iPad vs. Surface Pro vs. Wacom: An Artist’s Take
In the modern warfare of tablets, every manufacturer is trying to bring all things to all consumers in the form of an 11-ish-inch touch screen (with or without a stylus).
However, for all of the appeased white-collars who dreamt of using Excel while stopped at a red light, and the meeting-goers who love to doodle digital notes, there is one demographic who are starting to feel like second-class tableteers. Artists.
There is a whole slurry of professional artists out there who dream of one thing: having a compact and portable studio they can take to Starbucks. Digital art tools have come a long way in ten years, from gigantic drawing pads with 100 levels of pressure sensitivity, to the Wacom Cintiq where you can draw right on the screen. But everything has been peripherals that you have to plug into a computer to get it working, and that makes portability a joke.
Starting with the Samsung Series 7 Slate (which sells seashells down by the seashore), high-quality pressure-sensitive screens were finally being put into tablet PCs with the help of Wacom. However, you would have to be careful not to let your hand touch the screen while using the stylus because it would make a separate mark where you were trying to draw. So, to really get your money’s worth out of it, an artist would have to download a plug-in created by a third-party developer (frustrated user with coding experience in his free time) so that you could rest your hand on the screen while drawing.
Then came the Surface Pro. It boasted all the features I’d been looking for: pressure sensitivity, palm-rejection, and (best of all) full PC capabilities.
Alas, it came with a few things that were not advertised. While charging (something needed every 3 hours), the Surface Pro doubles as a space-heater. While the included stylus offers a precision tip instead of the eraser-like point of most iPad pens, the definition of “precision” is variable. It’s actually precise-ish, which is okay if you’re doodling, but infuriating if you’re trying to make something professional.
I got one and returned it in the span of a week.
What I settled on instead has surprised many of my friends, especially artists. I picked up a 4th generation iPad. While it lacks both pressure-sensitivity and palm rejection, it is, in my opinion, a superior device. Using an Adonit Jot Touch 4 stylus brings the missing pressure-sensitivity to Apple’s tablet.
Now, Wacom has burst onto the scene with their own devices, the Cintiqs Companion and Hybrid. The good news is that they have efficiently placed their tablet out of reach with a price tag of $2000 for the mid-range version of their portable device, so temptation isn’t really a problem.
Sure, you could spend $1500 on a toy Hybrid which runs Android and has a laughable 16 GB of hard drive space and glitchy multi-touch. Or you could drop $2500 on the Companion running Win8 with 512 GB of disk space. That machine is a powerhouse cake with Wacom icing on top, but for $2500, I can pick up the Cintiq 24HD. It’s not portable, but at least I won’t have to worry about carrying two mortgage payments worth of technology in an easily stealable messenger bag.
Bottom line, I’m happy with what I have.
Until something better comes out.