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I received a graphics tablet several years ago as a gift, but didn't use it much. I do a lot of artwork on the PC but my tablet is long gone (seems to have disappeared though I still have the driver disc).

I'm looking to get an inexpensive tablet to try things out again and see if I like it. If I do, I have no problem spending another $200 bucks to get a higher-end model, but if I don't I don't want to be out so much.

I have two questions from a technical standpoint:

How do a tablet and mouse work together? I've seen models that come with a mouse, but I'm unsure that it's necessary to have to buy a new one just so it matches. Do these models hork the computer's mouse driver so you have to use their mouse, or can I buy a tablet not packaged with a mouse and expect it to work okay?

Second, I'm using Vista 32-bit and plan to upgrade to Windows 7 64-bit in a few weeks. I've seen reviews going back to 2004 so some of the models have been around a while and I want to be sure it's going to work. I know I can go to the manufacturer's website for info and drivers, but if anyone is aware of any gotchas I'd love to hear them.

I'm also open to any other information or experience anyone may have.

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Tablets and mice can interact independently. The reason some vendors like Wacom package a mouse is because those mice are gesture aware, so if you use it on top of the tablet and have pre-defined gestures in the tablet software, they will word with a mouse as well as a pen. This is by no means a requirement.

If you get a Wacom, I'd check out the newly launched Intuous4 tablets. The x64 Vista drivers should work fine in Win 7. I've tested the Intuos 3 drivers very briefly in 7 x64 and they seemed fine.

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I had an old serial tablet that would not work with any 64-bit OS, XP or vista. Drivers just don't exist for this. Avoid a serial model for USB and you should be fine on that level.

Also, buy the largest surface area you can afford.

I could not ever achieve much with a 4x5 tablet and struggled for about a year with it. My mind could not adjust the movement of my hand with the cursor on the monitor, no matter what the setting. When I tried a 6x8 it was much easier to get used to it and actually get something worthwhile on screen.

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+1 for the largest possible size. It really matters. – Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Aug 15 '10 at 6:33

A tablet and mouse can both work together at the same time.

Wacom is the most popular tablet maker that I've seen. I believe their Intuos brand is the most popular product line for them. For $99 you can get a Bamboo Pen & Touch ($69 for Bamboo Pen). I have a Touch and, although I like it, wouldn't recommend it for drawing -- it is more for adding gesture control to supplement a mouse.

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The tablet can work without a driver, but you don't get all the features until you install the driver. They supply drivers for the latest OS versions as well.

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