Are you getting started in the world of design and you have no idea about which drawing tablet you should get?

Up next I’m going to share with you my experience using different tablets from the market. I hope this can be useful for your decision.

Tableta Genius About 6 years ago, I bought my first drawing tablet, the Genius MousePen 8×6, there were few options available at the time and the price difference between this one and the Wacom tablet was enormous, so following my airbrushing professor advice “man, it’s not about the arrow, it’s about who shoots it” I decided to get the Genius.

I used it during most of my college years without major issues, I highlight the following things:

  • Con: When I had to take the tablet with me to college, it was always a problem to make it work, it was almost impossible to install the drivers in a Windows XP computer.
  • Pro: I never had issues while using it on Windows 7.
  • Con: The pen requires batteries.
  • Pro: It came with a little mouse in case you don’t want to use “the pen”.
  • Con: I never used the mouse; I have it just as new.
  • Pro: The surface size was excellent, large enough to work comfortably.
  • Con: Working with 2 monitors, it only works in one, so I had to have a mouse on the other hand in case I switched to the other screen.
  • Con: The pen tip wore down in one side and there was no way to get a spare part.
  • Pro: It’s not this model exactly, but the newer ones come with a spare part and you can also buy them apart in case they get damaged.
  • Con: My “pen” got damaged and is not sold separately, you’ve got to buy the tablet to replace the broken pen (I broke mine for bad usage – my dog ate it-)
  • Pro: The price, not even close to Wacom’s.
  • Con: It has some access ‘buttons’ that are never used (in my case and some fellow designers, I think they are only printed on the tablet, but you can’t do anything with them.)
  • Sensitivity: 1,024 pressure levels.
  • Resolution: 2,000 lines per inch.

Last December, my brother (after seeing that I had broken my tablet ‘pen’ and therefore I had put it in a drawer) decided to give me a Wacom Bamboo Pen & Touch as his Christmas gift.

I couldn’t be more excited, and I couldn’t wait to use it for the first time. I unpacked it and then placed it next to my computer to start working with it the next day (as soon as I got over last night’s hangover) The morning after, I plugged it to my Windows 7 computer and I couldn’t make the gestures to work, I don’t know what happened, but then after trying different options, I decided to format my computer and the problem was solved.

Wacom Pen and TouchI unplugged the mouse, bragged the tablet to my friends and then I started to run everything through gestures. It was difficult at first, it took me about two weeks to get used to it, especially due to the sensitivity in the touch property, which turned every move that I wanted to do into a click.

After six months of using it, here are my pros and cons for the Wacom Pen & Touch:

  • Pro: It’s great to handle everything in your computer using nothing but your fingers, thanks to gestures.
  • Con: After two months of handling everything via touch, today I only use the ‘pen’ to handle the tablet.
  • Pro: In case that you don’t work on a laptop, and you need to browse something on the internet or scroll across large documents, the touch feature is very useful to do the scrolling (without even having to release the pen you can scroll up/down really fast, if you have a laptop then it’s not worth it as you can simply scroll using the laptop’s touch)
  • Con: The touch feature increases the tablet’s price dramatically, which is a waste if you use it a little like it happened on my case.
  • Pro: Works perfectly with 2 monitors.
  • Con: The input area size is not big enough.
  • Pro: It comes with spare pen tips, and in case the pen gets damaged, you can buy it separately.
  • Con: You cannot adjust the touch feature sensitivity.
  • Pro: It comes with an eraser.
  • Con: You don’t actually use the eraser; it’s always faster to press the (E) key in Photoshop tan flipping the pen over and over.
  • Pro: The tablet buttons are useful if you adjust them for your everyday needs.
  • Con: The price is considerably high when compared with non-touch tablets.
  • Pro: The pen does not require batteries.
  • Sensitivity: 1,024 pressure levels.
  • Resolution: 2,540 lines per inch.

Wacom Splash Pen TabletA time after, the people at the office asked me to get a tablet, so this time I decided to get a Wacom Bamboo Splash Pen Tablet, but distributed to other zone. I’ve been working with it for more than a year, and so far this is what I have to say:

  • Pro: Works perfectly with two monitors.
  • Con: If you use two large monitors, the tablet sensitivity increases in order to cover the entire surface.
  • Pro: It has a good input resolution.
  • Con: In order to leverage the good resolution, if you have two large monitors and want to do something with detail (such as an illustration), you may want to disconnect one.
  • Con: You don’t get what you paid for. The working area is just 5.8 x 3.6 inches. If that was the input area, then the tablet should be 30% smaller.
  • Pro: It comes with spare pen tips and they last more time than the others, plus in case your pen gets damaged, you can always buy a new one separately.
  • Con: It doesn’t have the side buttons of the Fun & Touch; these are really helpful when you need to move layers up and down in Photoshop.
  • Pro: It comes with an eraser.
  • Con: You don’t actually use the eraser; it’s always faster to press the (E) key in Photoshop tan flipping the pen over and over.
  • Con: Even though its price is low for a Wacom tablet, it’s still high when compared to the Genius ones.
  • Pro: The pen does not require batteries.
  • Con: The USB cable is too tight; hence you cannot bend it with ease so it occupies less space.
  • Pro: It has a label for you to put the pen on it.
  • Sensitivity: 1,024 pressure points.
  • Resolution: 2,540 lines per inch.

Should be pointed that I’m a designer entirely dedicated to create interfaces (web and apps), therefore a tablet with more or less resolution / pressure points, is not really much of a difference to me. But if you’re a full time artist, then I would say you should buy the ones with higher pressure levels, such as the Wacom Intuos 5, or the Cintiq, if you can afford them of course.

For average users like me, I don’t have a preference for one brand or another. Although, I think Wacom tablets are much more appealing than Genius, I feel like the last ones have been doing a great job to get closer to Wacom and in the last versions, there’s not much difference between them. Anyway, there are other alternatives that are more budget-friendly for the users that don’t need an advanced tablet, such as the Genius Graphic Tablet or the Genius 4×6.

After seeing astonishing pieces of art made by some people, using nothing but their fingers and an iPad, I’m convinced that the tablet you get is not what matters the most. Finally (and again), I quote my professor Humberto phrase (he made incredible things in 5 minutes with my first Genius tablet) “it’s not about the arrow, it’s about who shoots it

*A typical phrase from Colombia, meaning that the final outcome does not depend on the tool you use, but the person who uses it”

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