Wacom MobileStudio Pro: Powerful portable packs 8,192 levels, up to 4K display, 3D camera
Wacom MobileStudio Pro With Pro Pen 2. Source: Wacom
Wacom has created an amped-up successor to the Cintiq Companion 2, this one a lightweight portable with up to a 4K display, 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity, discrete NVIDIA graphics, and a 3D camera. It will run Windows 10 and full versions of desktop programs such as Photoshop, Illustrator, Maya, and Cinema 4D.
Engineers, artists, and designers can all tote it around, as it can run not only art programs, but CAD. There will be two sizes: four versions of a 13.3″ display and two 15.6″ models, all with Intel processors, and NVIDIA Quadro M600 or M1000 graphics, depending which model. Storage will range from 64GB to 512GB.
The pen will be the all-new Pro Pen 2, with 8x the pressure levels of the current 1,024-level Pro Pen.
Some of the models will include an Intel 3D camera called RealSense, which captures 3D scans that can be opened in 3D programs such as Zbrush.
(For those without the budget for this who still want to work in 3D, Wacom is also releasing the Intuos 3D).
Use as standalone or as Cintiq with Mac or Windows computer
The controls for the Wacom MobileStudio Pro will be similar to the ones on the Cintiq and Cintiq Companion line, including ExpressKeys and Touch Ring, and programmable pen buttons. As with the Cintiq Companion 2, users will be able to attach the MobileStudio pro to any Mac or PC and use it as a Cintiq display and input device, so you’ll be able to use the Mac OS as well as Windows.
MobileStudio Pro 13 vs. 16 specs
The four models of the13.3″ display, called the MobileStudio Pro 13, will have 2.5K WQHD resolution as well as a wide color gamut of 96% of Adobe RGB. SSDs will have 64, 128, 256, or 512 GB storage. The 512GB one will have the 3D camera.
The 15.6″ models, called the MobileStudio Pro 16, have the nearly the same color gamut with 94% of Adobe RGB. SSD sizes will range from 64GB to 512GB. The 16 hasa 4K UHD display and the 256GB will have NVIDIA Quadro M600M an 2GB VRAM. The highest-end model of all of them is the 16 with 512GB SSD, NVIDIA Quadro M1000M, and 4GB VRAM. Both models of the 16 contain the 3D camera.
With these high specs and high expectations, we can only hope they’ve improved upon the flaws of the Cintiq Companion 2, including loud fan noise and not-so-great battery life. This has got to have a pretty major battery to power the display and discrete graphics, and hopefully it will also power the computer for a long time. The NVIDIA graphics should keep things moving without lag. Maybe the MobileStudio Pro will be the moveable feast so many are waiting for.
Just when you thought you’d seen everything, Wacom has stepped into the growing world of 3D with the Intuos 3Dtablet. This new release will enable the public eager to try 3D art, design, and modelling in an affordable and accessible way.
The tablet will integrate with ZBrushCore program, made from the same foundation that powers ZBrush, popular 3D software used by virtual reality, game and film studios, and illustrators.
But it’s not all arts and entertainment, it’s also for engineers and fabricators. According to Jeff Mandell, Executive VP for Wacom’s Branded Business, “3D Design has been undergoing a transformation driven by trends in 3D engineering, rapid prototyping and on-demand parts production.”
Cintiqs have been the main tablets for 3D sculpting, but with the popular Intuos, anyone can get started. Other 3D software that has expanded Wacom’s foray into the third dimension includes Dassault’s Solidworks and Autodesk’s Mudbox.
The Intuos 3D will come with ZBrushCore software and “special offers” from Sketchfab and Shapeways.
Once you’ve created your design, you can send it to Shapeways for printing, or publish it on Sketchfab. Sketchfab is a place to explore virtual reality items. History, geography, culture, animals–it’s all there, and you can view it or upload your own.
I’m already a Shapeways fan for the amazing designs people upload, such as jewelry and other items. This new package will make creating for 3D printers a lot more accessible. If you’ve never seen a 3D printer, they basically extrude molten plastic into layers, which build up, forming a shape. The layers and patterns can be programmed to create amazing organic or Spirograph-like forms.
With Shapeways, you don’t need to buy your own 3D printer, those these may become common household items someday. (Lose your cell-phone case? Print one out.)
The Intuos 3D will be for sale in late October 2016. Hopefully there will be enough time to sculpt a Halloween mask.
Wacom and Microsoft partner to make pens with 4,096 pressure levels
The Windows 10 Anniversary update will bring welcome advances in digitizer technology this coming holiday season 2016.
Microsoft has inked a deal with Wacom to work together to make Wacom AES and Microsoft pens cross-compatible with Microsoft devices. These “dual protocol pens” will be made by Wacom and work on Windows 10 devices. Some details have been released at the WinHEC (Windows Hardware Engineering Conference) in Shenzhen.
Wacom’s AES, short for Active Electrostatic, has replaced Wacom’s traditional EMR in Wacom Penabled tablet PCs, such as the ThinkPad Yoga 14 (Wacom’s Cintiqs still have EMR). The new pens will be for AES and Microsoft tablets across devices from large to small. Microsoft now uses N-trig digitizers in its own Surface line, and Vaio is using the N-trig DuoSense pen on the review of the Z Canvas 2-in-1 tablet PC.
Wacom-Microsoft pens. From WinHEC slide presentation.
These remarkable, yet-to-be-released Wacom pens using the Microsoft Pen Protocol have dispensed with buttons and erasers, making them more Apple Pencil-like.
The devices would sport a 240Hz pen speed and 120Hz touch speed.
Giving tilt a whirl
The new Wacom pens, called G13 or Generation 13, will feature tilt sensitivity to offer natural drawing angles. Right now, tilt is not available on most Penabled tablet PCs, nor on the Microsoft Surface line. (The Enhanced Samsung used on its Wacom-Penabled pen tablets currently offer some flexibility with tilt.)
The new pens’ 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity is unprecedented–feels like just yesterday when MS was Micro-splaining to us that 256 levels of the Surface Pro 3 was perfectly fine?
I doubt the 4,096 levels will be a world-changing difference from 2,048, and indeed, 256 wasn’t too bad. But each increase seems to bring a slightly smoother pressure curve.
Simultaneous finger and touch
Other advances including more universal implementation of simultaneous finger and touch input, to the joy of finger-painters everywhere.
Palm rejection, lower latency, and more responsive trackpads are also listed in the directives discussed in the slideshow put on at the WinHEC conference.
If you’d like to see all the WinHEC presentation slides, they are available on this technically oriented Microsoft blog.
Wacom will create and make the Windows-Ink capable pens. From then on, Wacom’s pens will have both AES and Microsoft N-trig-based tech. N-trig is currently used in the Surface line.
Companies join the universal pen club
Companies that make pens and touch controllers are expected to jump onto the bandwagon, including Wacom, Sunwoda, and APS on the pen side, and, on the controller side, Wacom, Synaptics, Goodix, Elan, EETI, and Atmel.
Elan is playing a role in the push toward universal digital inking solutions. Photo: Tablets for Artists
It’s all a group effort. Slide from WinHEC.
As you can see below, Microsft aims its pen tablets at all ages and people in varying professions. Who doesn’t need a pen?
Slide from WinHEC presentation
Now, lest we be naive, these companies aren’t doing all this ONLY to make life easier for the artistically inclined. They wish to increase the population of pen users, and it’s working. The first Microsoft Tablet PCs, back in 2001, were a big flop with the public, though embraced by artists who saw their potential. It took Apple’s iPad to bring the gadget-using public into the tablet fold.
The more pencil and paperlike digital pens can get, the more people will use them, or so the company’s reasoning goes. And they seem to be right–pen tablets are expected to double in 2015 to 20 million, up from 10 million in 2015.
Universal’s the word
Microsoft may be going universal, but it’s not abandoning the N-trig tech that powers its popular Surface tablets. N-trig is an Israeli company that created this tech; Microsoft purchased the company in 2015 for $30 million. N-trig tech will still be present in the “DNA” of the new pens. But Wacom, with its many devices and long history. will be the one creating and manufacturing the new pens, using the Microsoft Pen Protocol under Wacom’s UPF (Universal Pen Framework).
There will be a firmware update for older Wacom digitizers that are G11 and G12. How that will work remains to be seen.
The upshot is that it’s all getting closer to the Apple Pencil, and to the modest wooden pencil as well. According to Wacom President & CEO Masahiko Yamada, “Supporting multiple protocols makes our pen incredibly fast and easy for people to write intelligent notes, be creative, and get productive when using Windows Ink on their Windows 10 devices…”
Echoing this message of harmony, Kevin Gallo, corporate VP of MS’s Windows Developer Platform, “Windows Ink makes it easy for people to turn their thoughts into actions…. People that use pens with their Windows 10 devices are happier, more engaged, more creative, and productive.”
Digital inking push
I’m including some photos from CES showing the move toward universality.
At Wacom’s universal ink spot at CES. Photo: Tablets for Artists
This new effort coincides with a push by Wacom in the digital-inking space. Wacom showed off its inking initiative during the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) earlier this year with these funky digital crayons, each with a unique ID, that allow worldwide collaboration with consistent colors. (These were just for show and I don’t know of any plans by the company to sell them, unfortunately.)
Masahiko Yamada also mentioned digital stationery as a product to develop. The Digital Stationery Consortium began on Jan. 7, 2016 and will be implemented across a range of business sectors.
A universal digitizer? This tablet, displayed at CES, allows the use of different types of pen on the same tablet. Photo: Tablets for Artists
I don’t this is going to affect Wacom EMR, which is still used in the Intuos, Cintiq, and some tablet PCs. Please check our post categories to see which tablets we’ve reviewed have which type of digitizer.
The word “universal” is music to my ears. It’s just so much easier. Chargers, pens, and other accessories are so much more accessible when you don’t need a different one for every device.
A reminder: the free upgrade to Windows 10 is ending on July 29, 2016, and some of these changes are going to be included in the next Win10 update, so if you’re holding back, you might want to take the plunge to Windows 10.
With this announcement of a Microsoft-Wacom pen pal pact, it looks like late 2016 has holiday cheer in store for digital artists.
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.
What are the best Wacom tablets for your needs? Understanding the Intuos and Intuos Pro lines
2016 Intuos lineup.
What’s the best Wacom tablet?
Graphics tablets are sometimes also called pen tablets, computer drawing pads, or digital drawing pads. Wacom, a Japanese company, is the leader in the tablet market. Wacom drawing tablets are the most popular, and considered to be the best quality. This article will help you find the best Wacom tablet for your needs.
There are many Intuoses to choose from. In the non-Pro line, there are quite a few models, with the main difference being the art programs that come with them.
Graphics tablets attach to your computer and you use your pen on the tablet. You cannot draw on the screen as you do with the Wacom Cintiq. Most artists getting into digital art begin with a graphics tablet rather than a tablet with screen, since this category has the most affordable options. Still, there are some tablets with screens, mainly portable tablets with art capabilities, that are less costly than the top graphics tablets.
Wacom Intuos tablets: Intuos Pro vs. Intuos Art vs. Intuos Draw
The Intuos line is comprised of the Intuos Pro and the Intuos, which includes the Intuos Art Pen & Touch and Intuos Draw.
All (both Pro and non-Pro) come bundled with art programs, depending which package you get, so you’re getting more for your money than just a tablet.
All Intuoses, indeed all graphics tablets, have palm rejection. If the pen is touching or hovering over the tablet, it will take precedence over your hand.
All come with a pen. The pens are battery-free and pressure-sensitive. The digitizer is traditional EMR, which is top of the line, along with the Apple’s iPad Pro digitizer. (For more on that, see our introductory article about tablets). For more on Wacom, check out their site. Because I find their site difficult to navigate, I’ve gone through it and digested the main info here, but there is additional information there.
You can use a desktop or laptop, Windows or Mac, with the Intuos. There’s no best Intuos tablet for Mac or PC, they work equally well with both.
Intuoses come with customizable Express Keys that you program in the driver. You can add more customizable functions using the Radial Menu, which shows on your computer screen.
Intuos Pro: Features
Intuos Pros are professional-level. They offer advanced features such support for pen tilt, and rotation sensitivity. Intuos Pro tablets also have higher specifications, with twice the resolution of the regular Intuos line (2540 lines per inch or LPI, vs. 5080 for the Pro line). So the Pro line has the highest LPI of all Wacom non-screen tablets, equal to the LPI of high-resolution Cintiqs.
The Intuos Pro’s Touch Ring functions as a scroll wheel, which can be useful to architects using design software such as CAD. You can also assign pen buttons to scroll.
All Intuos Pro have multitouch, so calling them Pro Pen and Touch is redundant, yet it’s still the name.
Here are the specs:
– 2,048 levels of pen pressure sensitivity in both pen tip and eraser
-multitouch, allowing gesturessuch as pan, rotate your artwork, zoom, and navigate
-Multi-function touch ring with 4 customizable functions
-Wi-fi kit included
-Customizable Express Keys are application-specific, i.e.., you can program them to different commands in different programs.
-Touch Ring with 4 programmable functions.
-battery-free Pro pen with tilt recognition
-corners light up to show active area
Intuos Pro Medium is considered the best size, as it gives you freedom and efficiency of movement while not taking up a lot of space.
Tilt sensitivity gives you a natural feeling. It’s when the tablet recognizes the angle you’re holding the pen at and changes the mark according to it, like a real pen on paper. The Pro allows this, as does the pen that comes with it.
Rotation sensitivity allows you to make complex, Spirograph-like patterns when you rotate the pen in various art programs. The Pro tablet accommodates this, but the pen that comes with the tablet doesn’t have this feature, it only has tilt.
To get rotation sensitivity, you need to buy the optional Wacom Art Pen, which has both tilt and rotation. See it on Amazon.
Intuos Pro sizes:
Intuos Pro Pen and Touch Small Total Size: 12.6 x 8.2 x 0.5 in Active area: 6.2 x 3.9 in Weight: 1.5 lbs. 6 Express Keys
Intuos Pro Pen and Touch Medium Total size: 15 x 9.9 x 0.5 in.
Active area: 8.8 x 5.5 in
8 Express Keys
Intuos Pro Pen and Touch Large
Total Size: 19.2 x 12.5 x 0.5 in
Active area: 12.8 x 8.0 in, Touch 11.8 x 7.5 in
Weight: 4 lbs.
8 Express Keys
Resolution: 5080 lpi
he Intuos Pros are larger than the non-Pros because of the large grip area and the buttons, but the active area of the Intuos Pro and Intuoses are almost the same.
Top pick: Intuos Pro Pen and Touch Medium. It’s the most versatile and most comfortable to use. You can use with a small or large monitor, and its high resolution makes it ideal for single or multiple displays. It’s large enough to allow comfortable arm movement and long strokes, but portable enough to fit into a laptop bag or backpack.
Of course, it’s what you’re comfortable with–some prefer the larger or smaller one. But the Medium is a favorite among many artists, designers, and photographers.
Pro Pen compatibility
The Pro Pen for the Intuos Pro line has an eraser end that also gets 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity. It has two programmable buttons and tilt sensitivity. It comes with a set of 5 standard nibs, and you can buy other nibs that vary your line, such as one that resembles a felt-tip pen.
It’s compatible with many Cintiqs and the older Intuos 4 and 5, but not with non-Pro Intuos tablets.
Intuos Art Pen and Touch tablets
Intuos Art Pen and Touch
The Wacom IntuosArt line (non-Pro) comes in four packages: Draw, Art, Photography, and Comic/Manga. It’s all the same tablet, but the bundled software is specialized for each creative practice.
Most of the Art line also has touch capability, but has 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity as opposed to 2,048, comes in Small and Medium (no Large), and does not come with the Wi-fi kit–that’s an optional purchase. The non-Pro line does not have tilt or rotation sensitivity.
The Photography tablet comes only in Small and the color black.
The Intuos Art comes in Small and Medium, and has software for digital painting. The Intuos Comic comes in Small, though there’s a Japanese Wacom tablet called Intuos Manga that comes in Medium.
Bundled software changes from time to time.
The Art, Photography, and Comic tablets all have touch. The Draw is the only one that doesn’t. (This is not true of non-Wacom graphics tablets, many of which do not have touch.)
Toggle off the Touch.
Touch speeds up workflow. If you don’t always want Touch, all the Intuoses have a toggle that let you turn off the feature. You may find you don’t use Touch at all.
Intuos Draw: the simplest: non-touch
The Intuos Draw comes only in small, and is blue or white. Like the others, It has four Express Keys. It doesn’t have touch.
Photoshop, Illustrator, and other art programs, as well as Mac and Windows operating systems, are increasingly integrated with touch. So getting one with touch prepares you for the future. But if you just want something simple, the Draw may be the best graphics tablet for you.
The pen that comes with the Intuos line does not have an eraser. You can erase using your art program instead. The Intuos Pen is different than the Pro Pen that comes with the Intuos Pro. The Intuos Pen is thinner and has no eraser end.
Best Wacom drawing tablet for beginners: Intuos Draw
The Intuos Draw is good if you’re starting out in the world of digital art. It doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles.
With Intuoses, most of the tablet is the active area. The buttons are in the top corners. The Intuoses have the benefit of saving desk space.
Small 6.0 x 3.7 in
Medium 8.5 x 5.3 in.
Most of the tablet is the active area. The dots on the tablet mark the active areas where you can map the tablet.
A note on Wacom Bamboo tablets: Many people still refer to Wacom tablets as Bamboo, since the Bamboo line was made for a very long time. Wacom still updates Bamboo drivers. The Intuos line was formerly known as Bamboo, and the Intuos 4 and 5 are now known as Intuos Pro.
Wacom still make a few Bamboo tablets, but they are not like the old ones–these are very basic ones meant more for signing documents. They are limited, and should not be confused with Wacom drawing tablets. Wacom also make some styluses bearing the name Bamboo. But those styluses are not for use with Bamboo or Intuos tablets! Maybe Wacom needs to come up with some new names. Many people still use Bamboo as almost a generic term for graphics tablets.
Ask yourself: What will you use it for? How large is your monitor? Will you use more than one display at a time? How much desk space do you have? Do you need to carry the tablet around? What’s your budget? Are you going to be happy with a tablet that does not have a screen? Do you have any problems such as repetitive strain injury (RSI)? If you do have RSI, a Small may cause cramping.
Choosing a size of Intuos/Intuos Pro
A good rule of thumb in finding the best Wacom tablet is that the tablet’s active area should be at least 1/3 the size of your computer screen, diagonally measured. So if you’ve got up to a 19″ screen, you need at least a 6″ in active area, which would be the Small size. Though it would work, you might feel constrained. When drawing on a small tablet, a small hand movement can cover a lot of space on the monitor, so you may find it hard to get good accuracy. You can zoom in on the drawing to help.
If you’re using a desktop or tablet with a keyboard, the keyboard is going to take up more room on your desk, so that’s one consideration. A desk with a slideout tray is useful to place the tablet or keyboard.
Using multiple displays? The settings will allow you to map the tablet to a horizontal area that works with more than one display.
Tablet resolution is much higher than monitor resolution, so you shouldn’t have resolution issues, unless perhaps you are using a small, non-Pro tablet on multiple high-res monitors.
A “too large” tablet, one larger than your screen, will still work if mapped to the monitor correctly.
Intuos Art Small:
8.5 inches x 10.75 inches x 0.25 inches
Active area: 6.0 x 3.7 in
Intuos Art Pen and Touch Medium
Total Size: 10.75 x 8.75 in.
Active Area: 8.5 x 5.3 in
Only the Pro comes in large.
Pick a Small Wacom drawing tablet if: you’re using the tablet mainly to lightly touch up photos, scrapbooking, or drawing or coloring if you don’t mind drawing small. Or, you have a small desk space, or if you need something really easy to carry.
Pick Medium if: you’re illustrating, or doing detailed photo editing or graphics, Medium is the best graphic tablet size, as you will be able to get more detail and precision. It’s the most comfortable for drawing, too. It will let you move your arms and shoulders, which is positive for drawing. It’s he best Wacom tablet for most uses. Like Goldilocks, you’ll probably find that the one in the middle is “just right.”
Pick Large (Pro only) if: you have a very large monitor or multiple displays. Large is not optimal for drawing. Your arm will be traveling a lot and it can get tiring.
This video shows a graphic designer using an Intuos with gestures (a small part of the video also shows a CIntiq).
Wacom drawing tablet with pen and multitouch
Wacom has an extensive YouTube channel with information and tutorials.
Conclusion: There are quite a few things to keep in mind in choosing an Intuos graphics tablet, including comfort, pen capabilities, desk space, and included software. Luckily, there are a lot to pick from, so finding the best Wacom tablet for your needs shouldn’t be too difficult.
Looking for a more affordable graphics tablet, or Wacom alternative? Check out our Huion 610 Pro review.
The Wacom Bamboo Smart stylus is one of the smallest, yet biggest developments unveiled at CES 2016. It’s a universal stylus for AES devices–well, not totally universal, since Wacom is only listing 5 devices it has tested it on, but it’s a great start, as that’s a good chunk of existing AES devices. And, perhaps it will work with other AES devices as well.
AES, Active Electrostatic, has really caught on in digitizers. It’s less expensive for companies to make than traditional Wacom EMR, and it’s more sensitive than N-trig as a drawing and note-taking pen. It’s a happy medium between N-trig and traditional Wacom EMR.
The long name for the pen is “Bamboo Smart for Select Tablets and 2-in-1 Convertible Devices,” (really trips off the tongue, huh?) which should not be confused with the Bamboo Smart for Samsung Galaxy Note, though they look similar. (To avoid other potential confusion, if you’re using a Wacom Bamboo graphics tablet, it will not work on that, it just uses the name Bamboo).
The Bamboo Smart stylus will be compatible with the Dell Venue 10 and Dell Venue 10 Pro 5000 series, the HP Elite X2 1012 G1, the Lenovo ThinkPad P40 Yoga, and the new Toshiba dynaPad N72.
It’s a bit fancier in build than a regular Wacom pen and has two programmable side buttons. The nibs are replaceable. The top has a cap that actually fits on the bottom (take that, Apple Pencil). The AAAA battery should keep you inking for a year if you use it 3 hours a day (of course, a lot of people might use it far more than that, so it’s good to have rechargeable batteries or keep spares). Note: AAAA batteries aren’t always for sale at the local drugstore–to find them, you might have to go to an electronics store or order them online.
The pen has 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity. It does not offer tilt sensitivity.
This is a valuable development, as is anything that makes life simpler. While people won’t necessarily need the smart stylus, it’s good to have an extra stylus other than the one that comes with a device.
It will be released from Wacom sometime this month (Feb. 2016) and I will update this post when it’s out.
You can see it Bamboo Smart Stylus in its packaging on the Wacom blog.
The ThinkPad X1 Yoga 2016 was released at CES this year. I’s a business laptop very similar to the X1 Carbon but with a touchscreen and active pen. It has several innovations. One is that one model sports an optional OLED display. That model will be released in April, 2016. OLED offers richer colors and deeper silky blacks. The second innovation is that the pen, which is battery-free and has 2048 levels of pressure sensitivity, can be charged in the chassis. This is already done with the iPad Pro using their digitizer, but it’s new for a PC with a Wacom digitizer. The third “first” is that at release time, it’s the thinnest and lightest 2-in-1 out there. Preliminary feedback has been positive for both the computer itself and the drawing experience. You don’t have to worry about pen batteries, and the laptop is plenty powerful enough for Photoshop and more. Like other ThinkPad Yogas, it bends into the traditional ThinkPad Yoga’s four modes and has the 360-degree swiveling hinge.
The computer is lightweight and downright skinny with a .66″ profile, and the The ThinkPad X1 Yoga could make artists very happy, if they can afford the price tag.
Display: 14″ screen, IPS (OLED option coming in April, 2016), 2K display (2560 x 1440), antiglare touchscreen
Dimensions (width, depth, height):
16.8″ width x 13.11″ x 9.01″ x 0.66″
mm: 333 x 229 x 16.8
OLED Version 17 13.11″ x 9.01″ x 0.67″
mm : 333 x 229 x 17
OS: WIndows 10, Home and Pro versions available
Weight: 2.8 lbs
Dockable Wacom ES active pen included
pen: 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity
Intel HD Graphics 520
Memory: Up to 16GB RAM and 1TB NVMe storage (that’s storage designed for SSDs). RAM not upgradeable after purchase.
Processor: i5 to i7
3 USB-3 ports (no USB-C)
full HDMI displayport
Graphics: Intel HD 520
360-degree hinge turns around; hinge opens and closes to 180 degrees (can open flat)
Retractable Lift-n-Lock keys (auto-retracts when folded to tablet mode)
Pen stored and charges in laptop body
WRITE-IT software understands and corrects your handwriting across apps
MicroSD and SIM card slots
optional 4G LTE
optional wireless dock
Lightweight, very portable weightwise at 2.8 lbs. and .66″ depth. Sizewise, the 14″ screen takes up more space.
Going back to earlier ThinkPads, the pen, with 2,048 pressure levels, gets stored inside the laptop body. But differing from earlier ThinkPads, this pen does not have a battery, but a tiny capacitor. To charge the pen, you can insert it into a port in the laptop (as with the iPad Pro’s Apple Pencil) and it only takes 15 seconds to get a charge that lasts up to 100 minutes. So you’ll never need to worry about pen downtime or pen batteries. AES pens do have a bit of jitter, as you can see in the video below, but it’s manageable. They do not suffer from the bad jitter around the edges of the screen that plagues traditional Wacom EMR. There is less parallax than EMR, and a slightly lower hover distance, the distance at which the pen causes anything to happen. It’s high enough to still have good palm rejection. The initial activation force is low–even though AES is similar to N-trig, to me it feels more on the Wacom side even when compared with the new Surface Pen.
Like other ThinkPad Yogas, this one has 4 modes, or positions: Laptop, Stand, Tablet, and Tent.
Because the ThinkPad X1 Yoga 2016 has Lift-n-Lock keys that disable the keyboard when folded into tablet mode, you will probably want to use an external USB or Bluetooth keyboard to access keyboard shortcuts when drawing in tablet mode. You could open the whole thing up into an open clamshell, since the hinge opens to 180 degrees, but it’s awkward to draw that way. The keyboard is full-size and backlit.
You might not want the OLED model, because the screen can burn in.
The pen that comes with the Yoga skinny, though the length is decent. You might want to buy a thicker pen if you prefer to draw with one. (I’m searching for a link to that pen).
Traditionally, Ultrabooks have exchanged power for portablity, but this one has plenty of power.
The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga can run full desktop programs such as Photoshop, Illustrator, Manga, and all that, as well as Metro Apps such as Fresh Paint.
The poor laptop was put to military-grade endurance tests against moisture, drops, fungus, and more. The full-size, backlit keyboard is spillproof. Speaking as one who once fried a motherboard with lemonade, I appreciate that.
Here’s Lisa Gade’s video Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga 2016 drawing demo. As you can see, the Wacom pen settings are pretty much the same as for traditional EMR Wacom pen settings.
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.
1.27 lbs. (576 g) without keyboard, 2.2 lbs. (997 g) with keyboard
Excellent, as it’s so lightweight. Will need a case to protect it, unless you have the keyboard attached and covering the tablet face.
The TruNote handwriting app is set up for either hand, making this a good choice for southpaws.
Intel Atom x5-Z8300 (2MB Cache, up to 1.84 GHz), 1.44GHz base
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
4GB (cannot be upgraded by user)
64GB solid state flash memory
WHAT’S IN THE BOX
Tablet – Signature Edition, meaning much less bloatware
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)
Micro HDMI, 2-Micro USB 2.0 port
Micro SD/SDHC/SDXC Card slot
Headphone/microphone combo port
not replaceable by user (as is standard with tablets)
2.2 lbs (tablet with keyboard)
I 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 with optional keyboard that connects via magnets. Click image to see more info at the Microsoft Store.
At release time, this is the thinnest, lightest Windows 10 tablet around.
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.
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)
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.
generous 12″ size good for drawing
3:2 aspect ratio good for drawing
maximum pressure sensitivity
metal, fine-tipped pen
Microsoft Signature Edition, less bloatware
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.
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.
In this video by Wacom Americas, artist Barbara Leitzow shows how to use the oil paint tools in ArtRage to paint a portrait using the Intuos Draw. ArtRage is an affordable digital painting program with tons of fun features, such as brushes that look like real oil paint, and even glitter (can’t go wrong with glitter). If you don’t want to sink the money into expensive digital art software at this time, ArtRage is a great place to start (and you may even decide to continue with it)–it has mobile and desktop (Mac and PC) versions. The program supports Wacom features such as Tilt and Rotation, and even has settings for various Wacom styluses. It has layers and blending modes, and you can choose different canvas textures. ArtRage gives you a lot of control and customization abilities. It’s optimized for touch, with a lot of tools on-screen. It gives you the ability to mirror and duplicate strokes. The interface is simple and intuitive. It’s as easy as drawing with crayons.
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.
Intel Atom Z3735F processor
16:10 aspect ratio
64 GB storage
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
HDMI video out
Pen does not have removeable nibs.
The tablet, pen (called Trupen) with lanyard
One-year subscription to Office 365™ Personal plus unlimited OneDrive storage (subject to change)
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.
The screen resolution is not that high, but for this price you would not expect it to be.
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.
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.
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.
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.
relatively affordable art tablet with screen
cameras do OK in low light
Pen and tablet are both fast and responsive
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.
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.
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.