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: tabletsforartists.com
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: tabletsforartists.com
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?
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.
Hard to believe it’s that time again–winter holidays of 2016!
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.
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.
TONED TAN SKETCHBOOK
Drawing on medium-toned paper can make all the difference in your art. The Old Masters did it, and so can you.
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.
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.
Full size, 3.0, 2.0, C, micro… what does that have to do with tablets?
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Wacom MobileStudio Pro: Powerful portable packs 8,192 levels, up to 4K display, 3D camera
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.
Just when you thought you’d seen everything, Wacom has stepped into the growing world of 3D with the Intuos 3Dtablet. This new release will enable the public eager to try 3D art, design, and modelling in an affordable and accessible way.
The tablet will integrate with ZBrushCore program, made from the same foundation that powers ZBrush, popular 3D software used by virtual reality, game and film studios, and illustrators.
But it’s not all arts and entertainment, it’s also for engineers and fabricators. According to Jeff Mandell, Executive VP for Wacom’s Branded Business, “3D Design has been undergoing a transformation driven by trends in 3D engineering, rapid prototyping and on-demand parts production.”
Cintiqs have been the main tablets for 3D sculpting, but with the popular Intuos, anyone can get started. Other 3D software that has expanded Wacom’s foray into the third dimension includes Dassault’s Solidworks and Autodesk’s Mudbox.
The Intuos 3D will come with ZBrushCore software and “special offers” from Sketchfab and Shapeways.
Once you’ve created your design, you can send it to Shapeways for printing, or publish it on Sketchfab. Sketchfab is a place to explore virtual reality items. History, geography, culture, animals–it’s all there, and you can view it or upload your own.
I’m already a Shapeways fan for the amazing designs people upload, such as jewelry and other items. This new package will make creating for 3D printers a lot more accessible. If you’ve never seen a 3D printer, they basically extrude molten plastic into layers, which build up, forming a shape. The layers and patterns can be programmed to create amazing organic or Spirograph-like forms.
With Shapeways, you don’t need to buy your own 3D printer, those these may become common household items someday. (Lose your cell-phone case? Print one out.)
The Intuos 3D will be for sale in late October 2016. Hopefully there will be enough time to sculpt a Halloween mask.
New Lenovo, Acer art tablet offerings for Fall 2016
Create on the Lenovo Miix 510 in your private art studio
Active pens are becoming pretty much de rigueur these days, since the technology has become less expensive, and hey, it’s a nice option for everyone. This Fall 2016, Lenovo and Acer showcased several new art tablets at Berlin’s IFA tech show.
These have pens (sometimes included, sometimes not), pressure sensitivity, palm rejection, and draw-on screens. These offerings are all draw-on-screen with those features; the Lenovo Yoga Book is covered in this post and lets you draw on a non-screen tablet.
Acer unveiled its Spin line of 2-in-1s at the show. The spotlight is on the lightweight 14″ Spin 7 convertible notebook, but as the Spin 7 lacks drawing features such as support for an active pen, artists will be more interested in its siblings, the 13.3″ Spin 5 and the Spin 1, which comes in 11.6 and 13.3″ options.
Both the Spin 5 and the Spin 1 will feature support for the Acer Active Pen, which will be sold separately. The Acer Active Pen supports Windows Ink. All run Windows 10. The Acer Active Pen Stylus, as it has been called in previous Acers, uses a Synaptics digitizer.
The Spins, true to their name, will turn on a dual-torque, 360-degree hinge. They will have a blue light filter to ease eyestrain, and Color Intelligence, which maximizes color saturation.
Acer Spin 5 features
The Spin 5 has up to a 7th-generation Intel processor, a full HD IPS screen, up to 16GB DDR4 memory, and up to 512 SSD storage. Battery life will last up to 10 hours. It will have a textured, fabric-like finish to make it harder to drop.
Acer Spin 1 – affordable and comes in two sizes
Acer calls the Spin 1 ideal for “students or as a second computer,” meaning its performance will be less than speedy. Its two screen sizes are 13″ or 11.6″ HD IPS, and it will carry Intel Celeron or Pentium processors and antimicrobial Gorilla Glass to keep out those classroom germs.
The Spin 1 will also support the optional Acer Active Pen and Windows Ink, and will be very affordable, which is rare in a pressure-sensitive tablet. It could be a decent-sized portable digital sketchbook that won’t break the bank.
Lenovo launched no less than four 2-in-1s at the show. The attention-getter is the Lenovo Yoga Book, but for those who want something where you can draw on the screen with pressure sensitivity, there’s the new Lenovo Miix detachable.
The company is offering a “backlit keyboard or pen with Windows Ink,” so prepare for confusion over specs. There may be an option to purchase a backlit keyboard if you get the model with the pen.
The Miix 510 weighs in at 880 grams (almost two lbs., without the keyboard) has a 12.2″ screen, up to 1TB SSD (now that’s good!) and optional LTE. It will have Core i7, 7.5 hours of battery life, a metallic finish, and a 16:10 aspect ratio, which we prefer over 16:9 because it’s less long and thin. The keyboard and pen will be included. Though they haven’t been specific, Lenovo uses Wacom AES in their other pressure-sensitive tablets.
As for their other 2-in-1s coming out, the new Yoga Book is an art tablet (more like a graphics tablet with separate screen), but the other newly announced devices do not seem to be. However, the company has been known for being unclear about these details from their initial information, so I will monitor the situation, so to speak.
These new art-tablet offerings ensure it’s going to be a bountiful Fall 2016. These babies will be out in September and October.
Lenovo Yoga Book first look: keyboard and tablet meld into one
Yoga Book in Create Mode
Lenovo, which was once IBM, has never been known for being artsy. Despite the fact that a lot of their laptops, such as the ThinkPad Yoga line, are tablet PCs with Wacom pressure sensitivity, the computers are still marketed largely at business.
So this Chinese company’s upcoming release, the Lenovo Yoga Book, is a pleasant surprise. It’s super-slim and light–right now, it’s the world’s lightest, thinnest 2-in-1 of the major 2-in-1s. It just debuted at IFA, a consumer tech-convention in Berlin, and has not yet been released to the public. I’ve gone over the available info to present all I can about this new art tablet.
Perhaps Lenovo is following the zeitgeist that has brought us the paper-to-pixel Wacom Spark and iskn Slate. Whatever they’re doing, they’ve created a versatile digital art and writing tool. Their focus was on mobile productivity, and they asked many users what they wanted in a mobile device.
The two Lenovo Yoga book pen tips, one with real ink and the other a stylus
Lenovo product developers spent 18 months working out each detail, listening to focus groups, conducting studies, and testing different components.
As a computer, the specs are nothing special. It sports an Atom X5 CPU and 4GB RAM, so it’s more of a kitten than a beast. The Atom probably keeps the price low, and it is quite affordable. It’s discouraging that it has only 64GB of on-board storage, but it has a micro SD slot to go up to 256GB.
Digitizer (on keyboard/drawing surface only, not on screen): Wacom EMR with 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity
100 degrees of tilt sensitivity
Screen: 10.1″ (diagonal) Capacitive touch IPS LCD with Lenovo Anypen tech
IPS display (1920×1200)
OS: Android and Windows model (hardware is the same on both)
Build: Magnesium aluminum alloy
Processor: Atom X5, 2.4GHz
Brightness: 400 nits
Color Gamut: 70% of sRGB
Colors: Champagne Gold, Gunmetal Gray
Battery Life: 8,500mAh battery. Android 15 hours, Windows 13 hours
Dimensions: 10.1″ × 6.72″ × 0.38″ (256.6 × 170.8 × 9.6 mm)
Weight: 1.52 lbs (.69 kg)
Micro SD slot up to 256GB
LTE (AT&T, T-Mobile)
Ports: micro USB, HDMI out, microSD card slot
Cameras: 8MP rear, MP front
Software: comes with Windows Mobile Microsoft Office apps, OneNote, trial of ArtRage Lite
Optional Accessories: Sleeve, ink-cartridge refills, paper refills
It’s compact and goes well with this hand model.
What’s in the Box:
Quick Start Guide
3 ink-cartridge refills
Book Pad (metal clipboard accessory with paper pad, the whole thing clips into the cover)
Very portable at a little over a pound and a half and a slim .38 of an inch. Its clamshell design protects it, so you can use a sleeve and put the pen in the sleeve if you want, but you don’t have to add weight with a hard-shell case the way you do with, say, an iPad Pro.
Photoshop CC and other Adobe CC programs will run sluggishly; the Atom is not made to handle them. But smaller art programs such as Photoshop Elements and Sketchbook Pro should work fine, and their file-saving options are compatible with Photoshop CC. So you could open your art on a more powerful computer with CC.
The tablet comes with a trial of ArtRage Lite, which is very inexpensive even in the full version. I can see why they picked ArtRage because of its many simulations of real-world brushes, including oil paint, rollers, and glitter–it’s a fun and well-made program.
The Google Play store has plenty of Android art apps, some of which are good such as Procreate, but given that the hardware is the same here for either OS, if you’re trying to choose between the Android and Windows version, I’d go for Windows since its environment allows for desktop programs as well as Windows apps.
Like the rest of the Lenovo Yoga line, the Book takes various poses, including Tent, Stand, Tablet. and Laptop. It’s a clamshell design, and can open fully flat.
The Book comes in both Android and Windows version, with the Android lasting an impressive 15 hours on a single charge, and the Windows a long 13 hours. That’s quite a bit of stamina.
The Create Pad offers 100 degrees of tilt sensitivity, giving a natural look and feel to drawing and handwriting.
Yoga Book dual-use Real Pen uses real, custom ink
The batteryless, Wacom EMR pen gives feedback so you can tell the difference between a brush, crayon, or pencil. It sounds like the sensors respond to assorted digital brushes and trigger haptic feedback.
The Real Pen has no buttons or eraser end. The cap is metal and attaches magnetically to the Book or to the metal Book Pad accessory. The Real Pen uses real ink for when you want to place real paper over the digitizer surface and draw or write. The Book comes with three ink cartridge refills, and you have to use that kind of ink, but you can use any paper. The Real Pen comes with a white digitizer tip to use on the Create Pad as well as on the touchscreen. When you want to use the real ink, you put in a Real Ink cartridge.
By the way, it seems they’ve bumped up the levels of EMR from 1,024 to match the 2,048 of the more recent Wacom AES digitizers. EMR is smoother and more natural-feeling than AES, and better for small writing. AES is really not bad, but EMR is the gold standard, and I’m glad they’ve brought it back, because it has been getting phased out in favor of the less-expensive AES.
Using digitizing ink isn’t anything new, but your work appears immediately on the screen rather than having to sync. There are integrated note-taking, sharing, and annotating abilities for writing. The pen does not convert handwriting to text. The company explains that the use of multiple languages and characters is problematic with such conversions, and they want you to use the Halo Keyboard for text input.
You can also draw on the LCD screen but, apparently, without pressure sensitivity. The screen has AnyPen tech, but lacks the EMR digitizer layer. The company gives you two pen tips, one that compatible with the screen and one with the digitizer. You can also use your fingers on the touchscreen.
AnyPen does not offer pressure sensitivity and thus is not very different from a normal touchscreen, except you can use non-pens on it–metal or organic things–such as a banana, or fork–anything not fully plastic.
Since the Book has an HDMI port, you can attach a larger monitor to it.
Using the Yoga Book with a larger monitor
The Halo Keyboard is only there where you need it, brought to life by a ghostly membrane that comprises one of the inner layers. When you’re not typing, it takes on its alter ego, the Create Pad, where you draw on the pad or on paper, with your handwriting or drawing immediately showing on the screen.
You can use art programs, OneNote, or other programs to write or draw. To avoid accidental keystrokes, touch is disabled when you type, except at the center. There is no key travel, which saves time. Key-travel distance means the distance the key has to be pressed down to be recognized, and is zero, because it’s flat.
Lenovo says because they honed the design so much and added haptic feedback, typists typed 66% faster than other touch keyboards. Not only that, but slower typists can used a fixed layout, while touch typists jog along on a “virtual moving layout.”
Perhaps we’re looking at a future with changeable, customizable keyboards for different programs, such a as Photoshop hotkeys.
Halo Keyboard: now you see it, now you don’t, and when you don’t, it’s the drawing surface
People tend to whack at touch keyboards as if there are keys there, but there’s nothing to absorb the blow, causing the force to bounce back onto your fingertips, which can be uncomfortable and make for poor ergonomics. The haptic feedback may help in not overstressing your digits.
Resting your palms at the bottom will not disturb anything; this keyboard has palm rejection where needed. Not only that, but the keyboard measures the strength of each finger tap and can tell the difference between an accidental slip of a fingertip and a real keystroke. Haptic vibrations make you feel like the comforting clackety-clack.
The whole touch panel is semi-transparent, with Lenovo considering over 100 samples to get the best anti-glare coating.
Lenovo Yoga Book Pad included accessory (right)
The top layer of Gorilla Glass has an anti-glare coating and a matte/grainy feeling to give the bite of paper, with the EMR layer underneath. The Create Pad has a decent-sized area to draw, something near a regular sheet of paper, and the metal pen cap attaches to the Yoga Book and the Book Pad notepad–since there’s no bezel, it’s good there’s something to stop the pen from rolling off should you have the Book at an angle. Since the Gorilla Glass Create Pad surface has texture, it won’t slip like on glass.
Right side shows artwork on the Create Pad, left side is after coloring using digital tools.
The Create Pad goes into, what else–Create Mode, when you draw or handwrite. The pad is a flush, flat, active area, hence there’s a good-sized workspace; painted borders show you the active area, the inactive area is a fairly small margin.
There are no hotkeys, it’s just one continuous piece. It’s hard to compare this to a regular drawing tablet; its simple form is reminiscent of the basic tablets just used for signatures, but this one has lots of pressure levels and tilt as well.
Thoughts on the Lenovo Yoga Book
It’s sort of like using a graphics tablet along with a screen, but the screen is a lot closer, and you can see what you’re doing when using ink. But since you’re using an art program with various colors and brushes, what you end up drawing won’t necessarily look like what’s on paper. I have more to do to learn exactly how this works.
The custom, watchband-style hinge has three axes, and is made of five materials, and 130 mechanical pieces. A touch of Steampunk, no?
The sheer lightness and user-friendliness, and its novelty make this a fun and useful device if it fills your needs. Those who want a powerful computer will not be satisfied. Those who want something similar in concept but that works across devices might check out the iskn Slate, which lets you use real markers, pen, and pencils.
If you want a handy, light, on-the-go, art-writing-journaling bringalong with a cool design may like this as a productivity tool. It should be out in Fall 2016.
iskn’s Slate and digitizer Ring wed traditonal and digital-art worlds
With this ring, 32 magnometers, 20 patents, a Magic Slate, and an app, pixels and pencils finally make a commitment.
Slate (Slate 2)
Weight : 13.8 oz
Imagink App compatibility:
iPad (except iPad 1 and iPad 2)
iPhone (6 and 6+ and after)
Mac (OSX 10.10 Yosemite and after)
PC (Windows 7 and after).
Android coming soon
Memory 4 MB (approx. 50 pages)
holds micro SD card up to 32 GB (approx. 800,000 pages)
micro USB 2.0
Bluetooth Low Energy 4.0
Five years ago in Grenoble, France, now the headquarters of iskn, French user-interface specialists Timothee Jobert and Jean-Luc Vallejo decided to make the analogue world a better place by improving interaction with the digital world. Their vision was to make that most human of implements, the pen, capable of opening the technological portal. Teaming up with Tristan Hautson, an engineer, they came up with a magnetic ring that functioned as a digitizer collar for pens, pencils, and markers. Fast forward, and the company iskn was born.
iskn has now issued the Slate, exhibited at IFA 2016, a large consumer-electronics show in Berlin. The Slate is plastic surface with a digitizer layer sandwiched in that lets you draw with your own art supplies and digitize your markings. At 14 oz. and about the size of a sheet of paper you can carry the Slate around in your bag, just like your trusty old paper sketchbook. Unlike your sketchbook, the Slate development involved 20 patents.
One ring to rule them all, Magic Slate to bind them
You can’t use absolutely any writing implement, there are some limitations, but the list is long and there shouldn’t be any problems finding writing utensils that work. This is not anything like Lenovo’s AnyPen, which does away with the pen itself. Rather, this turns your old-fashioned pen or pencil into an active pen. Or you can buy The Pen, which has the Ring built-in, and offers two tips: square, like the traditional Conte crayon, and round like a regular pen.
A 32-magnometer digitizer in the Slate tracks the Ring-wearing writing implement’s motions in space, including tilt angle, giving natural tilt sensitivity to your linework. You can use letter-sized paper on it, leaving a margin around the Slate’s 5¾” x 8¼” active area.
Imagink app works on computer, tablet, phone
The pen interacts with an app called Imagink. The app is an art app, giving you a variety of pens, art tools, and palettes. You can easily share your images, or upload your work to the Adobe Creative Cloud. Images appears immediately on your screen. The company says it’s working on adding 3D.
Pressure and tilt sensitivity, plus real implements (even the iskn Pen has no batteries or electronics inside, just the Ring already built in), bring the drawing experience closer to involving all the senses. (One thing I really do miss about traditional art is the smell of all those art supplies–wood shavings, paint, crayons–they have a stimulating effect on creativity the way coffee does on getting thoughts going).
Digitizing from paper is familiar from the Bamboo Slate, syncing Boogie Boards, and other e-paper, but those require a special pen rather than just a ring. The advantage of using your own implements is the variety of tips, and the verisimilitude–a digital 4B pencil that comes straight from the real thing will be closer to the real thing than a brush made to look like a 4B pencil, even if that originally came from a digitized real 4B pencil, because a brush is a repeated image. The ring is quite inexpensive. Snazzy clips are also available to protect your art from dropping onto the real floor.
Video: How to use the Slate
Remember: keep metal objects 10″ away from the Slate and your iPad at least 2″ away.
You can also use the Slate alone, using its memory to store your images or notes, then later transfer your work to your device.
The Lenovo Yoga Book for fall 2016 operates on a similar idea, building the digitizer right into the computer, but you need a digitizer pen for that. The transformative Ring keeps iskn’s creation in a unique place.
“We are at the dawn of a paradigm shift, where the border between the digital world and the physical/material world is opening up and allowing for simple, creative interaction between the two worlds!” — Jean-Luc Vallejo, CEO of iskn