Entry Level Pen Tablets: Making the Artist's PC-Life Easierby Laura Wilson on December 6, 2003 9:01 AM EST
- Posted in
An Introduction to Digital TabletsThe major parts of this hardware are a mouse, a tablet, and a pen. For general navigation, the mouse that comes with the tablet is completely capable of replacing your old mouse. Its size, shape, and capabilities are the same as a regular mouse; only this one doesn't work off of the tablet. If you prefer to do so, you can combine your current mouse with the new tablet and pen. For a really good time, plug both mice in and roll around with both hands. Dance, little pointer!
Next, the tablet generally acts as the pad for the pen and mouse. Sweeping either of the two tools over the surface enables the creation of lines or repositioning of desktop items, among many other things. The tablet has a mapped out area of space on it that coincides with positions on the computer screen; meaning that if you place the pen on the lower left-hand corner of the active space, the pointer will move to the lower left-hand corner of the screen (this action doesn't work the same way with the mouse, however, because the mouse doesn't follow absolute positioning).
Finally, the tablet pen looks, feels and works like a regular pen would. However, the pen has a completely different relationship with the tablet than the mouse does. It takes a while to get used to the action of the pen. The absolute positioning is so different from the relative motion of a mouse that it can get confusing; but then again, the function of the pen is for drawing while the mouse is more a navigational tool. However, there is a side button that clicks and renders the same actions as a mouse button. Sometimes the pen turns in your hand and the button ends up under a finger, causing some trouble when in the midst of illustrating or doing something precise.
If you are a big fan of using a pencil and paper to create special details and textures, the tablet's drawing functions might not be good enough to replace your usual artistic endeavors. The tablet does make some sketching easy, though hardly as beautiful as hand-drawn art. But, if you don't care as much for the extreme details, the tablet works very well to replace the traditional pen and paper.
ContendersWe compared three tablets in the sub-$150 price range, all meeting the entry-level requirements for this roundup.
Each of these tablets is connected to the computer via a USB cable. Aiptek's HyperPen models provide a generous 6 feet of cord from tablet to computer, while Wacom's Graphire3 offers a potentially problematic 4 and a half feet.