I have been admiring a lot of digital art lately and have decided I want draw with my computer. To this end, I've been checking out tablets.

I can pick up Wacom tablets of various sizes with prices that range from $100 to $750. But what I really want is to be able to draw directly on the screen. And if I want to get something like that from Wacom, I'm looking at $1800 to $3000 dollars. And that's an awful lot to pay for a fancy screen, as nice as it may be.

So I've been looking into tablet PCs, but I don't know much about them either. This seems to be the ideal solution, since it would allow me to draw directly on the screen as well as double as a laptop with full PCs cabilities. But I'm not sure what features I should be looking for or what the price range is (though it seems to be about $1200-$2000 from what I can tell).

This is where I'm turning to you. Maybe some boffers will have some recommendations or experience with this, since I've never really looked into tablets (like Wacom) or tablet PCs before.

What say you?

Aesopian says:

I've been looking over tablet PCs and it seems that something like this $1560 Toshiba convertable is my best bet. I can built a comparable laptop at Dell for less than $1200, but it doesn't have the pennable LCD screen, which would cost several hundred dollars by itself. So it evens out.

I'm still trying to sort out issue like if there is any delay in drawing, if it uses a Wacom pen technology that seems to be really needful for drawing and art, and software packages.

Dylan says:

From what I have heard, Toshiba is one of the better companies to get a tablet from. What I would do is go to a store and try one out. Just see how it feels.

I'd want to know questions like, "What does the screen look like after a year and a half of scratching a pen across it?" Truthfully, I've really liked the idea of getting a tablet, but it's just never been something that's a workable solution for me. I need a computer that is basically a mobile desktop, and tablets are so not that.

Go to Robert Scoble's site, send him an e-mail and ask him, "Why should I get a tablet PC?" He's a big tablet PC evangelist and I'm sure would have a million links to answer pretty much every question you have.

rnewhouse says:

If basically what you want is to be able to draw directly on a screen, you might want to check out a Magnadoodle.

dcormier says:

For that sort of thing, one be looking at at is how sensitive the screen is to the amount of preasure being applied. I know some of the Wacoms can detect 1024 levels of preasure and apps like Photoshop can use that information for the opacity (and I'm sure other aspects) of whatever your drawing. I would image this can be a very important feature when you're actually using it to draw.

Aesopian says:

Thanks for the advice.

Considering all the problems I'm having getting a tablet PC, I've switched gears and want Wacom instead. I have a question though for those who use them: Do the cursor (on screen) and pen track without contact? One of the things I liked how the tablet was that it could read where the pen was if it was within 2-3 inches of the screen, but only wrote when I touched it. Do Wacom tablets do this too?

spincycle` says:

Hawk of Apple Geeks uses the 21" Cintiq for all of his drawings.

And here is a shot of his script writer Ananth in action.

Dylan says:

Yes, Wacom tablets do that. You move your "mouse" by holding the pen above the tablet. Touching the pen to the tablet is the same as a mouse click. Touching the pen and moving it is the same as a click-and-hold. I have a Wacom tablet and I use it in Photoshop. The greatest thing about Wacom tablets is that they are pressure sensitive. The harder you press the pen to the tablet, the thicker or darker the line. You can even turn the pen over and use the nub on the end to erase. It just detects you are using the other end of the pen and switches to the eraser tool automatically, then switches back when you use the correct end again.

The other cool thing with the Wacom tablets are the clear screen sheets that go over the tablet. You can put something under it and draw on it. Here's a drawing I did of myself off my driver's license picture using my Wacom tablet.

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