Buying a Discontinued New Tablet PC- For Artists

As mentioned in my last post, it was time to buy a new tablet, so I decided to follow my own advice and pick up a brand new, yet discontinued, tablet PC for a fraction of the price.  The model I selected was offered on a reputable website, but would save me quite a bit of money in the end.  I needed a new Tablet PC to run all my design software, like Photoshop Elements, Illustrator, and Art & Stitch.

lenovo-tp-x230-n2c2bhv-laptop-tablet3The model I purchased was a Lenovo Thinkpad x230, which I purchased from B&H Photo brand new for only between $600-659.  It is currently offered now for $634 US here.

I want to let blog readers know my first impressions and how my purchase has worked out so far.

The package shipped promptly from B&H, and arrived just fine in a brand new box.  This was indeed a brand new machine and not a refurbished one.  I opened the box and then proceeded to set up my machine and install all my software.  This notebook does not have a CD/DVD player, but I just used my portable one that connects to the computer with a USB plug to install all my software.

Once I had Photoshop Elements 13 installed, it was time to try it out.  Sure enough, it worked perfectly!   It has similar specs to my last Tablet PC, the Fujitsu T902, but I paid less than 1/3rd the cost.

The pros:  Lenovo x230 is a fine tablet and comes highly rated by other artists.  The price was right.  Tablet works as advertised.

The cons:  The keyboard set up takes some getting used to, but I added a mouse for ease of web surfing and clicking.  The Wacom digitizer and pen are a bit different than previous Tablet PCs, it seems to have some pressure functionality.  It will take some time to get used to the new set up.  This machine was released a few years ago, and is now discontinued.

All in all, I am very happy with my new tablet, and love that I spent less than $660 US. I think this is an excellent value for what you get. I can now start drawing and designing once again!

Let me know if you have any questions.  Hugs, Carla



Tablet Info For Quilters- Part 3

Carla Note- This is Part 3 of a Tablet Buying and Information series for quilters and creative people.  To begin at Post 1, please click here

tabletdecisionsToday, we.will continue with more factors to consider when purchasing a Tablet for creative application.  Part 1 covered the Operating System (OS), and Part 2 covered such areas as budget, use, size,  and the software you plan to use with the tablet.

Today, I plan to help you wade through some of Technical Specs- such as your Processor, Memory, Storage, Battery, and digitizer/screen needs.  I will explaining some of the details so you understand what to look for when comparing one tablet to another.

What Processor Will Meet Your Needs?

inteli7Without complicating this topic, know that the majority of Tablet PC  options have Intel inside, to re-use their old motto.  Look for Intel Core i3, i5 and i7.   i7 will be the most expensive and i3 will cost less.   All will be appropriate to meet your processor needs and have excellent performance.   I do want to mention that a family member works for Intel, but aside from this, Intel’s processors are the best choice when purchasing a Tablet PC.

Some Tablet PC’s have Intel’s Atom processors, however, the Tablet PC with Atom processors typically have 2 GB of system memory, which imho, is not enough to handle the heavy workload of large programs.  This is important to know if you plan to use larger sized programs like Photoshop.  More about this topic below.

In the Android Tablet field, the two main competitors are ARM and Intel.  Both will meet your needs.    Apple’s processor used in their iPad models are done internally, they have high quality processors.

What are Your Memory Needs?

I will simplify memory into 2 areas- system memory and storage:

System memory-  The quick definition of system memory is this is your local, high speed, temporary memory the CPU uses like a scratch pad.  Often referred to as RAM (random access memory).

What system memory should you look for in a tablet PC?  I recommend 8 Gigabyte (GB) or higher.   If all you can afford is 4GB,  know you may have some slowing and performance issues, especially with larger programs.  4 GB will certainly work, however, If it is in your budget, go for 8GB or larger.

Storage–  Most Tablet PCs have a Solid-state Drive (SSD)  for their memory storage capacity.  The reason for this is that SSD’s are less prone to physical shock, and quieter than traditional hard disk drives. The SSD  will boot your system, store your programs and your personal files.    When shopping for a tablet, look for the SSD tech spec, it typically will be between 64 GB and 1 Terabyte (T).

External Hard Disc Drive (HDD) for added storage

External Hard Disc Drive (HDD) for added storage

If you are looking at a Tablet PC, I recommend 256 GB or higher, if it is in your budget.  If not, another option is to add external storage by purchasing an external hard disc drive (HDD), these days you can pick up 2T of HDD for $120 US or less.  By the way, external SSD are very pricey for a lot less GB storage.  I recommend an external HDD  to also back up your Tablet PC, too.

For an Android or iPad tablet, storage is still very important.  If buying an iPad or Android tablet, purchase the largest memory your budget will allow.  Nothing is more frustrating then to run out of storage capacity on your iPad, which happened to me.

How Important is Battery Life to You? 

The expected battery life of a tablet is certainly important, especially if you plan to work and travel with your tablet.  No one wants to be in the middle of a special project and lose power, or be watching a movie, only to run out of battery power.

You will see a wide variety of battery performance in the tablet market.  If a long battery life is important to you, then be sure to look at battery performance during your comparison.  This applies for all types of tablets sold.

Does Your Tablet Need to Have any special Input/outputs?

USB 2.0 vs USB 3.0

USB 2.0 vs USB 3.0

You will want to consider if you need to have any special slots, ports or other input/output on your Tablet.  Most of us use the USB 2.0 port and thumb drive to move files around, hook up peripheral devices, and other basic tasks.  Many Tablet Slates, including the Surface Pro 2, do not come with this port.  Instead, they only have USB 3.0, however,  the good news is that USB 3.0 are backwards compatible, which means you can still use your older USB 2.0 with them.

VGA slot used for older model projectors

VGA slot used for older model projectors

I was helping out a quilting teacher to choose a new tablet, and I knew she needed a VGA slot on her tablet so she could hook up her projector for classroom applications.  This did limit her selection a bit, but in the end we were able to locate a Tablet PC Convertible that met her needs.  So remember to consider what slots or ports you cannot live without, and then look at the technical sheet of any tablet you are considering.

Another tip on this subject.  If the Tablet of your dreams does not have the slot or port you need, try searching to see if an adapter or docking station is available.

Will You Be Using The Tablet Inside or Outside?

Anti-glare screen protector

Anti-glare screen protector

Your display screen may or may not have special anti-glare properties, so if this is important to you, look for a tablet with this feature, otherwise, know you can purchase a Screen display protector with anti-glare features and add it after your purchase.

Pen/Finger Input Preferences?

Behind or in front of the display will be your active digitizer.  I won’t go into the details for how this technology works, but know that your active digitizer will require the use of a special pen to interact with the display and draw.

The two main digitizers available are manufactured by Wacom and N- Trig.  Wacom is used by the majority of Tablet companies, and would be my first choice.  Some Wacom digitizers have touchscreen capability, too.

N-Trig is a newer, smaller company, and in comparison tests, they do not rate as high as Wacom.



In addition to the active digitizer, many Tablet PCs and all the Android and iPads also have touchscreen capability, also called a passive digitizer.   Touchscreen in tablets started when the iPad was released, and now you will find it in ultrabooks, monitors and other computing applications.  What is Touchscreen?  It is where you use your fingertouch to control what you see on your display.

If you have never seen a touchscreen tablet or computer, my advice would be to visit a computer retailer in person to try it out.  You may love it or feel you can live without it.  This feature is personal preference.  Once again,  Wacom and N-Trg are the two largest companies manufacturing touchscreens, and I recommend Wacom.

What type of pen do you prefer?

Tablets are pen enabled devices, and most come with a stylist pen or offer it as an add-on purchase.   What is important to know is that in tablets sold,  Wacom digitizer pens do not work on N-Trig digitizers and vice versa.   Also, if you own a Wacom plug in device (such as Bamboo, Graphire, Intuos or [most] Cintiq), their specialized pens will not work with Tablet PC Wacom digitizers.

However, since 2002, any pen made for a Wacom Tablet PC digitizer will work on another Wacom Tablet PC digitizer.  This is helpful if you happen to own several Tablet PC with Wacom digitizer and often misplace your pen, like I often do.  I use both a HP and Toshiba pen on my Fujitsu with no problem.

Bamboo Feel Carbon

Bamboo Feel Carbon

I do recommend pens for tablet drawing, so my advice is to buy a Tablet PC with Wacom digitizer, and also order at least 2 pens.  More, if you misplace them like me.  🙂  Every tablet PC manufacturer will have their own pen for their brand, plus Wacom makes 2 compatible pens- a Bamboo Feel  ($39 US) and the Bamboo Feel Carbon (79.95 US).  Both links have a helpful list of compatible Tablet PCs.

Adonit Jot Touch 4 for iPads

Adonit Jot Touch 4 for iPads

I also recommend pens for drawing with both Android and iPad tablets.  Right now, the best pen for drawing with your iPad is the Adonit Jot Touch 4, priced at $89 US.   In the Android market, some tablets ship with pens and some don’t.  For this reason, I recommend purchasing a pen if your tablet doesn’t come with one.  Just ensure that the pen is compatible with your Android tablet before you purchase.

By Now…

… you should know what features you desire in a Tablet.  You are bound to have questions, so if you do, please leave me a comment.  I want you to shop around and make an informed decision as to what is the right Tablet for you.

To help you buy a Tablets if you are on a tight budget, the next post in this series will provide you with several options for budget tablet buying.

Take care, Carla

Buying a New PC Tablet

I am currently researching new PC tablets, since my last one, an HP Touchsmart tm2, has a broken display screen.   I am in the midst of shooting/editing video and drawing illustrations for my online Tablet Design Class, so I need a new tablet asap.  The tablet market changes rapidly, so I thought I would share about my search to buy a replacement one to fit my needs.

Let’s first talk about the different types of tablets available on the market today.  Here is a basic overview:

iPad Tablets and Competitor Android OS Tablets– iPad revolutionized the industry by their introduction of the iPad.  Rushing to compete were a wide variety of competitors offering Google’s Android Operating System (OS).

I do own an iPad, and love it, but for serious artists, a Drawing App using your finger or one of the stylus pens on the market is no comparison to using a fully featured drawing software program.

On the subject of stylist pens for the iPad, thanks to blog reader Jenni for letting me know about the Adonit Jot Pro Stylist pen.  This is a fine point stylist, and I have one on order, so I will review it when it arrives.  Previously, I had purchased the Pogo pen by TenOneDesign, and was disappointed by the large finger sized tip.

Pros: fun to use, versatile, Apps, portable, etc.

Cons: initial cost, monthly usage fee, cannot use drawing software programs, only Apps.

PC Tablets– A Tablet PC is a mobile computer which has a special display screen which allows you to draw with a  stylus pen directly on the monitor screen.  Some models also allow you to draw with your finger as well.

There are two main types of PC Tablets which run Windows OS- Slate and Convertible.  I much prefer the Convertible PC tablet models, so that is what I will be buying.    The market is moving in the direction of Slate PCs, and so many Convertible PCs have been discontinued.  Here is a discussion of both types.

Convertible Tablet PC (shown above) looks a much like a typical laptop or notebook, but has a special display screen which rotates 180 degrees and can be converted into a slate-like notepad mode.  You can use the special pen stylus to draw right on the screen, though you do need to have a drawing software program.  Otherwise, this type of mobile computer is used just like a laptop or notebook.

Pros: Ease of use and mobility,  laptop/notebook function and keyboard, drawing on display screen is natural for artists. Price for used or refurbished models on ebay can be less than half the cost.  Larger HDD memory allows large program use, such as Photoshop CS5.

Cons: Many models have been discontinued in favor of slate models.  Price for new models average between $1-2K US, heavier than slate PC.  Rotating display more fragile.

Slate PC Tablet: A slate PC tablet is different from the convertible PC as they do not have a standard keyboard or a rotating display screen. (note: some slate models [ie. Samsung Series 7] do offer keyboards as accessories)  Instead, you type on the flat screen, which can be awkward.  They are thinner than a convertible PC and offer less data storage space than a convertible PC tablet.  Some brands will not run large programs (like Photoshop CS5), so be sure your purchase will run the software you need it to.

Pros: no rotating hinge to break, mobile, lightweight, thinner than convertibles.  I believe that Slate technology and OS will improve greatly in the next few years, smaller packaging and advances in data storage will allow user to run large programs (such as Photoshop CS5).  Slates may use Solid State Drive (SSD), which is less susceptible to physical shock.

Cons: flat keyboard can take some time to get used to, though some slates offer keyboard accessory package.  Inability to run extremely large programs (ie. Photoshop CS4)  at the time of this writing and overall smaller data storage than used in convertibles.  Price.

Tablet Plug in Peripherals- The third main type of Tablet display device is a tablet which plugs into your computer USB port, though there are some models which is wireless using a Bluetooth USB adaptor.

Wacom dominates this market, though there are other manufacturers, too.  These are tablets which plug into your desktop or laptop computer by way of a USB port (usually).  The exception is the wireless Wacom Intuos, which uses Bluetooth USB adaptor to provide a wireless solution.  You can also buy a wireless accessory kit for the Bamboo Create and Connect.

Wacom’s offers 3 main product line of tablets: entry level Bamboo (Bamboo Create,shown above); Intuos, and the high end Cintiq models.  With the Bamboo and Intuos models, you look at your display screen and draw off to the side.  This can take some getting used to, and is a serious drawback for professional artists.  I own the largest size Intous, and never use it for just that reason.  Cintiq models are the exception and you can see what you are drawing right on the display screen.   Compare this image to the Bamboo image above:

All the Wacom (and competitors) product lines offer different sizes of tablets.  Drawing on a small tablet is annoying and frustrating, in my opinion.   I always tell my students to buy the largest sized tablet display screen that they can afford, if they are looking at purchasing a Wacom brand of tablet.

Pros: low entry price of the Bamboo line, which often comes bundled with Photoshop Element and other programs.  Only option for Apple users, though it does work with both Apple and PC computers.  Resolution is higher in Cintiq line than PC Tablets.

Cons: drawing off to the side while looking at your computer screen takes some getting use to in the Bamboo and Intuos models.  For professional artists, I would recommend the Cintiq line- especially the 2 largest sizes- 21UX and 24HD.  The cost can be a drawback- the 21UX costs $1999 US and the 24HD costs $2599 US.  The larger Cintiqs are heavy, intended  to be used on a desktop. Tethering on non-wireless models can also be a negative.


Above contains just minimal information concerning Tablets, without getting into lots of specs and details.  If you are in the market for a tablet, consider visiting the Tablet PC Discussion Forum for more research.  Be sure to notice the date of any article or advice given, as the computer tablet industry is rapidly evolving.  Your purchase will be based on your needs combined with your budget.

My Decision:  I own- or have previously owned- a Toshiba Tablet PC Convertible, an HP Touchsmart Tm2 PC Convertible, an iPad and a Wacom Intuos XL.  For my illustrations, including my cartoon, illustrations for classes, quilt design and digital paintings, I have almost exclusively used a tablet PC Convertible drawing in Photoshop 7-CS5 or Photoshop Elements since about 2004.  I use Camtasia 7.0.1 for all my video editing and recording.

Previously, I thought the HP Tm2 product (now discontinued) rather annoying to use with Photoshop, and I found it to be more of a beginning Convertible PC as compared with my older Toshiba Convertible PC Tablet (also discontinued).   This time, my budget is $2,000 US, and I need it to run Windows 7.  Because I support Intel, my DH’s employer, I want the processor to be Intel Core i5 or i7.  Display to be as large as possible, WXGA, with both pen and multi-touch screen. Because I work in Photoshop and create videos, I need lots of system memory and a decent hard drive space.  Graphics to be NVIDIA.

So which one shall I get to fit my needs?

The model I bought is Fujitsu Lifebook T901 Tablet PC.   This will offer me all the features that I need, plus it will be an improvement over my last Convertible Tablet PC.  Other features I prefer- extra battery storage, fingerprint scanner for security, DVD player, larger HD, and  more.

I promise to share a review when the product arrives.  Any comments?  I would love to know what others have purchased.

Regards, Carla