get my cursor to the other side of the screen. What I can’t change is the size of the unit. Wacom, can you make one of these that’s no bigger that the tablet sensitive area? I don’t need 3-4cm of space around the edge. If I buy one of these for home, I definitely am going to give the smallest unit a try and see if it does the job.
I find the cursor jiggles a bit sometimes when I have the pen down on a spot. Annoying when you are trying to grab a border. I find for web page surfing the extra drag bar to scroll up/down to be somewhat useful, but mine is flaky and will occasionally go nuts, activating scroll all the time until I power cycle the unit. I don’t give a crap about the buttons at the top right / left corners – if I have to look at it to use it, it’s garbage to me. I can’t drag too well with the pen yet. It might just be my lead hand.
I will see how things progress – the Wacom tablet is very different from using a mouse, but at this point I would say it’s something worth trying if you can’t stand the thought of picking up your mouse again. I never would’ve thought to try it as a mouse replacement, so there ‘ya go. As especially with ergo devices, you mileage may vary.