Buying a new or refurbished tablet when you have a strict budget can be challenging. I decided to write about this topic after receiving many requests for help in buying a tablet on a budget, for use in quilting and creative arts.
This post is Part 4 in my Tablet Series. To start at Part 1, please click here. Part 2 is here, and click here to see Post 3. If you are curious as to what you can do with a tablet, please see this post.
Wacom Bamboo or Intuos Option
This option uses/adds on to your existing computer desktop, laptop, notebook or ultrabook that you already own. If you are currently happy with your computer system, either Mac or PC, then this would be a low cost alternative for you.
Wacom makes several entry level tablet peripherals which are inexpensive choices for occasional tablet users. These are tablet devices which are either wireless or plug into your USB port on your existing computer and allow you to draw off to one side while looking at the screen.
Drawing in this manner takes lots of practice to do, and can be frustrating if you are used to drawing on a piece of paper. However, if you are determined, you can master this way of drawing.
For only $49 US or 49.90 Euros, you can buy the Bamboo tablet which plugs into your computer by way of USB port. For $79.00 US or 69.90 Euros, you can purchase the Bamboo wireless model. I do recommend the wireless model, if it is in your budget, mostly because it is easier to draw while being untethered.
The largest benefit to the Bamboo is the low entry price into tablet drawing. You may also use it with either a Mac or PC computer system, too.
The biggest downside relates to drawing off to one side while looking at the computer screen, as well as the size of this
tablet, which is small. When a tablet screen is small, you have to pick up the stylist pen tip and readjust. You also need a drawing program to use a tablet, but this is true with all tablets.
If you own a Bamboo now, and find that there seems to be a disconnect between what you draw and the lines on the screen, then you will need to re-calibrate your device, also called “mapping”. Wacom has helpful how-to support here.
Wacom also makes their Intuos line of tablets, which come in 4 different sizes. Prices start at $79 US or 69.90 Euros for the smallest Intuos up to $499 US or 470.90 Euros for the largest size Intuos Tablet.
Pros: Low, starting price for their smallest tablet, may be used with either a Mac or PC computer system.
The same downside as the Bamboo line applies here. Drawing “blind” off to the side is not natural if you are used to pen and paper drawing. I happen to own an XL sized Intuos tablet, an earlier version model that I used once. Why? It was a gift from my dear husband, who didn’t know about the “drawing off to one side” aspect- and my particular feelings about it. However, if your budget is small, and you don’t mind drawing while looking at the screen, then I would recommend the largest size Intuos you can buy with your budget.
There are several Wacom competitors, however, I do not recommend any of them.
Buying Refubished or Discontinued Tablet PC
The other choice available to budget minded tablet buyers are to do your research, and then buy a slightly used, or discontinued Tablet PC. My favorite place to buy them is on eBay, however, do your research and double check that the seller is legitimate and has a high rating. I also know of quilters who purchased a used tablet from a local computer store that refurbished models, then sold them with a warranty. Once again, check to see this store will be around if you have any issues. Same with shopping on Craigslist.
Another tip for budget tablet buyers are that computer tablet manufactures often sell refurbished or discontinued models on their eBay page. Say you buy a tablet, then return it for any reason. They repair it, then the company may resell on eBay. Here is a link to the Fujitsu eBay Outlet page.
I decided to run an experiment. My particular model of Tablet PC Convertible is only about 3 years old, however, I know it is a great machine. I paid $2000 US when I bought mine new, fully loaded. I recently found a similar set up on eBay recently for only $500-600 US. It pays to do the research and buy a slightly older model to get more value per dollar (or currency of your country) .
I hope this post and information contained here will help you to stay on budget. I love drawing and creating with my Tablet PC convertible, and draw at least once a day, if not more. I would love to see what YOU create with your tablet, too.