Tablet PCs for Digital Artists
Who would not want to have a portable sketching and drawing medium plus the digital bonus you have on your computer. Being able to draw on the go is great and also being able to draw-where-you-watch like on paper is also great. Pen tablets like Intuos can’t do either. Wacom’s Cintiq is too expensive for me to afford plus it’s not portable at all, so I start looking for alternatives and here is what I’ve found so far. Most Tabet PCs now support pressure, usually at 256 pressure points. This is done through a technology called digitizer. The most commonly used and probably the best is Wacom’s Penabled Digitizer technology, which is available only in Windows based Tablet PCs. As a result, this leaves the Android based Tablets a bit lagging behind in what we are looking for here; a Tablet PC for drawing.
For that, the screen size of the Tablet is important as is the battery life since I wouldn’t like for it to turn off in the middle of inspiration.
Boogie Board – $ 40 !
Wait, wait… This is not a Tablet PC. It has no operating system or applications. It does just one thing in it’s simplest from, but for it’s price it looks fantastic. Take note, that it doesn’t save your sketch in any format. But then again, you can always take a picture of your sketch if you want to. I’m going to write a review as soon as I get a hold on my own. You get what you pay they say.
ASUS Eee Note – $ 230
The ASUS Eee Note is a very lightweight Tablet PC. Although it’s not targeted towards drawing, it can be certainly used for that. It’s battery life is phenomenal but that is due to it’s greyscale screen which is also anti-glare and thus perfect as an ebook reader as well. Worth of note is that it runs on Linux OS and sketching is done in the application that comes within only. Also it can be used as a Wacom tablet if connected to your PC.
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1024 x 768
Apple iPad – $ 500
Everyone knows iPad. I’ve used it and I loved it, but still don’t have one. Anyway. iPad has many drawing and sketching applications like Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, that are really awesome, but what iPad lacks is pressure sensitivity. This is an exception to the listed here since every other tablet supports pressure, but I felt like including iPad in the list as to a solution for portable digital sketching and drawing medium. One of the biggest complains about iPad is it’s connectivity, since it doesn’t even have a USB port. If you get an iPad, I recommend that you also get a stylus pen like Pogo Sketch for better feeling.
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Apple A4 1GHz
16 to 64 GB
1024 x 768|
Axiotron Modbook – $ 2,000
Now this is a very expensive product, but I list it here nontheless. Axiotron Modbook is the only Tablet PC with a Mac operation system. That means every Mac software can run on this Tablet. It’s actually a MacBook made into a Tablet PC. By getting a ModBook you will probably not use it just for a portable digital sketching pad, but rather many more things since it’s powerful. Note that it is not so lightweight like others.
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Intel Core 2 Duo
120 to 320 GB
1280 x 800
ExoPC – $ 624
Compared to others, ExoPC slate seems to be the only Tablet PC running on Windows 7 that doesn’t get laggy and slow. ExoPC has it’s own unique UI as a frontend to Windows 7 that makes the Tablet easier to interact with. An interesting feature of ExoPC is the HDMI port that lets you connect ExoPC to external screens. So, for a Windows Tablet PC, I believe this is the way to go.
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Intel Atom 1.66 GHz
SSD 32 to 64 GB
1366 x 768
Motion Computing LE1600 – from $ 200 (used)
The LE series has been discontinued, but you can still find either model around the net starting from about $ 300. Motion Computing Tablets run on Windows and generally they are considered very good Tablet PCs.
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Pentium M 758 1.5 GHz
– To be released –
NotionInk Adam – $ 400
The Adam tablet is one of the first Tablet PCs that use the PixelQi screen technology and the Nvidia Teggra 2 processor. Adam is supposed to work on a customized Android OS, named Eden. Adam has million of fans around the world waiting patiently to see weather this device will truly come out at this price and features, or it’s just a myth. Let’s wait and see.
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Nvidia Teggra 2 – 1 GHz dual core
PixelQi 1024 x 600
Motorola XOOM – $ 1,150
The Xoom Tablet PC from Motorola is supposed to be the first to use Android version 3 (honeycomb), which is especially designed for Tablet PCs.
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Nvidia Teggra 2 – 1 GHz dual core
1280 x 800
NoteSlate – $ 100
“NoteSlate is a low cost tablet device with true one colour display, real paper look design, long life battery (180h !), together with very handy usage and very simple and helpful interface for pen and paper. This easy, compact and portable gadget is used anywhere you want to make any notes, drafts, sketches, any ideas for future reference. Paper for everyone! Write a note and check it later, save it, or delete it. Maybe send it after. Just one colour is enough to express the basics. Keep your life simple. You will love it. For $99″
Now here are some things you should know and have for optimal performance:
Wacom’s Driver that most Tablet PC don’t have installed. You should get this to enable pressure sensitivity to Penabled Wacom Tablet PCs.
TabTip-Tamer is an ESSENTIAL application that eliminates cursor lag when using many graphics apps that utilize Wacom’s pressure sensitive Penabled pen driver on the Tablet Pc.
Hard Felt Nibs (10 pack) from Wacom is a good way to get a more natural feeling with a stylus pen.
And because everyone likes shortcuts and most Tablet PCs has no or very few buttons on them, get something portable like the ElekTex Keyboard. A flexible fabric keyboard.
In conclusion, the iPad has some nice drawing applications, its very usable and it’s battery last long, but it doesn’t support pressure sensitivity which is a big disadvantage for what we are looking for here. Even the absence of the USB port is important. For something simple and cheap, the Eee Note or even the NoteSlate seems compelling to be honest, but for a more complete solution and a device that can do a bit more than just simple sketching and reading, I would consider an ExoPC for it’s big screen, Windows OS, ports and resolution. The only major downside would be the battery life.