Best Tablet PC for Photoshop Artist? AKA What should I buy?

Discussion in 'What Tablet PC Should I Buy?' started by artsoul, Dec 1, 2007.

  1. rjayx

    rjayx Pen Pal - Newbie

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    OK,

    Before you all yell at me, I have read lots of posts about the best tablet pc for art, etc. and even after reading them, I still come away unsure and a little confused. I am hoping to get your opinions and advice on this planned purchase. I thank you all in advance for taking the time to sort through another "What should I buy/best art tablet pc" post.

    Here's my deal:

    I am planning a purchase of a tablet pc with a maximum price limitation of $2300 (spending less is always preferred, though!) in the next month or so to use for the following:

    1. As a digital sketchbook and painting tool (Photoshop/Ilustrator/Flash/maybe Alias Sketchbook Pro)
    2. For 2D texture painting in Photoshop for 3D model textures (will NOT be using as a 3D machine -ONLY for painting the 2D textures in Photoshop, although it would be great if I could simply open my 3D app (Maya) for a few minutes just to briefly examine the placement/appearance of the textures on a model. Again, I won't be doing any hardcore 3D modeling or animation on the tablet - I have a desktop for that.
    3. Flash animation
    4. General use - web surfing/e-mail/typing up documents in Word occasionally
    5. Playing the occasional game - I know tablet pcs are not good for gaming, but it would be nice if I could play a round of Battle for Middle-Earth II, hop on Lord of the Rings Online or maybe Second Life every once in a while, even if it has to be on the lowest settings.

    Ideally, I would like a tablet with the following features (in order of priority):

    1. Runs Photoshop well (as well as a tablet pc can, anyway - I am aware of the Intel integrated lame graphics cards in them)
    2. Wacom digitzer technology
    2. The highest resolution active display I can get (SXGA or perhaps one of the widescreens is good?), for size of screen I am OK with 12", although larger would be nice (not a deal-breaker though)
    3. Convertible (I will use this for other things, and need the keyboard)
    4. Runs Vista (either Home Ultimate or Business)
    5. Wireless is a must - currently have a "g" network at home, however, it would be nice to "future-proof" this tablet pc with pre-n though. I am assuming I could also upgrade the wireless card later too, so not the biggest deal.
    6. Can handle 2GBs of RAM
    7. DVD/CD drive either built-in or as add-on (so I can install Photoshop and other apps on it as well as burn the occasional back-up)
    8. Can get with a 7200rpm hard drive installed (60GB - 100GB is great)

    Other features that would be nice but are not deal-breakers:
    1. Firewire would be great, not a deal-breaker though
    2. A nice industrial design (it would be nice if it doesn't look totally ugly)

    I will be using this tablet pc indoors almost exclusively, transporting it between home and work (via car) and using it at occasional meetings. I would also like to be able to sit in a comfy chair or on a bed and sketch with it.

    I have looked at a number of reviews here and on Cnet and other places, and came down to the following models as my current top picks:

    1. Fujitsu Lifebook T4215
    2. Lenovo X60 (with the base so I can have an optical drive)
    3. Toshiba Portege M400
    4. The Asus R1F

    Here's where I'm at:

    - I am more familiar with either Toshiba or Lenovo as a brand, and I've used regular laptops from both in the past and generally had good experiences with them. I've never used anything from Fujitsu or Asus, so I feel a little more uncertain about them.

    - I like the looks of the Toshiba and the Asus best, but this is purely cosmetic, I know. Lenovo's laptop isn't the prettiest, but I can live with it. Fujitsu's is overall quite cool, although I'm not keen on where the pen is stored. Performance is obviously more important, and although I could potentially pick any of these, I thought I'd mention my preference in this area just as a side note.

    - It appears the Fujitsu and the Lenovo have the best specs/performance in Photoshop in some of the reviews. Is this true? Does anyone with an M400 feel that Photoshop runs pretty well on their M400? Or how about the Asus?

    - Although not a deal-breaker, I find having to buy the base and optical drive as add-ons for the Lenovo somewhat incovenient, as well as the fact that the optical drive won't be built-in. I guess the trade-off might be worth it, though, given the high performance marks this tablet pc seems to be getting. Also, I guess it might be cool to have a lighter tablet because of this.

    Based on my outline above of how I'll be using it and other observations, does anybody have any other considerations I should be aware of? Any horror stories with a certain brand or for that matter, stories of excellent customer service? Does anyone have any regrets with any of the above models? Or feel the one they bought is great? Which of those four would you buy and why? Did I leave a better choice off my list?

    Looking forward to any and all input. Thank you all in advance!
     
  2. P8RSON

    P8RSON Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    Shogmaster is your man to talk to on art & illustration....... he is most suited to starting this off.
    It's his area of expertise. :)
     
  3. Shogmaster

    Shogmaster Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    You know, I faced similar decision recently and I ended up getting the already discontinued R25 because of these reasons:

    - largest screen (I find drawing on 12" screens too small for doing quality drawings)
    - Bezel free LCD casing design (snagging on bezel while doing large sweeping strokes drove me nuts on my old Cintiq 15X)
    - highest resolution screen @1440x900 (some apps like Painter just needs lots of screen space for it's palettes to be spread out to be efficient for workflow, and I found even 1280x800 too restricting)
    - Wacom digitizer
    - Core Duo/Core 2 Duo
    - 4GB of RAM max

    Now you are probably thinking, "alot of good that does me jerk. There are no more R25s out there!". Well yes and no. You can still find the business market cousin, the M7, still brand new ready to be purchased. You won't find Core 2 Duo, nor even faster than 1.66GHz CPU option, but I find my 1.6GHz R25 fast enough for all my art needs so it shouldn't be a big factor for your purchase consideration. Also, none of these M7s has the Quadro option included. But they are only around $1500 and you won't be doing 3D on the run so there you go. Here are some M7 links:

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834114244
    http://www.euclidcomputers.com/frameset.cgi?finditem+laptop+Toshiba+PTM70U-00D009
    http://www.alltp.com/store/detail.aspx?ID=361

    Also, if you happen to be living in the San Francisco area, downtown CompUSA store still has a R25 in stock for $1400!

    http://www.compusa.com/products/pro..._code=341678&Pn=Satellite_R25_S3513_Tablet_PC

    Good luck with your decision.
     
  4. rjayx

    rjayx Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Wow! Thanks, you guys. The M7 looks like a great option, especially for the price. I'd jump on that R25 if I could, but unfortunately, I'm down in southern Cal, so too far.

    I think I might go for the M7 you suggested, as it pretty much has everything I was looking for with the bonus of the larger screen as well! I do, however, have just a few last (easy, I hope) questions in order of priority before I determine to pull the trigger on this:

    1. Do you think I'll run into any problems if I try to upgrade the M7 to Vista (Business or Home Premium)? I've seen a number of posts that indicate the tablet experience is better with Vista (better responsiveness w/ pen, etc.), so if I go with the M7 I'd like to upgrade it to Vista right away if it won't be a nightmare.

    2. I've read a number of reviews and posts mentioning the graininess of Toshiba's tablet pc screens. As an R25 owner, what are your thoughts on this? Is the screen annoyingly grainy or bothersome when you are drawing/image editing? Or is it situation where you "just get used to it" to the point that it's not really a big deal at all.

    3. I know the M7 is a widescreen, so when the tablet is in portrait mode, does the screen still feel wide enough to draw on comfortably?

    4. I noticed the M7 has a Core Duo processor (vs. Core 2 Duo on the R25 and some of the other newer models I mentioned in my original post). Is there much of a performance difference between a Core Duo and Core 2 Duo? Will the M7 be noticeably slower because of this?

    That's it. Thanks again for all your help!
     
  5. DjNLes

    DjNLes Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Hi Rjayx and everyone on the forum,

    I found this forum very helpful when I was looking for my tablet pc so I chime in and help out a bit.

    At first I was debating whether to get the R1F or T4215. Similar to you, I wanted a tablet where I can use as a digital sketchbook and even do some 3D. So I ended up getting the T4215. The deciding factor was the bevel-free screen and also Fujitsu's experience in the Tablet PC market. So I ended up getting the T4215 from Laptop Authority with these specs: 7400 C2D, SXGA, 100gb, DL burner. Cost came out to be $2250 which is in your price range.

    This machine performed well in Photoshop, Painter and Alias Sketchbook Pro (excellent program and definitely designed for a tablet!) My only concern was the integrated graphics. I ran the latest version of Maya on it. To my surprise, it performed very well. I brought in a 10,000+ polygon model in and was about to rotate, scale, zoom, modify the vertices etc in shaded view with any lag. I brought in another model with animation and was able to play fine. Did some test renders and not problem at all. Of course the models didn’t have any textures yet. So it passed the 3D test. I’m just very surprised at how the integrated graphics card performed. Overall I’m very happy with this machine from a design and performance standpoint. Highly recommended and good luck with your search!
     
  6. Shogmaster

    Shogmaster Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    If you use any program that relies on Wacom drivers for digitizer input (i.e. Photoshop, Painter) it's essential that you load Vista ASAP. XP:TE's native drivers, as you've already read, indeed fights with Wacom's drivers to the extent that every input with the digitizer significantly lags. Toshiba has released enough drivers for R25 and M7 for us to safely migrate to Vista. I found the whole Vista install to be quite painless.

    I've been using Cintiqs since 2001 so I'm rather use to the level of "graininess" of the Toshiba TPC screens. It does not bother me doing art on the screen personally. Your mileage may vary, but it's not a big deal IMO.

    Feels fine to me. It should be about the same experience as drawing in portrait with 12" 4x3 LCDs.

    My friend (Edwood who posts here) bought the R25 identical to mine months ago, the only difference being that his is Core Duo instead of Core 2 Duo. They perform virtually the same. I couldn't tell the difference personally.

    Hope that helps.
     
  7. jiroscopic

    jiroscopic Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Hi,

    I was just wondering if you made a decision on a tablet pc. I am also an artist looking for the right computer. I'd appreciate your advice.

    Thanks! :)
     
  8. Shiggy

    Shiggy Pen Pal - Newbie

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    The biggest difference between Core Duo and Core 2 Duo is that Core 2 Duo is a 64 bit processor, whilst Core Duo is 32 bit (so no 64 bit Vista etc).
     
  9. Freeman

    Freeman Scribbler - Standard Member

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    Huh, that's weird, even my old Pentium-D desktop do support 64bit, why Core Duo only support 32bit?
     
  10. onedeep

    onedeep Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Pentium D is a fairly new processor. I just got a new desktop at work, and it has a P-D in it - dual core, running at 3GHz. If I am not mistaken, it is the desktop version of the Core Duo.
     
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