DokiWear Art Glove Update

DokiWear CG Art Glove - Black

DokiWear CG Art Glove – Black

I just received some new DokiWear gloves and they are pretty nice. You might notice that they look different from the original pair I reviewed. I liked the grey ones before, but I think I like the black ones more.

They also changed the way they fit. The original pair I had was just a sample, and in my review I had mentioned that they were a little loose and I couldn’t see how they would work well as a compression glove. The new pair I received, also a medium, fits much better.

I should also mention that I am wearing the DokiWear gloves on top of my Handeze Flex-fit gloves. I still need the extra wrist support for my carpal tunnel syndrome, so I’m hoping one day DokiWear comes out with a version that has a wrist support.

The stitching also seems to be tighter and closer together than the original sample I received.

The gloves are now available for purchase online. Before you could only get them if you backed their Kickstarter, but now you can order them from their site. I’m excited to see that DokiWear is improving their glove design and I look forward to any new versions in the future.

Litup LP3 – Review

Screen Shot 2015-03-26 at 7.43.12 PM

Litup LP3

This is the light box I wish I had back in school. The light box I used back at the Academy of Art University was small and about as thick as a brick. The Litup LP3 is extremely thin and has an active area of 16.93×12.2. Plus you have to admit, it looks pretty slick.

As always, you can watch the video review instead of reading the wall of text.

The LP3 light box is just that, it is a light box that is used for tracing drawings. I’m sure photographers and graphic designers have other uses for it, but for me it would be used for tracing drawings. It doesn’t transfer your drawing to the computer, it is just a good old fashioned light box.

The Light

What is cool about this light box that older boxes don’t have is the ability to change the brightness level. If you are in a dark room, you might want to use a lower brightness level so that you don’t burn your eyeballs. The LP3 also remembers your last brightness level setting. If you turn off the LP3 and turn it on again, it goes back to the previous setting.

During the video you will probably notice that the light flickers or has a rolling black bar. You can’t actually see the flicker in person, but you can see it through the camera due to the difference in refresh rates.

I tried testing the LP3 out with different types of paper. Obviously regular printer paper is fine, but I also tried 100 lb. Bristol Board. The light is strong enough to easily trace your drawing onto Bristol Board. I don’t have any watercolor paper around, but if I ever do, I will update this review.

The surface doesn’t seem to get hot either when working for long periods of time. It has been at full brightness for two hours now and the surface still feels like it did before I turned it on.

Litup LP3

Litup LP3

The Cons

There really aren’t many. The only main problem is that it has to be plugged in to use it. Most electronic devices do, so that isn’t a surprise. Some of the fancier models from Litup actually have a battery that allows you to use the device without plugging it in. If you are worried about using it without the cord, you might want to consider getting one of the upgraded models.

I saw some reviews that mentioned the cord is too short. I guess it really depends on how far away your desk is from the outlet. Sure it could always be a little longer, but for most cases I think the cord is probably long enough. I only mentioned it in the video because I was grasping at straws.

There seems to be quite a bit of variance with the cord length. Customers on Amazon are reporting the cord length to be anywhere from 36 in. long to 62 in. long. Maybe they received a different product, but my cord is 76 in. long. Unless you have a severe lack of outlets in your workspace, the cord should be long enough (unless your cord is only 3 feet long). According to Amazon, receiving different cord lengths could be a problem when ordering this product. Maybe Litup recently changed the cord length, but the short cord length reviews were from last month.

Conclusion

I really can’t find anything wrong with the LP3. The comment about the cord and power issue are so minor that I wouldn’t really even consider them as cons. I was really grasping at straws trying to figure out something to say that could be improved upon, and it appears these issues have been addressed with other models. I would have been extremely excited if this product had been around 14 years ago when I was in school.

Wacom Companion – Screen Protectors

Photo from Amazon.com

Photo from Amazon.com

Now that the Companion has been out for more than a year, companies have started making screen protectors for it. When I first purchased the Companion, there weren’t any screen protectors available, so I had to risk scratching my screen. I’m always super careful with my things, so I went about 7 months with no problems.

I use the Companion as my only work machine, so I use it a lot. After 7 months my nib had worn down quite a bit, but I didn’t notice how much it had worn down. It had worn down enough to create a sharp edge, which of course scratched my screen. <insert Vader “Noooooooo” here>

It was completely my fault. If I had been paying more attention to my nib wear, I probably wouldn’t have scratched my screen. Luckily it wasn’t that bad, so you can’t really notice it. Anyway, I went on Amazon and found a couple of different options regarding screen protectors for the Companion.

Posrus & Skinomi

I’ve been using tablet PCs since around 2009, so I have quite a bit of experience using various screen protectors. Back when I was using the ASUS EP121, I used the Posrus and the Skinomi screen protector. I used a few different options for the Fujitsu ST5112 as well, including the one from Fujitsu. Out of the 5112 screen protectors, the one from Fujitsu ended up being the best, even though it was really thick and made everything look a little blurry.

Skinomi screen protector after only 3 weeks of use. No bueno.

Skinomi screen protector after only 3 weeks of use. No bueno.

The Skinomi screen protector was a pain to install because it was one of those wet install screen protectors. It was a glossy protector so everything looked super crisp and clean, but that also meant there was a ton of glare. After only three weeks of use, the screen looked like the surface of a lake, or maybe liquid mercury.

The Posrus protector was an anti-glare screen protector, but it also scratched very easily. Not only did it scratch, but the scratches made everything on the screen look blurry. At least the indentations on the Skinomi protector didn’t make everything blurry. The Posrus protector had to be replaced after about a month or two.

Sure the Skinomi and Posrus protectors were for the ASUS EP121 and not the Companion, but since they are made by the same company, I’m sure they are pretty similar. Posrus offers a Companion screen protector, but based on how the Posrus protector performed on the ASUS, I didn’t want to take the chance.

Photodon a.k.a Awesomedon

There was another option by Photodon that looked promising, so I gave it a shot. They offer several different options for the Companion, a 25%, 35%, and 85% anti-glare and also a clear version. I went with the 25% anti-glare.

The Photodon screen protector is by far the best screen protector I’ve ever used. It is easy to install and it doesn’t affect the colors or touch capabilities. I also don’t really notice much affect on the sharpness of the screen, although I guess I didn’t sit and inspect it before and after. It does have a little bit of a matte feel to it, but if you buff the screen with the cleaning cloth that comes with it, it becomes much smoother.

The other screen protectors lasted anywhere from 3 weeks to 2 months max, the Photodon screen protector lasted 7 months. Quite an improvement. Plus that 7 months was with me using the computer 7 days a week, 8-15 hours a day. The scratches also weren’t huge indentations like the Skinomi protector, instead they were fine scratches. They also didn’t make the screen blurry like the Posrus protector. They did cause my nib to get caught a little and make squeaky noises, which was why I decided to go ahead and replace it. Paying $20 every 7 months to protect my Companion seems like a pretty good deal to me.

If you have a Wacom Companion and you are looking for a screen protector, Photodon is the way to go.

Dokiwear: The CG Art Glove

Image from DokiWear Kickstarter

Image from DokiWear Kickstarter

Not too long ago I was contacted about testing out a new glove designed for CG artists called the DokiGlove.

This glove was designed to eliminate oil from your screen surface and continue cleaning the surface at the same time. It is also supposed to act as a sports compression, offering hand and wrist support.

I’m not sure how much it actually helps in terms of supporting the wrist. According to their size chart I am a medium, but it seems a little too loose to act as a viable sports compression. Maybe it would work better if I had a small.

That being said, it does clean the surface and it eliminates oils from your fingers and hand. It is well constructed and also looks nice.

The microfiber cleaning cloth appears to be ultrasuede. When I first heard about the glove, I thought the microfiber cleaning cloth would be the typical cloth most people associate with computer cleaning cloths like this one. I personally hate the feel of the typical microfiber cleaning cloth because your skin sticks to it, or at least mine does. I’m glad they went with ultrasuede.

When I first saw the glove I was under the impression that the two fingers offered palm rejection. I’ve seen gloves in the past that only had the ring and little finger covered, and the reason was for palm rejection. After testing the DokiGlove, I now know that there is no palm rejection. I went to their site but I didn’t see anything about palm rejection, so I guess it was never a part of their design.

DokiGlove

DokiGlove

It would be nice if there was palm rejection, but most devices and apps have a palm rejection feature, so it isn’t that big of a deal.

What I really want is a wrist strap like the Handeze Flex-Fit. I think offering a version with the wrist strap would really appeal to artists with carpal tunnel syndrome. Actually, it should appeal to all CG artists because the wrist strap is not just something that helps with active carpal tunnel syndrome, but it also acts as a preventative measure.

Since the DokiGlove isn’t a very tight fit, I am able to wear my Handeze Flex-Fit gloves underneath the DokiGlove. It isn’t ideal, but it works.

All in all I think the DokiGlove is a great product, but for me I wouldn’t use it if I couldn’t wear my Handeze Flex-Fit glove underneath it. If they offered a version with a wrist strap, I would abandon the Handeze Flex-Fit glove for the DokiGlove.

Be sure to check out their Kickstarter!

Huion GT-220

Huion GT-220 - Claptrap wants to know what all the fuss is about.

Huion GT-220 – Claptrap wants to know what all the fuss is about. (Claptrap not included)

Not too long ago Huion contacted me and asked if I would be willing to review their upcoming GT-220 if they shipped a unit to me. I had never heard of Huion before, but the products on their site looked interesting, especially for the price.

Behold! The new Huion GT-220! This is a 21.5″ tablet monitor with an IPS display. It has a native resolution of 1920×1080 and has 2048 levels of pressure.

Other than mobile tablet devices, like the Fujitsu ST5112, Asus EP121, Wacom Companion, and Windows Surface Pro, I’ve never used a desktop tablet monitor. It looked and sounded great, so let’s see how it turned out.

If you don’t want to read the review, I also created a video review that shows the GT-220 in action.

Update 8/27/14 – Huion has told me that the stylus trigger bug is being addressed and should hopefully be fixed in the next driver update.

Update 9/2/14 – Huion released new drivers on Aug. 28th that were supposed to fix the calibration issues. I downloaded and installed the drivers and it completely broke my GT-220. It no longer recognized the stylus at all. I rolled back to the previous drivers.

Update 9/9/14 – I purchased the Mini DisplayPort to VGA adapter for my Mac. The trigger buttons can only be mapped to either left or right click and you can’t calibrate your stylus. I would NOT recommend the GT-220 to any Mac users. Here is the short video update. http://youtu.be/LhHZ1PeTyIE

Update 9/11/14 – New PC drivers again. This time the drivers actually work, but they didn’t fix any of the problems I had before. Calibration still doesn’t work properly and the stylus trigger button still doesn’t work either.

Update 9/13/14 – I was given a firmware update that was supposed to fix the stylus trigger button. I installed the update, but the trigger button still doesn’t work.

Update 9/18/14 – The new drivers (PC) helped with the calibration, but alt still doesn’t work in Photoshop.

Update 11/4/14 – Huion asked that I return the unit because I had problems with it, even though the deal they had with me was that I would be allowed to keep the unit if I did a video review. Multiple times I told them that returning the unit wouldn’t fix the problems since many of them are driver and firmware related. They said if I returned the unit, they would send me an updated unit that had fixed some of the issues I had in my review. I also did not want to pay for shipping. They agreed to reimburse me for shipping if I sent back the unit. I bought tracking and paid around $26 for shipping to California. They received the unit on Oct. 20th. After several unanswered emails, they have yet to pay me back for shipping, even though they received the unit 15 days ago.

Update 11/5/14 – After publicly posting about not hearing back from Huion yesterday, I received an email saying they will reimburse me once I send them the receipt.

Update 2/28/15 – I still have not heard anything from Huion since November and I still haven’t received a replacement unit like they promised.

Update 11/29/16 – It has been two years since I returned the unit to Huion. So far they have not sent me a replacement. They had told me they would send me an updated version of the GT-220 which had fixed a lot of the problems with the original GT-220. I noticed that the GT-220 v2 came out, but I never heard anything from Huion. I sent Huion an email on 11/25/16 about sending my replacement unit, but so far they have not responded.

Update 12/28/16 – So far I have emailed Huion 5 times over the past month, tweeted them several times, and messaged them through their Facebook page. I never received any replies. I decided to take it public and Tweet about how they aren’t answering me. The very next day Huion responded saying they never received any of my emails and they have asked me for my order ID three times. I told them three times that I don’t have an order ID but that I had a deal with Huion to receive and keep a GT-220 in exchange for the video review. They have again not responded.

Update 12/29/16 – Huion replied to my Facebook message. They said it was their “free will” to send or not send me a replacement unit. They said they would help me apply for a new test unit, but that they can’t guarantee that they will send me one.

Update 1/12/17 – Huion messaged me and accused me of trying to sell the GT-220 on eBay. I shipped the unit back to Huion on October 14th, 2014. I have the receipt, tracking number, email confirmations with Huion, and the receipt from PayPal when Huion reimbursed me for shipping. I presented all of this information, including photos, but Huion has not yet responded.

Here are some more specs from the Huion site!

Technology Electromagnetic Digitizer
Type IPS Monitor
Screen Size 21.5″ (Diagonal)
Aspect Ratio 16:9
Display Area (H x V) 476.64 mm x 268.11 mm
Pressure Sensitivity 2048 Levels
Viewing Angle (Typical) H : 178° V : 178°
Pixel Pitch (H x V) 0.2485 mm x 0.2485 mm
Native Resolution 1920×1080
Hand Input Resolution 5080 LPI (Lines per Inch)
Reading Accuracy 0.12mm 2048 PPI (Pixels per Inch)
Brightness 250 cd/m2
Contrast Ratio (Typical) 1000 : 1
Number of Colors 16.7 M
Report Rate 220 RPS (Revolutions per Second)
Response Time 5 ms
Video Interface VGA DVI HDMI
Data Communication Interface USB
Power Supply Type External Adapter
Power Supply (Adapter) Input 100-240 VAC, 50/60 Hz, Output 12VDC, 3A
Operation Power Consumption <36W
Standby Power Consumption < 1W
Pen Power Consumption 300uA (Max.)
Errors of Digital Pen Detecting ±3mm (Tilted ±50°from Vertical)
Operating System Support Windows XP or later,mac OS X10.7 or later
OSD Language English, Traditional Chinese and Simplified Chinese, etc.
Operation Temperature 5-+40°C (41-104°F)
Operation Humidity 10-80% (Non-condensing)
Unit Dimension (L x W x H) 520mmx40mmx320mm
Carton Dimension (L x W x H) 558mmx124mmx408mm
Weight Net 5.42kg
Rechargable Pen Minimum 800 hours of continuous use
Accessories 1xVGA cable,1xUSB cable,1xAC adapter,1Xpower cable,1xdriver
disc,1xpen charging cable,1xpen holder,1xpen tip removal tool,8xspare pen tips
Photo Aug 24, 9 03 31 AM

Huion GT-220

Unboxing

Before I unboxed the unit, I watched and read some other reviews online about the GT-220. Everyone mentioned that you needed to install the drivers before plugging in the device, otherwise you would be in for a nasty surprise. I also read through the manual.

After I unboxed everything, I noticed that the driver disc that was supposed to be included was missing. Apparently China doesn’t allow the export of discs, so unless you live in China, you won’t be getting the disc. No big deal, I’ll just go download the drivers from their site.

I downloaded the Mac drivers and installed them on my Mac desktop. During the installation I received an error message and the drivers never installed. I looked around online for some help, but nothing worked. I then contacted Huion, but their response was to give me the link to the site I had already found via Google. That was pretty much their only solution. I guess it didn’t matter anyway considering my Mac desktop doesn’t have a VGA or HDMI slot.

Luckily I have a PC desktop as well. The drivers worked and I plugged in the GT-220. Now the problem with my PC is that it is probably around 8 years old. It only has 4 GB of RAM and is pretty slow.

Below are some images from the Huion site. I don’t have a very good camera and the lighting in my apartment is horrible, so there isn’t a reason to take pictures that won’t look as good as these.

huiondriver

Driver options

Driver Options & Calibration

The driver options are pretty spartan. You can change the pressure of the stylus to hard or soft and customize the two trigger buttons. Aside from that and calibrating the pen, there isn’t much else.

Whenever I’m working in Photoshop, I always map alt to the first trigger button, which activates the eyedropper tool. Unfortunately whenever I clicked the first trigger button, it didn’t activate the alt button like it was supposed to. Not only that, but it would randomly think I was pressing the second trigger button, which was mapped to right-click.

If I don’t map a modifier key to the first button (alt, ctrl, or shift), it seems to work. It will still sometimes think I’m pressing the second trigger though. I also found that mapping a modifier to it will work outside of Photoshop, but not in Photoshop.

Having a useless trigger button is a huge problem for me since that drastically reduces my speed and efficiency.

Calibration has been a pain and I can’t get the cursor to appear underneath the stylus tip. I’ve even tried offsetting where I click during the calibration process, but I still can’t get it quite right.

Like most tablets, there is some cursor drift around the edges of the screen.

Stylus and stand

Stylus and stand

The Stylus & Stand

The stylus is very light and a little smaller than the standard Wacom stylus. Instead of an eraser on the end, it has a port to recharge the stylus.

It also has two trigger buttons, but like I just mentioned, only the second trigger button works in Photoshop. I searched around online and it seems that several other people have this same problem. I believe Huion’s response was to simply replace the stylus.

The stand opens to contain the replacement nibs and tip removal tool. The design is almost identical to the Wacom stand, except the materials are much cheaper.

The Screen

Since the GT-220 has an IPS display, the colors and viewing angle is pretty nice. I did some tweaking in the menu options, but I think the colors are fairly close to other monitors.

The contrast looks nice and the screen is bright. Since I’ve been working on a tablet PC for the past 5 years, it is nice to paint on a large screen again.

It comes with a screen protector that has a bit of a matte feel to it. I usually use screen protectors anyway because I’m always paranoid that I’ll scratch the screen. The screen protector can be easily removed since it only has sticky areas in the corners. I don’t think the contrast or colors are compromised by the screen protector. I remember one of the screen protectors I used on the Fujitsu ST5112 made everything look fuzzy.

If you remove the screen protector, the glass actually grips the nib sometimes, causing it to make squeaking sounds. I prefer how it feels when working on top of the screen protector.

The screen surface did start to get a little hot. I wouldn’t say it was hot enough to cause any problems, but it gets a lot hotter than the Companion. The Companion actually never even gets warm. They must cool it with magic. I admit though, I haven’t used the GT-220 for hours on end, so I’ll report back later if I find any problems after working for longer periods of time on it.

Of course there is one problem with the screen, dust. There are numerous large pieces of dirt and debris caught underneath the screen. According to Huion, dust gets under the screen during shipping. If that is the case, then they should be shipping the unit sealed inside of a plastic sleeve. I checked around online again, and most people have this problem.

The only way to remove the dust is to unscrew the monitor and completely dismantle it. Usually taking apart your device voids any warranty, plus you always run the risk of damaging the product. Below are some pictures of the dust stuck under my screen. There is more than this, but you get the idea.

The Unit

Every review I have read or watched has mentioned this, and I will again. There is a huge problem with the cords. If you lower the stand, the monitor will actually sit on top of the cords, which makes the unit unstable. It can also damage the cords since they are so close to the bottom that they have to bend quite a lot. If you want to lower your monitor, you won’t be able to.

The menu buttons are on the bottom of the screen, which means when the screen is at certain angles, you won’t be able to press the buttons unless you pick the unit up or move it off the table.

Someone on my YouTube brought up an interesting solution of turning the GT-220 upside down. I suppose you could do this. Usually video cards have an option in the control panel that will allow you to rotate your screen. I tested mine out and I was able to flip the screen. The stand still works, but it is harder to adjust, which means you might have to flip it, adjust it, and then flip it again. Of course all of the text on the monitor, like the logo and menu buttons, will be upside down. It is a bit ghetto, but it can be done. In the end, the user shouldn’t be required to turn a unit upside down in order to fully use it.

The unit itself is pretty light, weighing in at 11.9 lbs. The Wacom 22HD is 18.8 lbs while the 24HD is a whopping 63.8 lbs with the stand. I’m sure you won’t be lugging it around much since it is a desktop unit, but still, it is nice when you do have to move it.

Performance in Photoshop

Let me start off by saying again that my computer is very old. It only has 4 GB of RAM and probably needs to be reformatted. I’m running CS4 because I kept getting an error message in CC 2014 saying I ran out of RAM. That being said, the GT-220 still seems to be very responsive.

When I tried to use the GT-220 in Photoshop CC 2014, I couldn’t get the stylus to draw anything. Sometimes it would draw a straight line across the screen, but that was about it. I looked online and found some new CC 2014 drivers on the Huion Tumblr. With the new drivers I was able to get CC 2014 to work, but it caused CS4 to no longer work, so I had to go back to the other drivers.

What I’m missing are the express keys, which means you need to either use a keyboard or a Nostromo. It isn’t that big of a deal since this is a desktop tablet, which means you are going to have a keyboard sitting next to you anyway. Still, it would be a nice addition.

Squiggly line in Photoshop

Squiggly line in Photoshop

I’m not sure if this is just a Photoshop bug, but there is the squiggly line problem that people have reported with other tablets. Basically, if you draw small fine lines while zoomed out, they will look really squiggly and jagged. I don’t do line work, so it doesn’t bother me and I actually never noticed it until someone brought it to my attention.

When I’m just drawing random lines, for testing, the pressure sensitivity seems to be fine. When I’m actually working on an illustration, I find that I have a hard time getting the full range of pressure. I even set the pressure sensitivity to very soft, but I still feel like I can’t get the range I want. I’m not sure if it is recognizing all 2048 levels of pressure or not. Sometimes it will also throw down a big paint blob.

It could be because when I’m working on an illustration, I pick up and put down the stylus a lot since I’m making several different brushstrokes. Maybe there is a problem with the stylus activating right away when it comes into contact with the screen, I don’t know. I do know that sometimes when I put the stylus to the screen, I have to tap the stylus to the screen before it will recognize the stylus. This could be some feature to extend the battery life of the stylus.

Conclusion

When I buy a product that will be used for my job, I want it to work out of the box with the least amount of downtime possible. It took a few hours trying to find the correct drivers, install them on various machines before I found one that worked, and get it up and running. Even after that, it still didn’t perform as it should (stylus buttons not working, drivers not working in some apps, calibration is off).

I think this could be a great unit, but it isn’t quite there yet. I’m really not sure how some of these problems got through R&D. The cord flaw is just so obvious that I’m surprised it left the production floor.

If they can fix the problems with the stylus buttons, cords, dust, and drivers, I think this could be a great alternative to a Wacom Cintiq, especially given the price. Half of these problems could be fixed with a driver update, but who knows how long that will take.

I would just like to thank Huion again for sending me the GT-220 to review.

 

Wacom Companion – Update

Photo Apr 06, 4 01 16 PM

I approve.

I’ve been using my Wacom Companion daily for all of my professional work for the past 6 months, so I figured it would be a good time to make an update.

My first written review can be found here and the video review can be found here. I might make an updated video review as a companion (no pun intended) to this written review, but I’m not sure.

I also want to take this time to go over some FAQs. I’ve answered these questions probably 10 times each on my YouTube channel, so hopefully more people will read these before asking the same exact questions over and over. If you want to know the specs, your best bet is to go take a look at the official Wacom Companion page. They list all of the specs there in great detail.

FAQs

Can you flip the Companion and use it left-handed?
Yes. This would actually solve the accidental pressing of the power button too because the button would be on the top, out of the way of your hand.

Can you attach the Companion to a desktop and use it like a Cintiq, using the desktop’s computing power?
No, only the Wacom Hybrid can be used this way. You can attach external monitors to the Companion, but you can’t attach it to another computer and use it like a Cintiq.

Does the Companion come with Photoshop?
No, you have to buy Photoshop separately.

Can you run other programs on the Companion? Can you watch movies and play music on it? Surf the net?
The Companion is a full standalone Windows computer. If the program in question is a Windows program and the Companion meets the required specs, then yes you can use it. Same with movies and music. I’m not sure why people don’t think of the Companion as a full standalone computer. It is no different from a laptop other than it doesn’t have an attached keyboard and it has a pressure-sensitive stylus.

Can you use a keyboard with the Companion?
Yes. Again, this is a full standalone computer. You can use either a USB or Bluetooth keyboard. In fact, Wacom even sells their own keyboard specifically for the Companion.

Can you pinch/zoom/rotate in Photoshop?
Not that I know of. I know you can pinch/zoom/rotate in other programs (like the Windows Photo Viewer) and on the web, but I have yet to figure out how to do it in Photoshop. Maybe if you create gestures those might work or maybe there is some other setting in Photoshop that I don’t know about.

What gloves are you wearing to prevent smudges?
My gloves actually aren’t for preventing smudges, I wear them because I have carpal tunnel syndrome in both of my wrists. They are the Handeze Flex-Fit gloves.

Are you affiliated with Wacom?
No, I just love Wacom products. I’ve been using Wacom tablets since 1999 and I’ve never had a single Wacom product break.

Photo Apr 05, 7 16 33 PMWear and Tear

I’m sure people are wondering how my Companion has held up over the past 6 months. I know several of my friends have had problems with theirs, so I guess I’m one of the lucky ones. I haven’t had any problems with my computer. It seems like the cable is causing a lot of issues with people, but mine is fine.

I was a little worried about the screen getting scratched after repeated use, but so far I don’t have a single scratch on my screen. I am very careful though when I paint, so maybe that helps.

I actually wore off a little spot on my stylus where it touches my hand, which is kind of funny. My old Axiotron Studio Pen had that same problem. It had sort of a matte finish to it, but I had worn a completely smooth section in it.

The battery life still seems good. It lasts long enough that I’m never out in public long enough for me to need to charge it. I would say I still get 4+ hours or so working in Photoshop, but I haven’t actually let my computer drain down to 0. I read that completely draining your battery down to 0 can damage the battery, so I usually avoid doing that.

I’m still on the original nib, so I’m glad Wacom fixed the old Intuos 4 nib wear problem (which was due to the surface texture of the tablet). I remember when I first bought my Intuos 4 I had to change the nib after 1 week.

Now that I think about it, my Companion is still in perfect condition other than the little spot on the stylus. The screen is great, the unit itself is great, the cable is fine, and nothing else is broken.

gpuGames

People also want to know about gaming on the Companion. I usually don’t put games or other programs on my computer if they aren’t for work because I try and keep my work computer strictly about work. That being said, I installed some games for the purpose of this review.

Now the problem with gaming on a tablet PC or laptop usually isn’t the RAM, the processor, or the GPU, it is cooling. You can have good specs but if you can’t keep your computer cool, it will explode. Ok, maybe not literally, but it will die. Laptops and tablet PCs aren’t really known for their robust cooling systems, and neither are Macs for that matter. I tried playing Fallout 3 on my Mac desktop and it blew out the GPU. I don’t mean it blew it out after playing for days or weeks, I mean it blew it out after 30min to an hour.

Even though I tested some games, I only tested less graphic intensive games because I didn’t want to take any risks. This is my work computer, so I don’t want it to die.

I tried to record the process using several different programs (FFSplit, Open Broadcaster Software, Camtasia), but I couldn’t get an adequate result from any of them. OBS was the best out of the 3, but the playback was so choppy that you couldn’t actually see anything. As soon as the game started playing the video would freeze during playback or lag. Maybe the Companion can’t handle playing a game and recording it at the same time, who knows.

So far I’ve tested The Banner SagaShadowrun ReturnsBatman: Arkham Asylum, and Deponia. They all ran pretty well. Even after playing for several hours, the computer wasn’t hot at all. It wasn’t even warm. Back in the day I had an Alienware laptop and that thing would get so hot you could probably cook an egg on it. No really, a freaking egg.

If you want to try some more intensive games, I would recommend looking for some benchmark tests first and then try the game under the lowest settings before increasing them.

Batman: Arkham Asylum

  • Low - Avg FPS: 25.823 – Min: 12 – Max: 42
  • Medium - Avg FPS: 33.273 – Min: 18 – Max: 41

Shadowrun Returns

  • Avg FPS: 38.742 – Min: 26 – Max: 51

Deponia

  • Avg FPS: 43.226 – Min: 0 – Max: 53

The Banner Saga

  • Avg FPS: 44.127 – Min: 1 – Max: 54

Not too great, but not too shabby either. I believe some of the lows dropped to 0 because of loading screens. This isn’t a gaming rig, but you can still play games on it. I will probably avoid playing games on the Companion since this computer is supposed to be for work. I don’t need more distractions.

companion pie

Infinite pies!

Layout

I wanted to free up some real estate, so I got rid of the on-screen menus and went with radial menus instead. I just set one of the rocker buttons to open the radial menu.

The other cool thing about the radial menu is that you can have menus inside of menus! Infinite pies! You can also put actions inside of the radial menu, which saves a lot of time. I rarely have to go through any of the Photoshop menus anymore since most of my actions and commands can be found inside the radial menu.

Here is a video of the radial pies in action.

In conclusion, the Wacom Companion is still an awesome computer and I love it.

Wacom Companion

Photo Oct 01, 7 16 09 PMI wasn’t expecting to receive my Wacom Companion until after I returned to California, but I received an e-mail from Wacom saying they shipped my tablet.

It was like waking up on Christmas morning to find out your parents bought you a pony, a diamond pony. I’ve never owned a diamond pony but I imagine this is what it would feel like. Diamond pony tablet of awesomeness.

I quickly changed the shipping address to my hotel in Renton so that I could start using it immediately, plus I wanted to make the other guys jealous. Sam ended up getting his the day before I got mine, so I went to his room and oohed and aahed over his new tablet. He let me look at the stylus case. It was pretty.

The next day I think I checked the status of my package every 30 minutes. I ended up having to wait until I got off of work before I could play with my new tablet.

Let me say this, it is a lovely piece of equipment. Everything that came with the tablet is top-notch and almost perfectly designed. Here are some quick specs.

• Display Size 13.3 inch
• Full HD 1920 X 1080
• 2048 levels pen pressure, natural feel and multi-touch
• ExpressKeys™, Rocker Ring, Home Button, on-screen controls
• Adjustable stand
• Windows 8
• Intel® Core™ i-7
• RAM 8 GB DDR3
• 256 or 512 GB Solid State Drive (SSD)
• Dimensions 375 x 248 x 17 mm / 14.8 x 9.8 x 0.7 in
• Weight 1.8 kg / 3.9 lbs
• Price $1999 (256 GB SSD) $2499 (512 GB SSD)

I should probably mention that I bought the smaller 256 GB version. My Fujitsu only had 80 GB and my Asus had 64 GB so 256 seemed like plenty for me, plus it would save me $500.

I finally finished the video tutorial. If you don’t like reading, you can watch it instead.

Photo Oct 01, 7 07 31 PMThe Stylus Case

As soon as you see the case you think “Man, this thing is fancy.” Fancy indeed.

Each individual nib has its own slot and there are several different colored rings that you can use to give your stylus a more unique look. It also comes with a metal ring to help you change the nibs.

The design of the stylus itself is also very impressive. While the design is very similar to the previous versions, it has a few nice additions like the metal ring around the trigger buttons.

The case is heavy. Heavy is good, heavy is reliable. If it doesn’t work you can always hit someone with it.

Photo Oct 03, 9 05 38 PMThe Carrying Case

I guess I forgot that the Companion comes with a carrying case because I was surprised to see one.

It is a simple case, but very well designed. There is a special slot for the stylus case, the tablet, and an extra little section where you can put other things like the cleaning cloth. The case is made out of neoprene with a soft interior. It zips closed and has an extra magnetic flap that closes over it.

Problems

You might wonder if I can write an accurate review given the fact that I just got it a couple of days ago. In the past two and a half days I have clocked over 20 hours of painting time in Photoshop on the Wacom Companion.

At first I encountered several problems with my tablet. The first problem I found was that my tablet drivers would turn off randomly. The computer wouldn’t recognize the stylus at all and the express keys wouldn’t work. If you tried going to the Wacom control panel, you would receive an error message saying that there are no drivers installed. The only way to fix it would be to restart your computer or restart the “Wacom Professional Service” under the “Services” window.

If that wasn’t bad enough, I was experiencing extreme lag while working in Photoshop. It was so bad that it made painting extremely difficult. I tried just about everything. I reinstalled the tablet drivers, turned off Open GL, changed the amount of RAM Photoshop uses, changed the Open GL settings to Normal, Basic, and Advanced, I turned off various features in Photoshop, I turned off touch, I tried both the 32 and 64 bit version, I tried CS5, I changed the cache and tile size, I tried documents of various sizes, nothing helped.

I even tried changing the power options, but that didn’t help either. What I didn’t realize was that the “high performance” energy option is hidden by default. I must have not noticed this or maybe I was too distracted by the fact that my new computer didn’t work very well, either way, I didn’t try the high performance option. After contacting Wacom, they suggested switching to the high performance option. Luckily this completely fixed the problem.

I still have problems with the tablet driver randomly turning off, so I’m not entirely sure how to fix that. It seems to happen when I’m either messing with the express keys or when I’m using the on-screen keyboard. My other friends don’t have this problem, so it seems like I’m the lucky one.

There is also the cursor drift issue when you get near the edges of the screen. Every tablet PC I have used has this problem and I hear that Cintiqs have this problem too. While it still doesn’t make it ok that all of these devices have this problem, it wasn’t unexpected. Update – Wacom just released the new 6.3.7-5 drivers and they seem to have helped with the cursor drift around the edges of the screen.

Photo Oct 03, 12 49 58 PMOne big gripe I have about the design is the placement of the power button. For some reason they decided to place the power button on the right side of the tablet near the bottom.

If I’m not working at a desk, I usually have to move the tablet around by grabbing the sides of the tablet, which is where power button is. I can’t count how many times I accidentally put my computer to sleep while trying to reposition my tablet.

My friend Sam kept doing the same exact thing. I think it would have been better to place the power button on the top instead of the side, or at least on the top of the side instead of the bottom. -1 for poor button placement.

Power adapters with a tiny pin also make me really nervous. The Asus EP121 has that same adapter pin, and mine ended up snapping in half. If you have ever had to replace an adapter, you know they are extremely expensive.

Speaking of adapters, Wacom decided to put the Windows 8 product key on the adapter. When you are setting up your computer for the first time and Windows asks you for your product key, look at your adapter. It took me the longest time before I realized where they put it. It is funny because a few of my friends couldn’t figure out where the key was either.

Performance in Photoshop CC

Now that I solved the lag problem, Photoshop works like a dream. Even when working on files that are 1.5 GB, I still don’t experience much lag. I can say, without a doubt, this tablet PC is by far the best one I have ever used. There is virtually no lag, the stylus is far superior to any other stylus, and the mixture of express keys and on-screen keys increases your efficiency dramatically.

I would expect nothing less of Wacom. The stylus boasts a whopping 2048 levels of pressure. Just to give you some perspective, the Fujitsu ST5112 and Asus EP121 only have 256. This machine also packs 8 GB of RAM, a 256/512 GB SSD, and an i-7 processor.

Untitled-2If the 8 customizable buttons weren’t enough, there are also various on-screen menus that you can customize.

You might be familiar with the PaintDock app I reviewed for the Asus EP121. The Wacom on-screen menus are very similar. You can see in the screenshot that I am using two different on-screen menus. I keep these open while working in Photoshop.

I will say that the PaintDock app is superior. What I don’t like about the Wacom on-screen menus is that they don’t disappear when you move the stylus over them. This was something that I loved about PaintDock. Right now my on-screen menus are under the “File” and “Edit” menu in Photoshop. That means whenever I open “file” or “edit,” they appear behind the on-screen menus, making them a bit difficult to read.

The other thing I don’t like about them is that they have that large push pin and config icon. I’m super picky about streamlining everything, which is why I like PaintDock. This isn’t much of a problem, it is just an aesthetic issue.

Untitled-1If you open the on-screen keyboard, it shifts the on-screen menus to appear above the keyboard. When you close the keyboard, it doesn’t replace the on-screen menus to their original position, which means you have to reposition them by hand each and every time. I have several issues with the Windows 8 keyboard, and Windows 8 in general, but that doesn’t have anything to do with Photoshop or Wacom so I won’t go into it.

Touch

The touch capabilities seem to be much better than other multi-touch tablets. Well, I’ve only really had one other multi-touch tablet, the Asus EP121. I always had a difficult time accurately pressing things on the Asus, even after calibrating multiple times. The touch on the Companion seems very accurate and responsive.

While you do have the option to turn off multi-touch, you don’t necessarily have to. When the stylus is within range of the screen, multi-touch is automatically disabled. This means your hand won’t make marks or do crazy stuff while you are working in Photoshop.

There have been a few times when I accidentally moved stuff around with my hand, but that was usually because I was in the process of flipping my stylus around to use the eraser. Yeah I know, I use the eraser end.

Of course that also means you can’t use the on-screen menus while you are working. You have to make sure to move the stylus far enough away from the screen before you can press the buttons. Sometimes I think my stylus is far enough away, only to find out that the buttons still don’t work and I have to move it farther away.

I would suggest keeping touch turned on, otherwise you can’t use the on-screen menus or gestures.

Speed

I’ve never had a computer with 8 GB of RAM before, so the first time I saved a file in Photoshop I had to double check that it actually saved. Booting the computer only takes 4-5 seconds. Zoom zoom!

I haven’t tested any games yet because I only use this computer for work. I try and keep it completely separate from anything that isn’t work-related. That being said, so far I am very happy with the processing power.

Battery Life

Ahhh, everyone wants to know about the battery life. Well, I haven’t been able to test it that much yet because I’m always by an outlet, but I have tested it a little.

When I first got the tablet I went and worked in the hotel lobby with Sam. I spent roughly 2 hours and 20 minutes working in Photoshop and it had used 30% of my battery. That could mean over 7 hours of Photoshop use, although I haven’t tested all 100% of the battery yet so I can’t say for sure. I believe I was in the “balanced” power mode at the time.

So far this seems pretty amazing, especially considering I would get less than 2 hours of full battery life on my Asus while running Photoshop.

Update 10.6.13 – Today I tried working without the power adapter while running on “high performance” mode. After 3 and a half hours I had used 85% of my battery.

Price

Most of the complaints I hear from people about the Wacom Companion and Hybrid is the price. I posted a table comparing the Companion with some of the most popular current and past tablet PCs, and the Companion isn’t really that expensive, especially for what you get.

First of all, no other tablet PCs on the market offer 2048 levels of pressure. You also get 8 GB of RAM, an i-7 processor, and a 256/512 GB SSD. Just SSDs alone are expensive. Not to mention you also get a full HD 13.3 inch screen.

You also get the trusted Wacom name. Wacom has proven themselves time and again with tablet and Cintiq technology, so you know they are going to produce a high quality product. Take a look at the table again, you will see that the price of the Companion is very reasonable.

Photo Oct 03, 12 49 05 PMConclusion

I’ve only had the Companion for a few days, but so far I am extremely impressed. It has performed on every level. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s perfect, but it is close.

After the repair company broke my Asus EP121 and never returned it, I was planning on purchasing the Fujitsu T902 because it seemed to be the best option at the time. I am very familiar with Fujitsu tablets, so I knew it was going to be a good product. I had heard rumblings that Wacom was going to announce their new tablet over the summer, so I’m glad I waited. The Companion just seemed to be the better option for me.

Yup, I absolutely love this tablet. I don’t normally give out too many 5-star ratings, but I would definitely give the Wacom Companion 5 stars. ★★★★★

Most likely I’ll do a video review after I get back home, so stay tuned!

Update 10.6.13

Last night I was working in Photoshop while in “balanced” mode and there was no lag. I even tried large files and brushes and it still worked fine. I’m not sure why there is no longer lag while working in balanced mode, but I’ll take it!

YogaHands

photoAbout a month ago the good people who make YogaHands decided to send me a pair as a way of thanking me for making my video about treating and preventing carpal tunnel.

I had never heard of YogaHands before, so I wasn’t really sure what to expect or how they would help. As with most treatments, my claims are purely anecdotal. Just like medication, they might work for some people but that doesn’t necessarily mean they will work for everyone.

If you don’t already know, I have carpal tunnel syndrome in both wrists and cubital tunnel syndrome in my left arm. I work digitally, so the repetitive movements really put a strain on my wrists.

pinkyI also have clinodactyly, or at least that is what I believe it is called, in my right hand. My Mom has it as well. What I have noticed is that my little finger has been hurting a lot this past year.

After using YogaHands for a few minutes, the pain in my little finger was reduced significantly. I didn’t even expect YogaHands to help with the pain in my little finger.

I wanted to make sure the pain reduction was due to YogaHands and not because of a reduced workload, so I waited until today when there was a lot of pain. Again, a few minutes after using YogaHands the pain was gone. It is actually quite impressive how much YogaHands has helped.

Photo on 6-28-13 at 8.46 PM #2Photo on 6-28-13 at 8.47 PMMy wife has also been having problems with her hands and wrists, and she too says YogaHands has helped a lot. Even after using them for the first time, she said they really helped. I was a little dubious of the claim, so I wanted to test them out more before making any statements. After a month, I have to agree with my wife.

I would just like to thank the creators of YogaHands for sending me this product. It has helped a lot and I really appreciate it! They offer a 30-day money back guarantee, so if you are experiencing pain in your fingers and hands, I would definitely suggest giving these a shot.

New Jaja Nibs

jaja nibsThe other day I finally got my new Jaja nibs in the mail. It only took a couple of months, several e-mails, and several forum posts to finally get them.

I tested them out and so far they only work part of the time. The other half of the time absolutely no paint comes out at all. It is basically a crapshoot as to whether or not any paint is going to come out when you start painting.

Instead of the original plastic nibs, these are metal coated with teflon. If you are going to use them, be extremely careful because they can scratch your screen. I have several scratches on my screen already. Luckily I am using a screen protector, otherwise I would be pissed. Granted it is probably much easier to scratch a screen protector as opposed to the actual screen, but I’m not going to take the chance of scratching the actual screen. 

I’m not sure why they didn’t fix this problem before their initial release, especially since they had enough money from their Kickstarter. They raised $65k on their Kickstarter while their goal was only $25k. Hmm, for receiving almost 3 times the amount they needed, I would have hoped they would have created a product that worked. This wasn’t just an isolated problem either, it was a widespread issue.

IMG_2532Based on my interaction with their techs and the head of Hex3, I am a little disappointed with them. They made it very clear on several occasions (when they actually responded to people) that we should consider ourselves lucky and that we should be “grateful” to them for making these new nibs. 

Wait, we should be grateful that they are trying to fix a $90 product that didn’t even work in the first place? No I’m sorry, their job is to create a working product. They also mentioned how they are doing us a favor by giving us 2 free nibs. So again, we should be grateful that they didn’t charge us for 2 new nibs when the original product didn’t work properly. 

IMG_2531I actually just went to go check the thread I was a part of on their forum, but they have deleted their entire forum. All they have now is a blog. Sure enough, in the first sentence on their blog they mention again how they gave people 2 new nibs, free of charge.

These new nibs were created to only work for roughly 3 months, based on information I was given by an employee on their official forum. Maybe the information I was given is wrong, but I don’t know. I’m sure if you use your stylus a lot, that time will be greatly reduced. I was given 2 new nibs, it costs $20 for 4 more. So they created nibs that don’t really work and you have to continue to pay more money if you want to use your stylus.

The Intuos 4 had a problem with nibs wearing down fast, so it isn’t too much of a surprise. Back when I used an Intuos 3, one nib could last years. I know when I worked at BioWare Mythic I only changed my nib maybe 1 time over a 3 year period.

In the end, these new nibs don’t work. They only work sometimes, they can scratch your screen protector, and they only last a couple of months before they need replacing.

My impression of the Jaja still hasn’t changed from when I first tried it. It is still a $90 product that doesn’t really work.

Update – I thought “hey, maybe the battery is dying and that is causing problems.” I changed the battery, and now I have a whole slew of new problems.

First, the apps would no longer recognize any pressure sensitivity. I recalibrated the stylus. The pressure sensitivity kind of worked again, but sometimes it wouldn’t go opaque.

For example, if you were painting with black it would max out at maybe 30-40%, regardless of how many brushstrokes you put down or how hard you pressed.

Other times the whole range of values would work. Then sometimes nothing would come out, like last time. Woo!

Update 2 – Hex3 is now working with me to try and fix the issues with my new nibs. Thanks Hex3!

Update 3 – Hex3 is now sending me a new stylus. Hopefully the third time is a charm.

Photo Jun 10, 11 03 08 AMUpdate 4 - Ok, let me preface this by saying this review covers MY experiences with the product. I am a single person, therefore everything I say must be taken with a grain of salt. Just because my stylus or nibs don’t work, doesn’t mean they won’t work for everyone.

Everyone should realize that any review written by a single person does not account for the entirety of the value of a product. You need to read as many reviews as you can and decide for yourself whether or not you want to purchase the product.

That being said, look at the reviews from other sites. Most sites give the Jaja anywhere from a 2 to a 3.5 out of 5. The issue with the original nibs was so pervasive that they had to redesign the entire nib. Obviously my claims are not unfounded and are shared by many.

I also want to say that everything I have said in this review is based on actual experiences I have had and from information I was given by employees at Hex3. This is why I take pictures and videos. I do not appreciate the validity of my experiences coming under question or that I am making up information simply to misinform the public due to some nefarious reason.

Ok, back to business. It took about 2 weeks for my replacement stylus to come in the mail. I was hoping it would actually work this time, and upon first testing it, it performed as advertised.

I was a little dubious though because when I received the previous shipment of replacement teflon nibs, they too worked fine the first day but failed to work after that. I wanted to make sure this stylus continued to perform before making any announcements, and it was a good thing I waited.

Day two came around (today) and I noticed that sometimes no pressure sensitivity would be recognized. I quickly took out my phone so I could make a video showing that there wasn’t any pressure sensitivity.

At the very beginning of the video no paint comes out, which is exactly what happened with the other replacement teflon nibs. Sorry about the small video, all I had available was my phone because I was sitting in a doctor’s office.

If you have keen eyes you will see in the video that, once again, these teflon nibs scratched my screen protector. You can actually see the scratches appearing as I am painting. Now let me make this clear one more time, I am using a screen protector. Yes it is probably much easier to scratch the screen protector as opposed to the actual screen, but I am not willing to take the risk.

After my review of the new teflon nibs, I received an e-mail from none other than Jon Atherton. Well, I believe it was Jon Atherton based on some of the things he said in the e-mail, plus he was the one who responded to me on their support forum, which has now been completely deleted. He also left a comment on this blog post.

Anyway, in the e-mail he assured me that “the metal part of the tip is very highly polished, so that under a microscope you can see that it is incredibly smooth, and all edges are rounded. They are then coated in Teflon, much like a none stick frying pan – this gives just the right amount of glide. There is simply nothing here that will cause a scratch.”

Nib #1

Nib #1

jaja 02

Nib #2

My claim that the previous teflon nibs scratched my screen protector came into question, which was why I took pictures of the scratches in the last update. The fact that these new nibs also scratched my screen made me examine them more carefully. What I found was pretty ridiculous, and somehow humorous at the same time.

These tips are not smooth like I was assured. If you run your finger over them, you can actually feel gouges, chips, or burrs. I tried to carefully brush them off to make sure they weren’t just pieces of dirt stuck to the bottom, but they wouldn’t come off.

Ok, maybe this new nib is just defective. I tried the second nib, it was even worse. You don’t need a microscope to see the imperfections, these photos were taken with my wife’s phone. In fact, you can see them with your naked eye and feel them with your finger. No these aren’t tricks of the light or weird JPG artifacts, you can actually feel them.

jaja nib 01Upon further examination, with the help of a pick glass, I found that they are actually gouges or places where the teflon has chipped off. Some of the nibs actually look like weathered metal from an ancient relic, not an “incredibly smooth” surface like I was lead to believe. I would actually love to see what these look like under a microscope.

I also want to point out that I checked both new nibs and both nibs I got in the previous shipment and all of them are like this. These nibs were like this straight out of the box. None of them were dropped and they were only used a couple of times, some for only a few minutes. It could be that the nibs aren’t supposed to look like this, but if that is the case, then there is a major quality control issue that needs to be addressed.

Just for fun I also took a pic of the old plastic nib, and it too is completely covered in scratches.

This is why my screen (protector) keeps getting scratched. There is absolutely no way I am going to take the chance of testing these on a screen without a screen protector, would you?

jaja nib 03jaja nib 02Back when they were troubleshooting the replacement teflon nibs on my other stylus, they actually asked me to take my screen protector off and test the stylus on the bare screen.

I refused. They then asked me again to test it on a bare screen and added a couple of question marks at the end for good measure.

I asked if they would reimburse me for the screen protector, since you can’t take it off and put it back on, and reimburse me for the screen if it became damaged in the test, but they did not reply to my question.

I was then asked to test it on a Macbook Pro trackpad to see if my screen protector was causing the issue or if it was the stylus. I tested it on a trackpad and sometimes the cursor would move but sometimes it wouldn’t. It was then determined that the issue was with the stylus itself and not because of my screen protector.

I was also told that my issue of no paint coming out of the stylus regardless of pressure was not known to them and that the new nibs fix every known issue. It took me about 3 minutes to find someone else who had the same exact problem I did with the new teflon nibs. In fact, the person posted their problem on the official Jaja Facebook page 10 days prior to my post.

Now that all of the bad news is out of the way, here comes the good news. I took a video showing the Jaja actually working. When it actually works, it is a very nice stylus.

If they could eliminate the scratching problem and the problem of it not always working, it would be a fantastic product. I really wanted this product to be amazing. I am a professional illustrator and concept artist, why wouldn’t I want a product to succeed that would benefit my profession?

Maybe I got another stylus that is defective, I don’t know. Maybe I emit some crazy electrical field that always causes my equipment to fail, I don’t know. Will I continue to use it? Yeah probably, but only sparingly. I don’t want to completely destroy my screen protector.

I would like to say thank you to Hex3 for sending me a replacement Jaja.

My rating of the original Jaja with the plastic nibs – 1 out of 5
My rating of the original Jaja with the teflon nibs – 1 out of 5
My new rating as of 10.16.13 – 2 out of 5

Update 10.16.13 - Well, I tried using the Jaja while I was on the plane and I couldn’t get it to work, at all. It wouldn’t recognize pressure sensitivity and sometimes it just wouldn’t recognize the stylus at all. I tried it after I landed while I was in a quiet room and it worked again. I find it really funny that part of their whole marketing scheme is that you can use this stylus while on a plane because it doesn’t use Bluetooth, yet it doesn’t even work on a plane.

Since you can’t even use it on a plane and it doesn’t always work, even in a quiet room, I have to drop the rating again down to a 2 out of 5.

Fujitsu ST5112 & Asus EP121 Update

I’ve been using Tablet PCs for all of my professional work for the past 4 years or so. You’ve probably seen my review of the Fujitsu ST5112 and the Asus EP121 that I posted on my Enliighten site a year ago.

When I posted the review of the Asus EP121, I hadn’t used it for very long. Now that I’ve been using it for over a year I figured it would be time to post an update with some new thoughts and concerns about both computers.

If you didn’t see my previous review, here are the specs of the two computers.

Screen Shot 2013-05-05 at 12.04.54 PMFujitsu ST5112
Windows 7 32-bit
Photoshop CS5
4 GB RAM
Intel Core Duo CPU U2500 @ 1.20 GHz
2MB L2 cache
Display – 12.1” XGA 1024×768
Size – 12.77 x 8.66 x .88
Weight – 3.5 lbs
80 GB hard drive
Battery – 9-cell: 10.8V, 7800 mAh, 84 WHr max. Up to 9 hours
Levels of Pressure – 256
Price – $289+ Used

Screen Shot 2013-05-05 at 3.24.15 PMAsus EP121
Windows 7 64-bit
Photoshop CS5
4 GB RAM
Intel Core i5 470UM @ 1.33GHz
3MB L3 cache, Turbo Boost up to 1.86GHz
Display 12.1″ Wide SVGA 1280×800
Size – 12.28 x 8.16 x .67
Weight – 2.56 lbs
64 GB SSD
Battery – 4-cell lithium ion battery, 34W/h Up to 3 hours
Levels of Pressure – 256
Price – $500+ Used

If you don’t want to read through the rest of the post, the quick and easy conclusion is that both computers are still awesome for painting even though both computers are no longer being made. I’ve seen and read a lot of reviews of people saying these computers are only good for sketching and shouldn’t be used for pro work, but I disagree. I have done 100% of all of my professional work on these computers.

That being said, I actually had to send my Asus in for repairs. Luckily I kept my Fujitsu around, otherwise I would be screwed. Even though my Fujitsu is 4-5 years old, it is still a great computer.

I just finished working on a painting that had a working file size of 1.2 gigs and the Fujitsu was still able to handle it without any problems. It was a little slow when flipping or saving the image, but other than that it was fine.

Going back and working on my Fujitsu made me realize how good of a computer it is. I feel like it is much sturdier than the Asus.

Screen Shot 2013-05-05 at 9.42.09 PMProblems with the Asus

The reason I had to send my Asus in for repairs is because the AC adapter connection was loose, causing it to not charge the computer. The adapter pin for the Asus is also extremely thin and fragile, so it can break easily. I had my computer sitting on the couch and it slide off the couch and dropped maybe 15 inches in height onto the carpet. That small drop completely snapped the adapter pin in half.

The fall could have caused the connection to become loose, but the connection problem didn’t occur until at least 6 months after the fall. I’m guessing the solder just came loose over time.

There are covers over the USB ports, which are a little hard to open. About a week or two after I bought the computer, one of the USB covers snapped off.

The other problem with the Asus is that I can’t find a good screen protector that lasts for more than 3-4 weeks. I have tried two different brands, but neither held up.

The Posrus screen protector scratched very easily, causing everything on the screen to appear blurry. The Skinomi screen protector (as seen in the picture) didn’t scratch, but rather became covered with indentations. The surface is a little gummy, so it feels weird when you use the stylus.

I never had any problems with the screen protector for the Fujitsu. Unfortunately the screen protector for the Fujitsu isn’t cut for the Asus, so it doesn’t exactly fit. I guess I could always try and cut it to fit.

I’ve also noticed that sometimes after waking up the computer it won’t recognize the stylus or touch. I usually have to restart it a few times before it recognizes anything.

The battery life is pretty crappy. Usually I can only get 2-2.5 hours out of it, if even that. It doesn’t matter much if you have access to an outlet, but if you don’t, then you won’t be working for very long. Unlike the Fujitsu, which has a replaceable battery, the Asus has an internal battery which can’t be swapped out. Once your battery runs out, you can’t do anything other than find an outlet.

Screen Shot 2013-05-05 at 9.38.38 PMProblems with the Fujitsu

Most of the problems with the Fujitsu are the same ones I’ve talked about before.

It is an older computer, so it is a bit slow with certain actions. Also, it isn’t multi-touch, which reduces my efficiency.

A new problem that cropped up two weeks ago was when I was using the docking station. In order to use the docking station, you have to remove the battery from the computer. That means it relies on using the AC adapter.

The docking station has its own port for plugging in the AC adapter, so I used it. While I was working I moved the computer to a different angle, which caused the cord to move. Apparently the dock connection was loose, so it powered off my computer. I ended up losing about 30 minutes worth of work. After that I started using the AC port on the computer instead of the docking station.

The Fujitsu isn’t as bright as the Asus so it can be hard to see when working in areas with a lot of light, like in cafes or outside.

Conclusion

The stylus for both computers is pretty horrible. I bought the Axiotron Studio Pen, which is much better. Unfortunately the Axiotron Studio Pen is no longer being made either and you pretty much can’t find it anywhere online.

In the end, both computers are great for painting. I highly recommend both computers, even though they are no longer in production. I have heard good things about the Samsung Series 7, although that computer is getting hard to find as well. There have been rumblings about the Windows Surface Pro, but apparently it shipped without the drivers that allowed pressure sensitivity in programs like Photoshop or Painter. Wacom announced plans to make their own tablet pc (finally!), so I’m waiting for that one to come out.

Asus EP121
Battery life – **
Durability – ***
Performance – ****
Display – ****
Portability – ****

Fujitsu ST5112
Battery life – ****
Durability – ****
Performance – ***
Display – ***
Portability – ***