The new Dell Canvas 27″ tablet monitor, slated to hit the shelves at the end of April 2017, was on display at this year’s CES 2017. I was fortunate enough to go to the conference and to try out this new offering for professional artists. Scroll down a bit for a pen demo video. I’ve written up an initial Dell Canvas review based on this experience.
Dell Canvas (bottom) with additional, eye-level monitor
Dell Canvas uses Wacom EMR pen
The Canvas is a bit like a Surface Studio except that the Canvas is a table monitor, not a 2-in-1, so it’s more similar to the Cintiq 27″ and has the same resolution. Dell states the Canvas pen is Wacom EMR. (Dell’s recent products have used Wacom AES, and before that they used Synaptics digitizers). EMR is the most sensitive and what Wacom uses on its own Cintiqs. However, I found this pen to be less sensitive than a Cintiq pen. To be fair, it’s months until the Canvas actually comes out, and it may be tweaked by then, and who knows if it will even had the same pen.
This pen was thick but comfortable and had two buttons. Its girth and rather simple barrel shape reminded me of pens by Huion more than the skinnier, shapelier pens used by Wacom and Microsoft.
It only does Windows
The Canvas has to be connected to a computer, and that computer has to be running Windows. Dell partnered with Microsoft on the Canvas, and the Canvas will work with the Creators Update, and will run with AVID. Dell, naturally, suggests using the Canvas with the Dell Precision workstation, which is powerful enough to create VR content.
The Canvas is protected by Gorilla Glass. It has some cool functions like virtual desktops, and it comes with two kinds of “Totems” (ahem, Surface Dial clones) that you can twist and turn.
Display overlay shows open programs. Photo: tabletsforartists.com
Dell’s initial idea was the SmartDesk, where the two monitors would interact, but it’s not clear if that will come to fruition or if it will be the regular routine. In this case, there are actually three monitors–the laptop, the Canvas, and the eye-level monitor.
2.5k display resolution
The display has a 2560 x 1440 QHD resolution (111 PPI). The bezel has a lot of contrA close competitor would be Wacom’s 27″ Cintiq, with the same resolution (2.5K). The all-in-one, 28″ Surface Studio packs 4500 x 3000 (192 PPI). So the Canvas is pretty high resolution, but it could be higher. However, the 2.5K will have an easier time working with more Windows computers than a 4K or higher would.
The Canvas’ 20-point touch would accommodate more than one person. The color gamut covers 100% of Adobe RGB. Palm rejection worked well. The stand is adjustable, and I like that it can lie flat as a desk, something the Surface Studio’s hinge does not allow.
As you can see, the pen is very accurate with no jitter. It also had no detectable tilt sensitivity (which could change) or perhaps there were settings I wasn’t aware of. While I liked it fine, if I didn’t apply a little bit of pressure, I’d get skips. (Again, they may tweak this before it hits the market).
Two Totems for the Dell Canvas 27
To me, two Totems plus the pen and multiple monitors is a lot to think about and the idea of the 20-point multitouch, which can accommodate an extra person or two, starts to seem a bit left-brained, but we’ll see. Right now there are not a whole lot of apps for the Totem and Surface Dial, but these are in their early stages.
Totem with contextual menu. The Canvas comes with two kinds of Totems. hoto: tabletsforartists.com
The whole thing is very BUSY pus there are lots and lots of on-screen menus. It’s not exactly Zen, but it offers a lot of options.
Right now the levels of pressure sensitivity are not clear, nor are other specs, but I’ll be updating.
For now, my hands-on experience with the Dell Canvas 27 leaves me feeling like it’s not a huge leg up over other 27″ tablet monitors as far as hardware. The jury’s out on the software as that’s such a big part of this, and it is impressive. But what are the specific benefits? Do all the accessories and tools make the designer’s workload easier, or is this an exercise in deconstructing and fragmenting workflow?
Because at the time of this writing, the product has not yet come out, this Dell Canvas review is focused on testing the pen, examining the screen, speed of the computer, and more. But there are still details and perhaps yet to come, so I’m going to withhold my verdict. For now, I’m not sold on the Totem/Dial, though that could change. Habits like one hand, one pen are difficult to give up. The display is certainly pleasing and I like the idea of the eye-level monitor, though that’s an individual choice. I would probably just prop up the Canvas to 20 degrees and just use that.
Dell released a lot of innovative and award-getting products at CES, including a super-thin 8k monitor and the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1. So it’s a company now on the cutting edge. It has long had pen tablets, but somehow you didn’t hear about them all that much. Now Dell is working with Microsoft, and this time incorporating Wacom, aiming to get in more seriously on the art action. Dell may make some valuable contributions.
Lenovo Yoga Book first look: keyboard and tablet meld into one
Yoga Book in Create Mode
Lenovo, which was once IBM, has never been known for being artsy. Despite the fact that a lot of their laptops, such as the ThinkPad Yoga line, are tablet PCs with Wacom pressure sensitivity, the computers are still marketed largely at business.
So this Chinese company’s upcoming release, the Lenovo Yoga Book, is a pleasant surprise. It’s super-slim and light–right now, it’s the world’s lightest, thinnest 2-in-1 of the major 2-in-1s. It just debuted at IFA, a consumer tech-convention in Berlin, and has not yet been released to the public. I’ve gone over the available info to present all I can about this new art tablet.
Perhaps Lenovo is following the zeitgeist that has brought us the paper-to-pixel Wacom Spark and iskn Slate. Whatever they’re doing, they’ve created a versatile digital art and writing tool. Their focus was on mobile productivity, and they asked many users what they wanted in a mobile device.
The two Lenovo Yoga book pen tips, one with real ink and the other a stylus
Lenovo product developers spent 18 months working out each detail, listening to focus groups, conducting studies, and testing different components.
As a computer, the specs are nothing special. It sports an Atom X5 CPU and 4GB RAM, so it’s more of a kitten than a beast. The Atom probably keeps the price low, and it is quite affordable. It’s discouraging that it has only 64GB of on-board storage, but it has a micro SD slot to go up to 256GB.
Digitizer (on keyboard/drawing surface only, not on screen): Wacom EMR with 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity
100 degrees of tilt sensitivity
Screen: 10.1″ (diagonal) Capacitive touch IPS LCD with Lenovo Anypen tech
IPS display (1920×1200)
OS: Android and Windows model (hardware is the same on both)
Build: Magnesium aluminum alloy
Processor: Atom X5, 2.4GHz
Brightness: 400 nits
Color Gamut: 70% of sRGB
Colors: Champagne Gold, Gunmetal Gray
Battery Life: 8,500mAh battery. Android 15 hours, Windows 13 hours
Dimensions: 10.1″ × 6.72″ × 0.38″ (256.6 × 170.8 × 9.6 mm)
Weight: 1.52 lbs (.69 kg)
Micro SD slot up to 256GB
LTE (AT&T, T-Mobile)
Ports: micro USB, HDMI out, microSD card slot
Cameras: 8MP rear, MP front
Software: comes with Windows Mobile Microsoft Office apps, OneNote, trial of ArtRage Lite
Optional Accessories: Sleeve, ink-cartridge refills, paper refills
It’s compact and goes well with this hand model.
What’s in the Box:
Quick Start Guide
3 ink-cartridge refills
Book Pad (metal clipboard accessory with paper pad, the whole thing clips into the cover)
Very portable at a little over a pound and a half and a slim .38 of an inch. Its clamshell design protects it, so you can use a sleeve and put the pen in the sleeve if you want, but you don’t have to add weight with a hard-shell case the way you do with, say, an iPad Pro.
Photoshop CC and other Adobe CC programs will run sluggishly; the Atom is not made to handle them. But smaller art programs such as Photoshop Elements and Sketchbook Pro should work fine, and their file-saving options are compatible with Photoshop CC. So you could open your art on a more powerful computer with CC.
The tablet comes with a trial of ArtRage Lite, which is very inexpensive even in the full version. I can see why they picked ArtRage because of its many simulations of real-world brushes, including oil paint, rollers, and glitter–it’s a fun and well-made program.
The Google Play store has plenty of Android art apps, some of which are good such as Procreate, but given that the hardware is the same here for either OS, if you’re trying to choose between the Android and Windows version, I’d go for Windows since its environment allows for desktop programs as well as Windows apps.
Like the rest of the Lenovo Yoga line, the Book takes various poses, including Tent, Stand, Tablet. and Laptop. It’s a clamshell design, and can open fully flat.
The Book comes in both Android and Windows version, with the Android lasting an impressive 15 hours on a single charge, and the Windows a long 13 hours. That’s quite a bit of stamina.
The Create Pad offers 100 degrees of tilt sensitivity, giving a natural look and feel to drawing and handwriting.
Yoga Book dual-use Real Pen uses real, custom ink
The batteryless, Wacom EMR pen gives feedback so you can tell the difference between a brush, crayon, or pencil. It sounds like the sensors respond to assorted digital brushes and trigger haptic feedback.
The Real Pen has no buttons or eraser end. The cap is metal and attaches magnetically to the Book or to the metal Book Pad accessory. The Real Pen uses real ink for when you want to place real paper over the digitizer surface and draw or write. The Book comes with three ink cartridge refills, and you have to use that kind of ink, but you can use any paper. The Real Pen comes with a white digitizer tip to use on the Create Pad as well as on the touchscreen. When you want to use the real ink, you put in a Real Ink cartridge.
By the way, it seems they’ve bumped up the levels of EMR from 1,024 to match the 2,048 of the more recent Wacom AES digitizers. EMR is smoother and more natural-feeling than AES, and better for small writing. AES is really not bad, but EMR is the gold standard, and I’m glad they’ve brought it back, because it has been getting phased out in favor of the less-expensive AES.
Using digitizing ink isn’t anything new, but your work appears immediately on the screen rather than having to sync. There are integrated note-taking, sharing, and annotating abilities for writing. The pen does not convert handwriting to text. The company explains that the use of multiple languages and characters is problematic with such conversions, and they want you to use the Halo Keyboard for text input.
You can also draw on the LCD screen but, apparently, without pressure sensitivity. The screen has AnyPen tech, but lacks the EMR digitizer layer. The company gives you two pen tips, one that compatible with the screen and one with the digitizer. You can also use your fingers on the touchscreen.
AnyPen does not offer pressure sensitivity and thus is not very different from a normal touchscreen, except you can use non-pens on it–metal or organic things–such as a banana, or fork–anything not fully plastic.
Since the Book has an HDMI port, you can attach a larger monitor to it.
Using the Yoga Book with a larger monitor
The Halo Keyboard is only there where you need it, brought to life by a ghostly membrane that comprises one of the inner layers. When you’re not typing, it takes on its alter ego, the Create Pad, where you draw on the pad or on paper, with your handwriting or drawing immediately showing on the screen.
You can use art programs, OneNote, or other programs to write or draw. To avoid accidental keystrokes, touch is disabled when you type, except at the center. There is no key travel, which saves time. Key-travel distance means the distance the key has to be pressed down to be recognized, and is zero, because it’s flat.
Lenovo says because they honed the design so much and added haptic feedback, typists typed 66% faster than other touch keyboards. Not only that, but slower typists can used a fixed layout, while touch typists jog along on a “virtual moving layout.”
Perhaps we’re looking at a future with changeable, customizable keyboards for different programs, such a as Photoshop hotkeys.
Halo Keyboard: now you see it, now you don’t, and when you don’t, it’s the drawing surface
People tend to whack at touch keyboards as if there are keys there, but there’s nothing to absorb the blow, causing the force to bounce back onto your fingertips, which can be uncomfortable and make for poor ergonomics. The haptic feedback may help in not overstressing your digits.
Resting your palms at the bottom will not disturb anything; this keyboard has palm rejection where needed. Not only that, but the keyboard measures the strength of each finger tap and can tell the difference between an accidental slip of a fingertip and a real keystroke. Haptic vibrations make you feel like the comforting clackety-clack.
The whole touch panel is semi-transparent, with Lenovo considering over 100 samples to get the best anti-glare coating.
Lenovo Yoga Book Pad included accessory (right)
The top layer of Gorilla Glass has an anti-glare coating and a matte/grainy feeling to give the bite of paper, with the EMR layer underneath. The Create Pad has a decent-sized area to draw, something near a regular sheet of paper, and the metal pen cap attaches to the Yoga Book and the Book Pad notepad–since there’s no bezel, it’s good there’s something to stop the pen from rolling off should you have the Book at an angle. Since the Gorilla Glass Create Pad surface has texture, it won’t slip like on glass.
Right side shows artwork on the Create Pad, left side is after coloring using digital tools.
The Create Pad goes into, what else–Create Mode, when you draw or handwrite. The pad is a flush, flat, active area, hence there’s a good-sized workspace; painted borders show you the active area, the inactive area is a fairly small margin.
There are no hotkeys, it’s just one continuous piece. It’s hard to compare this to a regular drawing tablet; its simple form is reminiscent of the basic tablets just used for signatures, but this one has lots of pressure levels and tilt as well.
Thoughts on the Lenovo Yoga Book
It’s sort of like using a graphics tablet along with a screen, but the screen is a lot closer, and you can see what you’re doing when using ink. But since you’re using an art program with various colors and brushes, what you end up drawing won’t necessarily look like what’s on paper. I have more to do to learn exactly how this works.
The custom, watchband-style hinge has three axes, and is made of five materials, and 130 mechanical pieces. A touch of Steampunk, no?
The sheer lightness and user-friendliness, and its novelty make this a fun and useful device if it fills your needs. Those who want a powerful computer will not be satisfied. Those who want something similar in concept but that works across devices might check out the iskn Slate, which lets you use real markers, pen, and pencils.
If you want a handy, light, on-the-go, art-writing-journaling bringalong with a cool design may like this as a productivity tool. It should be out in Fall 2016.
The Mytrix Complex 11t is a version of the Cube i7 Stylus, a Chinese tablet made by a company called 51 Cube (it was also rebranded for a while as the rhyming Cytrix Complex 11t.) The Mytrix has been changed a bit from the original to get FCC approval, which is required for electronics in the U.S. market. If you get the Cube i7 Stylus alone,but it won’t come with the keyboard and stylus, and the whole package is economical (you can compare prices).
To clarify a few naming things: The name i7 is confusing; this does not have an i7 processor, it has Core M. Also, this is not a review of a stylus, the name of the computer is Cube i7 Stylus in it, so it’s a Cube i7 Stylus review.
Type of tablet: WIndows tablet PC 2-in-1
Digitizer: Wacom EMR with 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity
Comes with pen? Yes. Keyboard too
This 2-in-1 Windows tablet has recently come to the U.S. It has been available on Chinese sites such as Gear Best for a while, but that means waiting for shipping, and inconvenience if problems arise. Now, the computer has been rebranded as the Mytrix Complex 11t and for sale in the U.S. market, having been changed a bit to fit FCC standards, according to the seller.
It’s got 4GB RAM, which is soldered in, so not upgradable. It’s got an SD card slot for up to 32GB of extra storage. Its processor is speedy and good for light gaming. It has a Core M processor and 4GB RAM, which is not adequate for heavy Photoshop CC use such as files with many layers. You can run large programs on it, but it has some limitations.
Like the Surface 3, it’s more of a digital sketchbook, best used with programs such as Photoshop Elements, ArtRage, or Sketchbook Pro, Krita, and Manga 5. It has only 64GB of storage, so best to keep your files on an SD card or elsewhere. You can, with some elbow grease, add a larger SSD.
The Cube i7 has Core M, not the most powerful processor, but a big step up from Atom tablets. It’s fanless, so it’s quiet. As far as speed, it’s competitive with an i5. Its LPDDR RAM is fast. The HDMI connector allows you to connect it to TVs, monitors, and projectors to enjoy content on a big screen.
This is quite a good deal if you want a Wacom tablet. It’s reminiscent of the Samsung Ativ line in its size, but that had Atom, so this one is more powerful. What it does do, it does well. And, you can swap the SSD to give you considerably more power.
What’s in the Box
screen protector already installed
keyboard that attaches via magnets
OTG cable (USB On-the-Go)
manual (very basic); paperwork
Screen size: 10.6 inch diagonal
16:9 aspect ratio (the norm for Windows), multitouch
Resolution:1920 x 1080 full HD IPS display
Intel Core M 5Y10 5th generation Broadwell
64GB storage, SSD
802.11 b/g/n Wi-fi
Micro USB 3.0
micro SD slot for up to 32GB
12-volt DC charging port
mini HDMI connector
Weight: 1.2 K (lib/??)
screen protector, if you see scratches, try removing it as the scratches may be on the screen protector.
It’s a bit heavy for a tablet of its size, but it’s portable.
The IPS screen has good viewing angles and is bright with 350 nits. It’s the same screen used that was used in the higher-end Microsoft Surface Pro 2. It has good contrast and 75% of the Adobe SRBG, which is good for something in this class, though less than a higher-end computer would have. It has an accelerometer which you can lock or let go, flipping your image to portrait or keyboard mode depending on the angle of the tablet.
The screen protector can get scratched, so if you get one where the screen appears to be scratched, try peeling off the protector. You might want get a matte screen protector for some tooth while drawing.
6 hours mixed use, 4 hours of video
Pen The Wacom pen has good accuracy. It’s a standard Wacom EMR pen, so if you have one already you could use that one as well.
User reviews and ratings
This tablet has been well-received with positive ratings from Tech Mobile review and various sites where Cube i7 reviews appear. Artists writing a Cube i7 review have praised its pen accuracy and speed. Wacom penabled tablets can actually vary in accuracy.
good for light gaming
very affordable for a Wacom penabled tablet
Cons Trackpad can be sticky
can get hot
speaker quality tinny
It doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles, very good value for students or hobbyists or people who want to draw, do art, take notes who like the natural feel of Wacom EMR. It’s not recommended for heavy Photoshop use, but for smaller art programs.
Here’s a drawing demo by Samson Lee:
Here’s a Photoshop CS5 demo on it. As you can see though it works, there’s some lag on this 16MP image. That’s not because anything is wrong with the tablet, but because it’s Core M. However, there are a lot of less intensive art programs you can use.
Galaxy Tab A with S Pen review : an affordable drawing tablet
by Tablets for Artists
Update: In Oct. 2016, Samsung released this updated version that’s got an HD screen, more memory, and is larger at 10.1.”
2014 Galaxy Tab A with S Pen 9.7"
2016 Galaxy Tab A with S Pen 10.1"
Screen size: 9.7"
Resolution: 1024 x 768
Processor: 1.2 GHz, quadcore
OS: Android 5.0.2 Lollipop
RAM: 1.5 GB
Storage: 16 GB, expandable to 128 GB with MicroSD card
Weight: 1.07 lbs.
Micro USB 2.0 port
Battery life: up to 15 hrs. Web browsing
Screen size: 10.1"
Resolution: 1920 x 1080
Processor: 1.6 GHz, octacore
OS: Android 6.0 Marshmallow
RAM: 3 GB
Storage: 16 GB, expandable to 256 GB with MicroSD card
Weight: 1 lb.
Micro USB 2.0 port
Battery life: about 14 hrs. Web browsing
The Galaxy Tab A with S Pen is an affordable drawing tablet you can tote anywhere. Its 4:3 aspect ratio is a benefit for artists. Its size is large enough to draw comfortably on, and you have your pick of Galaxy Apps and apps from the Google Play store. The S pen is Wacom, and you’ll get pressure sensitivity and palm rejection, which are important for creating art.
1.2 GHz Quad-Core, Qualcomm APQ 8016
runs Android 5.0.2 Lollipop
screen resolution: 1024 x 768 (12 ppi)
4:3 aspect ratio
9.55″ x 6.57″ x 0.29″ (242 x 166.8 x 7.3 mm)
weight: 1.07 lbs. (485 g)
micro-USB 2.0 port
Smooth plastic casing
Qualcomm Snapdragon 410, 1.2GHz 64-bit Quad Core processor
Adreno 306 GPU
Samsung TouchWiz overlay to the OS
16 GB storage
MicroSD slot allows up to 128 GB memory card for media and some apps
PLS LCD screen
5 MP front camera, 2 MP rear camera. 4x digital optical zoom; autofocus
shoots 720p HD video
Wi-fi and 4G models
Microsoft Office pre-installed, plus 100GB free OneDrive cloud storage (two years free)
Allows separate, private user accounts
Samsung KidsTime content with parental controls, one free month of learning apps and ebooks
Syncs with Samsung phone and pairs with Samsung Smart TV, or use Chromecast. No HDMI.
On-screen keyboard has numbers over the letters
What’s in the box
Tablet, S pen, charger head (power plug), micro-USB cable, Quickstart Guide, warranty info
Reminder: only the Tab A that has “with S Pen” in the name uses an S Pen, and it comes with it. The regular Galaxy Tab A does not have the S Pen and will not work with it, nor get pressure sensitivity.
Using the tablet
Samsung’s tablets have a lot of nifty abilities, such as being able to multitask, with up to 5 windows open at once, use split-screen with apps (you can have two apps open at once and even drag things from one to another), handwriting recognition, a mic, and more. There are two power-saving modes, one called Ultra Power Saver, which simplifies the interface to save battery life.
When you remove the S Pen from its sheath, Air Command, a steering-wheel-like dashboard, pops up and lets you use the pen to perform operations such as take a screenshot or open an app. You can handwrite something to put into an app, such as email or notes.
The S pen is not simply an addition that happens to make marks; its functionality is an integral part of S pen-enabled tablets. You can draw, write, crop, and capture. The S Pen writing app has digital fountain and calligraphy pens. Having a wide range of digital pen nibs is a familiar experience to art-app users, but may be new for people who have been stuck with one basic pen in the main tablet interface until now. The Calligraphy and Fountain pens allow you to go formal or lay down a digital signature with gravitas.
The on-screen keyboard has a row of numbers over the letters, which is convenient for typing in passwords, so you don’t have to switch to a numerical keyboard. There is also a handwriting keyboard that converts handwriting to typed text and even a voice keyboard that turns utterings into text.
The 4:3 aspect ratio is new for Samsung tablets and makes the Tab A resemble an iPad. This aspect ratio is more similar to proportions of paper and canvas that most artists draw on, so it’s preferable for drawing than the more common 16:9 or 16:10 of most Android (and some Windows) tablets. 4:3 also good for reading, as you don’t have to scroll the page sideways when using it in landscape orientation.
The PLS (plane line switching) TFT Gorilla Glass screen is nice and bright, with good color accuracy. It’s not quite as high-end as the AMOLED screen of the pricier Note.
The most frequently voiced complaint about this tablet by far is about the low resolution. It’s 132 ppi, the same as on the iPad1 and iPad2 and about the same as the old Cintiq 12ux (125 ppi). Over the past few years, people have gotten used to higher-res screens, and it can be hard to go back. When you compare them side to side, there is a noticeable difference. I find the Tab A fine for reading and drawing, personally, especially drawing. It’s the same res common in the early 2010s.
The Adaptive Display feature is a light sensor that adjusts the tablet’s brightness, color, and sharpness to your environment.
The glass surface is slick and toothless and the S Pen’s hard plastic tip glides over it. If you prefer to have a bit of tooth to draw with, try a matte screen protector. It really makes a difference.
You must use the pen that comes with it with the Tab A. The Note S pen will not work with the Galaxy Tab A (though a regular Wacom pen will work on the Wacom Note devices as well as the Galaxy Tab A with S pen). Palm rejection works well.
An ordinary Wacom pen made for a penabled Wacom tablet works with it may be a more comfortable choice to draw with. Testing the S pen showed that it has rotation sensitivity.
The pen has a hard plastic tip, making it glide over the Gorilla Glass screen.
Converting handwriting is encouraged with this tablet. With a bit of practice on both your parts, the tablet will recognize your handwriting, and you will learn to tailor your penmanship to what the tablet can read.
Setup is easy, and you can import your data from other Android tablets via your Google account.
At about a pound, this is quite portable. Of course, you need to carry it in some kind of protective case or sleeve, and that will add weight too.
The tablet controls and setup should be fine for the left-handed. Most controls are on the right, with the S Pen slot at the upper right corner. The rest are on the bottom, leaving the top and left edges with no controls.
The important Back and Recent Apps buttons on either side of the Home button are hard to see. They are harder to see in the Smokey Titanium color than the white. I would think people would soon remember where these buttons are. If you’ve never had an Android tablet, these are frequently used buttons. They allow you to back out of an app when you have lost your way. On the right side of the tablet is the volume button.
The tablet recognizes gesture, allowing you to take a photo without actually touching the screen.
About 6GB of space is taken up by the OS. Fortunately, the storage is expandable via MicroSD card of up to 128 GB. You can keep apps and media on that.
Many Android art apps allow multiple layers, creating and editing of high-res files, and offer options to adjust sizes and export and import certain file types, just as full desktop apps do. 3-D modeling apps are also available. No mobile art app offers the power of a desktop program like Photoshop–but not everyone needs all that power all the time. An artist with the Galaxy Tab A with S Pen can do more with than than they can with an iPad because of the Tab A’s native pressure sensitivity.
The Galaxy Tab A with S Pen does have some non-removable bloatware, but not as much as some previous Samsung tablets.
Samsung has included Microsoft Office preinstalled, which is handy, even handier if you’ve got a Bluetooth Keyboard or type cover. OneDrive gives you 200 GB of free online storage.
If you’re selling your wares at, say, an art fair, you can use the Square App to accept credit-card payments. (The old-fashioned, pre-app way was to do it in the browser using PayPal).
The Side Sync apps mirrors your Samsung phone, so that if you get a text on your phone, you can answer it on your tablet.
And if you need a break to play Angry Birds, you can do light gaming such as that on this tablet, but nothing too processor-heavy. Sorry, gamers, there is no haptic feedback.
Because of the 4:3 aspect ratio, movies will have a black bar on the top and bottom because movies have a 16:9 aspect ratio. Just pretend you’re at a drive-in.
Excellent. 15 hours of Internet use
One Galaxy Tab A with S pen review writer said after charging the Tab A and leaving it alone for a week, the battery held almost all of its charge.
User Ratings and Reviews
Customer feedback has been very positive, with the biggest complaint by far being the resolution. I got the idea a lot of people who bought this tablet were using a tablet with a stylus for the first time and loved it. Remember that this is a budget art tablet. Without the S pen, it’s not the biggest bargain, but when you add the S Pen in, it becomes attractive to artists who want a digital sketchbook, and to those those just dipping their brushes into the digital-art jar.
This is being marketed as a general use, versatile tablet for everyone. It’s a positive development that pressure sensitivity is now available in an affordable art tablet, and this feature is getting more widespread. Paired with a keyboard, this can be a productive all-in-one tablet.
Gadgets should reflect the organic qualities of humans, such as the way we vary the weight we exert while writing. A handwriting expert would have a hard time analyzing a line weight that never varies. And for artists throughout history, line itself is a signature. (Remember when Rapidograph technical pens were the way to NOT get a varied line width?)
Pressure sensitivity will vary from app to app.
S pen with ability to edit, hover, use Air Command, copy text or other content between apps
Multitasking–can use multiple apps at once
Affordable drawing tablet
Comfortable drawing size
Wacom-powered; usable with other Wacom pens
4:3 aspect ratio
Screen resolution lower than many current devices
Android navigation buttons are not backlit
No haptic (vibrational) feedback
Not the fastest tablet; limited memory, so use the microSD card
Thumbs-up for the Galaxy Tab A with S Pen as a digital sketchbook. This is a fine entry-level art tablet that offers useful apps such as ArtRage and Sketchbook Pro as well as many others. The size and aspect ratio make it good to draw, read, and write on. The colors are bright.
If the resolution is too low for you, of if you would prefer a small Windows tablet, there are other options in this price range, but I think this is one of the better options due to its size and the fact it has Wacom. You get Galaxy Tab responsiveness and multitasking.
In addition to reading this Galaxy Tab A with S Pen review, you might want to check out the Galaxy Note 10.1 with S Pen review if you want a more high-end version with better screen resolution.
Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 2 in 1: a business laptop with an arty bent
by Tablets for Artists
(Note: also called 2nd-gen. Lenovo Yoga ThinkPad 12)
Type of tablet
Convertible (or hybrid) laptop/tablet PC Ultrabook that comes with Windows 8.1 Pro, 64 bit.
The Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 2 in 1 is business in the front, arty when bent back. By appearances, it’s a business machine. “Suits” shuffling spreadsheets would be happy working in Office Suite on this unremarkable-looking black rectangle.
But use it as a tablet, and artists can get real mileage out of it. It’s a definite rival to the Surface Pro 3 (read our Surface Pro 3 review) for creatives who want a real laptop while still getting art features. The ThinkPad Yoga offers a Wacom digitizer with 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity, and Windows 8.1 allows you to run full programs such as Photoshop as well Metro apps. The screen flips 360 degrees into four positions: laptop, tablet, tablet with stand, and tent.
12.5-inch Full HD touchscreen
Intel Core i7-4500U (there is i5 model too)
8GB memory/256GB SSD
12.5 in Full HD IPS (1920 x 1080)
10-finger multi-touch support
4-in-1 card reader (SD/SDHC/SDXC/MMC)
2 USB 3.0 (1 charge)
Lenovo OneLink dock port (dock not included)
Dimensions: 12.46 x 8.70 x 0.76 in (316.48 x 220.98 x 19.30 mm)
Weight: 3.49 lbs (1.58 kg)
It’s a laptop, so “handedness” is the same as on any laptop.
The pen that comes with the ThinkPad Yoga 2 in 1
The pen, which fits into the side chassis, is pretty flimsy and you would probably want some others. Several artists and note-takers recommend the Fujitsu T5000 pen for use because its hard tip meets well with the screen, it has two buttons and an eraser, and is solidly built.
Most tablet PC pens will work with the ThinkPad Yoga. The N-trig pen for Surface Pro 3 will not.
The screen connects to the keyboard via a stiff hinge that feels more durable than a lot of convertibles that swivel instead of bend into the four “poses.” (With other tablet PC laptops, the keyboard gets sandwiched into the middle in tablet mode.) In tablet mode, the keyboard ends up on the back. Its innovative “lift and lock” mechanism makes the keyboard retract and lock, so pressing it by accident while you’re holding the tablet won’t do anything. The trackpad doesn’t lock, so you might click on it if you’re holding the computer in your hand. At 3.5 lbs., you probably won’t hold it in one hand all that much.
While it’s a boon that the screen is slightly bigger than the Surface Pro 3, the widescreen of the Yoga with its 16:9 aspect ratio (1920 x 1080p) isn’t always welcomed. The SP 3 has a 2:3 “golden mean” ratio, more like a piece of paper or an iPad. (The Surface Pro s 1 and 2 are also widescreen).
I’m nearly always zoomed in when drawing, or else I’m drawing something smaller than the screen, so I tend to forget the screen size while I’m drawing, but aesthetically I prefer the 2:3 aspect ratio. The widescreen can feel awkward when drawing in portrait mode. The 16:9 size has some benefits–it’s the perfect proportions to watch a movie.
At 3.5 lbs., this is portable, but for those of us who feel weighed down by that much, it may be something that you don’t want to carry over your shoulder for long periods. Still, as far as travel, its dimensions are pretty compact, and you can watch it on a plane (even in economy class).
The Corning Gorilla Glass is comes installed with a matte screen protector that is supposed to stay on. While I’m uncertain if removing it would void the warranty, it might, and you should consult the warranty co. if you want to remove it. But I and other artists think it provides a nice “bite” or resistance which benefits drawing.
The screen is not as bright as the Surface Pro 3. The matte surface, being less reflective than glossy gives better visibility when outdoors or near a window. While looking at art on a bright screen is great, while working, keeping the brightness lower not only saves battery, but saves your eyes. But if you like a really bright display, this might not be for you.
The keyboard is nice and is backlit.
One drawback of the Yoga is that in tablet mode with the keyboard on the back in a locked position, if you’re using Photoshop or some other program with keyboard shortcuts, you’re going to have to open the keyboard to unlock it, or use a Bluetooth keyboard or the onscreen keyboard (these can be a pain when there are key combinations you have to press). It’s an issue with any convertible tablet PC, but with this one it’s a bit more of an issue.
There is some edge jitter, and some parallax (space between the cursor and pen) as with any Wacom digitizer. One Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 2 in 1 review said that the calibration of multitouch and pen was off. I don’t use multitouch much and prefer to shut it off while using the stylus, but this has 10 points of multitouch and you can do gestures.
Drawing on the Yoga is a much better experience than on my Lenovo ThinkPad X201 tablet, where any stylus I use leaves sort of a thin trail coming off every line (though the computer itself is a workhorse that has been going for four years). So it seems Lenovo has worked out this digitizer issue.
No more ghosts. They also say they have solved previously reported screen ghosting issues as of July 2014, so you can check your manufacture date on the box or bottom of the computer to see if you got an updated one.
The Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 2 in 1 has a rugged exterior. It weighs about a pound more than the Surface Pro 3 (.36″ thick) and is thicker (.75″ thick), but still under an inch thick.
The Yoga is probably a better choice than a detachable-keyboard tablet like a Surface Pro if you do a lot of typing. Using a Bluetooth keyboard that connects via a hinge, like on the Surface Pro, can lead to issues such as the cursor skipping around, so heavy typing can be a headache. A full laptop is more versatile all around-work machine, though heavier to carry around.
Though Lenovo says up to 8, it’s more like 5. 30-day standby.
Wacom digitizer and pen, 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity.
Solid state drive gives fast bootup.
Durable magnesium alloy frame.
Nice, backlit keyboard.
Linux-friendly, according to a review.
Comes with port to OneLink Dock.
Rear-facing heat vents blow heat into your lap if you hold it in your lap. One Lenovo Yoga 2 in 1 review called it a “heat sink.” But putting any laptop on a soft surface isn’t a good idea.
Can’t use keyboard in tablet mode.
A bit heavy to carry at 3.5 lbs.
Battery life not that great, about 5 hours, longer if just light use.
Trackpad a bit noisy/flimsy.
Most reviews are really positive. One Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 2 in 1 review said it was the best laptop the writer had ever used (and they had used a lot), others said though imperfect, said it’s the best of the convertibles, while another complained of the heat blowing into his or her lap. Many praised its solid build. Some prefer the matte screen while others don’t. See more reviews on Amazon.
This is a good, durable overall computer that can last for years and act as a main typing computer as well as nearly a Cintiq. (The difference between 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity and 2,048 are not perceptible). We think it’s a good choice for those who want to both draw and type, who like a matte screen and don’t mind that the laptop weighs 3.5 lbs. and isn’t exactly a looker. The pressure sensitivity works well.
The Thinkpad Yoga 2 in 1 doesn’t heavily improve on other tablet PC laptops with Wacom digitizers, but it’s one that’s out now, has no major known problems, will receive updates, has plenty of storage, and the 4 positions it yoga-bends into are pretty useful at times. The upside of this is that when you carry a laptop, it’s much more protected than a plain tablet is, you don’t need to buy a fancy case or keyboard, and you can run full programs such as Photoshop.
2014 Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Review: draw and multitask
by Tablets for Artists
There’s a parsec of products in the Samsung Galaxy line. This review will focus on the 2014 Galaxy Note 10, which comes with a built-in S pen stylus. The 2014 Galaxy Note 10.1 features a 10.1″ screen.
Note: The Galaxy Note is different than the Galaxy Tab. The regular Galaxy Tab does not have pressure sensitivity and does not come with a pen. If you want to use a stylus to use with a Galaxy Tab, you have to buy one separately, and it will be more like a iPad stylus.
As of 2013, Samsung has bought 5% of Wacom, so expect a continuing partnership. (Wacom tech is also found in other companies’ tablets.)
Type of Tablet
The Galaxy Note 10.1 is an Android tablet running Android 4.3, Jelly Bean.
It’s fine for left-handers. (The Galaxy Note Edge is another story, as it has a curved screen on one side).
S Pen with eraser and Wacom integration
Wacom digitizer gives you 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity
WQXGA (2560 x 1600)
10.1-Inch high-res TFT display
9.57 x 6.75 x 0.31 inches
3 GB RAM
8MP rear camera, 2MP front
(1080p video recording), LED flash
MicroSD card slot can hold card of up to 64GB
Octacore Exynos processor (eight processors, but they are not all used at once; it’s two four-core processors)
Samsung’s AllShare, which can put what’s on your tablet on a Samsung TV
Dolby Surround Sound speakers
This 2014 Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 review is of the Wi-fi model only, but you can get the Galaxy Note 10.1 with 4G from a variety of carriers.
The multi-window function is a great boon to multitaskers. It lets you have two windows open into which you can drag and drop certain apps. You can also take a screenshot and write or draw on it.
Using a 10″ tablet gives you twice as much screen as a 7″ tablet, so there’s enough space to multitask. The tablet comes with quite a bit of free content. We like the two free years of 50GB Dropbox.
At one and a quarter pounds, that’s not much weight considering how much productivity you can get with it.
The tablet, S Pen, USB charging cable, travel adapter, quickstart guide.
The Galaxy Note 10.1 screen is high-resolution, with over 4 million pixels, which is double that of HDTV, according to Samsung. The 299ppi is dense, denser than the iPad Air Retina, which boasts 264ppi. The Note’s resolution is really as high as the eye can perceive high resolution. The screen is so bright that it gets good visibility outdoors. So, the display is awesome.
The S pen conveniently fits into the side top.
Wacom’s FEEL technology has been integrated into many aspects of the Note. When you use Air Command with the S Pen, a small round window pops up, giving you five functions. With Air Command you can convert handwriting to text you can then format, also make a call, add contacts (such as jotting down a phone number with the pen and converting it), use maps, search, or add to your to-do list.
A nifty feature called Pen Window lets you draw a square which becomes a small multitasking window where you can then open YouTube, the browser or other apps while remaining in your screen. Multitasking is the name of the game; you can drag and drop content and have multiple windows open. This is a major benefit over the one-thing-at-a-time iPad.
There’s also a side window that slides out from the left that serves up maps, YouTube, Evernote, and other apps. Handwriting works smoothly on the Note, even if you’ve got little tiny handwriting.
As art apps get more sophisticated, artists can do a lot without using full Photoshop, including using layers, creating high-resolution files, and exporting files as JPGs. There are many Android drawing and painting apps.
The Galaxy Note could be a go-to tablet for sketching, general productivity, and for some artists it’s enough for finished art for print. Drawing on it is a pleasure. Though some users reported lag, we did not experience any.
Alternatives to the S Pen
Nice as the S-pen is, face it, it’s thin. Though fine for note-taking, doodling, and sketching, it can cramp your hand when drawing for hours on end. And you might prefer the stroke quality of other pens; if you can, try a few and draw holding the pen at different angles.
One article suggested calibration may be off with non-S pens. I did not find this to be true in testing it.
Since the nifty multi-window lets you do two completely different things at once, you could draw and do image research at the same time.
Besides being your portable art studio, you can use the tablet as an e-reader as well as a universal remote control and TV guide.
The buttons are on the side, so they don’t change depending how you’re holding the tablet, portrait or landscape. You have to be a little careful to not push them by accident.
Android apps are available on the Google Play store. Most cost a few dollars, with many free ones. Apps such as Sketchbook Pro and Layer Paint HD will let you open large files, even 10,000 x 10,000 pixels. The number of layers you can create varies with canvas size. Try GIMP for Android; this free, open source alternative to Photoshop is now in Google Play.
Long; up to 9 hours, even 10 if you’re not doing power-intensive stuff like gaming. With gaming, the tablet works fine and can go about 4 hours.
Customer Ratings and Reviews
Almost every 2014 Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 review is positive. The Note is a popular item among both artists and nonartists. The handwriting capabilities receive praise. Most lag issues have been fixed by updates, according to reviewers–some of the first ones out were sluggish. One 2014 Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 review calls it “smoking fast,” another “a beast.” At this fairly high price, consumers should demand excellent performance.
In Developer Settings, turning the animation scales off or to the lowest setting should speed up performance even more.
Excellent battery life
High-resolution, bright screen
Good handwriting recognition; will convert handwriting to text
Can be used with a Bluetooth keyboard or even an external monitor
Some experience lag with TouchWiz, or don’t like TouchWiz. There’s no easy way to disable it.
All plastic with the back being faux leather with “stitching.” Depending how you look at it, that’s refreshingly creative or slightly tacky. I kind of like it, myself.
As with any device, some people’s failed, but there is not a high rate of complaints.
Should you get this or an iPad Pro?
Update: (When this article was first written, it was before the iPad Pro). The Galaxy Note is a better choice for artists than a regular iPad, it’s more of a competitor to an iPad Pro. The main advantages of the Galaxy Note over iPad Pro are that the S Pen is included, and the memory is expandable. There is no pen battery to worry about with the Note. It also would not be too expensive to get a new pen if yours gets lost.
However, at this point, I’d recommend the iPad Pro because it’s newer and more up to date. If you’re more of an Android fan, the Note is still viable, but it’s aging. A new Note may be in the pipeline.
With a regular iPad you can now get pressure sensitivity via Bluetooth in certain apps, but you are limited to a fairly small lineup of apps; some iPad styluses for art are more accurate than others.
This is a premium tablet that makes a powerful little sketchbook or portable art studio. It does not replace a Wacom Cintiq or full tablet PC. The pens do not have the tilt sensitivity like the more costly professional art tablets such as the Cintiq or Intuos.
The Vivotab also comes in a 32GB model, but most of that would be used up simply for the OS, so get the 64GB, it’s about $50 more.
This tablet is quite exciting because it has the Wacom digitizer at a much lower price point than a Cintiq or any tablet where you draw on the screen that also has full Windows, as opposed to Atom or Android. It’s comparable in size and price to the iPad mini, but iPads lack pressure sensitivity and can only run apps, not full programs. (Also, this tablet would let you watch Flash videos without an app.)
Type of Tablet
Small, 8″ slate tablet. A Bluetooth keyboard can optionally be added.
Unlike some tablets of the same size that run Atom or Android, this one runs full Windows 8.1.
This would be all right for the left-handed, but you should use the stylus for commands as it could be in inconvenient to use the multitouch with conventional Windows menus being on the left. Also, the screen is small, so whether righty or lefty, the stylus is easier.
Wacom active stylus with 1,024 pressure levels (included)
Pre-installed full license MS Office Home & Student included. Win 8.1 full version.
8″ IPS HD 1280×800 Display
Intel Baytrail-T Z3740 Quad-Core 1.3 GHz.
64GB solid state storage. 2GB RAM
1.2MP front camera, 5MP rear camera
Thickness 0.4 inch
Weight 0.8 pound
Height 8.7 in.
Width 5.2 inch
Weight 12.8 oz.
This small tablet packs quite a punch as far as features–namely, the Wacom digitizer and pen, and full Windows make this a nice choice for artists, and it’s the reason we chose to review it. The Windows start button is on the left edge, which can be hard to find. One the right side opposite it is the sleep button, so you have to remember which is which.
At 12.8 oz., it’s easy to tote along.
The tablet, charger, micro-USB cable, quickstart guide and documentation, warranty, and a license for Microsoft Office Home & Student 2013 edition.
The screen is not that high-resolution. It can’t be compared to something high-res like a Cintiq 13HD, but for the price, it’s not bad. If you, for instance, make Print on Demand cards, the screen is larger than the card, and you could zoom in while drawing. You could create comics for online or print. Not all digital art needs a large monitor. The screen does attract smudges so I suggest a smudgeguard glove, screen protector. Built-in palm rejection favors the stylus, so you can hold the tablet while drawing without your hand causing anything to happen. The screen has is multitouch. It’s quick and responsive to pen and touch, and has good viewing angles. Smooth glass goes from one edge to the other with no lip or plastic border.
The pen comes neatly tucked into the stylus, which is good news. It’s fine for drawing, and handwriting, but you might do more precise work with a larger pen.
The Windows button and power button are on the sides, which can be a bit confusing. The Windows key is on the left edge. The camera is in an unusual place, right in the vertical center on the back. There’s no video output; you’d need an adapter.
Comes with One Note, Microsoft Office, and you can use any Windows programs, including Photoshop, Illustrator, etc.
6 to 8 hours (Amazon says 6 and Asus says 8; customers say 8-12)
Customer Ratings and Reviews
This has good reviews on Amazon, with people praising its. One Asus Vivotab Note 8 review said the battery lasted for 12 hours, and many said all day. Some said it is more useful than their Ipad (which makes sense, as it can do a lot more, though you will have to deal with things like Windows updates).
Unfortunately, there were some negative notes as well. In particular, this model has issues with the pen suddenly stopping working, and there is a very long thread about this here. So if you do buy this, it’s good to get it from Amazon because they have a 30-day return policy and make it easy to make returns, and the problem usually happens sooner. The extended warranty is a good idea too. I wish I could write an unreservedly positive Asus VivoTab Note 8 review, but because of the many customers who had issues with it, I have to say buyer beware. As it is, it’s not the most powerful tablet in its class, but it’s the only one so far that has the Wacom digitizer, so it’s an exciting development for artists on the go and for artists on a budget. If you get one with no problems, and you don’t mind the small size, this could be a joy.
Wacom digitizer and pen at much lower price than larger tablet PCs or Cintiqs
Rubberized back can take a fall
Excellent battery life
Good handwriting recognition; will convert handwriting to text
Comes bundled with Office
No HDMI out, but can use an adapter
Some devices have been failing for some users (see Consumer Ratings and Reviews, above)
Screen smudges easily
If you get one without any issues, I think this tablet would be fun for an artist. Because of the small size I wouldn’t want it to be my sole art tablet, but I think this is a good starter tablet or extra tablet, especially with a Bluetooth keyboard (any Bluetooth keyboard would work, not just the detachable one) so you could use it as a small, lightweight computer for art and general productivity.
The VivoTab is comparable to the Dell Venue 8 Pro, though artists may prefer the VivoTab’s Wacom tech.
The Intuos Art Pen and Touch is a graphics tablet, or pen tablet, that you attach to your computer via USB. You draw on it and see the image on your computer screen. (Click here for more info on types of tablets). Note that this is not the “Pro” version, which has more features (such as greater pressure sensitivity and tilt sensitivity) and a higher price. The older version of this tablet was called the Intuos Pen and Touch.
3 extra pen nibs
black pen loop (attached) as well as extra blue pen loop
rings to personalize the pen’s look, that match the pen loops
nib replacer ring
CD with driver, documentation, online user manual
Artpack with Corel Painter Express and other freebies
You can also download drivers from the Wacom site.
Requires Mac 10.8. or above or Windows 7 or above.
The Intuos Art Pen and Touch Small Tablet measures 8.25″ by 6.7″ with an active area of 6″ x 3.7″. Its resolution is 2,540 lines per inch (half that of the Intuos Pro tablets). It has four customizable Express Keys. You can’t see the Express Keys unless the Express Key display is toggled on; it’s a lit-up display. A handy pen loop on top helps keep the pen from getting lost. Three replacement nibs that come hidden in a compartment in the back of the tablet on top in the center, where the pen loop attaches.
A Wi-fi kit is not included, but can be purchased separately. (See under Optional Accessories at the end of this post). This line of Wacom tablets used to be called Bamboo, so if you are looking for a Wacom Bamboo review, you will see Intuos reviews instead. Bamboo is now Intuos, and the Intuos5 is now the Intuos Pro. Wacom still uses the Bamboo name for a stylus line.
The tablet has multitouch. You can use your hands by using gestures to scroll, rotate, zoom, or flip through image files by tapping, swiping, clicking, and holding. It sports an attractive silver and black design. It attaches to your computer via USB. The USB cable is rather short, but as the USB can be detached from the tablet, you could use a longer USB cable if you choose.
The tablet surface has a rough, papery-like feel, which is nice to draw on because of the paper-like bite, but can wear down nibs. Besides its use for art, it has the ability to function as a finger-powered trackpad on any document, such as a Microsoft Word file. (The most popular tablet among artists is the Intuos Pro Pen and Touch Medium size.)
The small size is a bit small for drawing, and would be pretty useless if you are using multiple monitors and trying to stretch its resolution to cover all of them. You should not use too large a monitor with this tablet–up to 17″ would work well, up to 19″ is possible. The resolution on the regular Intuos line is only half that of the Pro line.
At its small size, thinness and weight of 12.8 oz. it’s easy to carry around. I recommend getting a case to protect it; it can fit into any laptop case.
The black Intuos Pen matches the tablet. Its 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity, while only half of the 2,048 the Pro line offers, are plenty. The battery-free pen has an eraser, which does not have pressure sensitivity. The pen is ergonomic for a comfortable hold. There are two programmable switches on the side. You have to click the buttons when the pen is within half an inch of the tablet for the buttons to work.
Corel Painter Essentials comes bundled with the tablet. Here are some other free or inexpensive suggestions:
Autodesk Sketchbook Express is a free art program for Mac or Windows (not an app) that is a bit limited. It is adapted for tablets and makes use of gestures in its menus. Pressing the space bar opens up a “puck” that lets you navigate around the canvas. There are preset tools, but you can’t customize them a whole lot as you can the full version. It lets you draw perfect shapes such as squares and circles. There are 6 layers, which, depending how you work, may be fine or not enough. The full program, which costs under $100, has unlimited layers.
ArtRage has interesting brushes that resemble real oil paint, glitter, palette knife marks, and such.
I like to use the above programs in conjunction with Photoshop or the much less expensive Photoshop Elements. Though you can do a lot with ArtRage, you might still want features such as Save to Web (which shrinks file size) and to not create artwork as a specific ArtRage file which must then be exported as another file type.
The tablet is reversible, so it’s fine whether you are right-handed or left-handed.
With gestures, the tablet can act like a trackpad, or perhaps a mousepad with your hand becoming a mouse. Though the same tablet without touch is a bit cheaper, it’s worth it to get the touch capability.
However, the touch does have some drawbacks. If your hand accidentally brushes against the tablet, the tablet may interpret it as a gesture. Be a bit careful to not put your fingers too close together–if the gesture calls for three fingers, having all your fingers touching each other be interpreted as one finger.
It’s kind of like learning to drive a stick shift–well, easier than that. If the pen is touching or hovering over the tablet, touch will be disabled. Touch can also be shut off via an Express Key.
INTUOS ART PEN AND TOUCH SMALL VS. INTUOS DRAW SMALL
If you don’t want multitouch at all, the only Intuos option is the Intuos Draw Creative Pen Tablet Small, the simplest of the Intuos line. It has the same 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity) and all else about the tablet is the same, but there’s no multitouch.
The pen has no eraser, but you can easily use the eraser tool in your art program instead. You don’t need multitouch to use this tablet as a mouse replacement; you can select text with the stylus just as with a mouse, through a series of clicks or by clicking and dragging.
This photo actually shows the older Intuos Small, which is about the same size.
CUSTOMER REVIEWS AND RATINGS
This pen tablet is popular among users, who praise its response time and say they get much more work done than with just a mouse or trackpad.
Many report switching from mouse to pen helped their repetitive strain injuries, though if someone is suffering from RSI from drawing already, it can exacerbate it. In general, wrist injuries are common, so a stylus is much less likely to cause or aggravate injuries to the wrist than clicking a mouse would.
You may have trouble finding the replacement nibs. Wacom should try to do a better job of showing them.
USB cable is detachable from the tablet, so you can use one that has a longer cord if you want Great response time.
The tablet and pen may be a bit cramped for large hands. Some complain about the Wacom Web site registration process. Others find the tablet difficult to use. You do not have to use the Express Keys or gestures, they are there for your convenience.
Once you’ve tried an Intuos Pro tablet with 2,048 levels of pressure, you do feel the difference.
Nibs can wear down quickly due to the textured surface of the tablet.
Try using a screen protector (see link below, under Optional Accessories) or even just a sheet of regular paper over the tablet.
The tablet is quite small and would be better to use with a monitor of no larger than 17″, 19″ at the most. Because of its size, moving the pen, mouse, or hand on the monitor even a little can move the cursor quite a lot.
I find small tablets best for basic photo editing or coloring small drawings that I’ve scanned in or created on a larger tablet. It’s not that easy to draw a larger picture on such a small tablet; you have to keep zooming and panning.
I end up zooming and panning even on my Cintiq, but most of my drawings are not much larger than the Cintiq 13HD screen, so some of the zooming is just because I like to do that with detailed areas.
The Intuos Art Pen & Touch small tablet is fine for doing small drawings that don’t require a lot of hand movement, as you can feel cramped on a small tablet both mentally and physically. It’s more ergonomic to use a larger tablet. This one is OK for drawing, and excellent for crafts, basic photo editing, and scrapbooking.
In my opinion, the best size for art is the Medium, which is also the most popular of the Wacom pen tablets among creative professionals. This size tablet is also find if you want to use it and the pen as a mousepad replacement. Multitouch gestures let you select text.
The Small it’s a good tablet for beginners who aren’t sure they’re going to commit to digital art. It’s fine for lots of other uses, too, but I wouldn’t recommend it for professional artists because it’s too small; it can be a good, portable backup tablet.
Looking for the Pro version? Here’s the Amazon page for the Intuos Pro Pen and Touch Small. And here’s our review of the Intuos Medium Pro–similar to the small but a bit larger.
If you find the USB cord to be too short, we recommend this USB extension as a simple solution.
The Surface Pro 2 is a slate tablet PC that runs Windows 8.1 and Metro Apps.
The Surface Pro 2 and original Surface Pro have gained popularity among digital artists because of their portability and versatility. The original Surface Pro is similar, though with less battery life (see it on Amazon).
The Pro 2 weighs 2 pounds and features a Wacom digitizer offering 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity. This tablet slate’s portability, fast processor, and the fact that you can add a real keyboard has led many to use the Pro as an all-in-one replacement for a laptop, Cintiq, iPad, and even desktop, since if you get the HDMI out accessory, you can hook up another monitor, or a TV if you want to watch your computer screen on TV, to the Surface Pro. As an art tablet PC, does the Surface Pro 2 deliver professional results, and does it help or hinder creativity?
The build of the Surface Pro is comfortingly solid and strong. The design is sleek. The Gorilla Glass is strong and has held up well in drop tests. MS didn’t cut corners here, this machine is built to last. The Surface Pro a flagship device. The form factor makes it. It’s actually slightly thinner than the Ipad3. Turning on the Surface Pro 2 is different from a lot of Windows computers in that it’s fast. Its powerful Intel chip and solid state drive makes bootup under 10 seconds.
There is a single USB3 port. A micro SD card slot allows you to add 64GB of storage. It has Bluetooth 4.0, and dual 2×2 MIMO antennas for fast Internet connection.
The vents are on side, not back, so you can put it down on a soft surface, though it’s better to let air circulate around it. The cooling fan is pretty quiet.
It also has HDMI port, so you could have 3 or more screens. You can add a micro SD card for more RAM. Palm rejection favors the stylus, so if you put your hand down it it will not, for instance, give you a print of your hand.
Other specs: The Intel 4th Generation TM i5, 10.6 hi-def 1920 x 1080 widescreen, 10 touch points, 128 GB storage, 4 GB memory, micro SD card reader, headphone jack, mini display port output, one usb 3.0 port, Bluetooth, battery life about 6 hours.
IThe 256 GB hard drive model is better, but the 128GB should do for most digital artists.
The Pro 2 comes with a Surface Pen, built-in kickstand, two built-in cameras, power supply, Quickstart guide, safety and warranty documents.
The included kickstand is a really convenient item that lets you prop up the Pro on your desk, bed, or lap. You can watch movies while taking a break from all that work. The kickstand offers three positions (the first Surface Pro kickstand has just one).
The Pro 2 comes with a stylus but no keyboard besides the on-screen keyboard. You can purchase a Type or Touch Cover or use any Bluetooth keyboard.
The Pro can be a bit of a hassle for southpaws. The controls are all on the right, and flipping the tablet over will just flip the controls along with it. So lefties might not want to use the multitouch feature that allows you to use the screen with your hands alone, but instead use a keyboard.
The stylus it comes with is standard and good for writing and drawing. But for the best art experience, I recommend a stylus such as the Wacom Bamboo, which feels more solid and weighty (not too weighty–sort of like using an expensive pen vs. a ballpoint). The stylus input is accurate, except at the edges of the screen, which seems to be common across Wacom digitizers. But it’s not a big deal, because you can move the drawing around, and of course zoom in to the parts of the drawing you’re working on. The button on the stylus provides a right-click function. The bottom end of the stylus is an eraser. (how many levels) The stylus attaches to the charger port via a magnet, but can easily come loose, and you have no built-in place to park it while charging. It’s a good idea to have designated places you keep your stylus while charging the computer.
You can use whatever you want, full programs for Windows to Metro Apps and even games. Photoshop, Illustrator, In Design and Maya all run fine. Because of the screen’s high resolution, the icons are a bit small in some programs, and text display is not always great. The fact is that some software, particularly word processing, is not ready for HD screens. The issue is more on the Adobe side of things, because it’s now the software that needs to catch up to the hardware.
You can use Metro Apps from the Windows Store as well. If you are using a Metro app that has small text, right-click on the app’s icon, go to properties, then to compatibility, and check the box to change the DPI scaling, meaning the resolution.
Apps tend to only cost a couple dollars, and some art apps such as Fresh Paint are good for sketching.
This 4 GB machine is fine for all these programs and even gaming, though an upgrade to the 8GB model would be better.
Because the Pro is a slate, and only about a half-inch thick, there is no disk drive. Disk drives have become a rarity even on laptops.You can get software by downloading onto the computer, or if you have it on disk, you will need an external disk drive to load the software onto the computer. When you buy software as a download, if you need to download it again, you usually can.
One artist noted that in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, the Color Picker tool did not work. She found that the solution was to change the screen magnification from the default 150% to 125%, which made text tiny, but made the Color Picker work. Hope Autodesk raises the program’s resolution.
The Gorilla Glass screen is glossy, not matte like the Cintiq. It lacks the slight bite like the Cintiq, and instead feels sort of like drawing on smooth paper, it’s more slippery. The pen glides over it. It’s fun to write, and you can use One Note.
The on-screen keyboard offers good accuracy and pops up reliably when you need it, but I prefer a real keyboard. Drawing on the Pro is pleasant. If you like using keyboard shortcuts, you can lay the keyboard down and have the tablet on your drawing table. Or use the express keys. I particularly enjoy using Sketchbook Pro as it’s very intuitive.
Battery life is an excellent 7 to 10 hours, compared to the original Surface Pro’s short life of 2 to 6 depending on what the user is doing.
CONSUMER REVIEWS AND RATINGS
Many have penned a Surface Pro 2 review. Many users loved it. People taking notes liked One Note. Artists were able to get good results with the software. Most didn’t feel the smaller icons were much of a problem but it did really bother some people. The Surface Pro 2 has a longer battery life of 7 hours.
Some complained that the stylus is in the charger port and comes loose easily when carrying the computer. That it runs warm to hot bothered some. Others did not have this problem. A fair amount of machines seemed to be faulty. Don’t hesitate to return your Pro if something doesn’t work.
Some professional artists decided to stop using Cintiq because this is more versatile and portable. Others prefer the Cintiq’s larger screen and matte finish. (I think having both is ideal–the Cintiq for home and a tablet PC for travel).
solid, durable build, sleek and attractive design
fast versatile, runs full Windows plus Metro apps
beautiful HD display
One Note good for note-taking
kickstand makes it easy to prop up and keeps you from having to hold it a lot
comes with OneDrive cloud storage
has Wifi and Bluetooth so you can add a Bluetooth mouse, keyboard, headphones etc.
HDMI port makes it so you can have 3 or more screens
Feasibly can take the place of an Ipad, a Cintiq, and a laptop or desktop
Because of the HD screen, text can appear fuzzy in some apps, and icons small in some art programs. Hopefully the software will soon catch up to a more compatible resolution.
Small size can feel cramped
Digitizer doesn’t work well in corners (this seems to be an issue across Wacom products, including the Cintiq).
Has two Webcams, neither of them are very high quality
Left-handers may get aggravated using multitouch, since all controls are on the right. (Righties may not fare well with multitouch either, I don’t use it myself, I use the keyboard or a stylus to navigate)
Cannot change to larger hard drive
Stylus attaches magnetically to charger port, but falls out easily
Only one USB port (you can add a hub, and use Bluetooth, which cuts down on the need for a lot of USBs)
Trackpad a bit difficult, according to some
If you buy a lot of accessories, including the Type Pad cover, a slip case, and a Bamboo stylus, you may instead want to consider the Cintiq Companion, 256 GB model, the first truly mobile Cintiq; it’s a Windows computer that’s a Cintiq all in one, with all the art goodies of the Cintiq such as Rocker Ring and Express keys, and a 13.3-inch HD screen.
For art, a Wacom Bamboo stylus would be better than the basic pen that comes with the Surface Pro 2. The Wacom Bamboo Stylus comes in Black and Carbon. I suggest the Black.
Drawing right on the screen is a great boon to most digital artists, and this is miles above an Intuos or Bamboo non-screen tablet. It’s similar to the Samsung Ativ, but has more levels of pressure sensitivity. If you need a large screen, then it’s probably not for you, but otherwise, I do think this is an excellent affordable solution for professional artists as well as hobbyists. It’s nice-looking, useful for everything, and even comes with a year of Skype unlimited calls. It can take the place of a laptop, iPad, and Cintiq.
Theoriginal Surface Pro, though the battery life is not very good, most other features are comparable to the Surface Pro 2, so for around $600 you can get a very good all-in-one art tablet with a year warranty.
Microsoft Surface Pro Tablet (128 GB Hard Drive, 4 GB RAM, Windows 8 Pro)
The Microsoft Surface and Surface RT (without the “Pro”) computers are not powerful enough to effectively run Photoshop, only apps. Most professional artists will want a more powerful system that can run Adobe Creative Suite.
Accessories (docking station type cover 2, arc mouse, power cover)
No Surface Pro 2 review would be complete without discussing some of the accessories. While the computer is ready to use out of the box, certain add-ons will make your art experience more positive. You probably won’t want to hunt and peck only on-screen, so a keyboard is a good addition. The Touch and Type Covers attach to the Pro and are made specially for it. They come in a rainbow of colors, including basic black. I recommend the Type Cover, as it’s easier to type on. Or you can use any Bluetooth keyboard. The Power Cover extends your battery life by several hours. A docking station is quite convenient.
You might want a mouse, too, though you can be stylus-only.
Wacom Intuos Pro Pen and Touch Review (Medium): powerful graphics tablet
by Tablets for Artists
Type of Tablet
Graphics tablet that you draw on while you look at your computer monitor. Comes with pen. Also called the Intuos Pro. All Intuos Pros have touch (and pens). The regular Intuos tablets have touch and non-touch models, and fewer high-end features than the Pro line.
The Intuos Pro Pen and Touch Medium Tablet is a professional-grade tablet that lets you draw, design, or edit photos or use in place of (or alongside) a mouse in any program. It features 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity. The medium size is Wacom’s most popular tablet among creative professionals. It combines pen and touch and is wireless and customizable. It comes with 10 nibs of varying sizes, and the pen has tilt recognition. The tablet is 14.9 by 9.9″ with a usable area of 9 x 5 1/2 inches. It weighs in at 10.9 oz.
Compatible with Windows Vista SP3, 8, and 7 (32- or 64-bit), and with Mac OS X 10.6.8 or later (with Intel processor).
Intuos5 Touch vs. Intuos Pro Medium
The Intuos Pro Medium is pretty much the same as the older Intuos 5 Touch with some differences to the form factor. (To make things even more confusing, what used to be called the Bamboo line is now called Intuos, without the “Pro”). Its express buttons, rocker ring, and gesture controls all give you easy shortcuts for common operations.Also, the Pro comes with the wifi kit, and you had to buy it separately with the Intuos5 Touch.
The look and feel of the tablet is more Cintiq-like now with Express Keys that are designed to be easier to press than in the Intuos5 Touch. The buttons are actual buttons rather than buttons that look like indentations. The inner surface and buttons are all beaded. The plastic is harder than in the Intuos5 Touch, but it still gives. The pen is a little thinner and lighter.
Tablet, Intuos Grip Pen
Color identification rings
Assorted replacement pen tips (total of 10 nibs of varying shapes and sizes)
mini USB cable
Quick-start guide Installation CD with driver Online user manual Product information documentation
>Bundled with Software:
Adobe® Photoshop® Elements 11 (sells for $79.99) Autodesk® Sketchbook® Express (tablet version based on complete version, features gesture-based menu)
Anime Studio® Debut 8 (sells for $49.99)
Corel ®Painter™ 13 (30-day trial)
Nik® Color Efex Pro 4 Select Edition (tablet version based on complete version)
The bundled software adds about $180 of value. (Ballpark estimate–not counting the free trial as anything.)
The Intuos Pro Pen and Touch Medium Tablet comes in three sizes: small, medium, and large. We’re reviewing the medium, since it’s Wacom’s most popular and also the most practical. The small tablet is not much cheaper and is less comfortable to use. It’s best if you have a small desk space. The large can be a bit too large–so the medium is rather like what Goldilocks might choose.
Unlike a mouse and mousepad, you can map Intuos tablets to your screen. So to move from one part of your screen to another, you need to move your hand around a bit, rather than making several swipes with a mouse. The large size may be a bit awkward to use spacewise. The Medium is good for monitors of up to 30″.
Good for righties and lefties. For left-handed use, the manual tells you how to make a small loop in the cable so it will go in the correct direction.
At just 10.9 oz., this is fine for on the go, and fits into most laptop cases.
The 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity offer a great deal of control over your digital art. The tablet is very responsive and you can adjust pressure sensitivity. It has a single USB cord and a dongle for wireless access. You can map how much of the tablet you want to use as a live workspace. OLED lights surround the active area so you stay within your bounds. The medium’s size is good for working with multiple monitors.The medium is an excellent size to use with multiple monitors as well as for general work. It’s large enough to not feel cramped, but not so large as to be overwhelming.
The eight Express Keys and 4-function Touch Ring let you program custom shortcuts in your favorite programs or browser functions. If you happen to touch while using the pen, palm rejection will kick in and give preference to the pen. A nice feature is the Express View Display, where you can rest a finger on theExpressKeys and a reminder of its function will light up on the screen. You can toggle between pen and touch. You can use hand gestures to pinch, pan, and zoom, such as pinching to zoom and swiping to navigate. You can use the built-in gestures or program your own under the on-screen “My Gestures” menu, which lets you choose 3, 4, or 5 fingers. There’s also a handy radial menu you can bring up to give you 8 more customized commands.
Windows Vista SP3, 8, and 7 (32- or 64-bit), or 10; Mac OS X 10.6.8 or later (needs Intel processor).
The included Intuos Grip Pen comes with 10 extra nibs that will give you lots of control over drawing. It’s a little bit of a hassle to change the nibs, but I love that there are so many nibs, and it’s fun to try them out. On the other hand, I tend to stick with one, instead, I change the brushes in the art program. The nibs come hidden in a handy holder, the base that holds the pen (you have to open up this holder to find them). You can change brush size by using the ring.
The replacement nibs offer a fun array of tips with 5 regular, 1 flex, 1 stroke, 3 hard felt for a total of 10. The stroke nib is spring-loaded to give you more tactile feedback.
I really enjoy having my choice of nibs for different effects. Using a stylus or pen instead of a mouse really seems to ease wrist strain and carpal tunnel caused by the mouse. The Grip Pen offers tilt recognition from -60 to +60 degrees, as well as rotation sensitivity which greatly expand your drawing and painting options in not only the lines, but also the textures and patterns you can make. You can also use the tilt sensitivity when drawing industrial designs that must be exact and follow angles and curves.
TIP: Try rotating the pen barrel while drawing for exciting effects.
Adobe Photoshop Elements 11
Autodesk Sketchbook Express (a tablet-optimized “mini” version of Sketchbook Pro that’s free anyway)
Anime Studio® Debut 8
Corel Painter™ 13- 30 day trial
Nik Color Efex Pro 4 Select Edition (tablet version based on complete version)
You can use this with any software on your computer. The driver will automatically install for Windows, but with OSX (Mac), you have to install it from the disk or download it off Wacom site (wacom.com). Remember to deactivate any antivirus programs before installing, then reactivate them when finished. You can use this tablet with any programs on your computer (e.g., Photoshop, Illustrator, Maya, or as a mouse replacement in Word).
Remember that not all art programs support pressure sensitivity, and you may have to adjust tablet settings within programs, for instance, Photoshop allows you to choose which tools and functions (such as opacity) you want to respond to pressure.
The Intuos Pro Medium detects the software you’re using and offers optimal short cuts and selections.
The tablet is useful for handwriting, with its Windows capabilities-you can take notes in Windows Journal and use the search function to search your handwritten content. You can also convert handwriting to typed characters. There are digital ink tools that mark up documents in Office 2007 and later, if you’re not only using this for digital art. There is a standard mode and a recognition mode for handwriting recognition that is only necessary if the recognition software you are using isn’t working well because it is using a lot of memory. Recognition mode will maximize the data rate.
Good customer service
Ring lets you change brush size
Lightweight (10.9 oz.) and fits in most laptop cases
Comes bundled with 5 art programs including Photoshop Elements 11 and Autodesk Sketchbook Express
Intuos pens also compatible with Cintiqs
Some complain of loose USB port. You only need to use the USB while charging. Some say the included mini USB is too large and needs to be jammed into the port, and had better luck with a replacement mini USB.
Some people compained in their Intuos Pro Pen and Touch review about problems with wireless and touch connectivity
Battery doesn’t last long
Nibs wear down quickly and can leave pits in the tablet
TIPS: Decrease pressure sensitivity in the settings, and you will not need to press very hard. Also, laying a sheet of paper over the tablet while drawing can protect the tablet and pen nib. Or try the Posrus cover, link below, under Accessories.
Customers overall were very satisfied with this tablet. They remarked that the many small improvements made it more pleasant to use than both the Intuos5 Touch and the Intuos4, which did not have touch. Some got buggy drivers in the Pro, leading to loss of pressure sensitivity and other issues. Drivers have to be downloaded from Wacom’s site.
Old Wacom drivers should be deleted before adding the new ones, and there can be other software conflicts as well when it comes to drivers.
I have always had good experiences when calling Wacom, even if the product is past warranty. They have been patient and helpful. Their online forums often provide answers for issues. It does seem that they stonewall a bit when it comes to drivers not working right with software. Drivers relate to software made by other companies, for instance, Adobe, so if there are issues it may not be solely Wacom’s fault. Things sometimes seem a bit awry between the two companies.
The Pro Pen and Touch Medium is a professional artist tool that provides excellent results. It’s designed to be a cousin to the Cintiq. Nonetheless, some users have had issues with the USB and connectivity. We hope Wacom will iron out any connectivity and USB problems soon. Our Intuos Pro Pen and Touch review concludes that this is a high-quality and solidly built tablet that could easily become an artist’s primary tool.
Video: Mapping the Display
This video from Wacom shows you how to map the tablet to your screen. It shows the Intuos 5, since Wacom doesn’t have a video for the Pro, but as I said above, they are the almost same tablet, with some differences in the form factor.