Tablet for drawing webcomics - please help!

Discussion in 'What Tablet PC Should I Buy?' started by Cornelius Bubba, Mar 29, 2013.

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  1. Cornelius Bubba

    Cornelius Bubba Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Hi everyone,

    I draw webcomics in Adobe Illustrator CS5 as a hobby. I currently use a Wacom Bamboo Capture pen tablet connected to my laptop to do digital sketching and inking in Illustrator, but would like to get something where I can actually draw on the screen for a more natural feel. I also want something that is portable, so I can sit on the couch while drawing. Since this is a hobby of mine, I can't really justify spending a whole lot on this, so I am looking for lower budget options or at least waiting it out until some of the higher-end devices drop down in price. Any help you guys have is appreciated! Here's what I'm looking for:

    General Questions.

    1. What is your budget?
    Ideally, the $200 range would be great. However, I will consider up to $500-ish just to keep the options open. $1000 is too high.

    2. Would you consider purchasing used/refurbished?
    Yes.

    3. Do you prefer a media/mobile tablet like the iPad, Windows tablet PC, or notebook convertible?
    I want a Windows tablet, either a slate or a convertible. I have never owned a convertible before, so I'm not sure how heavy they are in practice, but I'm willing to give it a go.

    4. What size Tablet PC would you prefer?

    10 to 13-inches or Above 13-inches


    5. Which country do you intent to purchase from [where do you live]?
    Canada

    6. Do you have any preferences to brand loyalty or dislikes?
    No preferences.

    7. How many hours battery life do you require?
    Ideally 3 - 5 hours.

    8. What will be the primary usage scenario of this tablet? (Email/Web Surfing/Drawing/Word Processing/Entertainment/Notetaking etc)
    Drawing in Adobe Illustrator CS5, and maybe some colouring in Photoshop CS5.
    If the device can handle web surfing and playing music while I draw, that would be great.

    9. Do you have an OS preference? For example, do you own an iPhone and a Mac, or are you a Windows fan? Do you own an Android device and use Google services frequently?
    Windows 7 or Windows 8

    10. What software and tasks do you intend to run? (Microsoft Office or other Word Processing Suite/Photoshop/3D Studio Max/Autocad etc)
    Adobe Illustrator CS5, Adobe Photoshop CS5, Microsoft Office 2007 mainly for One Note.

    11. Do you intend on playing Games? If so please list.
    Don't intend on playing games.

    12. Would you like to stream content through your home theater system?
    Not necessary.

    Screen Specifics

    1. Any preference on screen resolution?
    I'm not very good at telling the difference. I want the icons on the screen in Illustrator to be large enough to see and select with a pen though.

    2. Will you be using the tablet outdoors? Do you need to be able to see it through glare from the sun?
    Not really, it will mainly be used indoors. However, if there is an option to get a screen that I can use outdoors, I'm open to that.

    3. Do you require a pen? With or without pressure sensitivity? Do you prefer Wacom or N-trig?
    Yes, I require a pen. WITH pressure sensitivity, and Wacom please!

    Component Specifics

    1. What size Hard Drive and Memory do you require? Would you like expandable memory?
    At least 64GB hard drive to store project files, music, and OneNote files
    4GB RAM; does not have to be expandable

    2. What sort of inputs do you require, if any? Would you like full-sized USB and SD card slots? Are microUSB and microSD ok? Do you require HDMI inputs?
    I would like some sort of mass storage device option - full-size USB, SD card, and/or microSD to transfer my work and back it up. HDMI ports are not necessary.

    Misc
    1. Other non specific items ~ please add other items you require not covered above?
    If the machine is more on the expensive side ($500 or more), I would want to use it for everyday computing as well so get the most use of it, and not just use it for drawing. Just so you are aware, I REALLY like the Microsoft Surface Pro for what it can do beyond just being a tablet - it is so versatile, lightweight, and portable. My only issues with it are the high price point ($1000+), the small icon size, and the (current) lack of pressure sensitivity in Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. Otherwise, this tablet is pretty much perfect in form factor for what I need.

    2. Additional requests ~ anything other you wish to take into consideration?
    I am currently looking into a few options, and would like to know what you think:
    1) Cheapest option: Off-lease Fujitsu Lifebook T5010 for $180 (30-day warranty) with pen-only digitizer

    2) Used Asus EP121 slate for around $600
    Asus Eee Slate EP121 - Windows 8 Pro Tablet - 4GB RAM - 64GB SSD - City of Toronto Computers For Sale - Kijiji City of Toronto Canada.

    3) Microsoft Surface Pro - if it ever gets those WinTAB drivers and reduces in price


    Thanks everyone!
     
  2. meow9th

    meow9th Scribbler - Standard Member

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    So, with that use case, you definitely need a real processor (read: not Atom), and at that budget, you're definitely looking at used. Because it will have a real processor, be confident that you can use it for daily computing needs as well.

    I'm not really up on the used market (and I'm not an artist, either), so let me just point you to a couple of threads where people have similar needs and got some great suggestions.
    http://forum.tabletpcreview.com/what-tablet-pc-should-i-buy/56162-tablet-doodling.html
    http://forum.tabletpcreview.com/wha...st-budget-ever-looking-slate-convertible.html
    http://forum.tabletpcreview.com/wha...wanting-tablet-pc-replace-their-computer.html
    http://forum.tabletpcreview.com/wha...5592-graphics-tablet-artist-photographer.html
    http://forum.tabletpcreview.com/wha...77-need-cheap-photoshop-sketching-laptop.html

    I think there are a number of acceptable options on the used market for you. The thing to keep in mind is that you won't get great battery life. The processors are old (Core 2 Duo; not as energy efficient as later generations) and the batteries themselves will be old. You may want to budget in a new battery; an old battery might be down to 50% of its design capacity, so replacing it could double your battery life. With a large capacity battery (large design capacity and relatively new), you should be able to hit the 3-5 hour range pretty easily, but it's something to check when you look at each unit.

    Also, just so you know, a great competitor to the Surface Pro is the Samsung 700T (similar price, of course), but its keyboard dock solution is much less elegant. At the same time, I think artists are way happier with it (it actually works with Adobe products, I believe).

    Edit
    Forgot to mention weight difference between convertibles and slates. Look at the specific numbers of course, but in general, convertibles weigh 4 lb and slates/hybrids weigh 2 lb. This makes a big difference to the 'bag' weight, but not the 'working' weight. Anything that weighs more than a paperback novel should not be held up by the arms and hands. I read hardcover novels resting on my legs, lap, couch, desk, whatever, and that's how I've used every single tablet PC I've ever owned, too.
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2013
  3. Cornelius Bubba

    Cornelius Bubba Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Thanks for the links meow9th - they have been very helpful! I'll look into the Samsung 700T as well. I think I tried this out in Best Buy once and I wanted the pen to be a big bigger, but I'll check it out again.

    Let's say I use a slate for drawing that comes with a pen, would I be able to do any of the following:
    - Reprogram the button on the stylus to assign it to any key combination I want? I like to assign the button on my current Wacom stylus to the "move" function in Illustrator so I can easily navigate around the image I'm trying to create.
    - Is there a program that allows you to assign hot keys on the side of the screen, so that the tablet could function more like a Cintiq? I use the Undo, Zoom, and Pen tools often in Illustrator, and I find the hot keys very helpful on a physical keyboard because it makes my work flow very seamless. How could I replicate this on a slate?

    Thanks!
     
  4. thatcomicsguy

    thatcomicsguy Pen Pro - Senior Member Senior Member

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    Hi, Cornelius Bubba!

    As per your question regarding on-screen buttons. . ,

    Forum members have put in a LOT of work to crack that nut.

    There are some excellent solutions now. Take a look at the thread: http://forum.tabletpcreview.com/software/47928-photoshop-toolbar.html

    The Stylus-only button bars there can be programmed quite easily to fit whatever software you want to run. The members here can help you configure one of the software bars to work with Illustrator with minimal difficulty, I should think.

    Tablet PCs were made for web comics! You can easily get decent gear for $200, and eBay is a great place to find it.
     
  5. stoneseeker

    stoneseeker Animator and Art Director Senior Member

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    Also, you don't need to use only that dinky pen. You can purchase any other wacom tabletPC compatible pen off Ebay to use with it. The Fujitsu Lifebook pens are popular, and there is a thread in hardware devoted to the different pens you can use.
     
  6. meow9th

    meow9th Scribbler - Standard Member

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    The pen that comes with the Samsung 700T is extraordinarily dinky, but the beauty of using a Wacom digitizer is that you can use [almost] any Wacom pen! It won't fit into the silo, of course, so you have to keep that in mind when considering portability. The Surface Pro lacks a pen silo, and it about kills me, because I am 5000 times more likely to lose my pen. So that's why I ask you to keep the storage issue in mind.
     
  7. Cornelius Bubba

    Cornelius Bubba Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Thanks everyone for the great advice.

    @thatcomicsguy: I checked out the toolbar that you guys have worked on and it looks amazing! I'm more excited to get started with a tablet now that I know the lack of keyboard hotkeys won't be a problem. By the way, I checked out your site and I'm really enjoying Stardrop!

    @stoneseeker: I found the hardware post, and it looks like there are quite a few options. If I go with an Asus EP121, the stock pen doesn't come with pen triggers, but I think the hotkey application may take care of that. If not, I can just get one with a trigger.

    @meow9th: I looked into the 700T. It's a nice machine with great specs, but a little too pricey for me right now. I also checked out the Samsung Series 7 Slate but again, nice machine but out of my price range.

    It looks like I can get a refurbished off-lease Fujistsu T5010 for $180 (battery life might be around 3-4 hours with the dual battery), or an Asus EP121 for around $450 - $500. Do you guys have any experience buying used? And which one would you choose? Do you think the Dual digitizer of the Asus EP121 is better than the pen-only digitizer on the Fujitsu? I don't know which is more useful. On the one hand, the Asus EP121 is "prettier" and has more updated hardward and looks less bulky than the Fujitsu, but the Fujitsu would meet my needs and is cheaper. If in the future I need a tablet for more than just drawing, I'll look into the 700T, Surface, etc. but for now I think it would be better to limit the budget.

    Has anyone had any issues drawing with the Asus EP121 or the Fujitsu T5010? Would Illustrator CS5 work well on Windows 8?

    Sorry for the bombardment of questions! And thanks to all of you for your great advice :)
     
  8. meow9th

    meow9th Scribbler - Standard Member

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    I find the dual digitizer more useful on Windows 8 than on previous versions of Windows. However, if you're accustomed to using touch because you've been using smartphones forever, it may seem more natural to have a touchscreen? I was pen-only until I got the Surface Pro a month ago.
     
  9. stoneseeker

    stoneseeker Animator and Art Director Senior Member

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    I have no experience with Illustrator, but the T5010 will be more powerful, larger screen, heavier, easily upgrade-able (more ram and SSD), and much longer battery life if you get a new battery or a modular bay battery to use with it.
    The ep121 is a little slow to me, but for just sketching and small paintings is fine. It also gets only 3 hours max. Nice screen though.

    If you are really vigilant on Ebay with your searches and a little bit patient, you could find a much newer nicer machine for less. Someone on these fourms just found a T901 for $450!! You could at least makie saved searches for the T901, and the T900. Also for the Samsung Series 7 slate ,because I'm positive that goes for less than $500 quite regularly.
     
  10. Cornelius Bubba

    Cornelius Bubba Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Thanks guys! I'll be on the lookout on ebay for some deals. I've actually never used ebay before(I know, where have I been, right?) but will definitely save some searches and monitor for the next few weeks. I've seen the Samsung Series 7 slate for $700 on Kijiji but will hold out or try to negotiate a bit lower.

    I'll let you know what I find! Thanks again for the help all of you. :)
     
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