Welcome to the "Which tablet should I get?" Megathread! I'll be your host for the next short while, explaining the features and advantages of all the different tablets and tablet-related accessories that I'm sure more than a handful of you are looking forward to buying or selfishly receiving for free this holiday season! In this thread I will show you a slew of examples of all the different sizes, types, and... sizes... of tablets and their relatives in the computing world.
Suggestions will be made to help you decide which one is best for you or whoever you're getting it for.
Disclaimer- I will be talking only of wacom-related tablets, as other companies' tablets tend to be cheap, and you get what you pay for. I can cover others if people bring up actual good ones in the comments, but... fat chance anyone will out-do Wacom in this industry.
if you actually need to ask this, I kindly ask that you hold your ALT key and press F4 way at the top of the keyboard.
Thank you, and goodbye
It is NOT, in any way, shape or form, Viagra for your creative side. If you draw stick figures in your English class notebook, you'll be drawing stick figures in MS Paint or Photoshop. It's understandable to get one as "incentive" to start learning art, and that can work, but there's a good chance that it will just end up being the most expensive mouse you'll ever browse the internet with.
It cannot be used for gaming with the pen, as cool as that should sound. The way the pen feature works conflicts with the way a game wants to track the mouse. I'll explain how a tablet tracks the pen in just a bit.
They come in many different sizes and formats, mostly the standard board with a special pen and a fancy mouse-shaped paperweight with felt on the bottom so you can playfully throw it at children's heads.
There are newer models of boards that bypass the pen and act like a massive laptop touchpad, rendering themselves completely useless as an art tool...
(unless you love fingerpainting)
At any rate, it takes people a little getting used to with the pen'n'tablet, since you're looking at your screen and moving your hand around a big empty space off to the side or in your lap. This becomes second nature, and you'll pretty much be able to feel where you're moving without thinking at all.
Aside from the standard board, there is also the Tablet PC, which usually comes in the form of a fancy laptop with a screen that swivels 180 degrees so you can fold it flat and hold it like a clipboard. As useful and more coordinated as it seems that should be, detail-oriented people (such as myself) find it infuriatingly difficult to get it calibrated so the cursor resides PERFECTLY under your pen's tip. There tends to be distortions in the positioning at times, and one of the damnedest things, my hand gets in the way of things I'm trying to work with when I'm drawing on-screen, which is something that becomes surprisingly frustrated when you're so used to seeing your damn screen.
Honestly, this is a great tool if you're a casual sketcher, or need a clipboard so you look busy while you're browsing porn in class.
damn that map is sexy
Similarly, there are computer monitors (see Wacom Cintiq) for your desktop that act the same, but the tablet variety are being overwhelmed by the new wave of touch screens that you see at best buy but never work because some eight year old punched it trying to open the interblag. The pen-tablet screens are MUCH better than the laptops as far as calibration and precision is concerned, but you're stuck to a desk and don't have the option of holding it, which leaves you to either angle it whilst sitting on a table, or keep it upright like a monitor and use it like you would an easel...
If you LOVE painting on an easel... hey... there ya go.
assuming I've scared you away from getting anything other than a standard pen-and-tablet setup, let's discuss what type of that you want.
I will first suggest getting a small tablet, either a 3x5 or 5x7 (or widescreen-format equivalents). You will want to decide, though, which type is right for you.
-Are you just toying around and thinking of kinda doing art here and there? I will suggest the Bamboo series of tablets.
With this, you have all the basic functionility you need for the low, low price of $69. avoid the 'touch' version of the product, as it is more or less an unnecessarily large laptop touchpad.
-Are you learning graphic design, art, and/or how to be a porn star? Congratulations, you get to see moderately attractive and/or less-than-acceptably horrifying nudes, either in old paintings, sculpture studios, or uncomfortably close in-person.
You will also want to invest in the Intuos line of Wacom's tablet selection. These are highly versatile, the latest versions having a unique setup of completely customizeable buttons and a multi-function "speed-ring" that can control brush size, zooming, scrolling, and causing awkward arousal without you realizing why.
ooh, just like that.
I will suggest you find a big piece of paper and see how much movement you're really comfortable with. Stare at your computer screen and scribble from left to right about how big your screen "feels" to you. Measure it, and find a tablet size that fits that range, more or less. you need to be comfortable.
I will just say you'll probably want the Intuos line for their versatility, as mentioned before.
The "Airbrush" Pen
This little thing apparently emulates how a real airbrush works, including tilt and angle sensing technology to really pack that "I'm airbrushing on a computer!" kick you so desperately need (allegedly).
The "Inking Pen" pen
this handy little pen is for all you pencil'n'paper people who just happen to have a tablet and want to trace "your" artwork onto photoshop or the like. Simply tape down your art, set up the screen so it can catch it all, and spend some time using this pen to trace down the picture and keep track of what you've traced by laying down a line of ink on your paper as it draws on-screen.
Remember to switch back to your normal tablet pen when you're done.
The "Art Pen" pen
this is basically your standard tablet pen, except it's got some fancy extra sensors to tell how it's rotated so you can use the included calligraphy 'chisel'-shaped tip like it actually should work.
Well, I personally use dual monitors with my 9x12 intuos 3, but it should be noted that one is landscape, the other portrait, forming a roughly 4:3 aspect ratio area. I TRIED using my old 3x5 on two big 22"(ish) monitors (both landscape), but with such a small tablet I ended up accidentally moving from my start menu on the left to the middle of the other screen every time I wiggled my ear. Way too much range to cover with a tiny board.
Now, you have one of two options: one, you can give up and just set the tablet to work on a single screen and switch over to a mouse every time you want to play a totally legal copy of a song on itunes, which is docked 3 inches out of reach.
Two, If you want to use the tablet across both monitors, You will want a larger-format wide-screen aspect tablet, so you can cover both monitors with moderate control. A problem you will still have is that your screenspace is much, MUCH wider than it is tall in comparison to your tablet still, so you'll want to go to your wacom options and toy with the settings pictured here-
(click the thumbnail)
Simply stretch the tablet-space to fit your screen's real aspect (roughly), or be a nerd and figure out the correct coordinate input to fit your screen-space's aspect ratio one-to-one. If you don't match the size correctly, your cursor will move much faster up-and-down than side-to-side because it's compressing the area of your screens into the area of the tablet. I'd draw up something to show this better, but... I'm lazy. Technically.