Built as an add-on to the existing WiiMote, which sits in a specially designed cradle on the left hand side of the device, the uDraw GameTablet is basically a child-friendly version of a Wacom-style digitising tablet. A tethered pen allows kids to draw on the device and see their creations come to life on screen – and, impressively, THQ has included pressure sensitivity in the design, a technology that up until recently was only in high-end, expensive, professional hardware for PCs and Macs.
The tablet also feature enhanced tilt and motion sensing capabilities, designed to augment the already fairly accurate WiiMote for games that require a higher level of interaction than a simple pen interface.
Impressively, the uDraw GameTablet requires no additional batteries – instead, it’s designed to draw the small amount of power it needs directly from the WiiMote itself. While this means that you won’t be racing to the shops if you’re buying the device as a gift, it will result in the WiiMote’s batteries draining faster than usual – so a recharging dock and rechargeable battery pack is probably a sensible investment.
The stylus, which is tethered to the tablet to prevent it from going walk-abouts, includes a pair of buttons designed to mimic the C and Z buttons on the Wii Nunchuck accessory, giving additional control options for game developers to implement, while an in-built storage compartment allows the wrist strap and stylus to be neatly stored away when the tablet isn’t in use.
The 4×6 drawing area actually stands up well against the cheaper end of the amateur graphics tablet market, and it’s likely that we’ll see eager hackers buying the device to turn it into a low cost Bluetooth connected graphics tablet for PCs and Macs, as well as families who want their kids to do something a little more creative than play Super Mario Brothers Wii.
The tablet, priced at $69.99 and on sale at all good retailers now, comes with a single game – uDraw Studio, which allows users to create their own masterpieces on the Wii. For more interactive entertainment, a companion game has also been announced: Dood’s Big Adventure, which allows characters created in the art package to be guided through 60 different levels. Pictionary has also been announced, bringing a pen and paper-free version of the game to the console with around 3,000 clues and support for up to four teams. Both games will set buyers back an additional $29.99 each.