Lenovo-Miix-320-review

Two low-cost (really!) tablet PCs for drawing in 2017

cheap tablet pc for drawing

Cheap tablet PC for drawing in 2017? Acer Spin 1 and Lenovo Miix 320 fill the bill

Are you looking for a lightweight, powerful, low-cost digital-sketchbook with a pressure-sensitive pen that runs Windows? Now, a cheap tablet PC for drawing and general use can be had.

These affordable tablet PCs in 2017 are filling the recent void. Both have active pen support and use Windows Ink to keep you inking happily. These are perfect for commuting, taking to class, or backpacking.

These two art-capable PCs are actually both economical and decent. Usually, a cheap tablet PC has a low-res display, but these both have HD. Don’t expect these to become your main computers, unless your demands are not that high.

 

Lenovo Miix 320

Lenovo-Miix-320-review

Lenovo Miix 320. Photo courtesy Lenovo

Lenovo is aiming this at “millennials” who have “side hustles”–well, they’ve gotta have an angle. The Miix 320 is for anyone who wants a low-priced Windows tablet with active pen support, via the optional Lenovo Active Pen. The PC is a 2-in-1 detachable with a full keyboard,

While it’s not ideal for professional or resource-intensive use, since it’s not that powerful, you can still do a lot on it.

The Miix 320 has an Atom x5 Cherry Trail processor, Intel HD graphics, up to 128 GB storage, and full FHD touchscreen.

It’s nice and light–the tablet sans keyboard weighs just 1.2 lbs (550g), and 2.25 lbs (1.02 kg) with the keyboard attached.

The Miix 320’s battery life is up to 10 hours, only 17.5 mm thick. Dolby speakers pump up the volume.

This package is petite at 9.8 x 7″ (249  X 178 mm) and only .68″ (17.5 mm) thick. So you can easily put this in a backpack or small travel bag.

It’s got Windows Hello login capabilities and comes in Platinum Silver and Snow White.

Download the spec sheet.

See the Miix on Amazon (U.S.)

Amazon international shoppers

 

Acer Spin 1 (new version)

acerspin1review

Acer Spin 1. Image via Acer

The Acer Spin 1 has been updated and is coming out July 2017. It’s still a really affordable convertible notebook that takes the Acer Active pen, which has a Synaptics digitizer. This new and improved Spin 1 has an all-metal chassis unusual in this budget category, and has a full HD display.

Its processor is Intel Pentium or Intel Celeron. Weight is 2.76 lbs or 1.25 kg, not that extremely light, but tablet PCs do tend to be heavier because of the digitizer layer. It’s thin at .55 in. (14mm) and has 4G DDR3 memory. RAM options are 32, 64, or 128 3MMC storage. IT has antimicrobial Gorilla Glass 5, with embedded ionic silver to slay germs forever.

It’s full size at 11.6″, not a mini computer. Its battery life is not bad, up to 10 hours. It can be posed in laptop, tent, display, or tablet modes, with the wide-view IPS screen offering 178-degree viewing angles.

Notably, its precision touchpad supports Windows 10 gestures. This kind of touchpad is usually found on much pricier devices, such as the Surface Pro.

You can turn on a Bluelight shield, which will make the screen look pinkish, but save your eyes and melatonin.

It’s also got fast Intel Wireless-AC. Its ports are Bluetooth 4.0, a USB 3.1, a USB 2.0, and HDMI, and a microSD card slot.

OK, it’s a cheap tablet PC, so it’s not the fastest, nor does it have the best keyboard. But it has its good qualities for art. Best for students and sketchers.

See it on Amazon (U.S.)

Amazon international link

Art software

Because these are not that powerful, I don’t suggest running full Photoshop on them. Though you can put it on, chances are it will lag if you try to do much. So use smaller apps such as ArtRage, Sketchbook Pro, Photoshop Elements, or Windows mobile apps like Fresh Paint or Sketchable.

See also See also Mytrix/Cube i7 review, a cheap tablet PC for artists

See our post on the best tablet PCs for digital artists

Learn how to pick the best drawing tablet.

best tablet pc

Best tablet PCs for digital artists: Top Ten for 2017

Best tablet PC: laptops and 2-in-1s for artists in 2017

samsungnotebook9pro

What’s the best tablet PC? Here’s what to look for:

The best tablet PC for digital artists has an power, portability, and a great display.  The very top have a dGPU to give Photoshop filters a boost–not a necessity for all artists. All these computers are great for digital drawing, sketching, notetaking, and photo editing. And they’re portable to boot. All have an active pen with state-of-the-art digitizers including Wacom, N-trig, and Synaptics.

Best of all, a lot of these have 15 and 16″ displays–a generous canvas area just makes drawing so much easier.

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.

To make it easier, links open in the Amazon store in or near the country you’re in.

Here are our picks for the top ten tablet PCs for artists in 2017:

 

best tablet pc mobilestudio pro

Wacom MobileStudio Pro

Who wouldn’t want one of these?. With its buttery smooth patented Wacom 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.

See the MSP on Amazon

Read our MobileStudio Pro review

 

 

Lenovo Yoga 720

lenovoyoga720-15-tabletpc

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.

See it at Lenovo

See it at Best Buy

Read our Yoga 720 review

 

Microsoft 2017 Surface Pro

new surface pro 2017

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.

See 2017 Surface Pro at Microsoft

Read our 2017 Surface Pro review

See Surface Book at Microsoft

Read our Surface Book review

Vaio Z Canvas

 

Vaio Z Canvas

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.

See the Vaio Z Canvas on Amazon

Read our Vaio Z Canvas review

 

 

Lenovo Miix 720

miix720review

Lenovo Miix 720

T Lenovo Miix 720 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

Dell XPS 13 2-in-1

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 display options, at a bright 400 nits.. The keyboard doesn’t detach, but you can fold it all the way back.

See it on Amazon

Read our review

 

 

Samsung Notebook 9 Pro

samsungnotebook9pro

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.

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.

See it on Amazon

International Amazon (putting this separately as the listing may not be available all over)

 

 

Asus Transformer T304UA 2-in-1

Asus Transformer Pro T304

Asus Transformer Pro T304

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.

See it on Amazon

 

 

HP Spectre 360 15

 

HP Spectre 360 best tablet PC

HP Spectre 360

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

 

ipad pro

iPad Pro 12.9″ with Apple Pencil

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.

See on Amazon

Read our iPad Pro review

Hope you’ve enjoyed this list of 2017’s best tablet PCs for artists. Feel free to chime in.

end of best tablet PC for artists

yoga 720

Lenovo Yoga 720 review: 13″ and 15″ 2-in-1 with all the trimmings

Lenovo Yoga 720: 2-in-1 is loaded for art

SAVE 24% COUPON CODE
yoga 720

Lenovo Yoga 720

The Lenovo Yoga 720 2-in-1 goes where no convertible tablet PC has gone before. It combines a pen that gets 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity with a 4K screen and NVIDIA graphics. This noteworthy hybrid is more proof that Lenovo is forging ahead with innovative art devices. The  Yoga 720 tops the Yoga 710, which also had the dGPU.

 

Type of tablet

Convertible hybrid laptop (nondetachable)

Digitizer: Wacom ES, 4096 levels of pressure

Pen: Lenovo Active Pen 2 or any pen that works on Wacom ES

Features

360 degree “flip-and-fold” design
Models go from 13.3″ to 15.6″ HD screen (1920×1080) to UHD (4K0 screens, i5 to i7, 256GB to 1TB storage, Intel HD Graphics 620 to NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 2GB

15.6″ weight starts at  4.41 lbs (2kg)
13.3″ weight 2.9 lbs.
.07″ wide
Two USB Type-C with Thunderbolt
The higher-end one has micro HDMI and an SD card reader.

13″ model comes in Platinum Silver, Iron Grey, and Copper. The 15″ comes in Iron Grey and Silver.

Lenovo states that on the models with the NVIDIA GTX 1050 card, you can edit photos, play advanced games, and render multiple videos at once.

The HD versions have 8GB RAM and the 3840×2160 4K models have 16. The memory is upgradeable if you DIY.

lenovo yoga 720 multimode

The Yoga in all its poses.This is the 13″ mode.

At the bottom of the post is a downloadable spec sheet with more detail.

The Lenovo Yoga 720 (YOGA 7200 151KB) has  up to the latest Intel Core i7 Kaby Lake processors. The 15″ Yoga 720 at the moment is the fastest in its class, which is convertible laptops. Like many Lenovo products, there’s a dizzying array of configurations, so I’m summarizing them here rather than writing each one out.

The highest-powered and largest one will probably excite digital artists the most. That would be the one that’s 15″ and has discrete NVIDIA graphics, suitable for rendering Photoshop filters and for gaming.

The fact that you can add your own memory is a plus. Many PC hybrid laptops have the memory soldered in and don’t let you upgrade.

The fast processor also lets you boot up quickly.

Unlike some thinner and less powerful ultraportables, this laptop does have fans, and it can run warm. The vents are in the back.

 

Yoga 720 vs. Yoga 520

The Lenovo Yoga 520 is a more entry-level option with only has Intel i3 and 15 and HD. It has a 14″ screen that also has the Wacom digitizer. It also has the option of the NVIDIA GeForce 940 MX graphics card. It’s a good even more affordable option if you’re not a power user; you can use Photoshop and other Adobe software on the i5, and on the i3 too but we suggest the i5 if you’re going to get the Yoga 520. The 520 will be for sale in July 2017.

Want a detachable instead? Try the Miix 720

If you’re looking for a powerful detachable, the Lenovo Miix 720 is not quite as strong as the Yoga 720 but it does let you take off the keyboard.

Pen and drawing

The Active Pen 2 isn’t available yet, but the Active Pen 1 is smooth and accurate.

The Yoga 720 and 520 work with the not-yet-shipping Pen 2 or with any Wacom ES pen, so it won’t be difficult to find a pen. Some product info says the “new release” Active Pen 1 is capable of getting the whole 4096.

Though Wacom ES is lower resolution than EMR, there’s practically zero parallax (distance from pen to line). The pressure sensitivity and palm rejection work well, and I can’t tell the difference between 2048 and 4096. The Lenovo Active Pens do not have tilt sensitivity.

A 15″ surface is a great size for drawing, and there are few portable tablet PCs around this size, besides an older Dell Inspiron 7568 and the MobileStudio Pro 16 by Wacom. The 13″ screen is a good drawing size, too. The Yoga 520 has a 14″ screen.

When the computer is in tablet mode the keyboard will be facing the surface but will be recessed. The keyboard will be disabled, so you can’t use keyboard shortcuts. The clamshell design does let you open the laptop up flat, so you could keep it open.

Portability

The larger, 4.4 lbs. model of the 720 is pretty good for a 15″ screen. You should carry a sleeve to keep the pen in, as there’s no silo. The 13″, at 2.9 lbs, is not the lightest laptop, but still carryable. Since it’s a clamshell, there’s more protection than you’d find in something with a soft keyboard such as the Surface Pro 4.

Screen

The IPS screen is antiglare but still glossy. Viewing angles are pretty good.

Brightness-wise, at about 280-300 nits it’s bright enough, but colors are not as vibrant as some laptops, but it’s not bad.

This nondetachable laptop has a 360-degree hinge, letting you bend the Yoga to poses of laptop, stand, tent, and tablet. “360 degrees” may sound like you can also rotate the screen; you can’t. It bends on hinges, like other Lenovo Yogas.

The screen gets over 100% of sRGB, better than most laptops, but it’s not wide gamut, so those who need Adobe RGB coverage will have to look elsewhere.

Design

The large lower bezel on the bottom is an odd design touch but I think it’s to make it easier to pick up the device in tablet mode without getting fingerprints on it. The other 3 sides have a very thin bezel. Designwise, the Yoga 720 doesn’t stand out. It doesn’t have the distinctive watchband hinge of some Yogas. One cool thing is the fingerprint reader to the right of the trackpad.

Keyboard

The island-style keyboard has keys with key travel not as high as the most comfortable keys, which are deeper, but the keys are fine. They are about 1.2 mm, and I prefer to type on 1.4, yet 1.2 is OK. The keyboard is full-size and backlit. Since the keys are recessed when the laptop is in tablet mode it makes sense for them not to be taller.

lenovoyoga720review

Yoga 720 keyboard and hinge

Pros

value
13″ and 15″
NVIDIA card option
up to 4096 levels of pressure (depending on pen)
4K option
can use any Wacom ES pen
choice of colors
127% of sRGB
boots quickly

Cons

Not amazing battery life
USB ports only USB-3, may be a difficulty for some users
colors not super-vibrant
no Adobe RGB
some fan noise

Battery Life

Lenovo claims 9 hours battery life for the HD and 8 for the UHD (4k), but this would depend a lot on use. A 4k screen and graphics rendering is going to take up more power and drain the power faster.

User Lenovo Yoga 720 reviews

Lenovo Yoga 720 reviews have been positive, though the product is still new.

The lower-spec model is OK too, but without the dGPU it doesn’t differentiate itself a lot from others in the same category.

The lack of Adobe RGB may be a sticking point for some.

The verdict

This is not the fanciest-looking tablet PC, but the one with NVIDIA is high-performance. Lenovo is not not adding a premium to the price for the art capabilities. The specs of the higher -end model compete with the Wacom MobileStudio Pro, which of course has more specialized art features. The 720 is a good value for a powerful art PC.

The large size alone is enough reason to appreciate this release. It fills a gap that’s been missing since the Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 14 1st gen, namely that of discrete graphics. This Lenovo  Yoga 720 review is a thumbs-up, and we’re adding it to our top list of tablet PCs because of its dGPU and Wacom pen.

Yoga 720_15 inch_Spec Sheet (PDF download)

See the Yoga 720 at Best Buy

See it at Lenovo.com

The Lenovo site has descriptions of each model.

The Yoga 520 14″ will be available in July 2017 in hues of Mineral Grey, Metallic Gold, and Onyx
Black.

Here’s a short video by Lenovo.

 

Here’s a Lenovo Yoga 720 review from Lisa Gade of Mobile Tech Review.

 

Compare:

HP Spectre 360

Dell XPS 13 2-in-1
Lenovo Miix 720
Surface Pro 4

More about top tablets for artists at homepage

See our top 10 best tablet pc’s for art

end of Lenovo Yoga 720 review

wacomintuosdrawreview2

Intuos Draw review: the simplest Wacom

wacom intuos draw review

Intuos Draw review: best Wacom for beginners & back-to-basics users

The Wacom Intuos Draw is the most basic of the Intuos graphics tablets line and the only Intuos that does not have multitouch capability. That means you can only use the pen on it; you won’t be able to use hand gestures such as pinch or zoom. This Wacom Intuos Draw review is of the Small size, the only size it comes in.

The Draw not as basic as Wacom’s Bamboo signature pads, which don’t have a lot of art features. It’s the simplest of their graphics tablets.

This makes it a good drawing tablet for beginners who might not need multitouch, and want something affordable. If you just prefer or require a straightforward graphics tablet that has Wacom quality without much learning curve, the Intuos Draw might be for you.

Check price

intuosdrawtablet

Features:

Type of tablet: Graphics tablet, Wacom EMR digitizer
1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity
No multitouch
no tilt/angle or rotation sensitivity
Size: 8.25 x 6.7″
Active area:  6.0 x 3.7 in(152 x 95 mm)
Right and left-handed use
Colors: white or mint blue
Size: Small only
Weight: about 10 oz. (290 ±50g)
Resolution: 2540 lpi
Reading Speed (pen): 133pps

What’s in the Box

Intuos Draw (small)
Intuos Pen
Charger
Nibs (3 extra, total 4)
CD with driver and manual
documentation

Inside the outer sleeve is a high-quality, nonflimsy black cardboard box that offers solid protection for shipping.

The art software that’s included has to be downloaded.

wacomintuosdrawreview

Intuos Draw and what it comes with: pen, CD, USB cord, documentation

You can use the CD, which has the driver, if you have a CD drive, or you can download the driver from Wacom. I always prefer to download regardless, in case there has been an update.

Intuos Draw art software: ArtRage Lite examples

artrage doodles intuos

The Draw will work with any art program, including Photoshop and all Adobe software, and gets pressure sensitivity in Adobe Illustrator. It’s fine for Mac and Windows. Wacom includes some free art software with all its tablets, a different program depending on the model. The current offering, which I did these doodles in, is ArtRage Lite.

The Intuos package includes a code to type in to get the free art software and other offers from the Wacom site. In addition to ArtRage Lite, an offer for 30-day subscription to Lynda.com software courses, and an offer for a free photo print on metal. Wacom also offers access to online art tutorials on its own site.

The offers change from time to time, so check when you buy the tablet. Though there are free art programs you can get online, I really enjoy ArtRage, which has a lot of fun brushes and effects, some of which you can see in the above doodles. These include glitter, oil, pastel, palette knife, and roller. It’s a really easy and intuitive program, and is inexpensive to buy the full version from ArtRage (they have a free demo version, too).

These perks are a good incentive to stick with Wacom, especially with their entry-level drawing tablets such as this.

Build and features

intuosdrawnibs

Clever place to store the extra nibs, eh? And the thing on the left is a pen loop.

The back compartment stores the extra nibs. Below the nibs, that little circle is the nib remover where you insert the pen with nib and it pulls it out painlessly. The two compartments around the nibs are for the optional Wi-fi kit parts.

The micro-USB fits snugly and securely into the tablet’s side.

On the upper right corner of the tablet is a small security lock slot for a Kensington lock or pen tether. It’s marked with a small lock icon. The tablet top has a neat little canvas pen loop you can put your pen in. The loop fits snugly and you have to put the pen in starting with the pen’s back end.

The small dots on the surface show the active area, which is mappable, meaning you can use just part of it if you want. Mapping is useful if you want to work without moving your hand a lot. Using just a small part of the tablet, a small movement will go a long way. You set the mapping function in the driver.

Though the Intuos Draw looks almost toylike, it’s not a toy. It’s fairly well built for something so light, though I wouldn’t want to drop it hard, because the outer case doesn’t seem super protective. I found myself gently handling the detachable pieces such as the back cover.

The tablet has lots of good Wacom features, such as getting pressure sensitivity in Adobe Illustrator, and it’s got good old Wacom EMR, the most sensitive type of Wacom digitizer.

If you’ve got a multiple monitor setup, the Intuos Draw might be too small to effectively cover all the pixels needed. Otherwise, it should work on most setups, even with a large monitor.

Intuos Pen

The pen has two programmable buttons that you can program for just as many things as you can the Express Keys. It has no eraser tip. It’s batteryless, lightweight, and comfortable to hold. It’s smaller and lighter than the Pro Pen or other Wacom pens meant to be used on the higher-end Intuos Pros and MobileStudio Pro.

I weighed it and it’s only 9 grams, so light it almost feels like a drinking straw. That’s about half the weight of a typical active pen (battery included for those that take batteries) and may be too light for people who like the steady balance of a heavier pen, but I don’t mind it.

Drawing on the tablet

Even though 1,024 levels is low compared to the Intuos Pro and more pricey pen display tablets, the patented Wacom EMR digitizer delivers a smooth drawing experience. The pen is sensitive. It’s thinner and lighter than the Pro Pen that goes with the Intuos Pro. 1,024 is a little bit less sensitive than 2,048, but it’s plenty.

The tablet has a texture that has quite a bit of tooth and is enjoyable to draw on. The nibs wear down a little depending how hard you press. I keep it set to a more sensitive setting so that I don’t have to press that hard). There are extra nibs stored in the top in a small hidden case.

What I really like about this in some ways is its size. I sometimes use it instead of a mouse or the trackpad, as the pen doesn’t put as much strain on the wrists or fingers. It also lets me write notes (to some extent) or sketch. It’s easy to use it for this even when on the couch. It’s light and super-portable.

Small size advantages and disadvantages

If I’m packing for a short trip with my Mac laptop, and want to pack very light, I just throw the Intuos Draw into the outside pocket of the laptop sleeve. The Draw’s charger is small and light, too. I really like that it doesn’t take up much space, and I sometimes even hold it like a clipboard, since it’s so light.

What I also don’t always like is its size.  It feels cramped for drawing larger images, requiring a lot of zooming. If I’m drawing a small image, around the size of the tablet itself, then this doesn’t bother me, but usually I’m drawing larger. The size is good for drawing cartoons, designing characters, or sketching out ideas, and editing photos. I’m not a big OSU player, but it’s fine for that.

Controls

The buttons are in the top corners. They are cool-looking, but it would be more convenient to get to than if they were on the side. It just takes some getting used to. They’re smaller than on the larger tablets. I tend to want to tap them with the pen, and have to remember to use my fingers instead.

Tapping on the buttons brings up an on-screen menu where you set keyboard shortcuts.

intuos draw express keys

Intuos Draw Express Keys open in ArtRage Lite

When you click on the physical keys, the on-screen keys come up. This is the Express Keys just set to their default. It’s open in ArtRage Lite but they would come up in other programs too.

Intuos Draw comes only in Small (not Medium or Large!)

It would be nice if there were an Intuos Draw Medium, but for some reason Wacom has decided to have this one starter tablet, rather than issuing larger sizes that also don’t have touch.

With a small active area, small arm movements make a bigger difference. So you have to control your movements more.

I find a medium-size tablet, such as the Intuos Pro or the economical non-Wacom Huion 610 Pro better for more complex work.

Intuos Draw vs. Art Pen & Touch

The long name for Intuos Draw is the Intuos Draw Creative Pen Tablet. It looks the same as its siblings, the Intuos Art, Photo, and Comics/Manga Creative Pen & Touch Tablet, but these others all  have multitouch, which can be toggled on and off. Each comes bundled with different software. The software can change, but the Art tends to include painting programs such as Corel Painter Essentials. This is harder learn than ArtRage.

User Reactions

This is a popular tablet. People use it for all sorts of things, such as whiteboard presentations.

Intuos Draw Pros and Cons

Pros

affordable
lightweight and portable
fine for right-and-left handed folks
Wacom features and quality
good mouse or trackpad substitute
doesn’t have much footprint on desk
texture has tooth

Cons

can feel cramped
no tilt sensitivity
pen lacks eraser tip
texture of tablet can wear down nibs
pen loop is tight

Tips for getting started

It’s best to keep the tablet right in front of you and right in front of the computer. That way it’s easier to get used to than having it to the side of the computer.

Don’t worry about the Express Keys until you have gotten used to the hand-eye coordination required to use the tablet.

Keep the tablet area mapped to 100% of your screen.

If your monitor is high-res and over 14″, this tablet may be too small. Read our article on choosing the best Intuos to learn more.

Use the pen for everything at first; replace your mouse or trackpad with the pen and tablet.

Wacom Intuos Draw review: the verdict

I’m glad I have an Intuos Draw, as it’s Wacom boiled down to its essence. It’s not my go-to tablet for everything, but if it were my only one I’d make good use of it. I use it quite a bit for smaller projects, I like that it’s so light and unobtrusive, and it’s good for couch use.

Will you miss touch? I don’t miss touch a lot when drawing, as I don’t mind using the art program to zoom and navigate. I miss it when I’m using the Draw as a mouse/trackpad in non-art programs..

Touch can be toggled off on the tablets that have it, so if you decide to get one that does have touch, you’re not forced to use it, as at times you might not want to.

Do you need the wireless kit? It’s convenient and if cords bother you or you’re short on USB ports, it may be worth getting. But it’s certainly not a necessity.

The Intuos Draw review is a thumb’s up.  is a helpful, sporty, affordable, hardworking little tablet that simplifies things. It’s good for students, beginners, photographers, and crafters, as well as more advanced artists.

Learn how to find the best tablets for drawing.

Looking for something larger and economical? See this Huion review.

Read our review of Intuos Art Pen & Touch (Small).

See the Intuos Draw on Amazon

Wireless Accessory Kit

end of Intuos Draw review

newsurfacepro5

New Surface Pro 5 2017 with 4,096-level Pen

newsurfacepro5

New Surface Pro 5 sports pen with 4,096 levels and tilt

new surface pro 5 pen

New Surface Pen for Surface Pro 5, with increased levels, tilt, and a rubber eraser

Microsoft has now readied the new Surface Pro 5, which is actually just called the Surface Pro, for release (so I guess it’s time to party like it’s 2013, when the first Surface Pro came out). The new SP is available for preorder. This updated 2-in-1 tablet/laptop has some very interesting offerings for the art crowd.

The biggest difference is the new Surface Pen, which has 4x more levels of pressure sensitivity, making it 4,192, like the new Lenovo Active Pen 2. It also has tilt including shading. It will have the usual button that opens OneNote and other apps. The pen requires an AAAA battery.

This isn’t the Wacom-Microsoft pen we’ve been hearing about (at least, no one has said there’s any Wacom connection is so far). Microsoft is still going with N-trig.

The new pen also still has a rubberish eraser, and hopefully will still have the nib kit with a variety of nibs with different points and textures in a nib kit, like the current Surface Pen.

If the new pen sounds like the Apple Pencil, it underlines how Microsoft sees the iPad Pro as the rival to this version of the Surface Pro. Indeed, the upgraded pen may tilt the scales for artists frustrated with the iPad Pro’s inability to use desktop programs and inefficient file organization.

I’ll have to try out the new pen before knowing if it’s really as sensitive as Apple Pencil. Up to now, I haven’t been that big a fan of the Surface Pen for drawing, but this new one sounds like a different ballgame.

Surface Dial works on Surface Pro 5

surface dial

Surface Dial

Though the new Surface Pro “5” doesn’t look all that different from the Surface Pro 4, it will also work with the puckish Surface Dial, which brings up an array of on-screen menus aimed at designers.

Now, whether or not the Dial will be of much use on a small screen is hard to say. I’m a believer in the potential of the Dial, but right now it doesn’t seem like a must-have accessory. It makes more sense on the gloriously large Surface Studio.

Surface Pro 4 vs. new Surface Pro 5 2017

The pen is the biggest difference. The old Surface Pen had 1,024 levels and no tilt. This one will have tilt for shading; it’s unclear what else they mean by tilt, since they only mention shading. The Apple Pencil both has angle sensitivity with the tip and shading with the side.

Windows Ink apps include Sketchable, Plumbago, Mental Canvas, Drawboard PDF, and StaffPad. Of course, you can use the pen with any program, including Adobe Creative Cloud.

The pen will have backwards compatibility with all the Surfaces going back to Surface 3, including the Surface Book and Studio. It won’t work on the earlier Surface 2 and original Surface Pro, which were Wacom-penabled. It’s safe to assume it will only deliver previous levels of pressure sensitivity on those.

New Surface hinge makes kickstand more adjustable

Another aspect that’s different and consequential for digital artists is that the attached kickstand will go lower then previous ones. The updated hinge is deeper. The angle is designed to work better for those using the pen. So now the pen use is built into the design.

The new design also has more rounded edges and is “softer,” more Apple-like.

Like its Surface cousins, it comes in configurations of Intel 7th Gen. M3, i5, and i7.

The PixelSense screen of the Surface Pro 2017 is the same size and resolution as the PixelSense SP4–sharp, but not 4K.

The company says the new Surface Pro will get up to 13.5 hours of battery life. That reflects a considerably stronger processor. The processors are now Kaby Lake (7th gen) not Skylake (6th gen). Photoshop rendering and video processing should work faster on this.

The new Surface Pro 5 pen is sold separately, as are the Dial and Type Cover. (The Surface 4 included the Surface Pen.)

The new Surface Pro’s graphics cards will be Intel HD Graphics 615 for the M3, 620 for the i5, and Iris Plus Graphics 640 for the i7. These are next-generation and a bit faster.

The high-res PixelSense screen will be 10-pt. multitouch, 12.3″ diagonal, with a 3:2 aspect ratio, which we like.

The keyboard is upgraded with improved key travel.

Each model will weigh about 1.7 lbs or 766-786g, making it easy to carry around.

Microsoft is talking about how it goes from “laptop” mode to “studio” mode to “tablet” mode.

Apple may be getting nervous about the new Surface Pro 5. On the other hand, perhaps the competition will spur Apple to make a real laptop or even a monitor with an active digitizer.

Microsoft does plan to make a Surface Pro with LTE.

You can see or order the new Surface Pro (5) at Microsoft. Or see/order it on Amazon

See our article on the 10 top tablet PCs for art.

Read our homepage article to learn all about drawing tablets.