Best tablet PC: laptops and 2-in-1s for artists in 2017
The best tablet PC for digital artists has power, portability, and a great display. These computers are great for digital drawing, sketching, notetaking, and photo editing. Some are powerful enough for video editing. A lot of these are not just the best for art, but the best tablet PC for general use, productivity, students, and professionals from all walks of life.
A powerful tablet PC is ideal for gaming and streaming video. An HDMI adapter lets you watch what’s on the screen on your TV. A pen is useful for notetaking and Windows Ink is an integral part of Windows 10.
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Here are my picks for the top ten tablet PCs for artists in 2017.
Who wouldn’t want one of these?. With its buttery smooth EMR digitizer and generous sizes of 13 and 16, the MobileStudio Pro tops our list in drool-worthy tablet PCs. The 16 has an option with a 3D camera/scanner and NVIDIA graphics. With its chrome Express Keys, quiet fan, and Pro Pen 2 with 8,192 levels, there’s a lot to work with. With the optional Wacom Link, you can hook it up to a Mac or PC and use it as a Cintiq. It gets 95% of the Adobe RGB color gamut, making it a great tablet PC for photo editing as well as art. This is certainly a best tablet PC for Photoshop. Runs WIndows 10.
Lenovo Yoga 720
The Lenovo Yoga 720 goes where no convertible laptop has gone before–it has a dGPU and works with the Lenovo Active Pen, a Wacom pen with 4096 levels. It’s a convertible laptop that folds into 4 positions. That means the keyboard doesn’t detach, making it an excellent all-aroudn productivity machine as well as art device. Tablet mode makes it easy to draw on, though you won’t be able to access the keyboard in this mode. Windows 10 is the operating system. The Active Pen is responsive and accurate.
Microsoft 2017 Surface Pro
You might think of this model as the Surface Pro 5. The new Surface Pro’s pen has 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity as well as tilt, and lets you shade with the side. The pen is sold separately. The keyboard is covered in Alacantra, a fabric that’s easy to clean and gives you a nice soft place to rest your mitts. The PixelSense display is crystal clear.
If you want a GPU, though, you’ll have to get the Surface Book, which has that option. The Book is “laptop first,” with a metal keyboard that detaches. Its battery life is not as long as the Pro.
Vaio Z Canvas
The Vaio Z Canvas has integrated graphics, but its Intel Iris Pro Graphics 5200 graphics is as powerful as a dGPU. This little tablet is a mobile workstation on which you can edit video. It has an N-trig pen with 1,024 levels, and you can also use a Surface Pen on it, though don’t count on getting more than 1,024. The number of levels don’t matter a whole lot.
The Vaio Z Canvas has some nifty art-centric features. The keyboard does not attach but connects via RF. The Z Canvas has a 12.3″ screen and has a 3:2 aspect ratio, which is nice for drawing. The display gets 95% of the Adobe color gamut, making it sharp display makes it a best tablet PC for photographers. There are on-screen controls aimed at artists, and you can map it to multiple monitors.
The Vaio Z Flip is similar, with an attached keyboard.
Lenovo Miix 720
We also like the Lenovo Miix 720. It lacks a dGPU, but is a nice all-around detachable that also takes the Lenovo Active Pen. It has frequently been compared to the Surface Pro 4 specs-wise, but has the Wacom pen. It has a QHD screen that’s a sunny 400 nits. Lenovo has a wide variety of Miixes with active pens. It’s a great tablet PC for drawing.
Though it’s a little older, the 1st gen ThinkPad Yoga 14 is still around and has NVIDIA graphics.
Dell XPS 13 2-in-1
Super skinny convertible laptop has the Dell Active Pen, which uses Wacom ES. This Dell won an innovation award at CES. Though its processor is not quite as strong as the Dell XPS that’s lacking a pen, it still has plenty of power. (That other Dell rivals the MacBook Pro but has no active pen; this is one is not quite as fast) It’s light and portable. Its Infinity Edge screen is nearly bezel-less. The pen gets 4096 levels. There are both HD and higher-res UHD displays. The keyboatd doesn’t detach but you can fold it all the way back. It’s a bright 400 nits.
Samsung Notebook 9 Pro
With an i7 processor and Wacom EMR. Samsung has created a powerful all-around notebook. It has imported Air Control from its Android tablet–a radial menu that can be controlled with the S Pen. The included S Pen now rocks 4096 levels of pressure and gets tilt in certain apps. A big 15.6″ or 13.3″ display, 4K UHD (3840×2160) with a bright 350 nits, SSD, realtime HDR, HDMI, USB 2.0 and USB-C and a lock port all conspire to make this one a keeper, especially the bigger one.
It’s a bit weighty at 4.5 lbs. and the battery isn’t the longest at 6.5 hours, but for a 15.6″ screen I can live with that. This is one of the more powerful of the Samsung tablet PC lineup.
International Amazon (putting this separately as the listing may not be available all over)
Asus Transformer T304UA 2-in-1
The Asus Transformer T304UA is a powerful detachable PC with an included Synaptics pen.
There’s an i7 processor with a 256GB SSD and 8GB Ram. Battery life goes to 8 hours. With the keyboard attached, it still weighs under 2 lbs and is super thin at .3″. The 2164 x 1440 FHD resolution is decent.
One notable feature that makes this a good tablet PC for artists is that the display covers the full RGB color gamut. The Asus has a Windows 10 touch login with fingerprint sensor and Windows Hello. The included keyboard is backlit.
The only drawback is its Synaptics pen, which is a bit less accurate for drawing than its competitors such as Lenovo, which uses Wacom, and Microsoft’s N-trig pen.
HP Spectre 360 15
Convertible ultrabook with 360-degree display comes in 13″ and 15.6″. This powerful convertible tablet PC touts 16 hours of battery life. It’s got a 4K display, Thunderbolt, NVIDIA graphics, over 12 hours of battery life, Bang & Olufsen speakers. There’s also a far more affordable model without so much power, but still not bad. A really nice-looking, light, and powerful device. However, its Synaptics pen is just a bit less accurate than Wacom and Microsoft’s pens.
Apple iPad Pro
While you may not see Apple as a tablet PC, in fact its A9X processor with 12 graphics cores is as powerful in some ways as one. So I think it deserves a place here. It doesn’t run desktop apps, but apps like Procreate and Medibang offer a lot of the features of Photoshop, including the ability to create brushes, use lots of layers, high-res files, 3D, and your favorite filters.
With the Astropad App, you can use the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil as a wireless Cintiq-like input device with your Mac.
The new iPad Prof or 2017 even has a Windows-like File Explorer, so you’ll be able to find your stuff. Runs iOS.
We like the bigger, 12.9″ iPad Pro for drawing. Its 3:2 aspect ratio is like a sheet of paper.
Hope you’ve enjoyed this list of 2017’s best tablet PCs for artists. Feel free to chime in.
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