WACOM Alternatives!

 

WACOM-ALT-HEAD

Let’s face it,  most people can’t justify dropping 3,000 dollars on a high end tablet. Unless you’ve made the big time or work for a big corporation, having a CINTIQ made by WACOM is more of a pipe-dream than reality. Over the last few months, there have been a bunch of reviews of hardware alternatives to WACOM’s products. By no means do they have the monopoly on the market anymore – so the Webcomic Alliance has decided to put up this article about these up-and-coming manufacturers and their drawing tablet options.

These are not in-depth reviews of the products, but merely listings of what is available, with some additional links to some reviews for reference. It’s up to you to decide which product (if any) suits your needs and price point. The products listed here are comparable to the larger screen/tablet CINTIQ. I will do a followup on the desktop tablets at a later date.

Option 1: BOSTO Kingtee 22HD or 19MB

Chinese manufacturer BOSTO INTERNATIONAL has produced their Kingtee graphic tablet for the last few years, and have improved upon their offering by putting out a high resolution 22-inch HD tablet in addition to their updated 19-inch model, the MB.

Here’s the specs:
BOSTO-Kingtee-22hd-1Kingtee 22HD
LED Backlit
1920×1080
HDMI/VGA/DVI
2048 levels of pressure
Cordless/Battery-less Stylus
Price: $799

 

 

BOSTO-Kingtee-19mb-1Kingtee 19MB
LED Backlit
1440×900
HDMI/VGA/DVI
2048 levels of pressure
Rechargeable Stylus
Price: $649

 

 

 

Option 2. Yiynova MSP-19U

The Yiynova MSP has been receiving some serious attention after some positive reviews from the likes of professional illustrators such as Ray Frenden. Billed as the leader in WACOM alternatives (for tablet/monitor) the MSP-19U makes up for its bulkiness and clunkiness with some slick responsiveness. It may not be the prettiest, but it does the job –
and quite well.

Here’s the specs:

Yiynova-MSP19UMSP-19U
LED Backlit
1440×900
VGA Output
2048 levels of pressure
Battery Powered Stylus
Price: $599

 

Apparently the cost has gone up a bit due to its popular demand. I wouldn’t be surprised to see an upgrade to this model that hovers around the 800 dollar mark in the near future, now that they’ve got the jump on the other competing brands in terms of popularity and figuring out a successful recreation of the technology from WACOM‘s expired patents. Another knock on the Yiynova is its lack of output support (VGA Only).

 

Option 3: Monoprice Interactive Pen Display

It’s not the most creative name, but that’s how MONOPRICE rolls. No baloney, no frills – Monoprice is all about good quality hardware at a fraction of a price. Known for its discount cables and computer periphery, they’ve really stepped up their game by getting into the manufacturing of affordable tech in niche markets. This new tablet is no exception. Very little is known about it, and very few people have test driven it, so it remains to be seen how well it stacks up against the WACOM CINTIQ and the YIYNOVA MSP-19U. If you can afford to be an early adopter and give it a go, it will only set you back about $390.00.

Here’s the specs.

Monoprice-IPDMonoprice ISP
LED Backlit
1440×900
HDMI/VGA/DVI
2048 levels of pressure
Rechargeable Stylus
Price: $399

 

 

 

Option 4: P-Active / XP-Pen MJP19 LCD Graphic Tablet

P-Active has put out a few tablets, and has primarily had decent success with the lower-end desktop tablets to compete with WACOM’s Bamboo line. Recently, P-Active has increased production on a larger model to compete with WACOM and their CINTIQs. Little is known about the MJP19 or if it is just a repackaged version of the Yiynova version – they will be available soon.

Here’s the specs:

mjp19_graphic_tablets

 

MJP19
LED Backlit
1440×900
HDMI/VGA/DVI
2048 levels of pressure
Battery Powered Stylus
Price: ???

 

 

Option 5: The Designerpad O

Abibo Limited appears to be going beyond the typical Chinese manufacturer presence to establish themselves as a legitimate source for professional drawing tablets for artists and creative folks. The Designerpad O has its own dedicated website, chock full of info and the usual technical jargon you’d expect from a hardware supplier trying to make their product look sexier than what it is. You can tell by the increase in price – perhaps you’re paying for the name brand/marketing.

Here’s the specs:

designerpad-o

Designerpad O
LED Backlit
1440×900
HDMI/VGA
2048 levels of pressure
Battery Powered Stylus
Price: $1,280

 

 

As these cheaper alternatives start to make their way into the market and artists and creative professionals begin talking about them, we’ll start to see some interesting competition. With all alternatives to name-brand hardware, there is going to be hiccups and odd quirks – but if it will help you save 1,000s of dollars to achieve the more or less the same effect as a WACOM CINTIQ, and it fits all of your needs – give one of these a try.

 
Andrés ‘ Drezz ‘ Rodriguez is the author of the neo-noir Online Graphic Novel El Cuervo. He provides WA readers with periodic articles (like this one) to help improve their comic skillz so they can pay their bills. Feel free to follow him on Twitter at @DrezzRodriguez

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Posted in Featured News, Helpful Hints, Tech and tagged , , , .

16 Comments

  1. Nice review Drezz. I didn’t realize these alternatives were out there.

    I think the iPad is becoming an alternative or getting closer to one with apps like Procreate and the ability to use a pressure sensitive stylus like Pogo connect. Many people like me already own an iPad so it becomes the cheaper alternative.

    • The thing is, until WACOM and Apple get into bed together and create a proper stylus, the iPad will still feel like a bit of a sham to draw on – at least in my opinion.

      Steve Jobs HATED using a stylus for Apple products. That’s why he never integrated one into the iPad. As long as the same design committee is there and supporting the original vision for using your fingers for everything, the iPad will always have a clunky-ass stylus.

      Pressure sensitivity is one thing, but drawing with a big head on the end of my pen is not something I care for. I want to be able to use a native drawing stylus with a fine nib end. At least that’s one thing the Microsoft Surface got right (albeit with some tweaking.)

      • I couldn’t agree more. I think that’s why I gave up on the iPad. I just didn’t enjoy using that “clunky-ass” stylus. But not everybody is going to feel that way. Otherwise you wouldn’t see people spending 200 hours doing photo realistic images of Morgan Freeman on their iPad. It’s still going to be an alternative for some people given the professional level feature set of apps like Procreate.

        I won’t invest in a Cintiq (or one of the alternatives) until my abilities justify it. For now I am going to stick to pencil, pen, brush and paper.

        • It looks like that pen still uses the same fingertip size nib required by the iPad. You can just change the nib to suit the device.

          • The pro version of the pen doesn’t… And its got 4k levels of pressure, and tilt, and I think palm rejection. Check it out.

  2. I saved up for a small Cintiq (one that costs a thousand dollars), so I don’t really tend to agree with people who talk of those as if they are a pipe dream. Though the best thing about there being alternatives is in that maybe Wacom will stop overpricing their stuff so much (now that one may well be a pipe dream).

    • Artist guilt causes us to think that we should put that money towards food and rent over business expenses. Its just how we’re wired.

      But there are a number of people who can’t even scrimp and save for an entry level Cintiq or a used one. A thousand bucks is still a thousand dollars – a large enough amount for some. If you’ve got other more important things that money can go to (daycare, retirement savings or whatever) owning a Cintiq is still a pipe dream.

      However – a knockoff that is just as good may not be a dream.

  3. How about the Fujitsu Lifebook tablet PCs?

    I use a Fujitsu Lifebook T730 which works great as an art tablet. I got mine on sale for $850. You can find them used for about $450 now!

  4. A Microsoft Surface Pro or Pro 2 uses a Wacom stylus and is a very respectable drawing tablet at an affordable price and is a computer on top of that. Sure it’s not big, but it’s got a high resolution screen and multi-touch functionality. I use a SP2 and it works very well. The pen isn’t Intuos level, but not all art styles need those features. There’s even a paint brush stylus.

  5. I have been a professional designer and illustrator for 10+ years now and i’ve owned one Cintiq 12WX, three 21UX and 1 24HD Touch screens. I have found that the way I work has changed so much that a step back to pen an paper is unimaginable.

    My suggestion to anyone who is holding back from buying one of these would be to make it happen however you can and never look back. As you get used to the tool and its features, your skill level will grow exponentially as will your marketable talent. If you’re a designer but dont do much illustration work, also remember that this will make clipping paths 90% quicker and better as well as photo manipulation – don’t hesitate, get a cheap one, or a cintiq, but you’ll probably end up with a cintiq eventually.

    BTW, I will probably go back to the 21HD for my next screen, the 24HD touch is less maneuverable and doesn’t have much more screen for the downfall.

  6. I have been a professional designer and illustrator for 10+ years now and i’ve owned one Cintiq 12WX, three 21UX and 1 24HD Touch screens. I have found that the way I work has changed so much that a step back to pen an paper is unimaginable.

    My suggestion to anyone who is holding back from buying one of these would be to make it happen however you can and never look back. As you get used to the tool and its features, your skill level will grow exponentially as will your marketable talent. If you’re a designer but dont do much illustration work, also remember that this will make clipping paths 90% quicker and better as well as photo manipulation – don’t hesitate, get a cheap one, or a cintiq, but you’ll probably end up with a cintiq eventually.

    BTW, I will probably go back to the 21HD for my next screen, the 24HD touch is less maneuverable and doesn’t have much more screen for the downfall.

    • This article was written last year. The Huion tablets weren’t widely available at the time.

      The GT-220 was only available for review in the spring of 2014.

  7. Thought I would throw my 2 cents here. I have been working almost exclusively on a Yiynova MVP22UV3 and I LOVE IT. I can’t say enough great things about it. The screen res is awesome, the response once you dial it in is great (I notice zero lag) and honestly I’ve never been more productive.

    If you were to go this route with tablets I would make two suggestions.

    1) Invest in some good rechargeable AA batteries. The stylus eats through them pretty fast but with a simple charger and pack of batteries it’s an easy fix.

    2) I would highly suggest investing in an Ergotron (my personal favorite brand) swing arm to wall mount the unit. With a good wall mount you can constantly move and adjust your canvas as if it were a piece of paper. It’s streamlines the drawing process so much that I think it’s almost a MUST buy.

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