Tablet specialists Wacom has introduced the second generation Bamboo range, the first interactive tablet that merges multi-touch functionality with pen tablet technology in a single device.

The tablets, four in the range - Bamboo, Bamboo Fun, Bamboo Pen and Bamboo Touch - can either be operated by multi-touch finger-based input or by digital pen, although not at the same time.

Currently, the Bamboo tablets will recognise two digits at any one time and come with interactive tutorials which teach you how to get to grips with the touch gestures. Gestures include the ability to zoom, rotate, scroll, navigate and click or select.

Available in a range of sizes and functions, including touch only, the tablets have also been restyled with integrated pen holder and slimline design. Unlike some tablets the Wacom range doesn't require batteries.

Pen pressure sensitivity has been increased from 512 to 1024 levels with the exception of the entry level Bamboo Pen.

Wacom's multi-functional ExpressKeys, or short cut keys, now sit at the side of the active area and the tablet can be flipped 180 degrees for right or left-handed use. Unfortunately the Bamboo range doesn't come with a detachable USB lead, unlike the Intuos4 range, for easy storage and replacement.

Wacom Bamboo

The new Wacom Bamboo range consists of:

Bamboo

Available in black, the Bamboo offers pen and multi-touch input in a single device and is best suited for consumers in the home office or workplace says Wacom. It can be used to customise emails, letters, spreadsheets, presentations and documents with signatures, notes, doodles and scribbles, as well as browsing the Internet. The Bamboo has a SRP of £74.99.

Bamboo Fun

Available in silver and also combining pen and multi-touch input, the Bamboo Fun comes in two sizes -- small and medium, and is aimed at more creative users says Wacom. Digital artists can produce more hands on and controlled paintings, sketches and drawings without relying on a mouse, as well as retouch and edit photographs. The Bamboo Fun Small has a SRP £89.99, the Medium is £169.99.

The Bamboo Touch offers touch input only, and Bamboo Pen, pen input only, complete the range and cost £59.99 and £49.99 respectively.

Additionally Wacom hope, Bamboo Dock, a collection of applications and widgets all developed around Adobe Air, and available free will help extend the tablets usage beyond simple photo editing and document signing.

Long term, Wacom clearly see the touch gesture tablet as having wide appeal, offering solutions for a range of tasks and everyday uses.

With the exception of the Bamboo Touch, each tablet comes bundled with software including useful painting application ArtRage with the Bamboo Pen, ArtRage and Photoshop Elements with the Bamboo Fun Small, and ArtRage, Photoshop Elements and Painter Essentials with the Bamboo Fun Medium.

The Wacom Bamboo range is compatible with the majority of Macs and PCs including operating systems including Mac OS X 10.4, 10.5 and 10.6 and Windows 7, Vista and XP.

Full details of the new Wacom Bamboo range can be found at www.wacom.eu.