Hey dude! I want to send you a huge long explanation I did a while ago about Wacom tablets (which are "industry standard") that didn't get much love in the original post, but I put a lot of work into figuring everything out for this dude so I thought I'd share it again.
Before I paste in my response to this question someone posted, I wanted to mention a few things about your unique situation.
When starting out in design, it's probably more important to invest in a mouse, the Creative Cloud Suite, and some sketching supplies. I use my tablet all the time, but in my classes only about half of the people use tablets. Everyone else gets by just fine (even in illustration) with a mouse. Trackpads are asses to work with, and a good sketchbook, a set of Micron pens, a nice .5 mechanical pencil and some Prismacolor pens are gonna do you a lot more help than a tablet, especially if you're just starting out in classes. Other supplies you might need include a T-Square, a right angle measure (is that what they're called?), a good X-acto knife and a bunch of blades, a good ruler, some tracing paper, and a case to carry it all around. Oh and a portfolio (one of the cloth ones so you can carry your print work around).
If you're specifically looking at web design, i'd invest in a couple amazon books like this book and this book
In terms of graphic tablets, I'm posting an explanation of all the ones available right now. The person for whom I was originally responding was looking to buy one as a gift for, I think, their SO who was primarily a photographer using Photoshop. And just as I post at the bottom of the quoted message, feel free to PM me if you have other questions about anything that I've mentioned here :) Good luck OP, and sorry for the wall of text!
> First off, it's much easier to navigate the different models via the actual wacom site . Here's a breakdown of Wacom tablets:
Almost all wacom tablets come in different sizes. Typically they are small, medium, and large. Very simple, it just dictates how large the tablet is. On the other hand, it also dictates the ratio of calibration to the screen. Let's pretend that your tablet is 4"x5" and your screen is 8"x15" (for the sake of an example, ignore the absurd dimensions). Since every point on the tablet is directly calibrated to a point on your screen, it'll take 1.5 times longer for your cursor to travel horizontally than it will vertically. Not an issue, but it makes the learning curve for using a tablet a little steeper because you have to learn how to change your hand-eye coordination from 1:1 to 2:3.
Ok so about the different models: Bamboo is an older model that is no longer sold. Now they have Intuos Pro and just plain old Intuos. Bamboo is great, fine, wonderful even, but as time goes on it'll be harder to find replacement stuff (like pens, which I have lost once or twice) for the tablet itself.
Now, in the plain old (newest) intuos family, you've got Draw, Art, Photo, and Comic. Draw, the cheapest one, is not a touch tablet. It won't respond to your fingers on it, just the stylus. The rest are all touch tablets too. All four are considered "small". Draw is the bare minimum. Nothing special comes with it. Next level up, you've got Art. Art is touch sensitive and comes with Coral Painter. Next one (Photo) comes with Tonality Pro, Intensify Pro, Snapheal Pro, Noiseless Pro (and I know nothing about what each program does). Then Comic comes with Clip Studio Paint Pro and Anime Studio® Debut 10 (again with the not knowing what it is).
Next up You've got the Intuos Pro, which is what I use (i'm a senior design student with four years of professional design experience, to put it in perspective I do a lot of illustration and I'm very happy with my Intuos Pro). There's really nothing too complex about these, there's small, medium, and large. That's really the only difference among them.
In terms of which one to get, here's my thoughts. The Intuos Pro family is great, but if he's only editing photos then it might not be worth it to get the more expensive tablet. The bamboo tablets are adorable and easy to bring around, but they jack up the price for absurd programs that you most definitely don't need (Adobe suite is standard in the industry. While he sounds like he's only working with Photoshop, if he ever needs to share a file with someone who doesn't have the programs that come with the tablet, they'll also have to own the software in order to read the files).
I have an older generation Intuos Pro that does not have touch-capabilities. It's fine, I have learned key commands to compensate for my inability to quickly zoom and move around artboards, etc. If you're trying to save money, go for the Intuos Draw. It's a great starter, and within the next year-and-a-half to two years he'll probably upgrade. Or you can drop a hot dollar on the Intuos Pro family and kinda bite the bullet. I started out with a bamboo (back in 2007!) and used it until I came to college. I got an Intuos Pro, loved it to bits, and lost the stylus. For about 8 months I was too lazy to buy an $80 new stylus so I used my 2007 bamboo for all my work, and it went fine! I have since sold my little baby bamboo, but it served me well for a long, long time. The only problem is that the appeal of a new toy is sometimes greater than the practicality and logic of playing with an old one.
Best of luck! Let me know if you have any other questions...
No, don't look into it lol I'm in a similar situation as you and the HTML & CSS book by Jon Duckett is helping me out a lot! Check it out here: https://toptalkedbooks.com/amzn/1118008189