A portable device for reading and drawing.
October 15, 2012 4:26 PM   Subscribe

Please recommend a device (or devices) for two activities: reading and drawing. And by reading, I don't just mean plain English text. I also have some special demands regarding drawing.

Reading: My reading will include lots of Cyrillic text (plain TXT, formatted text, PDFs, maybe ebook formats), English text with math notation, and articles in PDF (possibly scans) that often include tables, diagrams, and (possibly color) images. I would like to prioritize the ability to read letter-sized pages comfortably, perhaps through the use of smooth, non-tedious scrolling. Color is optional, but preferred. Superior portability is not a major requirement.

Drawing: My current tool is Sketchbook Pro on a Fujitsu T5010 Lifebook. This is an aging 13-inch tablet PC (note: predates the iPad, not a tablet). Most importantly, whatever I replace it with will need to have a similar screen size, possibly slightly smaller, but not by much. Note that the screen area of my T5010 is 167% of an iPad's. I find drawing on a small screen crabbed and stifling. The replacement device should work with a stylus and feature pressure sensitivity equal to or better than a cheap Wacom tablet (256+ levels). Finally, the device should work with Sketchbook or another application with similar features. I am not looking for a doodle pad or a digitizer tablet.

In sum: What are my options? Tablet PCs are still around, but they're relatively bulky, specialized, and expensive. Tablets are light and relatively cheap, but also small and possibly lacking other features I want. Let's budget $1000. Thanks!
posted by Nomyte to Technology (7 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
If that's your budget, you might want to look into a tablet for and a Nook Simple Touch on the side. You can get a refurbed one for about $60 on a daily deal site. It supports Cyrillic well, so you might want to get one as a burner of sorts and whip it out somewhere you wouldn't want to be openly using a tablet (others see differently, but I have no interest in taking out an iPad on the train.) PDF support is middling, but if you root it (v. v. simple) it becomes a powerful Android tablet for the price.
posted by griphus at 4:33 PM on October 15, 2012

I don't know about one device for both.

If I were you, I'd try to find a lightly used wacom cintiq 12WX to hook up to your existing computer and then buy an inexpensive e-reader separately. I bought my cintiq off a guy on Craigslist a couple of years ago for $750, and it's absolutely changed my artistic life. (They are also available from Amazon for under $900, as of when I'm posting this.)
posted by Narrative Priorities at 4:46 PM on October 15, 2012

(The reason I suggest a cintiq instead of a tablet is precision and pressure sensitivity -- sketching on my ipad is fun and everything, but there's no pressure sensitivity at all, and it's absolutely no substitute for the experience on a wacom tablet or cintiq monitor.)
posted by Narrative Priorities at 4:48 PM on October 15, 2012

Narrative Priorities, as you wrote, a Cintiq is not portable at all. If you're open to suggestions, do try a tablet PC. At this point, a manufacturer-refurbished T5010 like the one I have is about $500. It's got a 1280×800 screen and a built-in Wacom digitizer, and it's also a cheap lightweight laptop you can use for other tasks. I take it pretty much everywhere, and it's a joy to use. It's a little heavier and noisier than a real sketchbook, but it's worth it to be able to use Sketchbook Pro or Painter.
posted by Nomyte at 5:12 PM on October 15, 2012

You might want to wait and see if the Microsoft Surface tablets running Windows 8 Pro would be a viable replacement for your T5010. Price is still unknown, as is a release date, but they should be available early next year.
posted by evoque at 8:56 AM on October 16, 2012

I ended up buying a gently used Fujitsu T900, which is basically identical to the T5010 I already own. I am still thinking of a cheap tablet for reading, but I'd really hate to end up with yet another piece of consumer electronics.
posted by Nomyte at 10:11 PM on December 30, 2012

Straight-up tablet or just an e-reader?
posted by griphus at 6:58 AM on December 31, 2012

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