2nd gen intuos models are the ones produced since late 2010 (I have seen Jan 2010 date mentioned on wacom web-forum as well), so any current intuos 4 is 2nd gen.
Originally Posted by winterspring
if your screen isn't exceeding 1920x1080 resolution, M is perfect; at the same time, intuos 4 and 5 have a software feature called precision mode, when a small area of screen is mapped to the whole tablet surface, so if you need some extra polish to a certain small detail and your tablet is not having enough space for extra careful work, it's gonna help a bit.
The 4 large was $295 but the general consensus is that medium is large enough right?
if you have money for intuos, go for it. you will upgrade at some point tbh, and it's better to do earlier than later.
I don't know if I want to just get a bamboo. I spend a lot of time drawing already, and if digital is anything like I think it will be, I wouldn't want to re-invest and get an Intuos.
oh, and regarding your first post,
> Is this a decision I should just make myself by using the 30 day trials or is there a "one awesome program everyone uses"?
that awesome program is photoshop, however, painter and sai are better in some regards; painter is a flawed but very artist friendly program, over complicated and not very stable; SAI is one of the best tools for digital inker, also it's quick and blending is great.
photoshop is great to get you started and a lot of people don't use anything else.
I prefer painter, though, even despite getting more and more annoyed by its development.
on the fourth day of glitchmas my painter™ gave to me
four random crashes, three broken brushes, two system hangups & one corrupted workspace