Some people find a stylus convenient to use with an iPad or even an iPhone. On the other hand, one usually thinks of using a finger on Apple's Magic Trackpad. However, a capacitive stylus designed for an iPad works beautifully on Apple's Magic Trackpad and is even more accurate.
Swap your Moleskine for a nifty tablet with a stylus.
Recently, I was having some pain in my right thumb, and I think it was because my Logitech mouse had a left button that was slightly too hard to click. That was putting some mild pressure on my thumb as I squeezed. Briefly, I thought about switching to a trackball, but after reading customer reviews and sizing up my own situation, I decided that a trackball wasn't the answer either.
I looked for a different mouse with a lighter left button click. That would take the pressure off my thumb because I wouldn't have to grip so tightly. I experimented with a lot of mice from my office, and, amazingly, the one I liked best was an old Apple Pro Mouse. I found it amazing that such an old mouse worked so well for me, but sometimes the future marches on with style and leaves ergonomics behind for some users.
I own and have used an Apple Magic Mouse, but I don't like the way a drifting forefinger can trigger a sideways scroll. Older mice restrict the scrolling to one dimension, and I like that. Apple's Magic Trackpad.
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I've had an Apple Magic Trackpad for a long time, but it fell out of use for several reasons. First, it didn't have the resolution I wanted and, second, my finger would never seem to slide as easily as I wanted.
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This pen is about as thick as a typical ballpoint pen but closer in weight to a Sharpie. Because the Intuos S pen is battery-free, you never have to charge it.
The pen has a storage compartment for spare nibs and a nib extractor inside, and it comes with three extra standard nibs. The Intuos S, like all Wacom tablets, lets you customize the pen and tablet to a much greater extent than the other tablet brands we tested. In the pen settings, for example, you can set the tip feel or pressure sensitivity. This is like choosing between a soft 2B pencil, which leaves a lot of graphite on the page, and a harder 2H pencil, which leaves lighter, cleaner lines and requires more force to make a mark.
And you can even customize those options by individual program—an option not available on any of the other tablets we looked at. The Intuos S has four tablet keys, fewer than other tablets in this price range, which can have up to If you rely on such buttons frequently for keyboard shortcuts, this positioning might be an issue, but we think most beginners will use the pen more than the tablet keys.
The Intuos S cannot connect wirelessly. If you want more space to draw or paint on, get the larger Huion Plus. The Plus features a large, by The Plus performed well in our tests, with no lag and only one glitch: The pressure sensitivity stopped working in Photoshop, but reinstalling the driver fixed it. Drawing on this tablet felt natural, and we could smoothly vary our line weight and opacity in all of the art programs we tested. The Wacom tablets had better pressure sensitivity and control in our tests, allowing us to draw the exact same line consistently and to gradually taper lines in Photoshop.
The Huion model has a much smoother tablet surface than the Intuos; the pen glides in a way that feels more like drawing on a glossy iPad screen than on paper. We were unable to test this claim, but charging the pen with the included USB cable should be only an occasional inconvenience. Huion includes a pen cap and a stand that houses four nib replacements.
No company so far has matched Wacom in support and customizability; with the Plus, however, Huion offers the best customization of the Wacom alternatives. We were initially skeptical of the difference between the Intuos Pro and the entry-level Intuos tablet since they use similar hardware—though the Pro has 8, levels of pressure sensitivity, built-in Bluetooth, and multitouch. But we found the Intuos Pro to be the most precise and accurate of the graphics tablets we tested.
After using all the tablets, every panelist identified the Intuos Pro as the higher-priced tablet—it felt that much better.
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The medium version has an 8. The Intuos Pro also comes in a large version with a The battery-free pen was the most comfortable one we tested, and its rubber coating at the bottom provided great grip. You can even turn the pen to use the end as an eraser—an unexpected feature our testers loved. In addition to eight customizable keys, the Intuos Pro has a radial menu called the Touch Ring that you can use to scroll, rotate a canvas, zoom in or out, change brush size, or change layers.
With 4, levels of pressure sensitivity, it was as easy to use as the non-Bluetooth model when we tested it wirelessly on Windows and Mac. It has a wired USB connection, too.
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The Huion HPro is a popular large tablet with more than 1, reviews on Amazon and an overall rating of four out of five stars at this writing. But it has fewer keys than the Huion Plus and a more outdated design. Another large tablet, the XP-Pen Star 06 offers built-in wireless connectivity via a USB dongle, but we were unable to get the wireless to work on Mac or Windows, and support was unable to help.
Otherwise, the Star 06 has a style and feel similar to that of the Wacom Intuos Pro it even has a scroll wheel , but we found double-clicking with the pen on Mac and making faint lines in Photoshop difficult. The stylus also felt cheap—we could feel the seams on the pen—and we experienced glitches with the tablet mapping to only part of the screen in wireless mode. The large XP-Pen Star 03 gave us trouble with controlling the pressure sensitivity—we could create very faint or very dark lines, but not gradients in between.
We tried reinstalling the driver to fix the issue but ran into multiple installation errors. But unlike the other tablets, the A had a surface that easily scratched under a fingernail. We also looked at several other graphics tablets, including the Monoprice by The tablet transfers your strokes digitally to your computer, and you can even use it offline and sync sketches later. Victoria Ying, artist and illustrator , email interview, June 8, Carolyn Dickey, print designer , email interview, June 21, Our pick.
Also great. Huion Plus A larger, cheaper option The larger Huion Plus gives you more room to work but is not as customizable or precise as our top pick. Upgrade pick. Everything we recommend Our pick. Why you should trust us Who this is for How we picked How we tested Our pick: Wacom Intuos S Flaws but not dealbreakers A larger tablet for beginners: Huion Plus An upgrade for experienced artists: Wacom Intuos Pro The competition Footnotes Sources Why you should trust us We spoke with professional artists who use drawing tablets every day and teach others how to use them: Victoria Ying , artist and illustrator of the book Meow!
A drawing tablet lets you digitize every stroke. Video: Michael Hession Ever try writing your signature with your mouse or a laptop trackpad? We tested a variety of tablets with different drivers and features to find out what made a great graphics tablet for beginners. Photo: Michael Hession Based on our research, expert interviews, and testing, we found that the most important features for a drawing tablet in order of importance are: Pressure sensitivity: All of our experts agreed that the most important feature of a drawing tablet is pressure sensitivity.
The higher the pressure sensitivity, the better you can control line weight how thick and opaque lines are based on how hard you press down on the tablet with the pen. We found that 2, levels of pressure sensitivity is plenty: Imagine trying to draw more than 2, distinctly different levels of gray with a pencil.
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