30 Jan 2011

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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4 GB
8 inch
1024 x 768
13 hours

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 Tablet PCs 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
9.7 inches
1024 x 768|
10 hours


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
13.3 inches
1280 x 800
3 hours

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
11,6 inches
1366 x 768
4 hours

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
30 GB
11,6 inches
4 hours

– 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
10 inches
PixelQi 1024 x 600
16 hours

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
32 GB
10.1 inches
1280 x 800
10 hours

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.


  • Manos Kalaitzoglou
    January 31, 2011

    Excellent review. Noteslate looks very charming (and cheap!) and i will definitely check it out as a portable sketchpad solution. I agree with the ipad approach, VERY addictive and excellent travel companion but not so useful as a painting medium.

  • Sidhe
    March 30, 2011

    Thanks! this was interesting. I have a Motion 1600 and it is great but too cramped space wise. If only they would invent a machine like this with an 11x 14 inch screen I would be in drawing heaven. I saw that there was one once.. I think it was a Dell or something but I can’t find one anywhere.

  • Ja’Quavius Jones
    April 13, 2011

    I would really like to start out with the NoteSlate, just to get a feel for drawing digitally!
    Thanks for the information! Because I’ve been looking for a tablet worthy of purchase and functionality for about 4 days.

  • Rettege66
    June 12, 2011

    Verizon is installing a new network to replace its clunky CDMA
    technology and Verizon hopes to have devices ready to operate by early
    2011 that will be able to stream video at speeds comparable to or
    exceeding that of AT&T’s current network.

  • Mushu
    September 3, 2011

    Add the np10:10 from yiynova too(1024 levels pressure on it <3). Thanks to asf posting in the box comments about cintiq alternative, i discovered this incredible product, unfortunately no more infos :/.(apologize for my english, im french :p)

  • Nanooks3
    October 14, 2011

    This is a great review thank you for the useful info. This is kind of a different approach to your theme but actually has to do with the udraw that was released for the wii. I’m pretty excited for nintendos new system with the portable touch screen. And I think it would be amazing if they released an art program it that allows you to draw in front of you and while collaborating with te larger image on the big screen. Probably won’t be portable but just a hopeful though heh.

  • Guest
    November 23, 2011

    Oh nice, thanks for your

  • USB 3G
    December 3, 2011

    Well, interesting post,

  • tablet pc review
    December 7, 2011

    this is really a gr tab, it really comes with an gr8 features, the application use is awesome…

  • Hy Tony Lee
    December 15, 2011

    Hey~  How about HTC’s Flyer?  Have you ever had the chance to use it??

  • Gavalakis Vaggelis
    December 16, 2011

    No, I had no chance to use it, but I read some really bad things about it and for it’s price tag I’m sure there are far better options I believe. It seems it’s drawing capabilities are quite…basic.

  • USB 3G Viettel
    January 13, 2012

    I am really glad I read this article! With this it has really helped me with my decision.

  • Austin GilaHead Holmes
    January 27, 2012

    Does anyone know if the noteslate is out yet, because the picture says coming to the market June 2011

  • Mark
    June 25, 2012

    LG has a new foldable e-ink screen in high resolution for e-readers.
    it should be very good in combination with a wacom like pressure sensitive pen for drawing.
    why can’t they design such a thing?
    as an artist i would buy it.
    now i have a motion 1600. it is good, but batterys are not long lasting.

  • Erikstalhammar
    July 26, 2012

    You should add the new galaxy note as well as the new galaxy tab

  • Amarezoth
    August 4, 2012

    Hi there. Nice finding these tablets. But i think you forgot a rare piece. I use an Acer Travelmate C202 tmi. It has a pressure sensitive screen, runs on Windows XP, It has a single core 1.7 Ghz Intel Pentium M, 12.1 ” screen and you can flip up the screen to have a real keyboard. Ok, it´s a bit heavy with 2,3 kg but for drawing it´s awesome. I got mine for about 160,00 €. These small Travelmates are the C200 Series and the newer C210 Series with dual core. But because these things aren´t produced anymore, so it´s hard to find any of these…

  • kbarb
    May 4, 2013

    Thanks for the great review – very helpful to get started.

    One thing – it would be really helpful to put the entire date, prominently – otherwise you have no idea how dated the article is. It says 30-Jan, but no year, although you can kind of figure out from the comments that it’s around 2011.

  • Gavalakis Vaggelis
    May 14, 2013

    You are certainly right about that. The new web theme that I’ve upgraded the website to unfortunately doesn’t come as-is to show the year. I should dig into it and see how to make year show. Thanks for feedback :-)

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    January 7, 2015

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