Best Tablet for an Artist?

Discussion in 'What Tablet PC Should I Buy?' started by Firefairy, Dec 31, 2008.

  1. Firefairy

    Firefairy Chaos Artist

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    First, the cut-and-paste:

    General Questions.

    1. What is your budget?
    Exactly $1500 (Xmas present, I'm stone broke otherwise.)

    2. Do you prefer a Slate, Convertible or Ultra Mobile PC (UMPC)?
    Convertible would be nice, but other considerations are more important.

    3. What size Tablet PC would you prefer?

    * Small and light ~ 5" to 8.9"
    * Compact ~ 10"
    * Mainstream ~ 12.1"
    * Large ~ 14"

    Definitely Large- screen real estate is a major concern. I am very worried about the idea of drawing on a screen that is smaller than a sheet of notebook paper, although I do see other artists buying the 12" screens...

    4. Which country do you intent to purchase from?
    US

    5. Do you have any preferences to brand loyalty or dislikes?
    I love Wacom tablets.

    6. How many hours battery life do you require?
    A few? Enough for a decent sketching session away from an outlet.

    7. What do you intend to use the Tablet for?
    Drawing and computer art primarily, with secondary use in Office and web access.

    8. Do you have an OS preference?
    I would prefer XP, not a huge fan of Vista.

    9. What software and tasks do you intend to run?
    Painter IX, PhotoImpact X3, Office 2k3, Firefox, Thunderbird.

    10. Do you intend playing Games. If so please list.
    Being able to run GuildWars would be nice, but is definitely not essential.

    Screen Specifics

    1. Do you prefer standard or widescreen?
    Standard if possible, better aspect for drawing.

    2. What resolution do you prefer?

    * XGA - 1024x768 ~ Large and easy to read text and graphic icons but you fit less on the screen.
    * SXGA - 1400x1050 ~ Small text and graphic icons which require good vision but the gain is a much larger screen. (no longer available new, must look for used or refurbished machines)
    * WXGA - 1280x768 ~ Wider viewing angle of XGA but ideal for viewing Spreadsheets and other programs that require desktop space. (Only resolution available in new tablets circa mid 2008)

    SXGA or WXGA- as high-res as I can get.

    3. Do you require an Indoor only or Indoor/Outdoor screen option?
    See explanation below for guidance.

    Indoor/Outdoor would be much preferable, I like drawing landscapes. Shade is usually available, however.

    4. Do you require a Passive or Active Digitizer?
    See explanation below for guidance.

    Definitely Active. I need a pen, and I don't like finger-touch controls at all.

    5. Do you require Wacom, Finepoint, or N-Trig Technology?
    See explanation below for guidance.

    As mentioned, I would much prefer Wacom, but the key is good quality and responsiveness.

    Component Specifics

    1. What size Hard Drive and Memory do you require?
    Probably any modern Tablet will have enough HD, maybe 100G minimum to be safe? Memory, as much as I can get, minimum 1G or so.

    2. Do you require an Optical Drive?

    It would help a lot with backups and installs, but I can get an external if I need to. Pen and Graphics quality are much more important.

    3. Do you require ability to add a second Battery or Hard Drive (Modular Bay technology)?

    Again, would be very nice, but not the prime consideration.

    Misc
    1. Other non specific items ~ please add other items you require not covered above?

    My chances of being able to replace this if it dies are pretty much nil, so sturdiness and/or a good warranty (if there is one to be had) are important. I plan to baby it, but I really need to avoid models with major known problems. I will be using it a lot, but I don't currently have much of a schedule, so having to send it away for service would be unpleasant rather than impossible.

    I don't know if it's even possible to get one without any more, but onboard wireless helps a lot. More relevantly, I would like one with some forward compatibility, so up to 1k would be good.

    2. Additional requests ~ anything other you wish to take into consideration?


    I don't really need much in the way of security features to protect my data, such as fingerprint locks, but theft prevention features would be much appreciated.

    I don't care if it is heavy, I am a sit-down-and-draw type anyway.

    I don't care if it is the latest model as long as it can do what I need it to do. The TravelMate C310s were my running favorite when I first started daydreaming about this, but I figure I might as well consider some of the more recent models. The Gateway C-143XL was looking pretty good, but the reviews I have seen of it don't look so hot, and as it won't run the most recent edition of Photoshop, I'm worried about its capabilities with Painter and PhotoImpact.

    I am basically buying this as a drawing pad with computer capabilities on the side. What should I get? :confused:
     
  2. Firefairy

    Firefairy Chaos Artist

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    Looking at the other threads and reviews, I must admit that the Fujitsu t4220 looks pretty yummy, and there are some on eBay in my price range... I'm still a little paranoid about the screen size, though. I had a 12" iBook for a short while (I am so not a Mac person), and the screen drove me nuts with its eensyness. Maybe it was the low resolution bothering me, rather than the size?
     
  3. freedomeagle

    freedomeagle Pen Pal - Newbie

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    I'm a cartoonist and I'm used to a Cintiq, so I find the 12" screen a bit restrictive when pencilling and inking. If you like drawing nice big sweeps you'll soon get sick of barrelling off the edge of the screen.

    I'd go for a tablet with a 13.3" inch WXGA screen if you can. You will really feel the benefit. The Asus R2E is all right and has a lovely screen for drawing on with a very pleasant "tooth" to it (though battery life not great without the modular battery), the Fujitsu T5010 is a true luxury item at that size but outside your budget I think.
     
  4. Firefairy

    Firefairy Chaos Artist

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    Darn, that's exactly what I was worried about. I barely manage not to inadvertently go off the edge in my (dead trees) sketchbook most of the time, and it's bigger than even the largest tablet screens. I would love to get a Cintiq, but I'm a new artist, and at the moment, not successful enough to afford it. I figured out a while ago that a tablet PC was my best bet for getting to draw on the screen, but the small screens make me nervous, as my biggest strength is expressive line, which doesn't work very well when you have to scroll to finish a stroke.

    The eBay gods are mocking me... there is one Fujitsu T5010 for sale with a BIN price of $1550 and no shipping cost, but I literally have no wiggle room. The agony!
     
  5. frog

    frog Scribbler - Standard Member

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    If you can stretch to it, I would recommend the T5010, it's a very powerful tablet with an excellent and beautiful screen. For Photoshop it's as snappy as a desktop computer and I personally wouldn't want the screen any smaller (I would think the T4220 would be quite a bit more cramped).

    Here's a sketch I painted on mine recently:

    [​IMG]
     
  6. Firefairy

    Firefairy Chaos Artist

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    That's really nice... okay, time to start figuring out who I can borrow money from. If I can hit up five friends for $10 apiece before someone snaps up the one I found on eBay, I have a chance... :-J
     
  7. DRTigerlilly

    DRTigerlilly Tablet Lead Mod (Retired) Super Moderator

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    Also take a look at the Fujitsu Outlet on Ebay you might be able to get a good deal that way.
     
  8. Firefairy

    Firefairy Chaos Artist

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    <pouty lip> But... but.. but... I want one now, never mind that I could save hundreds of dollars or get a better model if I'm patient!</pouty>

    ;) Thanks for the reminder.
     
  9. frog

    frog Scribbler - Standard Member

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    Also if you do get a T5010, or indeed any other tablet, I strongly recommend you go with Vista, it's basically the best OS to use on a Tablet PC. I still have XP on my desktop, but I wouldn't consider it on the tablet, Vista is just that much better.
     
  10. Grimnir

    Grimnir Think tank & Designer Senior Member

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    I'd like to bump the T5010 here as well.

    Though I want to point out that the x4500MHD IGP does not support the OpenGL capabilities of Adobe CS4 (Specifically Photoshop CS4).

    Its not a big deal though, everything else runs fine. :) As soon as I get my designs copywritten I will post some art Iv'e done on my T5010 myself.
     
  11. DRTigerlilly

    DRTigerlilly Tablet Lead Mod (Retired) Super Moderator

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    Another feature that makes Fujitsu's in general great for artist or graphically based professions/interests, is the fact that the machines buttons are customizable.
     
  12. Grimnir

    Grimnir Think tank & Designer Senior Member

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    a quick suggestion to those people who are worried about drawing on a "smaller" screen or have trouble Staying on the screen:

    Do you original linkwork on paper, then scan your drawing onto the computer and finish it on your tablet PC . Its good practice until you are comfortable enough using the tablet for all the stages of your artwork.
     
  13. Firefairy

    Firefairy Chaos Artist

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    Is the stability okay? I have heard very bad things about speed and stability, but if the Tablet integration is better enough to balance it out, I suppose I can cope...
     
  14. frog

    frog Scribbler - Standard Member

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    Speed and stability are absolutely great :)
     
  15. freedomeagle

    freedomeagle Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Unless you have a very steady knee, I recommend getting a stand for your tablet for art. I bought a Kensington Easy Riser for peanuts, it is light and very robust.

    But a Cintiq is a hefty piece of studio equipment, you can really lean on them. If you want to try one out, have a look for 15Xs (the original 15 inch Cintiq) on eBay. They're only 1024x768 resolution but if you stick all your palettes on your primary monitor and use the Cintiq as a secondary there's plenty of room to draw. I've drawn and coloured hundreds of comics on mine over the last year - I intended to upgrade but never really needed to. If you don't like it, you should be able to sell it for what you paid for it (I think I paid about £400).

    Re: Vista

    I had a lot of problems with Vista on my tablet - slow (agonising might be more like it) bootup times, waking from sleep when closed and running down the battery, the screen not coming on after waking from sleep. But the tablet features are really great for handwriting recognition etc. If you're using a lot of art software, things like Vista's pen flicks can interfere with the art tools, it really is a case of give it a go and see how it feels. I downgraded to XP in the end and if you have to do that you will find it is no great loss.
     
  16. DRTigerlilly

    DRTigerlilly Tablet Lead Mod (Retired) Super Moderator

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    freedomeagle? did you ever do a clean install of Vista, I think if you did you'd be hard pressed to find any difference between XP & Vista on the performance front.
     
  17. freedomeagle

    freedomeagle Pen Pal - Newbie

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    I will give it a go DRT! I was keen to do a clean install but need to get my hands on another hard drive as I don't want to wreck my nice stable XP system for the sake of tinkering with it. Even though we all love tinkering!
     
  18. Grimnir

    Grimnir Think tank & Designer Senior Member

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    you know you can tweak your vista install to startup an shutdown quickly right..?
     
  19. freedomeagle

    freedomeagle Pen Pal - Newbie

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    I know you can very successfully put the screws to Windows if you try, (I managed wonders with XP on very low powered machines back on the day) but my sleep blackscreen problems meant I never got to that point with Vista.
     
  20. Grimnir

    Grimnir Think tank & Designer Senior Member

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    I gotta say no version of Windows has been without its sleep issues. -_- I really hope Windows 7 fixes that. I sincerely do!

    let us know if you make any headway though eagle :) I totally understand you not wanting to use the same hdd to do your experimenting with.
     
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