afx

Wacom Alternatives

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Hi,

while for my meager retouching needs the Bamboo is sufficient, for my graphics designer sister it is a bit smallish.
So I thought I'll get her a Wacom Intuos Pro M. While looking for it on Amazon, I found several other manufacturers like XP-Pen. So why do I never hear of them? Is Wacom so much better?
Wacom are too stupid to even maintain websites that they reference (http://bamboodock.wacom.com/), so my confidence in Wacom is not that high...

cheers
afx

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I read that these Chinese Huion tablets are pretty good (Fstoppers review but it seems to be offline atm). 

 

I managed to find a way to keep my old Wacom CTE-640 working under El Crapitan by getting OS X system Prefs to run in 32-bit mode. Unless there was an issue with the Chinese products I would definitely buy them. 

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From my experience of Wacom graph tabs, I would run a country mile to any manufacturer other than Wacom. Who in my mind are crap

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I bought my first 5x4" Wacom tablet back in 1993, then bought my first Wacom Intuos 9x12" in early 2000 as a result of swapping from Mac to Windows (had I upgraded to Mac again at that stage I would still have had to get a new tablet because Mac were discontinuing ADB ports). The little 5x4 tablet was still working just fine when I gave my old Mac IIci away after 7 years of use.

 

I still have that first Intuos that I bought for my first Windows machine, and it will still work with my current machine, but I bought a new Wacom Intuos4 9x12 when I bought a new Windows machine in 2007 (from memory), mainly as it offered greater pressure sensitivity and higher resolution. That tablet is still working just fine. To date the actual Wacom Tablets have been the most reliable and long-lasting things I have ever bought as far as computing goes. I have had to replace pens, though, both times caused by an inadvertent fall from the desk onto a hard floor, the nib taking the impact. The tablet has endured years of abuse on the other hand, from spilled coffee to a frustrated thump (or several dozen) of a fist over the years. ;)

 

Observations on Wacom drivers are relevant - they're the only weak link that I've found in Windows, and while the recent iterations of the Wacom drivers have proven easy to install and reliable in operation, in earlier times driver updates were fraught with difficulty and on more than one occasion caused me to resort to a disk image restore when even Windows System Restore couldn't make head nor tail of the mess the Wacom driver install had made of things.

 

That said, my current tablet has worked, and still works, through use with Windows XP Pro, Windows 7 Pro and now Windows 10 Pro. Somewhat surprisingly, the update from Win7 to Win10 went completely smoothly, the Wacom worked just fine on initial boot after the free download/installation, as did everything else! For a moment there I had to question as to whether this was still Micro$oft I was dealing with... the product was free and it worked!!! :D

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I am not running my Mac in 32-bit mode, but I opened the System Preferences app in 32-bit mode so that it would recognise the Wacom driver (there's a way to do this that I have since forgotten). You do this once, make the necessary adjustments to your device and then the next time you open System Prefs it runs in 64 bit mode. So, the old Wacom CTE-640 lives on in the El Crapitan environment. I don't use mine often, only to do dodging and burning in Lightroom. I much prefer using the Apple Magic Trackpad which has completely revolutionised the way I operate a computer. 

 

Anyway, Andreas was asking about alternatives to Wacom so I provided one of the better known options. I might go this way myself if the CTE-640 doesn't survive the next OSX. If it works great, if it doesn't I send it back. 

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By the way, Ann... reading through those responses from the Huion people on that page you will immediately notice that they are very responsive to any issues. I can't say the same for the high and mighty Wacom crowd and their support forums. 

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As it is dirt cheap (54€), I ordered a XP-Pen 03 from Amazon yesterday. Will play with it this weekend and then see if it is a viable option. 

 

cheers

afx

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I'll be very interested to read how you go with that one, Andreas. 

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8 hours ago, Ann said:

The Huion pens are powered by heir own internal batteries which will affect both their weight and balance — and those batteries have to kept in a charged-up state.

 

The Wacom pens contain no batteries and work by proximity to the tablet.

 

I am fairly sure that all graphic artist will have very firm ideas about which tools they want to use and it might be a better idea for Andreas to give his sister a Gift Certificate on the Apple Store so that his sister can go there and choose a tablet for herself?

 

No need to go to an Apple store for a Wacom - you'll pay a lot less for the same thing either online or at a "normal" computer store. Thankfully that is at least one item that Apple hasn't got exclusive pricing/compatibility control over. A Wacom will work on any computer.

 

Andreas asking "Is Wacom so much better?" is what elicited my response as well - to repeat: it is, without question, the best, most long-lasting and bullet-proof piece of computer equipment of anything I have used, and that includes all my cameras. I have never had the tablet fail, two pens have failed through my fault entirely (Wacom supply a pen holder for a reason, pens rolling off a desk when properly stood in their stand simply cannot happen, so 100% user error there), the drivers problem seems to be worked out now, and only Apple's abandonment of its ADB port made replacing the first Wacom I bought in March 1993 necessary.

 

It is of note that my Feb 2000-bought 9x12 USB Intuos will still work with my current Windows 10 computer, and I'd be really interested to hear if anyone else has a piece of computer equipment that is still able to be used as-is with the latest machines over 16 years after purchase?

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I believe that the 32-bit trick is just to access the driver prefs. Once they are set you carry on working as usual in 64-bit. 

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So after two months some feedback.

 

I've tried the XP-Pen 03 on Windows, and it worked absolutely fine apart from a bug with Capture One where one could have either pressure sensitivity or the second mouse button. Could not recheck with the latest C1 build, but PhaseOne did open a bug for this, so it hopefully is fixed by now. LightRoom worked just fine with it.

One the Mac it worked just fine everywhere I tried, including C1.

After two weeks I shipped it onwards to my sister who has been using it happily since it arrived (she uses Macs and the whole Adobe zoo). She often uses drawing paper on top and traces her pen sketches with the tablet.

 

For my own use it is definitely too big. The bit of retouching I do is easily done on the small Bamboo. So I did not order one for myself.

 

cheers

afx

 

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Thanks for the feedback, Andreas. 

 

Well, unfortunately my Wacom CTE-640 was finally slain by the most recent OSX update to El Cap. It still worked as a mouse but none of the buttons would work. I could have gotten by doing dodging and burning with it but because I use the button on the pen quite a bit it would have become tricky to carry on with it. I eventually asked my local Wacom rep what I could buy to replace it that wouldn't dent my pocket too much and he suggested the Wacom Intuos Draw. I ended up spending a little bit more for the small Intuos Art which has the touch functionality which I like. It's not super expensive and while not quite as fancy as the Intuos Pro it does exactly what I need it to do. I'll do a write up on it in the next few weeks. 

 

I didn't get the Chinese brand one because it would have taken too long to get to me. 

 

wacom .jpeg

 

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