Dear ladies and gentlemen of the Concept Art community, I bid you all well.

I'm a techhead/traditional artist recently converted over to a digital workflow. Like most, I started with a Tablet (intuos 3), but because I just can't seem to adjust to not seeing where I draw, I have decided to invest in a Cintiq before someone suggested that I should give Tablet PCs a go.

After some extensive research, I have picked up a second hand Fujitsu T5010 for just under $1500 AUD, but for you guys over in the states, you can get refurbished units on the Fujitsu eBay store for less than that.

Well, what I'm here to share with you guys are my experience with this thing and also hear back from you experienced digital artists out there.

Setting up may be a bit of a hassle for the non-technical minded, but once you get it working, it's a bliss. For half the cost of a Cintiq, you get something portable, versatile (it's a PC as well) and as far as I can tell, just as good. The 256 level of pressure sensitivity is perfectly adequate and I personally can not tell it apart from the Cintiq's 2048.

So here are some of the questions that seem to put people off when I was doing the research:
Q: Does the 256 pressure level effect your ability to draw?
A: Not noticable

Q: Does it lag?

A: Only when you're using complex brush on very large number of pixel, the kind of thing that would lag a desktop. It depends entirely on the hardware.

Q: How does it feel compared to a Cintiq?
A: When you push hard the screen can give slightly so you can say that it feels a little bit flimsy.

Q: Is it Convenient?

A: Depends on the model. If you have the newer models with Dual Touch (ie it works with a pen as well as your finger) it's extremly convinent. The new drivers only allow for one or the other, so you don't have the problem where your palm will register when you're still drawing. The non-touch variant is a bit trickier, but you can always put in a mini-usb keyboard and off you go.

Q: Is it good value for money?
A: Oh yes, jesus yes. If you have ~$1000, you can pick up a refurbished Fujitsu T5010 from their eBay shop. There are other alternatives that a quick google search will quickly reveal, HP, Dell, Lenovo and Modbook are all apt alternatives, but they are all much much more expensive while offering absolutely nothing besides a slight processor upgrade (or in the case of modbook, a downgrade).

Q: Anything to look out for?
A: 1.Make sure it has a Wacom digitiser and not the N-trig ones
2. make sure that you have at least 2GB of memory
3. Make sure you at least have something with Core 2 Duo if you want to be able to use complex brush without lag.
4. Dual touch is nice, but not strictly necessary.
5. Don't fall for the SSD, we artists just don't make good use of random read/writes. Not to mention that every file is several hundred megabytes in size.

Lastly, if you find $1000 to be too expensive, there are plenty of older tablet PCs out there that can be bought on eBay for a fraction of that, in fact I saw a HP elitebook selling for less than a brand-new Intuos 4. If you're looking for a cheap alternative to a Cintiq, you owe it to yourself to at least check out a Tablet PC.

For more information, please check out the extremly helpful www.tabletpcreview.com

Regards
C.H