I've been using a Wacom since, well, I don't want to date myself that far back.
I currently use a Bamboo (MTE450). I have to say I'm just not that into it compared to my old serial port ArtPadZ's (I have 4 or 5 of them). I really like the pens from the older ones. They fit behind my ear better, they were more pencil like and less mont blanc-ish.
My best advice would be to go with a 4"x5" pad. I always scratch my head at people who get really big Wacoms. For me it's the efficiency of motion, going from one corner of the screen to the other with a little wrist, and moving my whole arm on a Wacom would get tiring. Plus a 4x5 fits better on a desk IMHO. If you need precision, you can always use zoom in the application.
I really believe that there is no faster (or accurate) pointing device than a Wacom.