Somewhere, someone is gripping a joystick. Down the street, another person scribbles onto his Palm Pilot while the next-door neighbor finishes uploading music onto her new mp3 player. Somewhere, there is an irate gamer slamming his keyboard onto the desk and shouting into his monitor, “Headshot!?” And perhaps right now, there is someone scrolling down this page with his or her handy mouse wheel, looking for something interesting to fill up the next ten or fifteen minutes of a boring work day.

For those of you who are dying to find one more way to clutter up your PC work space, there's a fabulous piece of hardware that might even prove to be worth the money and effort required to familiarize oneself with it: the drawing tablet. There are several companies developing new products in this area, each with its own claim to efficiency. Traditionally, the technique for illustrating, photo editing, and the bulk of artistic computer interfacing involves a scanner, a printer, and Photoshop. To get an image from your hands to your screen, a lot of work had to be done, mostly in the area of scanning it, then working out details on the computer. In some cases, the drawing tablet eases this process and/or removes a step or two. Illustrations normally done by hand can now be directly inputted into the computer instead. The scanner can't be tossed out quite yet, however, as the tablet will not replace its photo abilities. But just what hardware can these tablets replace? And what kinds of people can benefit most from this technology? Are these tablets really worth their price? Hopefully, this review will give some answers to these questions, and maybe you will find a new product to check out for yourself.

An Introduction to Digital Tablets
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  • AMD4ME2 - Sunday, December 7, 2003 - link

    cool.. I've wanted one for a long time... continue to explore this avenue.. I would like to see just how good the top of the line tablets all.... Oh and .. what kind of drugs were taken during the testing of these tablets.. cause that creature is "Jacked-Up Like a Soup Sandwich"
  • Adul - Sunday, December 7, 2003 - link

    You are close Virge ;) well it is soon-to-be
  • clevere1 - Sunday, December 7, 2003 - link

    You can also use tablets as a mouse replacement. I use the Intuos (I think it's the older brother of the Intuos2) for everything I do on the computer, except for 3D games like Quake and such.
  • ivwshane - Sunday, December 7, 2003 - link

    I do really hope for a mid level tablet review. I'm considering getting a tablet for casual use and to expand my artistic skills. After talking to an artist friend I got impression that any tablet will do but after this article it appears not to be the case. I would really like to have an accurate drawing tool but I don't know if it's worth the price difference to go with the intuos2 over the graphire3.

    Tablets have been around for a while and it's about time someone did a round up:D
  • Redviffer - Saturday, December 6, 2003 - link

    Wow, I didn't know Anand knew all those cool people. :)

    I think that at the prices (sub-$150), they are still a little pricey "just to have", that is unless you can really put this to good use. I know I'd actually like to get one, as I can see my kids really having a blast with drawings. I'll keep an eye out, as with all things, the prices will drop. Thanks for the article.
  • AgaBooga - Saturday, December 6, 2003 - link

    Same as #4
  • ViRGE - Saturday, December 6, 2003 - link

    Sorry to go off-topic, but I noticed the new author(Laura Wilson). I take it she's Derek's wife?
  • Doop - Saturday, December 6, 2003 - link

    I just bought a Wacom Intuos 2 (model up from graphire) as a Chrismas present for my graphic designing girlfriend, who currently draws then scans in line drawing then touches them up with a mouse in photoshop.

    I was a little worried that the pen wouldn't be accurate or sensitive enough for her to use comfortably, basically that it wouldn't live up to the hype.

    If the Graphire is that good (thanks for the review) then the Intuos 2 I bought should be totally sweet. She'll be so happy there'll be no picky remarks about my heavy drinking over the yule tide period. Nice.
  • AgaBooga - Saturday, December 6, 2003 - link

    Gaming isn't something tablets are designed for. I have one at home and they're really light, easy to draw on, and are very portable with long battery life. Those are the main selling points of a tablet IMO on top of the ability to write on them
  • Shalmanese - Saturday, December 6, 2003 - link

    Did you try gaming with the tablet?

    I don't know about 3d games but I imagine games like C&C might benifit enourmously from tablet use.

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