Every so often I escape the clutches of the work room that makes me miserable and go somewhere to draw. Occasionally that’s a bench on the duck pond in the park next door to my work place (I’m very lucky), sometimes it was my favourite pub (The Rowbarge, much missed 🙁 ) and if not there the Wetherspoon’s pub in Guildford. I try and mix up the beers with coffees so I’m not just in it for the ale, it’s more a comfortable place to sit and draw.
Recently I’ve taken to walking to the local PC World to draw on whatever tablet they have on offer. This week was different however as I’d recently received a Wacom Feel stylus to test out and I was keen to give it a go on whichever tablet would accept it.
First up? Galaxy Note 8 with Wacom Feel and Sketchbook Mobile.
Now I REALLY like this tablet. A lot. I was very fond of the Note 10.1 and Note 2’s that I used at the Barbican and MCM Comics Expo and this is a very nice logical successor. I’ve also got no issues with the screen ratio – in fact I’d argue that the screen is closer to the golden ratio that other tablets – and there’s something about it in landscape mode that is more comfortable and friendly. Similarly the poly carbonate back, a problem levelled at Samsung hardware often is one I never come up against. I like the design of the Galaxies and Notes very much. The Note 2’s especially as the removable battery is and has been a spectacularly helpful thing in the past.
That said – and I’ve very much come to like Sketchbook Pro – I don’t like that app on this hardware. No idea why, may be the height of the desk or the intrusive left hand menu that kept popping up, but I didn’t enjoy the pic drawing as much as I thought I might. Worked very well with the Wacom pen though, as good as I could have hoped for. To me a Samsung Galaxy is interwoven with Photoshop for some reason (I don’t like using PS Touch on iOS but love it on Galaxy. Odd, but there you go), would love to play with that app on this hardware. The main thing is that the Wacom Feel styli acquitted itself perfectly.
Next up: Surface Pro, Fresh Paint and Wacom Feel.
Had I mentioned I frickin’ love this app? Very much. Not that I’d stop using other apps instead of it of course and ArtRage has a far wider range of tools and is equally lovely (and can be much more of a daunting tool for the first time user because of it). There’s just something about Fresh Paint that feels so right and, as it’s a free application, I love the fact that it has a huge reach to a brand new audience. Completely enjoyed painting the pic from beginning to end. I also drew a bit of a crowd at one point and, as is normal when I’m painting on tablet, fielded a few questions about apps and styli from PC World customers and staff.
I’m also very keen on the design of the Surface RT and Pro themselves but since Ewen always tells me off when I say that I’ll stop there.
Last off. The surprise package; the Sony Vaio Duo 13…
At the Gadget Show Live the Sony VD11 was the tablet star of the show for me. A fab piece of hardware, mainly because of the Sony Stylus – a pen so well connected to the screen that drawing on it was the most natural thing in the world.
It wasn’t perfect, that said. A bit bulky and heavy, but an excellent mix of screen, keyboard and pen. This sequel – a higher resolution screen and internally spec’d device, not to mention a 13 inch screen rather than 11 – was announced at Mobile World Congress* and I wasn’t expecting to see it on the shelves this soon. I couldn’t pick it up to test weight etc but it looked a lot thinner and lighter from what I could see…
First off I tested the Wacom. No connection. Oh well, I packed a couple of other styli just in case (although frustratingly not my Sony Vaio pen) and looked for Fresh Paint.
Not there. Opened up the store. Password protected.
A bit gutted I swapped over to the other paint app I knew would be there: Paint.
That’s when the third ‘grrr’ came in. No idea why but for some reason the screen was… hmm… not majorly bilked but every so often a line would just appear as phantom connections were made. Which made it quite hard to draw. Significantly tricksome in fact, which is why I was delighted that the picture worked well despite coming through a certain amount of adversity…
So, the verdict? I still want to test drive a Vaio Duo 13 that works and will remember to pack my Vaio pen in the future for just this instance. Apart from the broken screen issues it is a wonderful device – very nicely designed, although I don’t know if I liked the aluminium keyboard colour scheme (but I do always prefer a white to black bezel). And to be fair to the PC World staff it’s not like I asked for help or anything – the picture came out of the issues I found myself introduced to and they’re normally quite helpful if I ask for a machine to be started up or a stylus to be found… Plus I only had an hour and am a stubborn lil wotsit.
Which would I buy? Flip, wish I could buy all three**! All are fab – I like the Surface a lot, the Vaio Duo is a stunning piece of kit and the Galaxy Note 8 is my favourite smaller screen tablet. None are a bad choice, all depend on what you need. Is there a go-to tablet, computer or stylus that I delight in more than any other? Nope. All have their strengths and weaknesses.
Well. There’s one or two manufacturers that I avoid like the plague (HP and Acer) but who knows, they might come up with a humdinger in the future that turns me around.
All in all – not bad for an hours drawing…
*I’m sure I saw the announcement on a live stream of an event but a quick amount of Google searching comes up with nothing. Regardless I do remember having a palpable leap of inner excitement when I read about the launch of the Vaio 13 as the 11 was just so nice to use, even if it was a far too brief lend.
**Google searching did turn this up which was a similar ‘oooooo’ moment. The limited edition, and just a little more expensive***, device looks ultra fab.
***Moot point. Neither Sony’s are in my price bracket by a significant margin.