Astropad Studio review: iPad Pro meets Mac

Astropad Studio: iPad Pro inches toward Cintiqdom


Astropad Studio for iPad Pro and Mac. Photo by Astropad


Astropad has just released a new product specifically for use with the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil. It’s subscription-based, unlike Astropad Standard, which is still available. Astropad Studio is only for iPad Pro with Apple Pencil, whereas Standard is for iPad2 and up. Whereas Standard is a onetime purchase, Studio is a yearly or monthly fee, and has monthly updates.

Astropad Studio vs. Astropad Standard

Studio has “Liquid Extreme,” which offers a much faster bitrate of 60 frames per second, so less lag. It bas better image quality. Together with GPU acceleration and velocity control, there’s excellent image quality and responsiveness. You can customize program shortcuts in the supported programs, as well as customizing Magic Gestures, which are Pencil/finger combos. If you don’t want to customize, you can use the built-in ones, such as calling up the eraser tool with your finger and the control ring.

Installing both applications is simple, as is the setup. All you have to do get both the Mac and iPad Pro app–the Mac app from the Astropad site, and the iPad Pro app from the App Store.

One nice thing is that you can use the iPad Pro’s USB to connect it to the Mac, instead of Wi-fi, if you’re having Wi-fi issues like I have been lately and can’t get them on the same network.


Magic Gesture. Photo by Astropad

Once that’s done, you’ll see the controls have three program names–Photoshop, Illustrator, and Clip Studio Paint. These are all popular desktop programs and have a somewhat complex workflow. You can still use Procreate, Sketchbook and any apps or desktop programs you want.

astropad interface

Astropad Interface

The app allows you to customize shortcuts in these programs, which can save a lot of time.

The new improved Liquid Engine is far faster than the old one and I experienced no lag. Lag was an issue for some with Astropad Standard (which is still around).

Astropad Studio is also made to work with any keyboard, so you can use keyboard shortcuts, with one hand on the keyboard and other other on your Pencil.

Magic Gestures are fully customizable and involve that ring, your finger, and the Apple Pencil. Here I’m conjuring the Eraser Tool.

astropad gesture

Using a Magic Gesture while taking a photo of using it (awkward!)

You can move the ring around, press on or hold. Pressing and holding it only brought up the choice of full screen or 100%. But there are ways of setting the amount of screen to use. You can also move and zoom. You might zoom in on the iPad Pro to work, then zoom out to see the result. I’m not crazy about two screens, and frankly I prefer to just draw on one. But when doing art with a lot of detail, it really helps to see it on a big screen. Seeing art on a big screen not only lets you see any errors you might have made when drawing, and focus on parts individually.

What kind of monthly updates can we expect? According to Astropad, in the works are functions such as a personalized pressure curve. Not sure we can expect such dramatic moves every month, but that’s OK. In a way I like to know what to expect from an app–but this is ready to deliver a lot even if we don’t know exactly what’s in store. (Let’s just hope they don’t keep redoing parts of the UI, a habit that gets to me with Adobe stuff.)

If you’d rather just draw on the iPad Pro alone, Astropad isn’t necessary. But if you want to see your work on a bigger screen, it does get closer to a Cintiq or other graphics tablet. Some might find it doesn’t completely replace a Cintiq, because a Cintiq has that nice texture, and lets you customize more programs. But the release of Astropad Studio certainly brings a high level of professionalism to the Astropad workflow.

For Windows users, there’s still Duet Display.

Is it worth the extra cost to invest in Astropad Studio over Astropad Standard? The yearly fee right now is about $65, or you can pay monthly and pay a bit more. You get a monthly update with the subscription. I dislike the idea of subscription-based software, but it’s the world we live in. The monthly update assures you’ll be getting the latest features as soon as they come out.

Is Astropad Studio worth the upgrade?

I found Astropad Studio works as advertised. If you’re a frequent use of Astropad with Photoshop, Illustrator, or Clip Studio Paint, I think Studio is worth the extra investment. If you’re using other programs, you might be okay with Standard, which also allows you to use the iPad Pro. I suggest you download the free trial of Studio, or both, and decide.


Dell Canvas 27: Hands-on Review

Dell Canvas 27″ video pen demo

The new Dell Canvas 27″ tablet monitor, slated to hit the shelves at the end of April 2017, was on display at this year’s CES 2017. I was fortunate enough to go to the conference and to try out this new offering for professional artists. Scroll down a bit for a pen demo video. I’ve written up an initial Dell Canvas review based on this experience.


Dell Canvas (bottom) with additional, eye-level monitor

 Dell Canvas uses Wacom EMR pen

The Canvas is a bit like a Surface Studio except that the Canvas is a table monitor, not a 2-in-1, so it’s more similar to the Cintiq 27″ and has the same resolution. Dell states the Canvas pen is Wacom EMR. (Dell’s recent products have used Wacom AES, and before that they used Synaptics digitizers). EMR is the most sensitive and what Wacom uses on its own Cintiqs. However, I found this pen to be less sensitive than a Cintiq pen. To be fair, it’s months until the Canvas actually comes out, and it may be tweaked by then, and who knows if it will even had the same pen.

This pen was thick but comfortable and had two buttons. Its girth and rather simple barrel shape reminded me of pens by Huion more than the skinnier, shapelier pens used by Wacom and Microsoft.


It only does Windows

The Canvas has to be connected to a computer, and that computer has to be running Windows. Dell partnered with Microsoft on the Canvas, and the Canvas will work with the Creators Update, and will run with AVID. Dell, naturally, suggests using the Canvas with the Dell Precision workstation, which is powerful enough to create VR content.

The Canvas is protected by Gorilla Glass. It has some cool functions like virtual desktops, and it comes with two kinds of “Totems” (ahem, Surface Dial clones) that you can twist and turn.


Display overlay shows open programs. Photo:

Dell’s initial idea was the SmartDesk, where the two monitors would interact, but it’s not clear if that will come to fruition or if it will be the regular routine. In this case, there are actually three monitors–the laptop, the Canvas, and the eye-level monitor.

2.5k display resolution

The display has a 2560 x 1440 QHD resolution (111 PPI). The bezel has a lot of contrA close competitor would be Wacom’s 27″ Cintiq, with the same resolution (2.5K). The all-in-one, 28″ Surface Studio packs 4500 x 3000 (192 PPI). So the Canvas is pretty high resolution, but it could be higher. However, the 2.5K will have an easier time working with more Windows computers than a 4K or higher would.

The Canvas’ 20-point touch would accommodate more than one person. The color gamut covers 100% of Adobe RGB. Palm rejection worked well. The stand is adjustable, and I like that it can lie flat as a desk, something the Surface Studio’s hinge does not allow.

As you can see, the pen is very accurate with no jitter. It also had no detectable tilt sensitivity (which could change) or perhaps there were settings I wasn’t aware of. While I liked it fine, if I didn’t apply a little bit of pressure, I’d get skips. (Again, they may tweak this before it hits the market).

Two Totems for the Dell Canvas 27

To me, two Totems plus the pen and multiple monitors is a lot to think about and the idea of the 20-point multitouch, which can accommodate an extra person or two, starts to seem a bit left-brained, but we’ll see. Right now there are not a whole lot of apps for the Totem and Surface Dial, but these are in their early stages.


Totem with contextual menu. The Canvas comes with two kinds of Totems. hoto:

The whole thing is very BUSY pus there are lots and lots of on-screen menus. It’s not exactly Zen, but it offers a lot of options.

Right now the levels of pressure sensitivity are not clear, nor are other specs, but I’ll be updating.

For now, my hands-on experience with the Dell Canvas 27 leaves me feeling like it’s not a huge leg up over other 27″ tablet monitors as far as hardware. The jury’s out on the software as that’s such a big part of this, and it is impressive. But what are the specific benefits? Do all the accessories and tools make the designer’s workload easier, or is this an exercise in deconstructing and fragmenting workflow?

The Verdict

Because at the time of this writing, the product has not yet come out, this Dell Canvas review is focused on testing the pen, examining the screen, speed of the computer, and more. But there are still details and perhaps yet to come, so I’m going to withhold my verdict. For now, I’m not sold on the Totem/Dial, though that could change. Habits like one hand, one pen are difficult to give up. The display is certainly pleasing and I like the idea of the eye-level monitor, though that’s an individual choice. I would probably just prop up the Canvas to 20 degrees and just use that.

Dell released a lot of innovative and award-getting products at CES, including a super-thin 8k monitor and the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1. So it’s a company now on the cutting edge. It has long had pen tablets, but somehow you didn’t hear about them all that much. Now Dell is working with Microsoft, and this time incorporating Wacom, aiming to get in more seriously on the art action. Dell may make some valuable contributions.


Ugee 1910B review: Hands-on with 19″ Cintiq alternative

Hands on with the Ugee 1910B: affordable 19” tablet monitor delivers


See it on Amazon



19″ display, TFT panel
UC-Logic digitizer (uses EMR)
1440 x 900 resolution
2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity
Battery-free pen recharges from USB. Two pens included.
Pen has eraser/pen toggle button
Adjustable metal stand goes from 90 to about 20 degrees
Compatible with Windows XP on up and Mac. Works with 2d and 3d art software.
Can support dual monitors and has screen mapping
Pen does not have tilt or rotation sensitivity (nor do other Cintiq alternatives)
Pen has eraser/pen toggle button setting
Brightness: 300 nits
Contrast ratio: 800:1
Viewing angles to ~80/~80
5080 LPI (lines per inch)
220 RPS (revolutions per second)
Response time 5 ms

ugee-1910b-review-with pen

Ugee 1910B with pen

What’s in the Box

Ugee 1910B tablet monitor
Power adapter and cords: VGA, USB, power supply
Two pens, two pen charging cables
Pen stand
CD with driver
Drawing glove
Screen protector (glossy)
User manual
Pen battery lasts at least 800 hours
Compatible with Windows XP/Vista/7/8/8.1/10 and latest Mac OS

Weight: 15 lbs.
Dimensions: 20.9 x 18.3 x 7.2 inches
Active display area: 19”


Packaging and setup

Ugee is a Chinese company and, like Yiynova, Huion, and others, makes lower-cost tablets that are alternatives to the Wacom Cintiq. This is an an Ugee 1910B review.

This model is among the most economical of the Cintiq alternatives for its size. It’s a tablet monitor that attaches to your computer. It works with Windows and Mac. You can also use it as a regular monitor and attach it to a TV or projector.

Ugee kindly provided me with a unit to review. It is my first time trying an Ugee product.

The tablet monitor came safely packaged in cardboard, with a hard backing, and styrofoam. The inner cardboard box having a handy handle. The packaging is not fancy—it’s no-frills, and the savings are passed along to us.

The boxes open vertically rather than like a clamshell. Inside, along with all the cords, are some nice extras: a drawing glove, screen protector, and extra pen and cord. The screen protector is in a separate package.

The USB and cables are each about four feet long, and the power supply about 6 feet long. The power brick is pretty small and compact (about 5” long, 2” wide and 1.5” thick) and stays cool. The pen cords are about 3 feet long.

The cables are relatively simple to set up (no splitters or confusion as to what goes where) and do not produce cord tangle–I was grateful for that. There is VGA, but no HDMI support. You can use a VGA to HDMI adapter if needed.

The cords are in back near the bottom, which makes them a little hard to access, but once set up, they are out of the way both physically and visually. The cords are long enough for me, but it depends on your setup.

You plug the tablet into a wall outlet or surge protector, and connect the 15-pin VGA to your computer or use an adapter for HDMI—most newer computers use HDMI. You also connect the tablet to your computer’s USB tablet, and charge the pen via USB as well.

Installing the Ugee driver

The drivers support Windows 10, even though the info in the paper booklet doesn’t go up that high. The driver comes on an included CD, but I used the ones from the Ugee site. You can use anything from XP to Windows 10. It also works on the latest Mac OSX (and I am checking with the company about older Macs).

You have to delete all tablet drivers and any remnants of them before installing. You connect all the cables, including the USB, with the computer and tablet turned off, then install the driver, then reboot.

Once installed, the driver icon stays in its folder rather than appearing on the desktop, so you need to open the folder and click on it.

If your screen is high-resolution, you will need to set the monitor to Extend mode. If your resolution is the same as or lower than the Ugee’s, then set it to Duplicate. If you are getting a big offset, this setting is the first thing you need to look at.

I tested it using my tablet PC and it worked fine with that; as with other tablets, using a penabled computer does not cause a conflict.

Since I did have remnant files from other drivers, I at first got the dreaded “other tablet drivers detected” error. What solved it for me was going into the Windows folder and deleting two files, a fix I quickly found online after doing a search for the text of the error message. If you have never installed another tablet, then you should not have a problem installing.

The pen calibration and pressure sensitivity worked great out of the box for me and required no adjustments.

Build quality

The Ugee is black plastic and attractively designed. It’s not all that thick, but it feels solid. While it’s not lightweight, it’s not hard, if you’re of average strength, to carry it around the room. I would not want to carry it around town or anything.


The stand is also plastic (though it resembles metal) and uses a latch system to lock in place. It adjusts from 90 degrees to back to about 20 degrees—which is the best angle, ergonomically, to draw on.

The stand is attached and stable at any position. The tablet is VESA-compatible, so you could use a mounting arm. The tablet sits about two inches off the table surface. The bottom of the stand has four rubber bumpers.


The glossy screen is flat glass all the way up to the ends. There is no raised bezel, only a black frame that’s a bit less than an inch wide, making good use of the screen real estate. You could use a ruler or template on it if you want—makes it easy to make stencils.

Or. if you have done your line art on paper, you can use it as a light box by laying your drawing over it and tracing over it to transfer your drawing, which can be useful in retaining a loose line quality. (You can do this even with a raised bezel, but it’s easier with this flat setup).

The glossiness of the screen makes colors look brighter. Thanks to the flat glass, if you want to use a different screen protector, such as a matte one to get some paperlike tooth, you don’t need to worry about cutting it to fit within the bezel.

The protector covers the active area and a bit beyond. I installed it and got some bubbles that I’m working on getting rid of. The pen doesn’t scratch the tablet if you do not put on the protector, so you may prefer to go bare-screened. If you wear the glove it will stop smudging and moisture. The protector does not affect drawing or the visibility.

There is a slight, very rare squeak with some pen strokes with the screen protector off, but the squeak is a lot less than on some tablet monitors, and it tends to go away after a while—it’s that new-tablet sound.

The display resolution is not high, so things are bit pixelated. Because of the large size, the pixelation is noticeable, and text is a little fuzzy. It’s not lower-res than the Cintiq 12ux or the original iPad, but at this large size, it is more noticeable. This is really my only sticking point. However, higher resolution would mean a higher price and I don’t see it as a dealbreaker. You can still see your art on whatever computer or second monitor you are using.

The viewing angles seem best straight on; this is not an IPS screen. But you don’t get blind spots or anything from other angles, you can see what’s on the screen. If you move around a lot the image becomes a little less clear from certain angles, but chances are you will be drawing from right in front of it. The stand does not swivel, it only goes up and down, the but if you want to turn the monitor it’s not terribly heavy.

Palm resolution works well; I didn’t have any issues with that or the hover distance.

Ugee pen


Ugee pen

The Ugee pen has a good weight, not too heavy. It’s a little chunky, with a thin part near the tip. It’s thicker than a fountain pen. It’s light enough to not cause fatigue but heavy enough to give a good balance. With my small hands I could stand it to be slightly thinner, but it’s less thick than some of the other tablet pens out there. All in all, I like the pen.

There is a slight parallax (space between pen and screen), but not enough to bother me at all—maybe 1/10th of an inch. In fact I like it seeing the whole line instead of any of it being blocked by the pen.

You will need to use a USB port to charge the pen for about 45 minutes, and a USB cord to connect the monitor. A blue LED light stays on until the pen is fully charged. If you don’t have an extra port, you can charge the pen via a power bank or another device—or simply charge the pen then remove it.

The company says the pen battery lasts a minimum of 800 hours. I haven’t had it that long. There is no need to pair, as no Bluetooth or other wireless signals are involved.

The pen does not have an eraser end but the 3-way button (front, back, and left click) has a pen/eraser toggle and some choices of settings, including and the choice of absolute positioning, or relative (mouse mode).

With absolute mode, the cursor goes where you touch the pen to the screen. I left it on absolute, as it’s desirable for a tablet, unless you have a reason to use mouse mode. The driver also lets you set pen sensitivity and after some testing I put that around the middle, slightly to the harder side.

The Ugee comes with a manual that’s pretty basic and takes you through the steps of installation, settings, and basic troubleshooting.

In Windows 10 you can do a little bit further pen customization by going to Settings > Devices > Pen & Windows Ink.

Drawing on the Ugee 1910B

One happy surprise about UC-Logic drivers is their excellent responsiveness, which I find comparable or better than other digitizers, including Wacom’s. The Ugee’s driver has a comfortable pressure curve and seem to maximize line variation. You can get very thin, interesting lines, similar to using a ballpoint pen.

The driver includes a small test area where you can make adjustments. You can get a very thin line, like drawing with a fine ballpoint pen. Inking feels very fluid.

As mentioned above, there is a small amount of parallax, maybe 1/10” of an inch, with the cursor being a little under the pen. I do not mind this as I like to see where the cursor is. If it were larger, I would mind, but it’s pretty small. I drew around the edges and did not get jitter regardless of speed or direction.

I also did not get lag when drawing, no matter how fast. I did get lag, though if I stopped drawing for a few minutes. Putting the pen back on the tablet apparently wakes the pen up, but sometimes would result in it drawing a random line, which I fixed with a simple Undo command.

The screen is glossy, so colors appear bright and contrast is enhanced. The screen is smooth glass, with no tooth. The included screen protector is also glossy. The protector does not affect drawing.


You can do monitor mapping with the driver and set up multiple monitors.

Buttons are all along the bottom of the monitor, there are none on the sides. The “menu” button lets you make changes to positioning, color temperature, contrast, and other parameters. There is not a lot of customization to the drivers. If you want express keys, you could try a gaming tablet, Photoshop Actions, the Tablet Pro app, or a radial menu.


Cables simple to set up (no splitters and such)
Adjustable stand
VESA-compatible (meaning you can attach it to VESA stand, so it can go on a wall or mounting arm)
Excellent pressure curve and pen sensitivity
Good build quality
Comes with useful extras, such as glove and screen protector
no jitter
battery-free pen
uses EMR, a sensitive digitizer system allowing excellent drawing control


Screen shows some pixelation
Color accuracy is imperfect
Driver installation ease varies
Pen takes a moment to “wake up” if you pause drawing

Ugee 1910B vs. Wacom Cintiq

There are a lot of things that pricey Cintiqs has that this doesn’t, including multitouch–so you can’t use your hands on it, nor finger paint or gestures. The drivers have a lot less customization, and there are also no programmable express keys either on the monitor or on-screen.

You can only get pressure sensitivity in Adobe Illustrator using Wacom tablets, so you will not get it with the Ugee, but you will get it in other Adobe programs. All this is standard for Wacom alternative tablets.

Customer reactions

I’ve looked at Ugee 1910B reviews in different places, and this seems overall to be a pretty well-liked tablet, with praise for the pressure curve. On the negative side, some people have technical issues with the drivers and aren’t happy with the help they’ve received. Occasionally there are issues with the pens ceasing to work, which could be from the battery.

The company seems to issue replacements of the tablet, pens, or parts when needed. In my own contact with Ugee, they responded quickly and helpfully—though my contact was with the general rep, not tech support. They do not seem to have elaborate customer support with screen sharing, but most places don’t. They have a Facebook page where you could upload images or videos if you’re having problems, and they can also be reached via email or Skype (or WeChat if you use that).

The Verdict

The verdict for this Ugee 1910B review is that it’s is a really good deal for the price. It works well, with the pressure curve being comparable to or superior to Wacom. It does not have all the features of a Wacom, but it’s similar to other Cintiq alternatives.

Despite the screen resolution being a bit low, and the colors not super accurate, but you can check against your computer monitor. The Ugee is a fine choice for artists on a budget, for students, or beginners wanting to try a tablet monitor without a big investment. While you may want to eventually invest in a Cintiq, this is a fun and solid drawing tablet with a screen.

I have only had the tablet a short while, so I will be doing more testing and adding more pics.

Check price and read more Ugee 1910B reviews on Amazon






2016 Digital Artist Holiday Gift Guide

2016  Digital Artist Gift Guide

Hard to believe it’s that time again–winter holidays of 2016! 2016giftguidepin


If you’ve got a pixel artist in your life, they’re probably looking for ways to enhance their creativity, work in comfort and style, travel with their tablet. They love traditional art supplies, too. To that end, we bring you our 2016 Tablets for Artists gift guide.

Will be adding to this page, so check back for more!


Apple iPad Pro

Elegant portable drawing solution with highly sensitive, tilt-enabled Apple Pencil (which needs to be purchased separately). Can be used as Cintiq-like input device with a Mac using the Astropad app.



Copic Markers

Sometimes you just need the smell of markers. Copic Markers are great for manga, marker rendering, sketching out logos, and everything else. Copics are alcohol-based, which is less toxic than solvent-based markers, but we like to keep a window open.


Tombow Dual Brush Pens

Tombow markers can be combined with water for beautiful blended effects. Tombows are water-soluble. The dual brush have a marker brush on one end and a marker tip on the other.


by Scott McCloud. Learn to create comics, manga, and graphic novels from a master.



Drawing on medium-toned paper can make all the difference in your art. The Old Masters did it, and so can you.

Wacom Bamboo Slate

lets you create digital art or take notes, starting on paper. The notebook has its own memory, so you don’t need to snap a photo of your page. You open your pages in a mobile app. Wacom Inkscape lets you save to the Cloud. Comes with EMR digitizing pen. The older Bamboo Spark is similar.
The Moleskine Smart Notebook uploads your paper drawings from this classic artist’s sketcbook to Evernote after you you snap a photo using an iPad app. It then converts it into an SVG. There’s also a version with Adobe Creative Cloud.

SwissGear Travel Gear ScanSmart Backpack

A laptop backpack with extra pockets for a portable tablet that’s ready for airport security is a blessing. Most airports won’t make you take the laptop out, saving you time and hassle. It also has RFID protection from those trying to steal your info electronically.


Wacom graphics tablet

Read this post to figure out which one is best for your artist.








Handmade Leather iPad Pro Case

Beautiful and durable.


Case Logic WMBP-115 15.6-Inch Laptop and Tablet Backpack


Fujifilm INSTAX Mini 8 Instant Camera

Who doesn’t love instant photos? Take pics and have them on paper immediately with the . It has automatic exposure and a high-key setting perfect for portraits.


Aeropress Espresso Maker

Coffee! Without it, modern civilization wouldn’t exist. Whether that’s good or bad, we still need our fix. The Aeropress delivers a pungent cup in one quick blast. Geeks love it.


Computer Arts Magazine

Magazines keep artists on top of the latest developments. Computer Arts is a good one to follow to keep up with constantly changing tech.


Clip Studio Paint

Clip Studio Paint is an inexpensive art software program with a great brush engine.


Books on Creativity, Art, and Careers


This fascinating genre requires a lot of study,  but it can be learned.

This season will be special with creative gifts. And remember to check back, as I’m scouting for more swag.





Black Friday/Cyber Monday Deals as they come in

Black Friday to Cyber Monday Holiday 2016 deals for digital artists. It might just be time to get that drawing tablet you’ve had your eye on. I’ve searched the Web for good prices for artists.

Note: these can change at anytime. As well, they do not necessarily start or end on Black Friday to Cyber Monday, please check the page for more info.

Amazon Cyber Monday Week computer deals

Amazon Cyber Monday Deals Week


Asus t102. This is around $300– small 2-in-1 laptop with Asus pen, 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity. Click to see it (Microsoft) A bit like an iPad but comes with pen and keyboard. Asus uses a Synaptics digitizer–not our favorite–but it’s OK–still a good deal.

Black Friday Sneak Preview at Microsoft Store starting 11/14! –includes deals on Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book

Best Buy: See this Week’s Tablet Deals and More, Plus Free Shipping on Orders $35 or More

Save $125 on All 9.7″ iPad Pro Tablets – BestBuy

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon X1 tablet PC ultrabook on sale at Lenovo.

blog Surface Studio review

Microsoft Surface Studio review: Supersize me?

Microsoft Surface Studio: big, skinny all-in-one

Microsoft Surface Studio review

At work using multitouch on the Microsoft Surface Studio.

Microsoft Surface Studio review

Along with the refreshed Surface Pro 4 with Performance Base, Microsoft has just released this large all-in-one, the Surface Studio, that will go nicely with a Starbucks Trenta (that’s the 31-oz. cup). How big is it? It’s 28″ and has lots of features, including four input methods for the touchscreen–with all that caffeine, you’ll be as productive a semi-octopus. I got to try it out and penned this Microsoft Surface Studio review.


Resolution: 4500 x 3000 (192 DPI)
Color gamut: sRGB, DCI-P3, Vivid Color Profiles, individually color calibrated
Touch: 10-point multi-touch
Aspect Ratio: 3:2
Surface Pen
Zero Gravity Hinge that folds to 20 degrees

Processor: Quadcore 6th Gen Intel i5 or i7
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 965M 2GB or NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M 4GB
Memory:  8GB, 16GB, or 32GB RAM
Storage: 1TB or 2TB
Dimensions: 25.09 x 17.27 x 0.44 in. (637.35 x 438.90 x 11.4 mm)
Weight: up to 21.07 lbs (9.56 kg)
Ports: Four USB 3.0
Full-size SD card reader
Mini Displayport
headset jack


Cameras: Windows Hello  5.0MP front-facing camera, 1080p HD video

What’s in the Box?

Surface Studio
Surface Pen
Surface Keyboard
Surface Mouse
Power cord

microsoft surface studio review

Surface Studio folded on Zero Gravity Hinge

Get  a free Surface Dial with pre-order: Shop Shop Surface Studio

The Microsoft Surface Studio has an amazingly thin, 12.5 mm 28″ PixelSense screen with 10-point multitouch and comes in models from i5 with 16 GB to i7 with 32 GB RAM. With a light touch of the Zero Gravity Hinge, the screen folds to any angle down to 20 degrees, similar to the angle of a drafting table. This is positive, because 20 degrees is the best angle for ergonomics–it’s “neutral” on your wrists.

The GPU options are 2GB NVIDIA GeForce with 1 or 2 TB memory. You should be able to have lots of fun and games on those. It even has XBox Wireless built in. Though its primary use will likely be art and design, can use it as an entertainment center, art studio, monitor, or very expensive drafting table.

The lower-end models of the Surface Studio, if you can call something this fancy lower-end, use the GTX 965M and the highest-end one has the GTX 980M. Both of these are from last year, and considerably less powerful than the latest GTX 1070. So if you’re working in CAD programs, it won’t be the fastest that’s possible. For Adobe programs and most 3D use it would be fine.

Surface Dial and Mouse

The Surface Dial is a sleek-looking puck that reminds me of gizmos of the future from the movie Sleeper. You place it on the screen, where it can open up the Radial Menu, or use it as a color picker. It’s even got haptic feedback. You turn it to access various settings, such as opening up menus of tools, palettes, or brush options. The dial has a black magnetic bottom that gets some traction on the screen, but doesn’t stick like a refrigerator magnet, you have to hold it.

The curvy Surface Mouse also can be used directly on the screen. So there are four possible touchscreen options–the mouse, the dial, the pen, and your fingers. Perfect if you like to accessorize. The Dial may feel gimmicky, and if you’re into keyboard shortcuts, turning the Dial may slow you down. Others may enjoy its tactility.

Adobe didn’t work with Microsoft on the Radial Menu, so it doesn’t offer granular support for the programs, and it’s not customizable in the same way as Wacom ExpressKeys. You make adjustments in Windows Settings. The dial will work via Bluetooth with the Surface Pro 3, 4, and Book (Surface Pro 3 and up) but the on-screen functions will only work on the Surface Studio.

It’s not that easy to say what the advantage is over something like the Wacom Feel Driver’s on-screen radial menu for tablet PC. That’s not an option for the Surface, but if you prefer an easily accessible on-screen menu, you might want to try the Tablet Pro app.

microsoft surface studio review dial

Surface Dial with Radial Menu

The power cord comes with a release grip, which is convenient since you might not be moving this around that much.


The screen is glossy, and if you don’t want that you’ll probably need a custom-made screen protector. With 13.5 million pixels, it’s 63% over 4K. Or, since the Surface Pen has a variety of nibs, some of which provide some bite, you could draw with one of these nibs. You can quickly switch color profiles, which are individually calibrated.

The sharp resolution, individualized color profiles, endless angle adjustability (to 20 degrees) and inviting 3:2 aspect ratio all make quite a feast for art. Adobe RGB Is not specifically supported; instead it’s DCi-P3, 25% larger than sRGB and similar to the iMac Retina.


Not much. But at around 21 pounds, it’s more portable than some desktops. And it looks really nice. The Bluetooth keyboard is full-size but light, with good key travel.

The Microsoft Surface Studio is basically a huge Surface Pro 4 with higher specs. Storage won’t be a problem, at least not for a while, with 1 to 2 terabytes.

Battery Life

9-16 hours, not bad at all.

Drawing on the Surface Studio

The Surface Pen is included, and gets 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity via its N-trig digitizer, and same with its eraser end. That’s a far cry from the new, compact Wacom MobileStudio Pro‘s 8,192 levels, but hey, who’s counting. 1,024 is plenty and enough for a smooth pressure curve. S

However, compared to Wacom’s offerings, the Surface Pen isn’t quite there in terms of fluidity, and there’s no tilt or rotation sensitivity. It also requires more pressure than a Wacom pen to make a mark on the screen.

With something this expensive, it’s disappointing to not have tilt. It seemed like less of a compromise in the smaller Surfaces, since those were portable and could replace laptops and tablets. But this is a studiobound art tablet. It has lots of redeeming features, including the thinness, hinge, and relative lightness, as well as all the other good stuff (like the way over 4K display). This could work very well for photo editing.

The Zero Gravity Hinge  with 80 custom-set springs feels wonderfully weightless and the screen simply floats up and down, coming to a firm rest at 20 degrees–it doesn’t go all the way flat. As with the computer’s smaller cousins, the Surface Pen sticks magnetically to the upper-right side of the frame.

The screen is glossy, but not glarey and it doesn’t feel too slippery. It didn’t bother me that there was no “tooth” or screen protector.

The Studio would suit some people great, but others might prefer something Wacom. You can read some creatives’ reactions to the Studio in this Endgadget article. One who gave a quick Microsoft Surface Studio review lamented the lack of tilt sensitivity.


Gorgeous display would impress clients
Effortlessly adjustable hinge goes to ergonomically sound 20-degree angle
Will work with Creators 10 update focused on 3D and augmented reality
ample ports
full touchscreen, pressure sensitivity
Pen has several nibs with varied textures
Dial has a lot of potential in future applications including Creators 10


Pricey (though Microsoft says it’s a great value, and you are getting a lot, but still)
Lack of tilt sensitivity for pen
Processor not the fastest or latest

The Verdict

I’m a bit wary of investing this much into an all-in-one, because of the speed at which computers obsolesce. You can keep a Cintiq around longer than the average computer, and Cintiqs hold their value longer. The Cintiq Companion 2 and the Wacom MobileStudio Pro can be attached to a larger monitor so that you can draw on and see your creation on the larger screen.

The Surface Studio is not the first large all-in-one, but it’s certainly the most powerful. Some Wacom-alternative companies have put out all-in-ones but they are seldom seen, and don’t have high specs like this one.

The Surface Studio has great build quality. Its hinge is graceful. There are plenty of ports. It’s gorgeous and would wow clients who walk in–which can be quite valuable.

If size and power are what you need, and you want the convenience of the hinge, this might be all you need.

Get a free Surface Dial with pre-order: Shop Surface Studio

end of Microsoft Surface Studio Review

blog tabletswithusbports

Tablets with USB Ports 2016

Full size, 3.0, 2.0, C, micro… what does that have to do with tablets?

tablets with usb ports

Surface tablet with USB stick

A tablet is a lot more useful when you can connect other devices to it. This is done via a USB port. Different types of tablets have different sizes and speeds of ports. This article will give you the basics of what you need to know when looking into tablets with USB ports.

You may be looking for a tablet with a USB port that’s full-size so you can hook up a mouse and keyboard, hard drives, printers, card readers, USB sticks, other peripherals, or even fun USB gadgets.

To use these devices, your tablet must become a USB host. Most portable tablets have micro-USB ports. If a tablet says it has USB 2.0, 3.0 etc., that refers to speed, not size, so you can’t assume it means a standard, full-size port. So if a full-size port is important to you, you need to choose your tablet according to this need.

USB OTG (On-the-Go)

To make your Android tablet into a host, you can usually use an inexpensive Micro USB OTG (On the Go) cable, thus named because of the portability of tablets. Some tablets come with the cable. Not every tablet supports OTG, so you need to check first.

OTG does have some power limitations. The devices you connect via the cable are the USB clients.

USB hubs

The tablet’s battery will be the power source for the peripheral (which is the thing you’ll be connecting to the tablet). If the peripheral’s power needs are more than the OTG cable can handle, you can use a powered USB hub.

A USB hub, powered or not, will also let you connect several devices at once.

Some cheap Android tablets may have a micro USB port that cannot become a host and is only there for charging the tablet, but most are capable of accepting OTG and many come with the OTG cable.

Windows tablets with USB ports

In the tablets we discuss on this site, the main tablets with USB ports are the full Windows tablets and tablet PCs, such as the Surface Pro and Vaio Z Canvas and Lenovo Yoga 900. You can also use the older Surface 3 and Surface RT. These full tablet PCs will also have other ports such as HDMI to support external monitors and TVs.

The Windows 10 tablet by Fusion 5 is a portable tablet (not an art tablet) with a full-size USB.

Most Android tablets have USB 2.0, which doesn’t transfer data as quickly. Some Windows portable tablets, such as the Cube i7, have micro USB 3.0.

IPads have a Lightning port and come with a Lightning to USB cable, whether iPad Pro, regular iPad, or mini.

In PCs and desktop computers, USB 3.1 is the current standard. This is faster in transmitting data than 3.0 and 2.0. USB-C is a newer type of port that will likely become the standard for many types of devices. It can take the place of other ports, including one for charging and HDMI. Some Android tablets have USB-C.

Want more info? This Wikipedia article  goes into much more detail about USBs. This Forbes story tells you all about USB-C and why it’s turning things upside-down.

Android tablets with USB ports

Here are some Android tablets that have full-size USB ports. These are NOT art tablets–while tablets are touchscreens, to be art tablets they would need a pressure-sensitive touchscreen. These are just regular tablets.

Google Pixel C

The Google Pixel C has a USB-C port, so it’s ready for anything. This Android tablet is thin and powerful, with a battery life of 10 hours. It’s got a really sharp screen: 10.2″ with 2560 x 1800 (308 PPI), and an NVIDIA Tegra X1 with Maxwell GPU. Would that our art tablets had these kinds of specs.

Dragon Touch X10

The Dragon Touch X10 has both a standard USB port and a mini HDMI port. Its Octa-Core CPU and  Octa-Core high-speed PowerVR SGX544 GPU will keep games going fast. It’s got a 10″ IPS screen that’s not high-res, but has good viewing angles.

If a USB port is important to you for reasons such as attaching printers, you may be better off with one of the full Windows tablet computers above.

Pretty soon we’re likely to see lots of tablets with USB-C’s, but for now they’re still relatively rare.

It’s a good idea to have something like this Sabrent USB hub so you can use your port to multitask. The Sabrent is compatible with both USB 2.0 and 3.0. When buying accessories, be sure to check your device’s compatibility.

end of tablets with usb ports






blog best laptop for photoshop

Best laptops for Photoshop and photo editing 2016-2017

Top laptops and 2-in-1s for photo editing, Photoshop

best laptops for photoshop

You may be wondering what are the best laptops for Photoshop painting, or for photo editing in Photoshop and Lightroom. Certainly you need something powerful for working with large files in high quantities. You also need a high-res screen, and good color quality. You can use many laptops for this purpose, but certain features make for an optimal experience.

Best laptops for Photoshop and photo editing: what to look for


An Intel i7 is the best option for handling the demands of Photoshop. You should at least get an Intel i5. Xeon E3 is another processor that’s strong enough. If an i7 is too pricey, an i5 will work.

At least dual core, quad core is fine too. Photoshop doesn’t always take advantage of all the cores available.

An SSD, or solid state drive, is faster, quieter, and more reliable than a hard drive (HDD). It does cost more. Another option is a hybrid SSD/HDD is more affordable and delivers most of the benefits of an SSD.

If you don’t want to spend a lot on a computer with a ton of storage, you could get a 256 GB or 512 SSD, and a 1TB external hard drive to store your art and photos for the long term. It’s a good idea to have multiple backups, on drives as well as in the Cloud.

Keeping layers makes files much larger, so flatten layers when you can. Some laptops have space for additional storage drives.

Screen resolution
A high screen resolution such as Retina, 4K, or UHD will really let you zero in on pixels. You’ll be able to see some large files in actual size instead of partial. Most programs by now have adjusted scaling so text and icons won’t show teeny-tiny on a high-res screen. This may still be an issue with older software. With programs that have not adjusted, you can dial down the resolution by adjusting it in your display settings.

Matte vs. glossy
Matte is better for screens because it’s less reflective. If you work indoors and can control lighting, then glossy is okay, but outdoors it can be hard to see. It also tends to exaggerate brightness.

An IPS display is important because it provides good viewing angles. You don’t want your image to become invisible to you because you looked at it from the side.

Screen size
Laptops mainly go from 11 to 17″. We favor 15,” as being portable but large enough to see what you’re doing. If compactness is a priority, then 13″ is OK. Eleven is too small to be very productive.

Operating system
Mac or Windows will both do equally, it’s a personal preference. They both support Adobe programs. Chrome OS does not.

Color gamut
While average laptops cover about 60-70% of the sRGB color gamut, for Photoshop, you’re better off getting one that has around 100%. Some also have some or all of Adobe RGB color gamut. Adobe RBG can look oversaturated; if you have one with Adobe RBG, it will allow you to switch to sRGB.

You also have the option of using a good external monitor for color-sensitive work, and using a calibrator on your laptop. I don’t think it’s necessary to get all the Adobe RGB on a laptop, as working on a larger external monitor is preferable. Some of the best laptops for Photoshop and photo editing include the Adobe RGB gamut, and others do not.

Pen (optional)
As you can see, this site focuses on pen tablets. But many people attach tablets to a computer, so this post includes laptops that have no pen.

A pen allows accurate input without attaching an additional tablet. It’s an option in deciding what features you want in the best laptops for Photoshop. When photo editing, it’s easy to cut out backgrounds, make quick masks, and selectively do things like burn in small areas. If you don’t get a pen tablet, you can attach a separate graphics tablet to your laptop.

Battery life
Battery life is important, unless you always work indoors. The same features that boost performance also drain the battery, including high-res screens, fast graphics, and a fast processor. So you want to get a balance of features and good battery life.

To connect an external monitor you will need an HDMI, DisplayPort, or, older, a VGA. To connect a Cintiq, you will need an HDMI. If your laptop has a VGA, you can use a VGA to HDMI adapter. To connect a graphics tablet, you just need a USB. All laptops have full USB ports, usually USB 3.0 or USB-C.

Do I need dedicated graphics?
This is a common question and one surrounded by confusion and misinformation. In short, the answer is no. Discrete, or dedicated, GPUs are more important for gaming and 3D rendering and intensive video editing than they are for digital art and photo editing. They will give you a performance boost in Photoshop, but are not required.

Photoshop doesn’t access the regular GPU that much–it’s there for certain functions, including blurs and image rotation. If you do want the discrete GPU, preferably use an NVIDIA with 2 GB memory.

There are many great laptops for photo editing and creating art in Photoshop. Here are our favorites in 2016-2017:

MacBook Pro Retina

Many creatives opt for Macs. Using Photoshop on a Mac is not any different than using it on a PC. A long time ago, it was, and, largely from tradition, graphic designers have largely stuck to Macs. Also, the MacBook Pro is color-managed. There’s a 13 and 15 inch option and integrated graphics. It covers about 99% of sRGB and 88% of Adobe RGB. With its beautiful display and powerful processor, it’s a top laptop for Photoshop.

Dell XPS 15 Touch

The Dell XPS Touch and non-Touch are also top choices. It has  over 100% of both Adobe RGB and sRGB. It also has discrete NVIDIA graphics. The highest end has a 4k touch IPS display (3840 x 2160), 3 million more pixels than the Macbook Pro. Spec-wise, this Dell is is equal  to or even better for photo editing than the MacBook Pro.

See Dell XPS 15 Touch on Amazon


ASUS ZenBook UX303UB

This is a compact beast of a machine with a 13.3 inch 3200×1800 screen, comes in models with 12 to 20 GB RAM with up to 2TB SSD, NVIDIA graphics. Whew!

See the Asus ZenBook 303UB on Amazon




Surface Pro 4

If you want a laptop with a pressure-sensitive pen, the Surface Pro 4 is an excellent choice, though the screen is pretty small. Its compact size is perfect for when you’re scrunched into an airline seat.

Surface Book


Surface Book pen and keyboard

The Surface Book is Microsoft’s laptop-first detachable 2-in-1 pen tablet. One configuration of it boasts NVIDIA graphics.

Same with the Vaio Z Canvas (read our review)–which has a healthy battery life. This remarkable 2-in-1 is as powerful as a mobile workstation and good for video editing as well as Photoshop. Drawbacks? The display isn’t very big (that can be good or bad, depending) and the keyboard lacks a backlight. But it’s a powerhouse.

best laptops for photo editing

Vaio Z Canvas with keyboard.

Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga X1

The Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga X1 delivers excellent color accuracy, over 100% of sRGB, and is Wacom AES penabled. There’s an OLED option. See more about Lenovo tablets.


The Yoga X1 has a Wacom digitizer, but the computer is not made by Wacom and doesn’t have the controls that make for the Cintiq workflow. Cintiq controls can really speed up your work whether you’re painting or photo editing.

Wacom’s new Mobile Studio Pro (due out in Nov. 2016) and Cintiq Companion 2 provide these express keys and rocker ring. While some criticize the CC2’s less than stellar battery life and noisy fan, it’s still great for digital painting and photo editing.

Wacom MobileStudio Pro



Wacom MobileStudio Pro

Wacom MobileStudio Pro. Source: Wacom



Cintiq Companion 2 (see on Amazon)

Hope this article has helped you pick one of the best laptops for Photoshop and photo editing for your needs. If you’ve got further suggestions, leave them in the comments.


Best drawing tablet 2017: reaching for the stars

Wacom Cintiq Pro and Pro Pen 2


Top art tablets 2017: a look ahead

Best drawing tablet 2017: which will it be? It looks like we will see the best drawing tablets yet this coming year, including the promising releases of late 2016. Some older items are getting a refresh and totally new and different tablets are hitting the market.

(For our top 2016 picks, please see the chart in our homepage article “Find the best drawing tablet.”)

A key trend has been greater integration with the real world, such as the ability to use real pens, pencils, and paper. That already existed in digital notepaper like the Bamboo Spark, which is a paper notebook with a built-in digitizer. But some new products have streamlined and improved upon this idea.


Wacom continues to dominate the industry provide the most advanced drawing tablet features, including increased levels of pressure sensitivity (8,192), pressure sensitivity in Adobe Illustrator, and barrel roll (rotation sensitivity, meaning you can roll the pen and make patterns, a feature supported in their higher-end tablets with a specific pen).

Best drawing tablet 2017: Wacom MobileStudio Pro

Their new offering, the Wacom MobileStudio Pro (read our article), is a powerful Windows PC in portable form. Professional illustrators and animators may pick this as the best drawing tablet 2017. The company has gotten away from the 2-in-1 model, so you will need to use your own external keyboard with it. This is an art-first tablet that’s not trying to be a laptop as well. With a strong, protective case, you’ll be feeling super and safe from anything, even Kryptonite. See the different versions on Amazon.


And now there’s the new CINTIQ PRO

Wacom Cintiq Pro

Specs: Cintiq Pro13 HD (1920 x 1080), 87% Adobe RBG
Cintiq Pro 16, 4K (3840 x 2160), 94% Adobe RGB
Pro Pen 2 is improved with 8,192 levels, no parallax
Both have fold out-legs
Connects with a single cable
Optional ExpressKey Remote


Released Dec. 31, 2016. See it on Amazon

Microsoft Surface Studio 28″ All-in-One

Surface Studio with Surface Dial

Surface Studio with Surface Dial

The new Microsoft Surface Studio is a large-scale art tablet that comes with a Surface Pen. It’s big and so is the price. The optional Surface Dial lets you open menus and also acts as a color picker. The 28″ PixelSense screen at 192 DPI give you lots of space and sharpness. It’s got a 3:2 aspect ratio and Adobe RGB as well as DCI-P3 and Vivid Color Profiles. This is for power users. It’s available for pre-order and the co. is at present offering a free Surface Dial.
See more and check price on the Microsoft Surface Studio

Word on the street is that Dell is coming out with something similar (OEM) and the puck looks black!

Lenovo Yoga Book

Lenovo surprised us by releasing the stylish Yoga Book, which attaches a pressure-sensitive graphics tablet that also serves as a touch keyboard. The stylus has dual nibs, one of which is a real pen with real ink that will digitize from real paper placed on the tablet. It’s certainly one of the most interesting, and portability wise it may be one of the best drawing tablet 2017 in the graphics tablet-tablet PC category–it’s also the only contender.


best drawing tablet 2017

Lenovo Yoga Book

Besides the analogue ink, the advantage for artists is the closeness of the tablet to the screen, eliminating awkward positions and the need for another keyboard. The Yoga Book bends into many positions, and the screen part, while not pressure sensitive, is a touchscreen with Lenovo AnyPen tech. The portability, flexibility, looks, and affordability of the Yoga Book has won it fans.

Microsoft has just refreshed the Surface Pro 4 with NVIDIA graphics and a much longer battery life. They’re calling it Performance Base. Not new, but improved.

The Surface Pro 5 should be making its appearance in 2017 as well. There’s always more Microsoft can add to get it to be a truly mobile workstation, and, if they add the Microsoft-Wacom universal pen, it could well be the best drawing tablet 2017 in the tablet PC (non-Wacom) category.

Samsung is updating its Galaxy Tab A with S Pen with something even better–an HD version. The Galaxy Tab A 10.1 will have an HD display, 3GB of RAM, 16GB storage, and a lonnggg 13 hours of video battery life. Coming in late October 2016.

Huawei will be coming out with new Matebooks in 2017 that rival the Surface Pro 5’s specs,. They may be aimed more at the Chinese market, but we’ll see.

Best Graphics Tablet 2017

We still recommend a Wacom Intuos Pro and favor the medium size. Once called the Bamboo line, these are considered the best graphics tablets. They pack advanced features and have many sizes and models to choose from. Every one of them comes with a high-quality Wacom EMR digitizer and battery-free pen. Wacom is sure to still offer the best graphics tablet in 2017, as it has been a top art pick in 2016.

For something more affordable, the Huion 610 Pro offers a lot of the functionality of Wacom and is our favorite of the Intuos alternatives. However, it lacks advanced features such as tilt and rotation. We recommend this for those who have a bit of computer savvy, but it’s a popular choice with an excellent pressure curve. Monoprice and Turcom also offer value.

Best portable digital sketch pad 2017

Lower-cost tablets with screens and styluses are popping up. The Acer Spin 1 is aimed at students. It’s a pressure-sensitive tablet that’s portable and doesn’t have the most advanced specs, but it’s heartening that this technology is getting more accessible to those on a budget. The Spin 5 will be a more robust version of this portable Windows tablet PC.

Late October (the 28th) brings a new and improved Samsung Galaxy Tab A with S Pen with a 10″ HD display, more memory, and more power. The main drawback of the 9.7 was its low screen resolution, so this is a step up for this popular Wacom-penabled art tablet.

Looks like the next-gen iPad Pro will be with us soon. Hard to say how they could improve upon the Apple Pencil. We feel the iPad Pro will be the best drawing tablet 2017 in the mobile category. While we still prefer desktop programs, mobile apps for drawing are getting better and better.

Wacom competitors moving forward in 2017

Artisul, XP-Pen, Bosto, Huion, and Ugee are all continuing to, trying to catch up with Wacom, as well as competing with each other. Huion is coming out with some new tablets with screens. XP-Pen will be updating their well-received XP-Pen 22 tablet monitor. You never know, maybe one of these companies will put out the best drawing tablet 2017, or some later year.

3D sculpting and printing

Wacom hasn’t put out all-new software for their Intuos in a while, so the release of the Wacom Intuos 3D is a big step. It’s a regular Intuos tablet with software by Pixologic. It ties into to 3D sculpting and printing so you can add those easily into your workflow, and will provide feedback to make you feel like you’re really manipulating 3D objects.

2017 will be bringing some top art tablets and ones that are just trying new things. It looks to be a very creative year ahead.

end of Best Drawing Tablet 2017

blog Wacom MobileStudio Pro

Wacom MobileStudio Pro: portable Cintiq packs a punch

Wacom MobileStudio Pro: Powerful portable packs 8,192 levels, up to 4K display, 3D camera

Wacom MobileStudio Pro

Wacom MobileStudio Pro With Pro Pen 2. Source: Wacom

Wacom has created an amped-up successor to the Cintiq Companion 2, this one a lightweight portable with up to a 4K display, 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity, discrete NVIDIA graphics, and a 3D camera. It will run Windows 10 and full versions of desktop programs such as Photoshop, Illustrator, Maya, and Cinema 4D.

Engineers, artists, and designers can all tote it around, as it can run not only art programs, but CAD. There will be two sizes: four versions of a 13.3″ display and two 15.6″ models, all with Intel processors, and NVIDIA Quadro M600 or M1000 graphics, depending which model. Storage will range from 64GB to 512GB.

The pen will be the all-new Pro Pen 2, with 8x the pressure levels of the current 1,024-level Pro Pen.

Some of the models will include an Intel 3D camera called RealSense, which captures 3D scans that can be opened in 3D programs such as Zbrush.

(For those without the budget for this who still want to work in 3D, Wacom is also releasing the Intuos 3D).


Use as standalone or as Cintiq with Mac or Windows computer

The controls for the Wacom MobileStudio Pro will be similar to the ones on the Cintiq and Cintiq Companion line, including ExpressKeys and Touch Ring, and programmable pen buttons. As with the Cintiq Companion 2, users will be able to attach the MobileStudio pro to any Mac or PC and use it as a Cintiq display and input device, so you’ll be able to use the Mac OS as well as Windows.

MobileStudio Pro 13 vs. 16 specs

The four models of  the13.3″ display, called the MobileStudio Pro 13, will have 2.5K WQHD resolution as well as a wide color gamut of 96% of Adobe RGB. SSDs will have 64, 128, 256, or 512 GB storage. The 512GB one will have the 3D camera.

The 15.6″ models, called the MobileStudio Pro 16, have the nearly the same color gamut with 94% of Adobe RGB. SSD sizes will range from 64GB to 512GB. The 16 hasa 4K UHD display and the 256GB will have NVIDIA Quadro M600M an 2GB VRAM. The highest-end model of all of them is the 16 with 512GB SSD, NVIDIA Quadro M1000M, and 4GB VRAM. Both models of the 16 contain the 3D camera.

With these high specs and high expectations, we can only hope they’ve improved upon the flaws of the Cintiq Companion 2, including loud fan noise and not-so-great battery life. This has got to have a pretty major battery to power the display and discrete graphics, and hopefully it will also power the computer for a long time. The NVIDIA graphics should keep things moving without lag. Maybe the MobileStudio Pro will be the moveable feast so many are waiting for.

(Note, will update info as soon as possible)

See more about the Wacom MobileStudio Pro on Amazon.

Also check out specs on the CIntiq Pro, released Dec. 31, 2016, or see it on Amazon.