I’ve been using a tablet as my primary pointing device on my computers for more than twenty years now. Don’t confuse a graphics tablet with a tablet computer such as iPad or Samsung Galaxy Note. We’re specifically talking about a device that in many ways replaces your mouse usage. Except it doesn’t have to completely replace your mouse.
What exactly do you do with a mouse? You move your cursor around the screen and mix in left, right and double-clicks to execute certain actions. In graphics software, your cursor is used to draw and/or edit graphics. One phrase I’ve uttered hundreds (maybe even thousands) of times in a training class is “did you learn to draw with a crayon or a bar of soap?”
For me, a mouse is nothing more than a bar of soap with buttons. Whereas the pen supplied with a graphics tablet represents a very powerful crayon. While there are multiple tablet brands, this is one category where one brand is so far above the others that you shouldn’t even consider the lesser brands. You should get a Wacom brand tablet and the only choice is the size and feature set you desire. Obviously your budget does play a part in the decision, but consider that a good tablet can easily last a decade or more.
For this post, I’ve chosen the two tablets from which the majority of users should choose. The top photo is the Wacom Intuos Pen and Touch Small Tablet and it is selling for $84.95 at Amazon as I write this. The area in which you draw on the tablet is approximately 4″ x 6″. It doesn’t have all of the bells and whistles of its bigger brother, but it is a great way to get started with a tablet and I doubt you’ll find any features missing.
The bottom photo is the Wacom Intuos Pro Pen and Touch Medium Tablet and it is selling for $300.99 as I write this. It has a larger drawing area of approximately 6″ x 8″. You’ll also notice a row of buttons on the tablet that can control functions on your computer. This is the size I have used for years now and it is perfect balance between size, price and functionality.
Whether drawing vector graphics or editing photos, I find the pen to give me far better control over the cursor which allows me to get projects done faster and with better quality. If you’d had issues with carpal tunnel, you will probably find that using a pen is a lot less stressful on your wrist than long hours pushing a mouse around your desk.
For those who are new to a tablet, it may take a day or two to adjust to using the absolute positioning of a tablet over the relative positioning of a mouse. Once you’ve made the adjustment, it is very easy to switch between the two pointing devices. While I use a tablet almost exclusively, I still have a mouse attached to my computer as a backup pointing device. Yes, both can be used on the same computer!
Some of you may have an older tablet that has seen better days. Maybe it is time you considered getting a newer tablet. Regardless if you are new to tablets or a veteran, these are the two tablets from which I’d suggest you choose.