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A Guide to Digital Pen Tablets

Updated on September 10, 2011

An Overview of Digital Pen Tablets

Digital pen tablets, or simply pen tablets, provide a whole new way to interact with the computer. The premise to the technology is simple - what is drawn on the tablet will appear on the computer screen. This technology primarily helps artists to create art in the digital medium, but can be used to interact with the computer in a completely different way than what is normal.

In this hub, I will be going over if getting a digital pen tablet is right for you, how much they cost, and specific models that I recommend.

Note: I am only covering Wacom digital pen tablets here - they are the only tablets I have had experience with.

Who and What Are Digital Pen Tablets For?

In short, pen tablets are for artists looking to start or improve the quality of digital art they create. As artists are familiar with using a pen, pencil, or brush to create art with traditional materials, the transition to the digital medium is almost effortless. Plus, this medium allows much more creativity due to a wonderful thing called the undo button.

Pen tablets can also be used for video gaming and, in some cases, can be more accurate than a mouse. Personally, I have never tried to play a game on a tablet, but I have a feeling it would take some getting used to.

Some Digital Pen Tablets Can Be Pricey
Some Digital Pen Tablets Can Be Pricey

Features of the Digital Pen Tablet and How They Affect Price

There are two primary features of digital pen tablets that will determine how much it will cost. The active area, and the pressure sensitivity of the pen.

The active area is the area in which the pen is able to interact with the computer. Each point on this active area represents a point on the computer screen. The bigger the active area, the higher the cost of the tablet. For example - a Wacom Pen and Touch Small goes for about $100 on, while the regular Wacom Pen and Touch goes for about $200. The difference? The regular Wacom Pen and Touch has double the active area.

The second factor in determining price of a digital tablet is the sensitivity of the pen. The more levels of pressure, the higher the price of the tablet. Usually the pen price doesn't come into play until you are look at different models of tablets. For example, most of the Wacom Pen and Touch digital pen tablets come with the same pen with the same sensitivity. However, when you look at the Wacom Intuos tablet, the pen is much more sensitive than the one provided with the Wacom Pen and Touch.

Other factors of price for digital pen tablets include extra features on the tablet itself, such as buttons and scroll wheels to help increase workflow or different pen tips for different jobs. If considering investing a large amount of money into a digital pen tablet, look into computer screens that have the functionality of a tablet such as the Wacom Cintiq.

Wacom Bamboo Pen and Touch Tablet on Amazon

Inexpensive, but worthwhile, Digital Pen Tablets

If you are looking to try out a digital pen tablet, and don't want to invest much money into it, take a look at the Wacom Bamboo Pen and Touch Fun Small. For about $100, you get a high quality tablet packed with features.

Pros -

  • Great Entry Level Tablet
  • Low Price
  • Customizable Buttons for Faster Workflow

Cons -

  • Small Active Area

Wacom Intuos4 Digital Pen Tablets

Digital Pen Tablets Packed with Features but High on Price

If you are going to use your digital pen tablet for professional use, or maybe just more serious personal use, the Wacom Intuos series of tablets are the digital pen tablets to look at.

Pros -

  • Wide Range of Active Area
  • Pen Sensitivity Much Better than the Wacom Bamboo Fun
  • Customizable Buttons for Faster Workflow

Cons -

  • Price Goes From $200 Up. The Bigger, The Pricier.

The Wacom Intuos is one of the best digital pen tablets on the market. To go beyond the Intuos is to purchase a computer screen with the capabilities of a tablet. And yes, it is much, much more expensive.


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    • crystolite profile image

      Emma 6 years ago from Houston TX

      An interesting overview you have in here for digital pen tablets.wonderful guide and thanks for sharing.