Category Archives: Articles

Informational articles on various topics related to art tablets and digital art, tech news, and more.

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

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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

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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

lenovo-active-pen-2

Lenovo Active Pen 2: the mystery deepens

novo-active-pen-2

Lenovo Active Pen 2, where art thou?

Many of us have been waiting anxiously for the Lenovo Active Pen 2 with 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity to hit the shelves. Shown first at CES along with the Miix 720, the pen was scheduled for Feb. 2017. To this day it remains unseen on U.S. shores. But is it hiding in plain sight?

lenovo-active-pen

Lenovo Active Pen “new release”

At a brick and mortar store, I asked about the Active Pen 2, and their system only had the Active Pen, the old one (version 1), same part number.

Lenovo Active Pen “new release”

(photo coming, WordPress uploading not working at the moment!)

But it was marked “new release,” in the store’s online catalogue. This store, which I trust, says that means the item has come out within the past month.  Lenovo’s online info about THIS pen now states that it will get 4096 levels on some systems. I purchased the pen with the intention of using it on the Miix 720, but I doubt I will be able to discern the difference between 2048 and 4096 levels.

It’s a Wacom Active ES pen that takes AAAA batteries. It’s for the Miix 510, 520, 700, 720,, and Yoga 900s, but many report it works on the 2nd-gen Lenovo Yoga ThinkPad 14.

(I will have to try it on other AES systems too. They’re not always cross-compatible, even if they seem like they should be. Lenovo is only mentioning the Miixes and 900s as working with this pen, not their myriad other AES tablet PCs.)

The Lenovo Active Pen 2 is mentioned on non-US sites as shipping with the Miix 720, but the Active Pen 2 is not currently mentioned at all on the US site, which says Active Pen 1 on the Miix 720 page.

When I asked Lenovo reps, I was told that they have no idea about any of this, and they’ll get back to me. (It’s not their fault at all–Lenovo is rarely forthcoming with such info).

They did assure me that the Active Pen 2 would not have the same part number as the Active Pen 1, but they did not assure me that the entity known as Lenovo Active Pen 2 would ever be available in the US at all. They also expressed surprise at the “new release” info and asked me what store this was at (it was B&H Photo).

There are some internal Wacom photos of the Active Pen 2 here. It looks pretty much the same as the 1, though the clip may be slightly different, but that doesn’t mean much. The barrel may be a little shorter too (hard to say) but this could be a prototype.

I don’t see definite differences in the photos on the non-US Web sites, as the pen pics are not that close up.

Perhaps there will be two pens in the US, but they will look different but do the same thing, getting the full 4096 levels. Or perhaps those other countries are getting something different-looking or different in some other way, but the one in the US will be like this new release one and do what the 2 does. That would be fine. As with people, its what’s inside that counts.

What’s annoying is the announcement about a Pen 2, then not having any info about it.

Another possibility is that there is wrong info on the Lenovo site or that the “new release” info on the B&H site is wrong and this pen does not really get 4096. It is very difficult to confirm just by testing, as added levels, especially just one jump, are somewhat of a placebo effect.

If the new release Active Pen 1 gets the 4,096 levels on the tablets capable of doing that, it would indicate the pen has had an update. The box says 2048 levels, so it’s backward-compatible that way. Either way, either pen will work on the Miix series and the Yoga 900s.

It certainly is a mystery, but one likely to be resolved in coming weeks. Watch this space.

Got a capacitive (non-pressure sensitive) tablet? Read our post on finding an iPad or Android stylus for drawing.

ilapis on pencil

Interview with Giulio de Vita, creator of iLapis: turns pencil into stylus

iLapis creator Giulio de Vita on the vision behind this game-changing device

Giulio_De_Vita

Giulio De Vita, comics artist and creator of iLapis

The iLapis is a sleeve that you put on a regular graphite pencil to turn it into a capacitive stylus. It has attracted attention from sites from Tom’s Hardware to ProCreate to LaStampa TV.  Amazingly, it’s only going to cost a couple of bucks!

Not only that, but lets you use the side to shade and it gets pressure sensitivity via apps sensing its speed. It can be used on any tablet or smartphone screen. I spoke with the creator, well-known Italian comics artist Giulio De Vita, over email, about his vision for this unique and game-changing dream art tool.

Tell me a little about yourself. Who are you, where do you live? Are you an artist?
I’m a comic book artist. I’m quite well known in Europe. I worked for mayor publishers since I was 16 years old. But I love to go further comics, I use to work in advertising, cinema, animation, videoclips, theatre.

A real artist never says that it is an artist 😀

Do you usually use a tablet to draw and paint?
I’m a curious guy, and I love to search, try, experiment tools, techniques, artistic languages, media to express my ideas. When digital devices came out, like all creatives, I have been fascinated by these new supports… At the moment I think that they are still too limited to replace traditional artistic tools for fine art, but I’m sure they are a very good tool for standard level. I do not use a tablet for a final art, but I use it for fun, or to make sketches or studies. Paper is still present in my life and I use digital device and paper at the same time.

What inspired you to create the iLapis?
As I use paper and digital device at the same time, I need a unique took to work on both support without changing continuously… As a drawer I tried to sketch on tablet using traditional styluses: they were not precise at all, so I spent lots of money for active capacitive styluses (Adonit, Bamboo, and later Apple Pencil). They were too heavy, fragile, and most of all expensive…

I thought about Steve Jobs when he said that touchscreen are born for the use in mobility that’s why he never wanted to produce a stylus for these device: you can loose it, break it etc…

An expensive stylus is too dangerous to be used in a train, on a beach or at school or in a construction site… For these use you need something resistant, light, that you don’t need to recharge, that is inexpensive, and that if you loose, forgot at home, someone stole it, you can buy another anywhere: in any stationery shop or at a supermarket… even in a lost island in Greece or in small village in Iceland.  Like a pencil, but a real pencil.So I started studying if there was a way to let a normal pencil work on digital devices, and, EUREKA! I found it!

ilapis.interview

iLapis in action

What do you hope to bring to the world with the iLapis?
First, it’s a romantic value, quite philosophic: the idea that an object that most people consider passed, like a pencil, can still say a lot. This can teach us that we shouldn’t give all for granted, because in the specific of iLapis a simple, inexpensive pencil is more innovative and performative than a hyper technologic and hyper expensive stylus.

Second is very important I think not only for artists, but most of all for children, who are more and more focused on digital devices. They can use to  keep the confidence of manual use, of the correct way to do traditional handwriting. Think about how important can be this product for playful teaching of writing.

Third thing, is for the pocket of the millions of people using smartphones and tablets in the world. iLapis is not only an excellent writing and drawing tool, but also a very good way to tap and swipe for people who have problems with their fingers (trembling or size, or simply the need to use gloves that make the finger touch impossible) or view.

What kind of challenges did you face in creating it?
The jungle of the patents’ bureaucratic procedures.

Is it difficult to get an item like this onto the market?
I think it’s difficult, because it’s new in some way, because it changes the perception of the capacitive stylus not more like a digital tool, but like a simple stationery tool. People thinks it’s a chinoiserie or a trick for its simplicity and low cost.

Is the iLapis your first product creation?
Yes, I used to customize artistic tools for my needs, but of course they were too specific to justify a production. I remember that some years ago I had fun to make a publishing project about impossible funny inventions (like the pillow that combs you while you sleep :-D) where maybe the idea of becoming an inventor has grown in my mind.

How does it work?
It’s really simple: it’s a transparent conductive film that you apply, through a grip, on the tip of the pencil to enlarge the surface of contact of the pencil to the touchscreen. The device detects this contact, like it was a finger, as the graphite of the pencil is a very good conductor like the human body.

You said you can use it with Apple Pencil. What happens?
That’s what I discovered recently: Apple Pencil works exclusively on iPad Pro, But if you apply iLapis on it you transform it in a universal capacitive stylus, so you can use it on any brand of touchscreen, size and model.

Does the iLapis work differently on iPad and iPad Pro? Does it get pressure sensitivity on iPad Pro?
iLapis has no battery, has no electronics parts, has no wifi or bluetooth connection: that’s what makes it different! (it’s nice to think that I “thought different” from Apple :-)) iLapis is the most precise capacitive passive stylus and the finest tip between all capacitive styluses (even actives), the one working at higher inclinations, the only one working on paper and touchscreen with the same tip

iLapis works the same way on any brand and model or touchscreen. It has no pressure-sensitive system, but drawing apps detect the speed of the gesture and interpret it as pressure with excellent result: I think that’s enough for a 5€ product instead of 100€ 😉

Tell me about your partnership with Perpetua.
Perpetua is the only pencil 100% made Italy (it’s incredible for the country of Leonardo, Michaelangelo, Caravaggio and Giotto)  with recycled graphite, ecological because made without wood, that draws underwater, that does not break when it falls, and that has been chosen for its values by G7 presidency as official gift for international delegations for the 2017 G7 summit that will be placed in Italy in May.

When I started the Kickstarter campaign I was contacted by Susanna Martucci, the brilliant inventor and entrepreneur of Perpetua, who saw many things in common of our stories and our products, and told me that we have to be partner. I’m very pleased of that, and I think we’ll make a long way together.

Does the iLapis work only with a pencil, not other drawing tools?
It works on any tool made in a material that is conductive.

Can you put it on a finger and use it? How about a stick?
Yes but I can’t see the utility of this, as iLapis is designed to use a fine tip on a touchscreen, and not a large finger 😀

Is it something like Lenovo AnyPen that works with a banana but not with things made fully of plastic?
I think that Lenovo AnyPen has an hardware and operative system that let the touchscreen to detect smaller contact surface than other touchscreen. It gives a different solution to the same need of iLapis: to use any pencil on a touchscreen. iLapis is the solution for any other touchscreen.

Does the line get the texture of a pencil?
It depends on the app you use: you use a pencil, but the device read it as a normal stylus: through the app you can obviously chose any tool (pencil, pen, brush, eraser …) and colors (white, green, red, blue etc…) sharpness , opacity, dimension…

If you use a colored pencil, would you get a black line or a color line?
A colored pencil doesn’t work on iLapis, because inside the colored pencil there is no graphite but pigments that are not conductive.

Does it matter how sharp the point is?
No.

Can you use it with a mechanical pencil, made of metal or plastic?
Yes, you need to have enough graphite inside the mine: if the mine is too thin (0,3mm; 0,5mm; 0,7mm; 0,9mm; 1,4mm) there is not enough capacitance to be detected by the device, if you have a large mine mechanical pencil it works good.

What drawing apps do you prefer to use with it?
My favorite are Procreate, Pen & Ink, Pencil,  Sketches, Penultimate and Notesplus.

What tablets does it work on? Does it work on Android tablets? What about phones? Touchscreens on laptops?
It works on any capacitive touch screens, of course it depends of the quality of the touchscreen and their apps. It works on trackpads too even if it make no sense to use it this way 😀

What will it cost?
The final price should be between 2,5 to 5 dollars, but it depends of conditions of distributions. anyway drastically cheaper than any other stylus.

Where and when can I buy one?
The Kickstarter campaign has just finished and unfortunately it has not be funded. Apparently it’s not a good sign, but I’m very happy about the result of the campaign. First of all I put a high goal of 33000€, that’s because I have to patent worldwide the idea and to set a mass production, and find a distributor.

That’s what I can’t do alone, and I need to find a partner to do that, I’ve never been intentioned to make handcrafted products. I want to do it seriously, because I believe in the product. Of course the mass of people out there doesn’t care a lot about the project, and care about the product.

The result of 7400€ is very good, and what’s more important for me is the big interest of the press about iLapis, and the enthusiasm of  people talking about it on the web… thats a really important approval rating for a product.

Now my concept is real and can be developed in a product. I hope very soon, with some improvements that I had in mind since the launch of the campaign.

What are your next steps, do you have more ideas for new creations or for the iLapis?
Next steps are to design a product that can be produced compatibly with Perpetua’s values (recycled material and 100% made in Italy) and then find a good distributor.
Thanks very much and congratulations on the iLapis!
Thank you for your interest.

Check out Giulio’s Web site here