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Astropad Studio review: iPad Pro meets Mac

Astropad Studio: iPad Pro inches toward Cintiqdom

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Astropad Studio for iPad Pro and Mac. Photo by Astropad

 

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

Astropad Studio vs. Astropad Standard

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

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

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

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Magic Gesture. Photo by Astropad

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

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Astropad Interface

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For Windows users, there’s still Duet Display.

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

Is Astropad Studio worth the upgrade?

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

Reviews

Dell Canvas 27: Hands-on Review

Dell Canvas 27″ video pen demo

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

The Verdict

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

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

Reviews

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

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

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See it on Amazon

 

Features

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

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Ugee 1910B with pen

What’s in the Box

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

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

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Packaging and setup

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Installing the Ugee driver

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Build quality

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

Stand

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

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

Screen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ugee pen

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Ugee pen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Drawing on the Ugee 1910B

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

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

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

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

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

Controls

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

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

Pros

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

Cons

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

Ugee 1910B vs. Wacom Cintiq

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

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

Customer reactions

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

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

The Verdict

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

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

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

Check price and read more Ugee 1910B reviews on Amazon

 

 

 

 

Reviews Surface Studio review

Microsoft Surface Studio review: Supersize me?

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

Microsoft Surface Studio review

At work using multitouch on the Microsoft Surface Studio.

Microsoft Surface Studio review

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

Features

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

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

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

What’s in the Box?

Surface Studio
Surface Pen
Surface Keyboard
Surface Mouse
Power cord

microsoft surface studio review

Surface Studio folded on Zero Gravity Hinge

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

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

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

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

Surface Dial and Mouse

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

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

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

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

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Surface Dial with Radial Menu

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

Screen

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

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

Portability

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

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

Battery Life

9-16 hours, not bad at all.

Drawing on the Surface Studio

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pros

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

Cons

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

The Verdict

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

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

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

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

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

end of Microsoft Surface Studio Review

Reviews best laptop for photoshop

Best laptops for Photoshop and photo editing 2016-2017

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

best laptops for photoshop

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

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

Processor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MacBook Pro Retina

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

Dell XPS 15 Touch

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

See Dell XPS 15 Touch on Amazon

 

ASUS ZenBook UX303UB

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

See the Asus ZenBook 303UB on Amazon

 

PEN OPTIONS:

 

Surface Pro 4

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

Surface Book

surfacebooktrackpad

Surface Book pen and keyboard

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

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

best laptops for photo editing

Vaio Z Canvas with keyboard.

Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga X1

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

WACOM OPTIONS

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

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

Wacom MobileStudio Pro

 

 

Wacom MobileStudio Pro

Wacom MobileStudio Pro. Source: Wacom

 

cintiqcompanion2

Cintiq Companion 2 (see on Amazon)

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


Reviews

Artisul D13 review: quality pen display tablet lets you unplug

Artisul D13 review: Cintiq alternative lets you unplug

artisuld13review

Artisul D13 with U-Pen

See it on Amazon

Artisul is part of UC-Logic, a Taiwanese company that has been making digitizer tech since the 1990s. The Artisul line, which includes the Artisul D10 (which has very similar specs to the D13 but is smaller) and Artisul Pencil Sketchpad, are the first tablets company has produced, and their Web site describes the tablets as the culmination of a dream.

The D13 is a tablet monitor you might consider if you are looking for a Cintiq 13HD alternative. Artisul kindly lent me an Artisul D13 for review.

The tablets are designed in San Francisco and created in Taiwan. The name comes from Art and Soul. Will this drawing tablet find a place in your heart?

Type of tablet

Tablet monitor/pen display tablet (draw on screen)

Digitizer

UC-Logic
Electromagnetic resonance (EMR)
2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity

Dimensions

13.3″ diagonal screen

What’s in the Box?

Tablet
Pen (called U-pen)
Pen case with 9 extra nibs and nib remover
Pen stand
HDMI cable (HDMI on one side, mini HDMI on other)
USB cable (USB on one side, micro USB on other)
Y-type cable
Power adapter, plugs for U.S./Asia, Europe, Australia

Opening the box, you can’t help but being wowed by the presentation. The cables and small items come in individual, black, quality cardboard boxes in a sturdy, sleeved box with a foam-lined lid. The tablet is sleek and solidly built, and the slim, gold-trimmed pen looks would look good in one of those fancy pencil cups executives keep on their desks. The D13’s packaging pretty much screams “gift me!”

artisul d13 review

Unboxing the D13. There’s an outer sleeve with a box inside.

Features

Works with: Win 7/8/8.1/10, Mac OS 10.8 or later
Aspect Ratio:16:9
Active Area: 11.5″ x 6.5″
Weight: 2.42 lbs. (1.1kg)
Dimensions: 12.8″ (L) x 7.6″ (W) x 0.7″ (H) (in mm: 389.0 x 250.7 x 14)
Screen: LCD, 13.3″ FHD 1920 x 1080 IPS
Wide Viewing Angle: 178° (89°/89°) H, (89°/89°)
Brightness: 300 nits
Resolution 5080 LPI
Reading speed 200 PPS
Powered by: USB 3.0, HDMI input
6 assignable hotkeys and Quickdial scroll wheel on tablet
2 pen buttons

The build quality is excellent, with a solid plastic body. I only had a it a month, but the ports seem durable and the cables fit well. The thin, relaxed cables actually put less stress on the connectors.

Unusual Features of the Artisul D13

One really cool thing is that you can power the Artisul off your computer’s battery alone. This will work with a single USB 3.0 port, or two 2.0 ports. This ability to unplug  is a major advantage for those who want to work in places out of reach of a wall outlet. You also have the option of plugging the tablet into an outlet. This ability isn’t unique (a small Yiynova also offers this feature, as mentioned in this New York Times article about trying out a Cintiq and a rival), but it’s not common.

Another unusual feature is that in Windows, the Artisul will work and get pressure sensitivity just from the pen and digitizer alone, without even installing the driver. Without the driver, you won’t be able to customize the hotkeys and other settings, of course, but let’s say you just got the tablet and have no Internet connection–you can still use it. On Mac, you will need the driver to use the tablet.

Portability

At 2.42 lbs., it’s quite portable–of course, you will also need to have a computer. The lightweight power cords and option to power from the computer alone adds to the Artisul’s portability.

For lefties

The tablet can be turned so that the hotkeys are on the left side, making it suitable for southpaws.

Setting up the Artisul D13

Documentation

The documentation is well-designed, but it could be more thorough. Some of the cables may not be familiar to everyone; the detailed diagram in the manual is hard to see clearly; and the instructions take you through, but don’t always explain what to expect. For instance, I thought the installer would show up on the desktop, but had to click on it from inside the folder instead.

There are ample instructions about working with different graphics cards, and some troubleshooting tips.

Cables

There are several cables you’ll need to use, including a splitter. Though it’s a lot, there’s no large power brick. To avoid having so many cables, you may choose to work more often using your computer power.

If your computer lacks an HDMI port, you will need to supply an adapter; that doesn’t come with it. (You can ignore the note in the Artisul manual about only using Artisul cables as far as HDMI adapters). You can find them on Amazon for various connections.

Artisul drivers

Installing the drivers is easy, though if you’re new to it, setting them up may be a little tricky. Like Cintiq drivers, the Artisul drivers offer lots of customization options. Once set up correctly, they perform well and and are free of the unpredictability that plagues some drivers in budget tablets.

More description on the download page of which driver to choose would be helpful–for instance, the word “beta” might scare some people off, but the beta drivers have been deemed ready to use. Capabilities varied a bit on different programs and different operating systems. The company continuously works on the drivers.

Be sure to uninstall all other tablet drivers you’ve previously installed before installing the D13 drivers.

You can use a mouse and pen, but you cannot use both at the same time. You can map the D13 to multiple monitors.

There are some preset hotkeys (the co. calls them FastAccessKeys) for Photoshop, CorelPaint, Clip Studio Paint (Manga Studio), and some basic defaults.

Though the drivers look like Huion’s, such as the little icon of a tablet and pen, UC Logic and Huion are not related. In fact, Artisul says UC Logic launched a lawsuit against Huion.

U-Pen

The batteryless, cordless fine-point U-pen weighs just 11 grams. It looks very much like a ballpoint pen. It would give more balance and drawing oomph if it weighed more, but I prefer light to too heavy, and didn’t feel that the lightness affected my drawing. Your hand won’t get tired holding this pen for hours. If you’re a fan of heavy pens, this one may feel too light.

It comes with 9 nibs nested neatly into the pen case. The nibs are hard, and they’re all the same; they don’t have different tips or pen choices.

This Artisul tablet is aimed at the educational market as well as consumer, and I think the pen, being light and suitable for small or larger hands, is ideal for kids middle-school age and up for note-taking and art. It’s used in classrooms for creative learning, writing, and calligraphy, and the company offers a student discount for educators and students in the U.S., Mexico, and Canada.

Screen

The screen comes with a removeable, replaceable anti-glare matte screen protector that cuts glare and allows the brightness of the display to shine through. It gets fingerprinty, but cleans up well. As with other tablet monitors, you can wear an artist’s glove to keep the screen clean and keep moisture from your hands from sticking.

Neither the D13 nor the 13HD are super sharp, both being HD, but the display looks good. The screen gets a bit fingerprinty, but cleans up well. You can wear an artist’s glove to not only keep the screen clean, but to keep moisture on your skin from causing stickiness.

The screen protector has slight texture that’s pen-and-paperlike and not slippery or glossy.  It lacks the rougher “bite” of the Cintiq but has some tooth. The D13’s surface provides enough traction for a pleasant drawing experience. There are color calibration settings. Colors are bright, with a 75% percent Adobe RGB coverage, same as Cintiq 13HD. Bottom line, the screen is nice.

Drawing on the D13

The drawing experience is excellent. I got no lag when drawing and almost no parallax (the slight gap between pen tip and screen) either; the line was right under the tip; I did not have to keep an eye on the cursor to see where my line would appear.

The D13’s pressure curve is smooth. The pen makes a bit of tapping noise, but no squeaking, as can happen with glossier screens.

cintiq alternative reviews

Drawing with the U-Pen

Drawing on the Artisul easily matches drawing on a Cintiq. The Artisul uses EMR tech, as does Wacom, each using their own technology. EMR offers the most sensitive digitizer outside that of Apple’s iPad Pro. You don’t have to press hard at all to make a mark with the Artisul pen.

I don’t have a number for the initial activation force, but I noticed dragging the tip lightly across the screen made marks, also some skips due to my not being able to precisely control the pressure. This means it’s very sensitive. The pen is also lighter than the Cintiq’s. I would guesstimate that this is as sensitive as the Cintiq.

Palm rejection worked well, with a comfortable hover distance.

Art Programs

Will work with most software, including Photoshop, Sketchbook, Maya, Corel, Clip Paint, Photoshop, After Effects, Anime Studio Pro, Toon Boom, and Affinity Designer. Works with Illustrator, but without pressure sensitivity at this time (this may change). I tried it with Photoshop, Sketchbook, Gimp, and Illustrator. Photoshop and Sketchbook worked great. The manual has instructions about working with Paint Tool SAI.

I told the company about some issues I had with Gimp with one of the drivers and they quickly identified the problem and said they’d fixed it (that was after I returned the tablet). Later they said they had a new Windows driver that fixed that issue plus some others.

Controls

The six hotkeys are on the tablet and are round and a good size. They’re a little bit stiff to click on. You can program the hotkeys to presets, or customize your own commands. You can also assign them to different programs–the programs don’t automatically show up in the driver as with Wacom; on the Artisul, you program the buttons, then save them, and on the next screen assign them to the applications of your choice. There’s also a scroll wheel. The two pen buttons are programmable to an extent.

The stand goes from 13 to 70 degrees, which is a lot more flexible than the Cintiq stand’s three positions. Easel mode is good for working on and gallery mode for admiring your work.

Artisul Freestyle Stand

artisulstand

The Artisul Freestyle stand is made of is fully adjustable to any angle between 13 and 70. You can use it when drawing in “easel” mode or upright in “gallery” mode. (20 degrees is an advisable angle to draw on for good ergonomics).

artisul stand gallery mode

Artisul Freestyle stand in gallery mode

Artisul D13 vs. Cintiq 13HD

The Cintiq 13HD and Artisul D13 have a lot in common, and some differences.

Win for Artisul: Artisul is more portable because it doesn’t always be plugged into a wall outlet. The display is 50 nits brighter. There are six hotkeys embedded into the tablet body, as opposed to just four with the Cintiq 13HD. The screen protector is removeable and replaceable. The Artisul Freestyle stand adjusts to any angle between 13 and 70, as compared to the Cintiq’s 3-position stand.

The response rate of the monitor is 19ms to the Cintiq’s is 25 ms (milliseconds)–lower is better. 

Win for Cintiq: The Cintiq offers tilt sensitivity, rotation sensitivity with an optional pens, and pressure sensitivity in Illustrator two pen buttons have more customization options. The Cintiq’s pen has an eraser end, which also has 2,048 levels of pressure.

The Cintiq has various kinds of pens and nibs as an optional purchase. The Cintiq screen has more “bite,” though Artisul’s has enough.  Cintiq comes with some freebie software and Artisul doesn’t. The Cintiq’s cords are simpler.

The Artisul’s design and build are just as good, I think, and its ports seem durable. Many of the Artisul specs are identical to the Cintiq, including screen resolution, resolution in lines per inch (5080), and amount of colors displayed (16.9 million).

Customer support

Artisul was extremely helpful in answering my questions both about products and technical aspects. You can contact them or post on their forum. They will set up a remote screen-sharing session if needed. They are a small and dedicated company and open to feedback.

User reviews and reactions

User reviews have been positive. Reading the Artisul forums and some other comments, some people are having some issues with things like offset, but this should be fixable by adjusting the driver. Some people have had some glitches but overall this tablet has been well-received so far.

Pros

Pressure curve
Quality build
Stylish
Pleasant drawing surface
Comfortable pen width
Lightweight, portable
Reversible for lefties
Drivers work well
Battery-free, cordless pen
Can work without being plugged in to wall
Can work without driver in Windows

Cons

Can be a little tricky to set up, depending on your skills
Documentation could be more detailed
Drivers have some differing features, so it can be hard to know which to choose
Nibs all the same (for now)

The Verdict

This is not a budget tablet, but a high-quality one that offers value. It’s similar to the Cintiq, but has its own character and some unique and convenient features, particularly that you can run it from your computer’s battery, adding to the tablet’s portability. The Cintiq provides more options, but not everyone uses all of them. The Artisul is a durable and well-made tablet with great drawing capability for tablet users whether students or pros.

artisul d13 pen

Artisul U-Pen with nibs and carrying case

 

See the Artisul D13 on Amazon – includes pen and stand

Mini Display Port to HDMI Adapter on Amazon

Extra screen protectors, pens and nibs, cables, and stands are all available on the Artisul site.
end of Artisul D13 review: Cintiq alternative lets you unplug 

Reviews turcomreview

Turcom TS-6610 graphics tablet review

Turcom TS-6610 tablet review, with art-program testing

turcomreview
Turcom TS-6610

Turcom makes audio equipment, security cameras, LED lights, and drawing tablets, including one pen-display tablet (as of 7/16).

Summary: The tablet is built well, and the pressure curve is great, but the driver can be difficult.

I tested it with various art programs on both Mac and Windows, and reported the results below.

Type of tablet
Graphics tablet (no screen), attaches to computer
What’s in the Box

Tablet
USB cord
Pen
Nib holder
5 nibs (one in pen and 4 extra; nibs are all the same)
AAA battery (Pardeer brand) for pen
disk with driver
Quickstart guide

Features

2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity
Size: 12.5 inches x 16 inches x 2 inches
Weight: 2.15 pounds
Active area: 10 inches by 6.25 inches
Report rate (RPS) 220
Plastic build
8 Hot Keys
16 customizable “functional cells,” on-screen softkeys
Pen included, takes AAA battery (included)
Resolution: 4000 LPI (Lines per Inch)
Driver available from included disk or from Turcom site
Pen takes AAA battery (included); no eraser tip
Pen weight with battery: 26g (battery alone is 11g)

 

turcomts6610tablet

Turcom TS-6610 tablet box

Portability

It’s pretty easy to take with you at a little over 2 pounds.

For Lefties

The driver has a feature that will adjust for lefties once they turn the tablet so the buttons are on the right.

Turcom was kind enough to send me this tablet. I tested art programs and installed the driver on different computers and operating systems. Overall the drivers worked best on Mac, then Windows 10 on laptop/desktop, then Windows tablet. The tablet and other items came safely packed in styrofoam . The quickstart guide doesn’t look professionally designed, but it has the basic information needed. There’s no larger guide on the TurcomUSA site (compare to Huion, which sends a more complete set of information in a booklet).

The Turcom TS-6610 tablet has a solid build quality, with eight customizable Hot Keys, including a two-button ring with a zoom in/out default function, and 16 softkeys you can program in the advanced driver settings. It looks a lot like the Huion H610Pro, but I weighed the two and the Huion weighs slightly more. The Turcom’s beaded surface is rougher than the H610 Pro’s, which is also beaded, but smoother. There are no Touch features.

turcomgraphicstablet

See the Turcom TS-6610 on Amazon

Some reviews say  it’s the same tablet as the Huion H610 (non-Pro), which has an AAA battery-powered pen. The specs and appearance seem to match. The driver for the Turcom is made by Huion. The download is on the Turcom site. I also tried the Huion H610/H610 Pro driver from the Huion site and it worked.

Turcom pen

turcom ts 6610

Penrest, nibolder, nibs. These parts attach.

turcompen

Turcom pen on penrest

The pen is chunky, about 1/2″ at the thickest part, with the grip part being a little thinner. It’s pretty heavy with the battery in it–this is an AAA battery, not a smaller AAAA. The pen has no eraser at the end. The gray grip is hard, but has a more graspable texture than the rest of the pen, which is smoother.

The buttons are placed so that you have to be a little careful to not press them by accident, but you can get used to it and avoid accidental presses. The build is plastic and seems quite durable. The weight of the pen doesn’t result in too-heavy lines. The penn makes a scratchy noise when drawing on the beaded surface.

Drawing on the Turcom tablet

Palm rejection and hover work fine. The beaded surface provides a rough area that’s pleasant to draw on despite the noise, and the surface may cause nibs may wear down quickly–luckily, they’ve provided extras. There’s a row of numbers across the top that visually correspond to the softkeys.

Setting the pressure curve in the middle produced the best results for me. The most sensitive setting still provided good variation.

The pressure curve works great. It’s responsive and snappy and goes from a very thin line to thick. Setting it at lower sensitivity still gives a good variation. Both lower and middle sensitivity feel comfortable to draw, and I’m not a hard presser. It’s quite comparable to Wacom, and some may even prefer the Huion. It doesn’t cause any blobs or sudden changes. I didn’t have a jitter problem.

The tablet shows the numbers 1-16, so you can access these softkeys while drawing.

TIP: Keep other tablets and other items with electrical components at least a few feet a way, as interference from them can cause odd hover issues.

Installing the Turcom/Huion driver

Both the 6610 driver from the Turcom site and the Huion H610/H610 Pro driver from the Huion site work on the tablet. Both drivers are made by Huion. It’s best to use the site ones because they are kept up up to date. The Huion H610 driver seemed a bit better than the 6610 driver, in that the 6610 would open up a page of what seemed to be developer’s notes. But otherwise they are similar.

Turcom/Huion driver on Windows 10

When it works well, the driver installs quickly and easily. It can be a breeze or a hurricane, depending what’s on your computer.

huiondriversettings

Driver settings

 

turcomdriveradvanced

Advanced driver settings

Troubleshooting the Turcom/Huion driver. If you’re having problems, these are things to look into: Install the drivers as Administrator. Delete all Wacom drivers and any other graphics tablet drivers. Even if they are not showing up in Control Panel they could still be there, visible in RegEdit (please ask someone for help if you are not comfortable going into your system and deleting files; deleting the wrong files can cause problems with your computer). Delete the Wacom Feel/Wintab driver if you have that (it can be redownloaded here). Delete all previous versions of this driver. Shut off all antivirus, including the default Windows Defender. Once all that’s done (and that is not the totality of possible considerations, but the main things I encountered after trying it on several different Windows 10 computers), you should be able to open the settings. Huion has a support thread on Deviant Art as well as offering other ways to contact them, including Skype.

Using a penabled Tablet PC will not interfere with the driver.
Turcom/Huion driver on Mac (El Capitan)
On the Mac, the driver installed beautifully, but I have less stuff on the Mac. The Mac driver doesn’t have the Pen Pressure Test panel, but that’s no big deal. 

I could not get Tablet Mapping to work.

Wacom drivers vs. Huion drivers

Wacom drivers are more robust with more ways to customize, since the Radial Menu with its submenus offers 64 different programmable shortcuts to the Turcom’s 24 (not counting pen buttons for either). Wacom has a more complex pen-pressure options, the ability in the Pro tablets to customize per application, and screen mapping as well as tablet mapping. They generally are easier to install (some will disagree). Some Wacom tablets have touch. Wacom offers tilt sensitivity, and in the Pro versions (Intuos Pro and Cintiq) also rotaton sensitivity. Wacom’s has a mouse mode and the Huion driver does not.

See more info on choosing a Wacom graphics tablet.

Not everyone needs to use a lot of customization (or any; they are totally optional), and the Huion drivers do nearly the same amount of things as Wacom’s.

Wacom’s tablets come with some art software bundled and some offer Touch.

Art programs in Windows 10
I got pressure in Photoshop and Sketchbook, though it took a restart whereas GIMP and Krita worked right away. The tablet worked in Inkscape, but I couldn’t get pressure in Inkscape’s Calligraphy tool with the pressure box checked. It works in Illustrator without pressure. Huion says they are working on pressure for Illustrator.

The product info lists CorelDraw and Painter, Autodesk Sketchbook, MAYA, ZBrush, Infinite Stratos, Photoshop, Illustrator, Fireworks, Flash, ComicStudio, and SAI as working with the 6610.

Art Programs on Mac
Same results as Windows but less fussing to get pressure in Photoshop and Sketchbook.

As with other graphics tablets, this one also works well as a rather large mouse substitute for opening programs, editing documents in Word, etc.

Customer support. Huion seems to have a bigger online presence than Turcom, and since the drivers are Huion’s, asking Huion or perusing Huion threads where they have responded can be helpful in troubleshooting. Huion is good about answering, and can be reached via email, Skype, or phone. The company also a support thread on Deviant Art here.

Turcom TS-6610 vs. Huion H610 Pro

The Huion H610 Pro specs are higher–it has a higher resolution (5080) and report rate. The H610Pro’s pen attaches by a cord, avoiding taking a battery, thus the pen is lighter. Other than that, the pen size is similar to the Turcom pen. The Turcom tablet is a little heavier and its surface somewhat smoother (all models may not be exactly the same). The Turcom’s resolution is like the Intuos, and the Huion 610 Pro’s is like the Intuos Pro.

User reviews

Most users are happy with this tablet, praising its affordability, size, and capabilities. Many see it as a good alternative to Wacom. Some had problems with the drivers and some reported hover issues, but overall, comment are positive.

Pros

Quite a few customization options
Good size drawing surface
Extra nibs and pen battery included
2,048 levels of pressure
Good value
Draws well
High resolution (less high than H610 Pro)

 

Cons:

Drivers can be fussy
Pen is heavy and takes a battery
Mapping not working (on mine anyway)
No additional instructions online

The Verdict

The Turcom TS-6610 graphics tablet is a viable starter alternative to a Wacom graphics tablet; you may want to upgrade after a while. The drawing experience is really good, with a large surface and good pressure sensitivity.  If you have a decent understanding of your computer and file systems, then potential driver issues should be manageable. If that kind of thing is overwhelming to you, you may be better off going with Wacom.

Free software such as Gimp and Krita actually worked better off the bat for me with this tablet than did Photoshop CC,  which took a restart to get pressure working. Using this with free software can get you going in digital art without a major investment.

The Huion H610/H610 Pro driver on the Huion site is a bit better than the Turcom driver on the Turcom site, so you might want to use the 610 one.

What the Turcom TS-6610 graphics tablet can do, it does well, and offers a lot of value. Good for students, beginners, or those on a budget.

See more reviews and info of the Turcom TS-6610 graphics tablet on Amazon

See our review of the Huion H610 Pro

See our review of the Monoprice graphics tablet

See our review of the Intuos Pro

See our review of the Intuos Pen and Touch Small

end of Turcom TS-6610 drawing tablet review

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reviews vaioz-canvas

Vaio Z Canvas review 2016: art tablet on steroids

Vaio Z Canvas review: Cool 2-in-1 with desktop-PC power

The Vaio Z Canvas is a really powerful tablet PCs out there, and it’s designed for artists. If you’re looking for something like a Cintiq Companion 2 or Surface Pro 4, you may want to consider the Z Canvas.

Vaio was once part of Sony, but the Sony got out of the computer business. Several hundred designers and engineers at Vaio found investors and formed their own company in Japan using the same factory. The U.S. division opened in autumn of 2015. The fledgling company is seeking ways to distribute their devices and educate the public about them.

vaio z canvas review

Now that’s a skinny keyboard.

Other than the name, they have no connection to Sony, and now they have creative freedom. They have advanced what began as the Sony Vaio line, creating this as  a mega-tablet for graphics professionals.

Vaio designed the Z Canvas in consultation with illustrators, animators, and photographers, including from Adobe, to create this powerful prosumer 2-in-1. (Prosumer is a device for professionals and consumers). Each unit gets the engineers’ “Azumino Finish” 50-point quality check.

 

Features
Runs: Windows 10
Screen: 12.3 inch (diagonal)
Resolution: WQXGA+ 2560 x 1704
Aspect ratio: 3:2
Glossy, anti-smudge
Build: unibody aluminum, brushed aluminum surface
Color gamut: 100% sRGB, 95% Adobe RGB
Digitizer: N-trig with 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity
Pen (included): DuoSense, takes an AAAA battery
Processor: Intel Core i7-4770HQ quadcore hyperthreaded
RAM: 8GB or 16GB (not upgradeable)
Storage: SSD 256 GB Serial ATA or SSD 512 GB PCI Express or 1 TB PCI Express
Graphics: Intel Iris Pro 5200 integrated graphics
Battery: 63-watt high-capacity
Dimensions: tablet 8.4 in x 11.9 in. x 0.5 in – 11.9 in
Keyboard: 8.4 in x   – 11.9 in x .02 in
Weight: PC Approx. 2.67 lbs.
Keyboard: about .75 lbs. (12 oz.)
Ports: Two USB 3.0
SD memory card reader
mini DisplayPort
HDMI output
LAN (RJ45) port
Headphone/microphone
Front camera .92MP, rear camera 8MP

What’s in the Box

Tablet
Keyboard
Power cord and AC adapter
Pen
Cleaning cloth
Pen holder
Pen grip
documentation

SCREEN

The Z Canvas’s 3:2 aspect ratio makes it easier to use in both landscape and portrait, but the easel stand, as with most tablets, only works in landscape mode.

The super-sharp screen boats a wide color gamut of 100% sRGB and 95% of the larger Adobe RGB gamut, making it excellent for artists who demand color accuracy. It’s unusual for a tablet to have the Adobe RGB gamut and if it does, it’s usually not such a high percentage. (The Samsung Galaxy TabPro S has a similarly wide gamut, and the Surface Pro 4 gets about 70% of Adobe RGB.) The IPS display looks great, with rich colors and deep contrasts, as well as good viewing angles.

The Vaio Z Canvas in action, with drawing in Photoshop and 3D sculpting in Zbrush.

Battery life
5 – 6 hours with mixed use.

PROCESSOR

The Intel Core i7-4770HQ quadcore processor is extraordinary for a tablet and is usually found on laptops 15″ or larger. The Vaio Z is really a mobile workstation that functions as desktop replacement. It’s close to the MacBook Pro Retina in terms of processing power, and twice as fast as the Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book. It uses the 4th-gen. Haswell CPU rather than the latest Skylake, but the hyperthreading makes up for it–this machine can multitask.

The most compared product to it is the Surface Pro 4, but The Z Canvas is much more powerful and so unusual that it’s in a class by itself–a tablet mobile workstation. The question is if the Z Canvas a quirky, short-lived bunch of ideas, or a step in the direction of art tablets overpowering other tablets and replacing desktops.

The “Z engine” is the core of the Z series design. It has to do with dense circuitry and heat dissipation. There’s a bit more info here (it’s in Japanese, but if you have a Translate button it will translate).

The computer with its three fans runs cool and quiet.  The nice-looking vent blows air out of the top. Among elements that contribute to its cooling system are big copper pipes on the inside. The power brick, though, can get toasty.

vaiofans

Triple fans and copper piping keeo the hot away.

A fast processor makes everything faster: bootup, opening programs, and graphics rendering. The Vaio is suitable for 2D and 3D animation, video editing, AutoCAD, and light to moderate gaming. While some desktops are faster, and this isn’t exactly a gaming machine, it’s the most powerful tablet so far. The Iris graphics are comparable to discrete graphics on other tablet PCs.

PORTABILITY
The tablet  alone weighs about 2.7 lbs. and with the keyboard gets to over 3.25 pounds, and then add in the pen and power brick. It’s not terribly light, but still portable. In comparison, the Surface Pro 4 tablet part weighs about 1.7 lbs. and with the keyboard, about 2.3 lbs.

KEYBOARD
The very thin keyboard is chiclet-style and has low travel, but is quiet and not hard to use. It’s not backlit, making it inconvenient for use in the dark. If you’re someone who likes to lie on a bed or couch to use your computer, it’s probably not the best choice, as the stand isn’t meant to balance on lumpy blankets or breathing bellies.

The keyboard is meant to stay separate from the screen, as with a desktop. It’s not Bluetooth but RF (Radio Frequency) so doesn’t need to be paired, though you need to have Bluetooth turned on for the RF to work.

The keyboard should be kept within 20” (50 cm) away from the tablet for optimal performance. Also, remember to keep thongs with magnetic strips, such as credit cards, away from it.

It connects via magnets and a couple of pins in the bezel or a micro USB. Connecting it charges the keyboard battery, but only the RF actually makes the keyboard work.

You can’t stand the tablet up via the keyboard. The keyboard snaps on top of it and forms a protective cover.

vaiozcanvasreview.

Drawing no. 2 shows the ideal position of the keyboard, according to Vaio. Images by Vaio.

There is a button that can toggle the keyboard power on and off so the keyboard won’t drain the battery.

You may find it most comfortable to put the keyboard a little behind the tablet, or to the side. These images, created by Vaio for a prototype, discourage the viewer from using the keyboard in the front, saying it causes fatigue. The second image is considered ideal. You might even try it the keyboard behind the screen–each user is different.

If you avail yourself of the Z Canvas’ on-screen shortcut menu, you won’t need to use the keyboard that much while drawing.

STAND

The easel stand is also unusual. Vaio, thinking ahead, says the idea is that the user might “unconsciously” want to change the angle of drawing, so they have designed the stand to be intuitive and easy to adjust without interrupting workflow.

vaio-z-canvas-stand

You put the tablet on a table first then pull the stand down from where it’s ensconced flush in the middle of the back of the tablet, then push or pull the tablet to your desired angle. You can press reasonably hard while drawing without pushing it down.

To close it, push down on the tablet rather than closing it with your hand. You can set the tablet to any angle between 90 and 20 degrees, so fairly low to high. Vaio says the mechanism is made up of “springs, dampers, and cams.”

The Z Canvas is not very lappable, though with some effort it can be done. Best to place the keyboard on your lap and the tablet on a flat surface.

 

DRAWING ON THE VAIO Z CANVAS

PEN
The pen is N-trig, the digitizer tech now owned by Microsoft.

Two pen buttons sit flush in the barrel near the nib. The included soft grip collar provides a comfy, cushioned way to hold the pen, like memory foam for the fingers. Or you can go austere and take it off. Either way, the buttons are accessible. There is no eraser end. The buttons do right-click, open a clipping tool for making screen shots, and open OneNote

The pen attaches not that securely to a magnetic strip. There’s also a pen holder that attaches to holes on either side of the magnetic strip for a stronger way to keep the pen handy. The holder can be taken off with a pinch.

The pen has a tail cap, adding to the pen pieces to make sure to keep together—the cap, nib, battery, and collar.

vaiodualsensestylus

Vaio pen, wearing its grip collar

Vaio worked hard to reduce parallax since the days of the Sony Vaio Flip. N-trig never did have much of a parallax issue, so they’re being perfectionistic here in trying for the look and feel of ink flowing right from the nib.

Instead of a gap of air between the top touch panel and the LCD, there’s now a thin layer of gel (optical resin), bringing the pen tip closer to the LCD. The DuoSense pen seems to be the same pen as with the old Sony Vaio devices.

You can also use the Surface Pen and its variety of nibs.

As with the Surface Pro 4, there are 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity, which feels a lot smoother than N-trig’s previous 256. There’s some hover lag, and you need to press down a bit harder than with Wacom pens. There does seem to be less drawing lag than with the Surface Pro 4. The nib is longer than on the Surface Pen.

The pressure curve is excellent (no blobs or sudden shifts, as sometimes happens with Wacom) and can be adjusted in the pen pressure utility. The nib has a bit of bite compared to the regular tip of the Surface Pen, so drawing doesn’t feel like skating over glass, but you may still want to use a matte screen protector if you prefer a more papery surface. (Photodon makes excellent screen protectors and there’s one specifically for the Vaio Z Canvas here.)

You can adjust the pen pressure curve via four points in the Pen Pressure Utility while viewing preview.

Vaio Z Canvas vs. Cintiq Companion 2. The Z Canvas can be compared to the Cintiq Companion 2 as art-specialized 2-in-1 tablets and to the Surface Pro 4 as well.

The screen of the Cintiq Companion 2 is a larger 13.3″ vs. the Z Canvas’ 12.3″, and the CC2 has a textured surface, vs. the Vaio’s smooth one. The Companion 2 also has an EMR pen, which is the most sensitive (besides the Apple Pencil) and offers tilt sensitivity, as well as rotation sensitivity with the ArtPen, drawing more organic lines. The CC2’s aspect ratio is 16:9, making it less appealing to use in portrait mode.

The Vaio’s screen is brighter at 250 nits to the Companion’s 150, and the Companion 2 has only about 5 hours of battery life on a good day–neither device has a very long battery life.

The Vaio’s pen has less parallax and no edge jitter, but you have to press harder.

The Surface Pro 4’s screen is the same size and aspect ratio though much brighter at 436 nits; it doesn’t cover as much of the Adobe RGB gamut, though. The SP4 weighs a pound less; and the digitizer also does not recognize tilt or rotation. The SP4 gets half the speed and power of the Vaio. The keyboard cover attaches to the Surface Pro 4 and holds it up. Battery life is about the same.

Which to get is a tough and individual decision. The highest-spec “enhanced” Cintiq Companion 2 comes the closest to the Vaio and is fast, but is still dual-core and doesn’t hit the Vaio’s speed.

TRACKPAD
The trackpad is large and works well, but doesn’t support 5-point gesture, which could be annoying if you’re used to using gesture on it, but I don’t think that’s a major issue.

Camera oddness. The Vaio has two cameras and oddly, the front facing one is only 1 MB (actually, .92). So you won’t be as tempted to spend a lot of time Skyping. The rear camera is a healthy 8 MB. You could go out and take photos and enjoy the 12.3″ inch preview. Or you could skip using a scanner by photographing your reference image, line drawing, or traditional art, etc. then importing it into your art program.

CONTROLS
Two buttons on either side of the top edges reach a whole new level of cool. The one on the right shuts off the touchscreen, making it impervious to any palm-rejection glitches that might occur if your hand gets in the way of the hover area.

The left button brings up the customizable on-screen shortcuts, similar to those you would find on a graphics tablet or Cintiq. The shortcuts can be customized for each art program. You can use  the automatic-fit setting so the menu won’t cover program icons.

You can also shut off the trackpad, which could come in handy if your hand keeps hitting it by accident.

vaiopenciboard

Vaio Pencil Board. You put the square over the part of your image you want to protect from changes.

Another interesting feature also found on the Vaio Flip is the Pencil board, accessible from the Tools menu. It gives you a transparent square that you can put over part of the screen, blocking any changes to it. It pleasantly slides around the screen. You can adjust its size and transparency, though it doesn’t become totally transparent. It’s easy to toggle on and off.

More art-specialized features: The unique mapping controls allow you to map the tablet to multiple monitors, so you can use the tablet as a sort of Cintiq, an input device for a larger display, making good use of the two ports that each support a 4K monitor.

More about those two buttons on top (the Express Keys or hotkeys and Disable Touchscreen): the hotkeys can be used on-screen even with the touchscreen is disabled–pretty ingenious, and it’s not hard to see why the disable-touch button has a patent pending.

USER REVIEWS AND EXPERIENCES
A lot of artists voice enthusiastic praise in their Vaio Z Canvas reviews. For many, it’s the tablet they’ve been waiting for. Users love the speed, multitasking and multimedia abilities, and the touches such as the Pencil Window and keyboard shortcut menu.

On the downside, some feel it’s a bit heavy, or too difficult to balance other than on a flat table.

Pros
Powerful, fast processor
SD card slot that lets you push card all the way in
Can open the back
Onscreen hotkeys
easy disabling of touch
good amount of ports, including Ethernet
on-screen shortcuts
Pencil window
Lots of ports (for a tablet)

Cons
Some (not all) users have had problems with keyboard disconnecting
Not very lappable
Keyboard not backlit
Not the lightest tablet
Memory not upgradeable (as with most tablets)

Some glitches some users have noted are: light bleed; pen fragility; and issues with the keyboard disconnecting.

 

THE VERDICT
Despite a few odd choices (such as lack of a backlit keyboard, and the 1MP front camera), the Vaio Z Canvas is a powerful art tool with a “cool factor.” Too bad it doesn’t have a specially made carrying case. Or a USB-C port. Despite all this, our Vaio Z Canvas review is positive, because of all the good things it does have.

It’s probably the only tablet truly good for editing 4K video. It works well with AutoCAD too. It’s ideal for video editors or those working with very large photo and art files. Others won’t need all the power and may choose a larger screen.

The main sticking points are the small screen size, and, I still prefer the feel of Wacom pens and digitizers but that’s an individual thing (I’m a light presser). Many people are happy with both the Vaio pen and the Surface Pen, and both work on this. We will see what the future holds with the Wacom-Microsoft pens due out this holiday season.

Much work has gone into catering to the needs of graphics professionals, making the Z Canvas a powerful addition to any artist’s arsenal.

VAIO_Z_Canvas-review

Vaio Z Canvas with keyboard

See it on Amazon.

End of Vaio Z Canvas review

 

Reviews galaxytabprosces2016

Samsung Galaxy TabPro S review: OLED hits Windows tablet

Samsung Galaxy TabPro S review: OLED screen, included keyboard

samsungtabprosblack

Samsung Galaxy TabPro S in black with keyboard cover attached

See it on Amazon

Type of Tablet

Windows 2-in-1, detachable tablet
Runs Windows 10 (Home and Pro)
Pen: Not yet released. Bluetooth, pressure-sensitive.

tabprosces

Samsung TabPro S release at CES 2016, Las Vegas

Features

Display: 12″ diagonal
Materials: Magnesium frame, rubberized plastic back
resolution FHD+ (2160 x 1440)
touch Super AMOLED display
216ppi
Memory: 4GB RAM (not upgradeable)
Storage: 128 or 256GB SSD

Ports: single USB-C, headphone jack, no micro SD
Processor: Intel Skylake Core M3, dual core, 2.3 GHz
Fanless
Graphics: Intel HD 515
Battery: 5200 mAh
LTE (Cat. 6) version available
Front and rear cameras both 5 MP
Comes in black or white
Dimensions: 11.43 x 0.25 x 7.83 inches (290.3×198.8×6.3mm_
1.53lbs (639g)
Wireless 802.11 abg

Why a 2-in-1?

The TabPro S is joining a growing population of Windows 2-in-1s. This type of tablet is all the rage, because it turns out lots of people want a portable device that works well for both entertainment and productivity. Active pens have really hit the mainstream.

Non-Pro iPads and other mobile tablets are most useful for entertainment, full, 64-bit Windows and a pen gives a lot more options. It can replace a laptop and tablet and fit neatly into your bag or briefcase.

You can use desktop programs as well as Windows apps (formerly known as Metro apps). The very high-res screen is the first OLED for a Windows tablet. So this is a milestone. Previously, they have been in smartphones, Android tablets (mostly Samsung’s), monitors, and just recently came to laptops.

galaxytabprosces2016

Pen

The Samsung people at CES told me there was not going to be a pen, though one of them said maybe. So either the pen was a weakly-kept secret, an agonizing decision, or an afterthought for them. I didn’t expect to be writing this review.

It’s the big MacGuffin here. Not much is known about it except it is pressure-sensitive, it probably won’t be a digitizer we’re familiar with, and that it uses Bluetooth.

Update: The pen has come out.

 

What’s in the Box

Tablet, charger with cable, keyboard dock/cover, documentation

 

Ports

There’s just a USB-C port and a headphone jack. No micro SD, nothin’. The 2015 MacBook also has this single-port feature and also faced criticism about it, but maybe it’s the future. Samsung says they’re going to release an adapter. Meantime, there are other adapters, but not that many peripherals for the USB-C.

The tablet may be ready for the future, but for now, users are the ones who need to be ready.

Fast-charging

On the plus side, the USB-C offers FAST charging, just 2 1/2 hours from zero to full and the battery optimally lasts up to 10.5 hours on this charge.

 

Display

The display is bright with excellent viewing angles. The colors are more saturated than we generally see.

The colors are rich, and the blacks very deep (because there is no light where there’s black with the OLED),  with great contrast. But this is is made with something called PenTile subpixels, which makes it so the resolution is effectively not quite as high as it says, and there’s a little too much green. Lots of people have been oohing and aah-ing over the display. I just prefer a regular LCD.

The screen is smooth and somewhat glossy, but not high-sheen. It doesn’t reflect so much light that you can’t see the display. Its 400 nits is very bright.

The bezel is relatively narrow, but provides enough of a visual “frame” that makes your artwork pop from the background.

Good proportions

The 3:2 aspect ratio is less oblong than the usual 16:9 or 16:10, and preferable for drawing. Portrait mode is more in proportion to a regular sheet of paper.

 

tabprosreviewwhite

TabPro S in white. Note the closeness of the keys.

 

Using the TabPro S

The machine is snappy and responsive, with apps opening quicky. Scrolling is peppy even in memory-intensive Chrome.

A 128 GB hard drive is not that big, so if you get that one, big files are best kept elsewhere. The 256 GB SSD is not huge.

You can run full Photoshop CC with the TabPro S, but you may experience some lag when running heavy graphics, such as filters with high-res files. With 4 GB and a Core M3, it’s not powerful enough for heavy use of Adobe Suite, you would need at least an i5 and 8 GB.

I have no complaints about the RAM and storage, since this is a portable tablet of a certain class and fulfills its duties well. A close cousin is the entry-level Surface Pro 4, which also has a Core M processor but has a lot more ports and a better keyboard. 

It would be nice if the battery were replaceable.

The machine is suitable for light gaming.

Build

The build is solid and feels and looks premium, with a metal frame. The TabPro S is almost as sleek as the luxe Galaxy S7 phone. The tablet’s back is a not-unpleasant black, rubbery, matte plasticky material that is very grippable and lowers the chance of dropping it. And the rubberized texture is not a dirt/fingerprint magnet.

I don’t know how much the rubbery surface protects the device in drops onto its back, but it probably provides a bit of cushioning, along with the cover.

Keyboard dock/cover

tabproscoverhigh

Upright position shows off the thinness of the tablet. Keyboard is not backlit.

Unlike with the Surface Pro line, here, a keyboard dock is included. It’s held on by a Pogo connector in the bottom center edge of the tablet. Once connected, it’s pretty stable, and doesn’t seem to cause lags or skips when typing.

The cover only takes two positions. It’s a trifold, similar to the Apple Smart Cover. It’s thin, but seems durable, and the design is clever: the cover wraps all the way around the tablet, protecting it from light mishaps.

The angles of  two positions are decent, but, they only work in Landscape mode. If they really had an art tablet in mind, maybe they would have designed the cover for Portrait position, too.

The cover’s square camera port lines up well with the camera. The whole tablet has straight lines, except for the rounded edges.

Typing on the keyboard

The keyboard wasn’t really to my liking for typing, I prefer island-style keys. There’s almost no space between the keys, they don’t have great travel at 1.4 mm, which is a bit low.  I also don’t love the look. It was challenging to type accurately. There’s no requirement to use the keyboard; a separate keyboard would work too.

tabproscovertyping

TabPro S cover in typing position

The keys are larger than most, but to me that doesn’t really help with accuracy. It might be a good for thick-fingered folks. The whole thing feels a bit floppy. It’s similar to the old Surface Pro Type Cover, except that one sat at an angle and this one is flat on the table, and the stand had more positions.

The trackpad works fine and works with Windows touch gestures.

You can use the TabPro S with  the keyboard on your lap, but being so light, it’s not super stable, and may cause worries about it falling. If you get really into painting and move like a digital Jackson Pollack, sitting on a wide, soft surface may calm those anxieties.

Color

The color gamut is standout. It covers 95% of Adobe RGB and  full (or more than full) sRGB, similar to the Vaio Z Canvas  (an N-trig tablet PC with an IPS screen) That makes it suitable for artists and photographers to use it to make their own prints for professional print work, provided they have a strong understanding of color correction.

Without that understanding,  the color gamut can be a source of confusion. According to DisplayMate, a trade organization, “OLEDs currently have the opposite problem of traditional LCDs, too large a native color gamut, which requires color management in order to deliver accurate sRGB/Rec.709 colors.”

If you’re a professional artist, you probably use a printer that uses Adobe RGB or, for photographers, ProPhoto RGB. Consumer printing is mostly done in sRGB. sRGB is also the standard for Web colors.

The high gamut can really make your work pop, and you can adjust settings to avoid the high saturation that can occur. There’s also an sRGB setting. The settings panel also gives you choices of how long the screen will remain bright before it auto-dims to prevent screen burn-in, which can be a problem with AMOLED screens.

Many love the saturated colors of AMOLED, but they are a bit hyper-real.

Samsung Flow

No, it’s not a psychological state, it’s a feature. If you’ve got an unlocked Galaxy phone, you can unlock the tablet by scanning your fingerprint, as well as easily turn on the phone’s hot spot and sync notifications.

Battery Life

Excellent, up to 10.5 hours, or 8-9 with a lot of video or gaming

Portability

Very portable, thin about 1.53 lbs.

User reactions

Most users who have penned a Samsung TabPro S review so far seem to be enamored with the lightweight 2-in-1, calling it speedy and able to handle a lot, and they like the sound quality and the rich display.

One pointed out its use as an e-reader for, ahem, ageing eyes because of its deep contrast. (I still prefer e-ink for reading, because it has less contrast and less glare than a computer).

The biggest complaint about the tablet is about the keyboard. The second biggest is the lack of ports. Wouldn’t it be nice if they included an adapter?

 

Pros

Exceptionally thin and light
Attractive, premium-looking
Choice of black or white
AMOLED screen, wide color gamut
Fast
3:2 aspect ratio good for drawing
Fast-charging,
Long battery life
Keyboard cover included
Keyboard cover wraps entire tablet, providing protection
Multitouch trackpad
Samsung Flow offers syncing options with Galaxy Phone
Good “lapability”
Good speaker sound

 

Cons

Just one port, USB-C
Keyboard cover sits in only two positions
Keys a bit clunky to type on
Keyboard not backlit
Stand only adjusts in landscape position (as with most keyboard covers)
Limited to 4GB
Not everyone likes AMOLED display color
Can’t replace battery (typical in tablets)

 

The Verdict

If you like the screen, then this is the only Windows tablet that’s got it. If you don’t mind the single port, or find the simplicity is appealing, this may be for you. There really are a lot of pros, and the cons are not so bad.

Update: TabPro S Pen is now available on Amazon.

The tablet is pretty peppy and the wide color gamut is appealing. Is the TabPro S overall better than its main rivals, the entry-level Surface Pro 4 and the iPad Pro? I don’t really think so, but the pen will be a a major factor.

But it has got its own unique character, and the field is getting wide enough that there’s something for everyone.

 

Here’s a video of a Samsung spokesman showing the tablet in action. You can get a full look at the keyboard cover.

See more info, reviews, and price for the Galaxy TabPro S on Amazon

 

 End of Samsung Galaxy TabPro S review

Reviews newthinkpadyoga14

Newer model ThinkPad Yoga 14 / ThinkPad Yoga 460 review

New Model Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 14 (also ThinkPad Yoga 460) review: pen included

 

Type of tablet

Laptop Ultrabook (nondetachable keyboard) 2-in-1
Digitizer: Wacom ES with 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity. Pen included.

newthinkpadyoga14

 

See at Amazon

Model no. 20FY0002US

Features

Display 14″ diagonal, 1920 x 1080 IPS
Processor: 6th-gen. Skylake Intel Core i5-6200U
Graphics: dedicated NVIDIA GeForce 940M graphics with 2GB dedicated video memory
Folds 360 degrees, into laptop, stand, tent, tablet modes
8GBDDR3L RAM
256GB SSD
Ports: 4-in 1 media card reader
Three USB 3.0 and two 2.0, though some say they got three 3.0 USB ports. The 3.0 ports are backward-compatible with 2.0 devices, at 2.0 speeds.
HDMI, miniDisplayPort
Weight: 3.85 lbs
backlit keyboard
Touchpad and ThinkPad red TrackPoint button
Dimensions: 13.31″ width x 9.37″ x .75″ (depth)

It is the same as the Lenovo Yoga 460, so you could read this as a Yoga 460 review as well. The 460 actually does have an i7 model. That listing is lacking in further detail.

As of April, 2016: the Yoga 460 now on the Lenovo site does not have the discrete (separate) graphics card, only integrated graphics. That 460 features up to a 6th-gen processor.

Windows 10, comes with Home edition

This Lenovo Yoga 14 has an i5 processor, powerful enough to run Photoshop and all the Adobe programs. The dedicated graphics card offers a speed boost, and the Skylake i5 is the equivalent of an i7 from the previous generation. That being said, it would be nice if there were an i7 model.

The RAM and SSD on this ThinkPad Yoga are both upgradeable, though there is just one RAM slot, so you can take out the 8GB stick and put in a 16.

Thanks to the dedicated graphics, you’ll be able to do moderate gaming and video editing, and get better results in Photoshop operations that use a lot of rendering, such as filters. This is still not a heavy-duty gaming monster machine, but a general overall Ultrabook with wide capabilities.

Screen

While it’s HD, 1920 x 1080p is not that high-res compared to a lot of computers coming out. However, the fact that it’s not 4K makes battery life last longer. The resolution is fine for looking at artwork, reading text, and watching video. The colors are clear and bright. It’s not overly glossy. The IPA screen supplies good viewing angles.

You can add two more displays, such as a monitor or TV to it via the HDMI and miniDisplayPort.

Portability

At 3.85 lbs., it’s not bad to carry around for short periods, but feels heavy holding in one hand or resting on the lap.

Pen
The ThinkPad Pen Pro Pen is a Wacom AES active capacitive pen with 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity. It comes included in a silo in the left front edge of the chassis. The pen requires an AAAA battery (replacements found at hardware stores and online). It charges in its silo, taking 15 seconds to charge, which powers it for a couple of hours of use.

thinkpad active capacitive-pen

The thicker pen: ThinkPad Pro Pen, takes an AAAA battery. See it on Amazon

The pen is not miniature or very short, but it’s skinny and not optimal to draw or write with for long periods. You can purchase a  more normal-sized pen (both thicker and longer) if you prefer. This pen needs a battery, but the one included with the tablet PC does not, because it charges from the computer.

Wacom ES has excellent accuracy and pressure sensitivity, second only to Wacom EMR in terms of sensitivity (ES requires a little more force to get a mark). Its accuracy exceeds EMR, with no parallax and no jitter around the edges as Wacom EMR gets. I did notice a little more jitter when drawing slow lines than with traditional EMR. Palm rejection works well. The pressure curve is smooth, no blobs, no little “tails.” You will not be able to use a traditional EMR pen on this.

Keyboard

The backlit, chiclet-style keyboard is comfortable and easy to type on. If you type a lot, but also want an art tablet, this is a good choice. The keyboard is Lift and Lock, so when you have it folded into Tablet mode, the frame rises around the keys and the keyboard is disabled. So you won’t be able to reach back for keyboard shortcuts. Instead, you could use an external keyboard, either Bluetooth or USB. The ThinkPad red TrackPoint nub lets you move the cursor long distances with a small finger movement. Its sporelike top with tiny bumps gives your fingertip traction (and a little massage).

Battery life
6-8 hours, depending what you’re doing.

User reviews

Most users have been very happy with this computer, feeling it’s a great value with its many features, bright screen, speed, and build quality. A few got ones with glitches but managed to address them. Aside from irregular complaints, this has been a successful release.  I haven’t seen any complaints about overheating or battery problems, though some wish the battery lasted longer.

Pros

solid, durable, well-built
dedicated graphics
nice keyboard
pen is included and fits into a slot in the body
value

Cons

on the heavy side for drawing
single RAM slot (upgradeable, but would be nice if there were two slots)
pen that comes with it is thin
some have reported touchscreen glitches

 

yoga 460 review

The Verdict
This new Lenovo Yoga 14 review is a drawing-hand thumb’s up. It doesn’t have the issues of the last release, which included some that shipped with bad batteries. It’s a solid, portable, and versatile machine.

Weird facts: did you know the ThinkPad’s design was inspired by the Japanese Bento box? This post on Lenovo’s blog explains.

I think the simple design is one of the main appeals of the ThinkPad. The box shape offers protection. The ThinkPad has a utilitarian look. It’s easy to not notice it much at first, but the details show a great deal of thought, and the many poses add new uses. You can also open it flat if you wish to draw using the keyboard shortcuts without a spare keyboard.

The Yogas have more Penabled devices than anyplace else and continue to offer them.

This is a great choice for an art tablet that’s an all-around tablet. It’s not super duper powerful, but powerful enough to run Photoshop and do moderate gaming. You can add more RAM and a faster hard drive. This computer can be your whole office and art studio.

In some ways I prefer the previous ThinkPad Yoga 14, which had a discrete GPU and superior color gamut. This is one is more of a general-use machine that’s suitable for drawing.

Here’s a detailed drawing test by Shogmaster.

end of New Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 14 / ThinkPad Yoga 460 review