Ever heard of a stylus? You just might be ready to kiss your computer mouse goodbye after you read this.
A stylus, or a pen tablet, is an instrument used for moving your computer's cursor across the screen. Held like a pencil, the tip gets dragged over the surface of a pressure-sensitive "pad." Used instead of a mouse, it gives you more control over your movements and clicks. Think of it as the same thing you used to use on that Palm Pilot back in the late ’90s. And your kid probably has one for her Nintendo DS.
You don't need to be a serious photo re-toucher, video game designer, or digital artist to reap the rewards either. The tablet, or pad you "draw" on, is mapped to your computer's screen. Which means instead of dragging (and dragging and dragging) your mouse, you can click in the top right corner and then instantly move the cursor to the bottom left corner. Not only will a pen tablet give you lots more precision, it's also easier on the body. The ergonomic design is friendly on the hand, elbow, and joints. In fact, that's how I started using one.
It was after hours and hours of sitting at my PRI desk that I started to develop some pretty painful wrist aches. (Okay, the knitting probably wasn't helping me either.) I was amazed how switching to the tablet had me feeling relief in mere days. And once that digital pen was in hand, there was just no going back! Even if I'm just paying my bills online or reading the news, I'm navigating and clicking sans mouse.
I use the Wacom Bamboo Tablet but there are many similar versions on the market. Most work with both a PC or a Mac and come with simple software that installs quickly. Some versions have additional buttons that you can program to right-click, zoom in or out, close windows, etc. Most of the smaller versions are lightweight and affordable.
Still not convinced? Check out some YouTube videos of pen tablets in action. What does the future bring for pen tablets? Will touch-screen technology make these gadgets obsolete in a decade? Tell us what you think.