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Asus VivoTab Note 8 Review: Wacom in a small tablet

Asus VivoTab Note 8 Review: digital drawing in a pint-sized package, with Windows

by Tablets for Artists

 

asus vivotab note 8 review

ASUS VivoTab Note 8, 64GB

 Also see our review of the Toshiba Encore Write 2 , new in 2015.

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.

 

For Lefties

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.

 

Features

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
Bluetooth 4.0
microUSB slot
microSDXC slot
GPS

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.

 

asus vivotab note 8 review2

Portability

At 12.8 oz., it’s easy to tote along.

 

What’s Included

The tablet, charger, micro-USB cable, quickstart guide and documentation, warranty, and a license for Microsoft Office Home & Student 2013 edition.

 

Screen

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.

 

Stylus

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.

 

Controls

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.

 

Software

Comes with One Note, Microsoft Office, and you can use any Windows programs, including Photoshop, Illustrator, etc.

 

Battery Life

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.

Pros

Wacom digitizer and pen at much lower price than larger tablet PCs or Cintiqs

portable, light

Rubberized back can take a fall

Excellent battery life

Good handwriting recognition; will convert handwriting to text

Comes bundled with Office

Cons

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

The Verdict

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.

See more info, reviews and price

 

Optional Accessories

IVSO Bluetooth Keyboard Portfolio Case

Stylish Versa Sleeve

Here’s an illustrator doing her thing on a VivoTab Note 8:

https://youtu.be/LUamQBAvJRE

 

 

End of Asus VivoTab Note 8 review

intousartpentouch

Intuos Art Pen and Touch Small review

Intuos Art Pen and Touch Small review

by Tablets for Artists

This Intuos Art Pen and Touch Small review takes a look at this affordable and very portable tablet. Whether you want to make art, edit photos, or just switch from a mouse or trackpad, this offering from Wacom packs in a lot of useful features.

 

 

intousartpentouch

Intuos Art Pen and Touch on Amazon

TYPE OF TABLET

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.

What’s included

Pen

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

USB cord

You can also download drivers from the Wacom site.

Requires Mac 10.8. or above or Windows 7 or above.

FEATURES

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.

TABLET

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.

Drawing on the Intuos Art Creative Pen & Touch

The pressure sensitivity works very well. It’s not as sensitive as tablets with higher amounts of levels, but that doesn’t bother me. I like the scratchy surface. The only problem I find is the size. Because I draw fairly large then shrink down, I find I have to zoom in a lot on my drawings. So I tend to use this more as a companion to other tablets or for smaller drawings. Still, I’m very satisfied with the feel, quality, and sensitivity.

Tablet learning tips

Having a non-screen tablet forces more looseness in drawing and requires practice. When learning, it’s best to keep the tablet straight and directly in front of the computer, and to use it for everything, including word processing, instead of a mouse or trackpad.

Keeping it right in front you will considerably lessen confusion about points on the surface that correspond with your screen. Eventually, muscle memory will set in and you can move the tablet around.

PORTABILITY

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.

STYLUS

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.

 SOFTWARE

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.

FOR LEFTIES

The tablet is reversible, so it’s fine whether you are right-handed or left-handed.

GESTURES

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.

 

artist-with-intuos-small

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.

PROS

USB cable is detachable from the tablet, so you can use one that has a longer cord if you want Great response time.

Accurate pen.

CONS

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.

TIP:

Try using a screen protector (see link below, under Optional Accessories) or even just a sheet of regular paper over the tablet.

 

THE VERDICT

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.

See our review of the Wacom Intuos Draw.

If you find the USB cord to be too short, we recommend this USB extension as a simple solution.

Read our introductory article about tablets.

OPTIONAL ACCESSORIES

You’ll have less cord clutter with the wireless kit.

 

end of Intuos Art Pen and Touch Small Review