As a student studying design in IMA, the idea of drawing tablets has always been appealing. Sure, I have a ‘drawing tablet’, but it’s a traditional, cheap, drawing-pad type with no digital display. While it is handy, the slight disconnect that occurs while drawing on the pad and looking at the screen leaves the user wanting more. I dreamed of the day I could afford a professional drawing tablet, the kind where the tablet is built into the screen. I imagined it would feel more natural to see the lines show up where you touch with the pen.
On our first day, we were shown the beautiful Cintiq monitors at the back of room 422. I know I wasn’t alone in that my instant thought was, “I NEED to try that!” After trying out the screen, my next thought was, “I NEED one of these!” Unfortunately as students, none of us really have the extra 3 Grand available just to purchase a monitor, never mind the tower with all the hardware capable of running the programs we use for designing. Most of us were just concerned with getting a laptop so that we can complete all our work and coding.
There is a product, produced by Microsoft, that offers a (somewhat) more affordable compromise of the two; the Surface Book.
This product functions as both a laptop and a tablet. The keyboard and screen detach at the hinge, allowing the user to use just the tablet portion, and then reattach to use as a functional laptop. The screen can also be attached ‘backwards’, creating a clipboard style drawing surface without losing battery life by detaching the screen. The screen carries about 25% of the Surface Book’s total battery power, allowing about 3 hours of use on its own.
The keyboard contains the other 75% of the battery, as well as the graphics card and processor. This means that when in ‘laptop mode’, the Surface Book is capable of gaming and rendering. The tablet portion is still capable of completing the drawing tasks in programs like Photoshop or Gimp. The stylus for the tablet is also magnetic and attaches conveniently to the side of the screen for storage and quick access.
Some people say that the gap between the keyboard and the tablet, when closed, is unsightly. I rather like this, however, because it creates a slightly angled surface. This would act as a small easel to tilt the screen towards the user when it’s laying on a table.
While it’s not exactly cheap, the Surface Book is about $1500, half the price of the Cintiq monitor. Personally I would love something like this down the road. This model came out in 2015, and I can only imagine what improvements will be made by the time I graduate/ can afford one!