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Toshiba dynaPad review: light, exciting, Wacom

Toshiba dynaPad review: sketch and write on lightweight tablet

by Tablets for Artists

The Toshiba dynaPad is a thin, lighweight Windows 10 tablet with a Wacom pen that gets 2,048 levels of pressure. At 12″ and with an art-friendly 3:2 aspect ratio, this could be the portable drawing rig we’ve been waiting for. One caveat: its Atom processor is not ideal to use large programs such as Photoshop.

toshibadynapadreviewpin

Toshiba dynaPad 

See it on Microsoft.com

TYPE OF TABLET
2-in-1, keyboard is optional

OPERATING SYSTEM
Windows 10 Home

DIMENSIONS
11.8″ x 8.0″ x 0.58″ (with keyboard)

WEIGHT
1.27 lbs. (576 g) without keyboard, 2.2 lbs. (997 g) with keyboard

COLOR
“Sandy Silver”

PORTABILITY
Excellent, as it’s so lightweight. Will need a case to protect it, unless you have the keyboard attached and covering the tablet face.

FOR LEFTIES
The TruNote handwriting app is set up for either hand, making this a good choice for southpaws.

PROCESSOR
Intel Atom x5-Z8300 (2MB Cache, up to 1.84 GHz), 1.44GHz base

DISPLAY
12.0” WUXGA (1920×1280) 10-pt touchscreen,  IPS Gorilla Glass, Full HD
3:2 aspect ratio
Fingerprint-resistant coating to make it feel paperlike
MEMORY
4GB (cannot be upgraded by user)
64GB solid state flash memory

WHAT’S IN THE BOX
Tablet – Signature Edition, meaning much less bloatware
TruPen
Charger
Documents

FEATURES
Rear 8MP camera, front 2MP HD, dual microphones
Dual-Band Wireless-AC + Bluetooth

The keyboard is not included (it was when Toshiba was selling this, but now it’s being sold by Microsoft and does not come with the keyboard)

PORTS
Micro HDMI, 2-Micro USB 2.0 port
Micro SD/SDHC/SDXC Card slot
Headphone/microphone combo port

BATTERY
not replaceable by user (as is standard with tablets)

WEIGHT
2.2 lbs (tablet with keyboard)
iconI have confirmed with Toshiba that the one for sale on their site comes with the pen and keyboard included. However, this will not be the case in retail stores when it goes on sale in those. I will be updating this post as more information and stores become available. UPDATE: the dynaPad is no longer directly for sale from Toshiba. You can get it from Microsoft. The keyboard is also for sale at Microsoft but is an extra purchase. See the keyboard at Microsoft.

This mobile Windows 10 tablet the product of a collaboration between Toshiba and Microsoft, was released last fall in Japan, and was released at CES 2016 for the U.S. market. It’s a 12″ Windows tablet with a Wacom digitizer and fine-tipped pen that affords 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity. It’s more affordable than most tablet PCs. Its digital inking offers a pen-on-paper like experience. The digitizer is AES, with a battery-powered pen.

Though this tablet is drawing comparisons to the Surface Pro 4 and iPad Pro, the Atom processor isn’t as powerful as processors on those, but this is a great digital sketchbook. It’s much more powerful than an Android or iPad for art, since you can run full programs on it, not just apps. It’s actually very, very similar to the Microsoft Surface 3.  CPU-hogging programs may lag or crash, especially if you are using a lot of filters and layers. It’s best for smaller art programs such as Photoshop Elements and Sketchbook Pro, or apps like Fresh Paint. You will be able to create high-res images and use layers.

The display is made of two sheets of glass and a metal mesh sensor. Gorilla Glass is on top. A fingerprint-resistant coating gives the screen surface a bit of bite, as on the Cintiq.

If you’re using the Microsoft Edge browser in Windows 10, you can go to town doodling and writing notes on your captured Web pages.

 

toshiba dynapad review

Toshiba dynaPad with optional keyboard that connects via magnets. Click image to see more info at the Microsoft Store.

SCREEN
At release time, this is the thinnest, lightest Windows 10 tablet around.

PEN
The battery-powered, fine-tipped metal pen feels solid in the hand, yet is not heavy. It looks like a ballpoint pen, or like the Surface Pen. It conveniently attaches to the side via a plastic pen loop.

The tablet feels solid and well-built and has an attractive, square-cornered design. The 3:2 aspect ratio, replicating the classical artist’s concept of the Golden Mean, is a positive for drawing.

Also, the TruPen for the Encore 2 Write is different from the TruPen for the dynaPad. You cannot use the TruPen on the dynaPad, according to Toshiba.

This tablet also won’t work with the pen from the Lenovo Thinkpad Yoga 14, which is also ES (I know someone will ask!) It may have limited use with other ES pens, but we recommend only using the TruPen.

Extra dynaPad pens are not yet for sale, but I expect they will be. It did take a little while for replacement pens to come out after this tablet’s predecessor, the Encore 2 Write, was released.

 

toshiba dynapad wacom

DRAWING ON THE DYNAPAD

The dynaPad comes with Toshiba’s TruNote, TruCapture, and TruRecorder, TruNote Clip and TruNote share apps. You can share handwriting in real time, and make screenshots. This suite of apps is made to integrate with Microsoft Office. (It does not come with Office; that must be purchased separately.) Collaborative projects with digital inking is growing, as designers, artists, and architects come up with new uses for it. (For a bit more info on Wacom’s role in this, see my CES post)

KEYBOARD

The keyboard is optional and attaches by magnets. fold the tablet over the keyboard to make it all one piece, thus protecting the screen. You cannot, however, adjust the angle of the tablet when it’s attached to the keyboard. The keys are deep and type comfortably. Toshiba has paid great attention to detail and user experience.

USER COMMENTS AND REVIEWS

Because this has just been released, there aren’t too many yet. One initial Toshiba dynaPad review praised it as being very comfortable to hold. The high-grade plastic casing’s rubberized texture, and the light weight of the tablet, provide this comfort.

PROS
generous 12″ size good for drawing
3:2 aspect ratio good for drawing
maximum pressure sensitivity
lightweight
well-made
metal, fine-tipped pen
Microsoft Signature Edition, less bloatware

CONS
Atom processor decent, but not like tablet PC
4GB memory not upgradeable
battery can’t be replaced by user
sound quality from speakers not that good

Microsoft Surface 3 vs. Toshiba dynaPad

The Toshiba is a rival to the Microsoft Surface 3 (even though Microsoft had a hand in the Toshiba), which has an Atom X7 processor and comes with configurations of 2GB and 4GB RAM and 64 and 128GB flash storage. Both have fine-tipped pens and palm rejection works well. The specs are not that different. The main difference is really the digitizer.

Surface 3: 622g (tablet only); dimensions 10.52″ x 7.36″ x 0.34″; resolution also 1920×1280 HD

dynaPad: 576g (tablet only), 12″ screen

Surface 3 has an LTE option and more storage options. It has an N-trig pen that will give you 256 levels of pressure. The pen and keyboard are sold separately.

The dynaPad has a Wacom pen with 2,048 levels of pressure. If you order from Toshiba, the pen and keyboard are included. The Surface 3’s kickstand is adjustable but the dynaPad’s keyboard does not allow adjusting the position.

For art, I would pick the dynaPad over the Surface 3 because of the Wacom pen with more pressure levels. As well, handwriting feels more like writing on paper.

If LTE and/or an adjustable kickstand are important to you, you might want the Surface 3. That’s also good for drawing and note-taking, but I find the Surface pen drawing and writing to be less fluid.

iPad Pro vs. dynaPad

Tough comparison; the Apple Pencil is unique because you can draw with the side of the pencil “lead,” making it the most natural-feeling stylus, but I think it’s more important to be able to use full programs or full “middle” ones such as Photoshop Elements or Sketchbook Pro. The iPadPro has a powerful chip, but you’re still stuck only with art apps. If art apps are OK for you, then you might love the iPad Pro just for the Apple Pencil.

VERDICT

This is an exciting development and more power and pressure sensitivity than we usually see in a mobile device. It’s an excellent and forward-looking drawing tablet designed with both drawing and writing/business use in mind. The collaborative features open a new world, not one everyone needs, but you never know. The pen is responsive and the tablet has a generous screen size that’s like a sheet of regular paper. The prime benefits are quality and convenience, not the computing power, which is not that powerful. This is a great tote-around. This Toshiba dynaPad review is a thumbs-up.

See it at Microsoft
ACCESSORIES

Keyboard (Microsoft.com)

OTHER ACCESSORIES

If you’ve gotten a dynaPad and now need a carrying case and other accessories, there are some, such as this IVSO bag that comes in four colors, on Amazon.

 

End of Toshiba dynaPad review

See also Toshiba Encore 2 Write review

For a general introductory article and description of types of tablets, visit our homepage.

Toshiba

Toshiba Encore 2 Write review: a Wacom-powered sketchbook

Toshiba Encore 2 Write Review: affordable Wacom tech

by Tablets for Artists

 

toshiba-encore-2-write-review

Toshiba Encore 2 Write. See it on Amazon.

Type of Tablet

Windows 8.1 tablet with digitizer pen

About the Encore 2 Write

If Toshiba’s new Encore 2 Write is the shape of things to come, then this is an encouraging time to be a digital artist. The Encore 2 Write was featured at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show (CES),  an annual international convention held in Las Vegas that showcases the latest in gadgety innovations.

This tablet’s price point and features are comparable to the Asus Vivotab (read our review), which is no longer being manufactured. The Write is newer and has received more favorable reviews than the Vivotab. Like the Vivotab, it’s a portable tablet that runs full Windows 8.1 and has a Wacom digitizer. While the Vivotab gave you 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity, the Encore 2 gives you the maximum, 2,048. The VivoTab only had a thin pen, but the Write has a full-size pen; the tablet does not have a slot to old it. Unlike Wacom pens for the Cintiq and Intuos tablets, the Encore 2 Write’s stylus takes a battery, size AAAA. The battery should last a few months with regular usage. It has two hi-res cameras and dual mics.

Specs

Intel Atom Z3735F processor
Windows 8.1
micro-USB port
16:10 aspect ratio
2GB RAM
64 GB storage
dual mics
two hi-res cameras
active Wacom digitizer with 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity
comes in 8″ or 10″ screen
Dimensions: 6.9 x 10.2 x .35″
screen resolution 1280 x 800
Micro SD slot takes up to 128GB Micro SD storage, tablet
supports MSDXC standard
Bluetooth-enabled
GPS
HDMI video out
Pen does not have removeable nibs.

What’s Included

The tablet, pen (called Trupen) with lanyard

One-year subscription to Office 365™ Personal plus unlimited OneDrive storage (subject to change)

Charger

Reset pin

 

Features

The digitizer is not EMR (electromagnetic radiation) like a Cintiq. Instead, it is called “Active ES” (electrostatic) digitizer, which makes for a lighter tablet, as an EMR tablet requires a separate layer. The ES is a capacitive digitizer that is in front of the LCD screen. It’s somewhat like the N-Trig, and the metal pen that resembles a ballpoint pen also has the feel and look of the N-Trig pen. The screen is touch-screen and you could use it without the pen.

Though the Encore 2  does not currently support Wacom’s Wintab Feel It driver, which allows you to get pressure sensitivity in all the art apps that support it as well as map the pen,Wacom has unofficially said it will be getting this valuable feature. The Surface Pro 3 with its N-trig “dual sense” does not have this feature. The ES digitizers could in the future be the norm for lower cost (under $1,000), more portable, lighter-weight tablets.

Drawing on the Encore 2

With some programs  you will get an initial blob, as with the Surface Pro 3, as the tablet decides whether you are touching it with a finger or pen. The pressure curve is very good. The hover is a bit higher than on the Surface Pro 3, so it might seem like the palm recognition isn’t quite as good, but it works. The “hover tracking” is better, so there is less parallax with this than the Surface Pro 3. According to the video below, shot at CES, the initial activation force (geekspeak for how hard you have to press on it) is a light 3 grams. The line does not get jittery around the edges as it would in a Cintiq or the Vivotab. Both the N-trig and ES are fine even right near the edges. The pen provides some “bite” which gives a paperlike feel.

Screen

The screen resolution is not that high, but for this price you would not expect it to be.

 

Pen

toshiba-encore-2-write-review-pen

The metal TruPen is fine-tipped, “pro grade,” and takes a AAAA battery. The eraser is a button on the side. The palm rejection kicks in when the pen is hovering at about 3/8″ above the screen.

 

 

Software

Windows 10 will allow desktop apps on tablets 8″ or over. You can run desktop apps on this, since it’s a full Windows tablet, but it’s a little hard to use Photoshop since the tablet is small. As well, since it is an Atom processor, doing serious digital painting in Photoshop could be laggy, though basic image editing is OK. What will work best are apps such as Fresh Paint and the Sketchbook Express app, which are optimized for a tablet. One user who wrote an Encore 2 Write review praised using Manga Studio (desktop) with this, so by all means, try it.

The tablet is centered around note-taking. It comes with the preinstalled apps TruNote, TruCapture, and TruRecord. TruNote lets you take and organize handwritten notes, TruCapture is to take hi-res photos of text in books or from a blackboard, chalkboard, or whiteboard and do OCR, and TruRecord lets you record sound. There is an organizing and tagging system, kind of like Evernote. So you can not only draw on it, but use it as a multimedia creative diary.

Microsoft Office and OneNote work fine with this tablet.

 

Portability

It’s super slim at .04″ thick, and easy to carry at 13.4 oz. for the 8″ model and 1.2 lbs. for the 10″ model.

 

User reviews

Many people enthusiastically recommend this tablet as a digital sketchbook. One Encore 2 Write review praised its ability to work with Manga Studio. The high-res cameras, dual mics, and other features add appeal.

 

Pros

relatively affordable art tablet with screen
portable, lightweight
cameras do OK in low light
Pen and tablet are both fast and responsive

 

Cons

The screen resolution is not that high.
Atom processor works pretty well, but is not as fast as a full computer when you run graphics-heavy full Windows programs.
Cannot access battery.

Customer Service

I found them pleasant and professional when I did a chat to ask questions. If you happen to get a faulty one, Toshiba or Amazon will send you a new tablet.

 

The Verdict

This is an exciting development in tablets. It would be great if there were one that was a little larger. But this is a great portable sketchbook with pressure sensitivity that allows you to run both desktop and Metro apps. You can also use OneNote, play games, watch videos, and use a Bluetooth keyboard. I don’t see it as quite a Cintiq replacement, because of the size and there is not as much memory as with a full computer, so large programs such as Photoshop would not be ideal, though you could run Photoshop to an extent. For artists, this is overall better than an Android tablet or iPad because of the digitizer and ability to run desktop programs. It doesn’t have the great screen resolution of an iPad, but is more of a productivity tool.

 

Optional Accessories

 

iLLumiShield – Toshiba Encore 2 Write 8 Screen Protector

Cooper Cases Encore 2 Write Folio Case with Bluetooth Keyboard 

More Encore 2 Write opinions, price, and info on Amazon

 

End of Toshiba Encore 2 Write Review

 

Consumer Electronics Show, Wikipedia

official CES site