Here’s an item I’ve had for about a year, a 10 x 6.5 inch graphics tablet by MonoPrice. This is a $50 tablet that packs a lot of punch. When my ancient 5 x 4 Wacom went out on me I decided to replace it. I hadn’t used the Wacom in a while but was interested in trying to do some postwork in my 3D illustrations, not full on digital painting but just some cleaning up of the image. Unfortunately the drivers didn’t seem to work with the current MacOS. I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on a new one but always wanted to try a larger package.
Wacom is pretty much the industry standard of graphic tablets. Their latest models are slick, well built, and complete with the latest features. They are also expensive. When I was doing my research last year a Wacom of similar size would have cost me $350. Buying one used off of eBay would have saved money but still more than I wanted to spend just to experiment and do the odd touch up.
Enter the MonoPrice tablet. I’m not sure where I heard about it first but I was already familiar with, and a customer of, MonoPrice. If you don’t go there for their inexpensive cables you’re probably paying too much. Now they are branching out into certain hardware. The reviews were stellar so I decided to give them a try. I’m glad I did!
I’m not going to go into a full on review of the tablet. There are some good, in depth ones already on the web such as here and here. I’m just going to mention a couple of things that I didn’t see mentioned elsewhere on the web.
I never used the included drivers or software that came with the tablet. I was advised on the web to use the UC Logic drivers that can be downloaded online. Packed in software is usually disappointing as well and I planned to use this with PhotoShop. While not as robust as Wacom’s drivers, I was happy to see monitor mapping listed, which allows me to choose one or the other of my monitors or both if I wish. Also included are complete selections of key commands and options for the side and upper hot keys. There are basic settings for Pressure and the ability to adjust to the aspect ratio of your monitor(s) as well.
The drawing surface of the tablet isn’t bad but I like a little more friction so I taped a piece of tracing paper to the active area. Little sticky tabs identify the key commands I’ve mapped to the device. There are enough hot keys that I can rest it in my lap or keyboard tray while I draw and not have to access the keyboard often.
I didn’t have any issues setting this up on my 2007 model iMac running Snow Leopard and the response is as smooth as described in numerous reviews I read. You won’t get tilt, an erasing pen or some of the other goodies provided by Wacom but this is an amazing tablet for the price and highly recommended as a travel tablet, for a beginning student or for those on a budget.