I think I want a graphics tablet?
January 5, 2014 5:44 PM   Subscribe

I need an alternative to a mouse + monitor for photo editing and some (simple) drawing.

I'm thinking about getting a graphics tablet/digital drawing tablet. I will mainly be using it for detail work in photo editing programs like Lightroom and Photoshop. I'd also like to experiment with some drawing, but nothing too serious.

I've done some research, but the more I look the more confused I feel! I'd normally consult Mr. tealcake, but this sort of thing is way outside his area of expertise.

In a perfect world, I would be able to access and edit files on my desktop remotely through wifi (ideal) or bluetooth. Basically I'd like to not be tethered to my desk. I don't feel like I need a super-sensitive artist tablet. I'd like to spend around $200. I could throw a little more money at it if my budget is unrealistic, but I'd like to stay on the inexpensive end.
posted by tealcake to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I think you want the Wacom Bamboo. Or this version - and check out the reviews.
posted by jquinby at 5:51 PM on January 5, 2014

There are a number of Wacom tablets in different sizes at $200 and below that are corded. They make a couple with bluetooth, but they're over $200, and they're this connection kit (I haven't tried it)

If you're looking for something like a Cintiq, which is a screen you can draw on, that's a lot more expensive. Even a cheap iPad, which would have some photo editing and drawing capabilities, is above $200.

I have a medium Intuos corded tablet (prior generation), and I really can't recommend it enough. I use it for photo editing, and it's a world of difference versus using a mouse. If you have a laptop and one of the smaller tablets, you'll be very mobile.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 5:55 PM on January 5, 2014

I've used Wacom tablets before and I was never really that impressed with them. I've never tried any Intuos tablets or higher model ones because I'm always kind of low on money.

But I do love the Monoprice tablet. It's pretty low cost and it works really well. I love the size of the tablet and the pen itself is very comfortable to hold. If you were doing serious work, I'd recommend getting something more higher quality - but to be honest, my Monoprice is holding up pretty well. I draw and edit on Photoshop/Illustrator.

The only thing I dislike about it are the annoying shortcut buttons located near the top. But you could easily turn those off.
posted by MeaninglessMisfortune at 6:19 PM on January 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

Friendly direction from a fellow editor. In your (or any really) price range, do not overthink this. Medium Intuos. Not small. Not large. Not Bamboo. Absolutely not Cintiq.

I have the wired Intuos4 which I use on a daily basis for professional applications. This is one of those devices where there is absolutely no reason to have the latest iteration. Check out eBay.
posted by phaedon at 6:19 PM on January 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

According to web comic artist Noelle Stevenson, the Monoprice tablets work really well.
posted by JDHarper at 6:21 PM on January 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

When I bought a Wacom tablet, I was unprepared for the long and slow learning curve to coordinate what my hand was doing and where my eyes were looking. I found it an uncomfortable and frustrating experience and quickly replaced it with something where I could draw on the actual surface I was holding. I doubt this has anything to do with the brand, just an aspect of how the devices work.
posted by Nomyte at 7:07 PM on January 5, 2014

I have a monoprice tablet and it works just as well as the more expensive Wacom tablets. you should check them out because they're so low-cost... like nomyte, it took me awhile to adapt and there was a point where I just wanted to give up, and I did for quite awhile. $30 sunk would be better than $150 sunk.
posted by kerning at 7:16 PM on January 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

I looooove my Monoprice tablet. I got a nice big one, and it's delightful. They just updated the drivers, too!
posted by limeonaire at 7:29 PM on January 5, 2014

I have both an older Wacom Art Pad ( that was very expensive when new), and a year-old Monoprice MP1290-A1 that cost less than a hundred bucks. The Monoprice tablet kicks serious ass. Smooth, responsive, stable, and cheap. If you go with the Monoprice tablet, get an upgrade pen at the same time, though; the standard pen is pretty chintzy. (The Monoprice pens require a battery while the Wacom pens don't, but the cost savings more than make up for it.)
posted by Benny Andajetz at 7:39 PM on January 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm not sure if I'm reading your question correctly, but it sounds like you're looking for something you can use away from your computer. If that's the case, at the price point you're talking about the best option I can think of is to get a used Tablet PC, which is a regular old-fashioned laptop with the difference that it has a swivel screen (or just a slate form factor) that you draw on with a stylus. One example is the Thinkpad X series, which has a tablet version with some (5, 6-year old but still good) models you could get under $200. It's possible you might also be able to find a (used?) modern-type tablet at that price range that would let you work remotely with decent performance, but I have no experience with that.
posted by trig at 10:41 PM on January 5, 2014

Also, if I read your question wrong and you're looking for a peripheral to attach to your computer, the guy who wrote I think the first big review of the Monoprice tablets mentioned above has gone on to review a lot of Intuos/Cintiq alternatives, mostly very positively. The screen-less models, as others have said, are much less than $200; the cheapest ones with a screen are still about twice that, but you might be able to find a used one, or just keep an eye out for the future.
posted by trig at 11:00 PM on January 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

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